The Detroit Pistons announced Sunday that head coach Maurice Cheeks has been fired midway through his first season in the Motor City.
Despite the team's second consecutive victory Saturday night over the Denver Nuggets, general manager Joe Dumars informed Cheeks of his dismissal on Sunday morning, league sources told Yahoo.
"This was a difficult decision for the organization to make, but we needed to make a change," Dumars said. "We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work."
Preseason expectations of a more competitive 2013-14 Pistons team have fallen short through 50 games, as the team sits at just 21-29. Detroit remains a half-game behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the eighth and final playoff spot in the week Eastern Conference, and Cheeks failed to make it to the All-star break as a result.
"Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change," said Pistons owner Tom Gores. "We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress. The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around. I still have a lot of hope for this season and I expect our players to step up. I respect and appreciate Maurice Cheeks and thank him for his efforts; we just require a different approach."
No interim coach has been named, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports says that assistant John Loyer is expected to be the front-runner. Meanwhile, Sam Amick of USA Today reports that former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins is the leading candidate to replace Cheeks.