According to ESPN.com, Maurice Cheeks, the top assistant for the Thunder, has agreed to become the Pistons next head coach.
Cheeks is replacing Lawrence Frank, who was let go in April after two seasons with the team.
After the news broke, Kevin Durant tweeted, “Congrats to the great Mo Cheeks on getting the head coaching Job in Detroit! He will be missed! He will always be a Thunder.”
With Cheeks leaving, that opens a spot on the Thunder’s bench for a new assistant. Scott Brooks may choose to promote from within for a new lead assistant, or as Zach Lowe of Grantland suggests, should go find help.
“With Mo Cheeks taking DET job … would kindly suggest OKC hire an offensive guru as key assistant to Brooks,” Lowe tweeted.
How about a role reversal in George Karl coming in to be Brooks’ assistant? That’s an extreme long-shot, because Karl is going to land somewhere else as a head coach for sure, but wouldn’t it be nice?
Along with Cheeks, other names mentioned for the Pistons job included Nate McMillan and Brian Shaw. Cheeks has reportedly interviewed with the Pistons three times.
Phil Jackson has been assisting as a consultant for the Pistons in their coaching search and reportedly favored Shaw, while general manager Joe Dumars reportedly favored McMillan. In the end, ownership went with the experienced Cheeks.
Cheeks has been with the Thunder for four seasons and is credited largely for the development of Russell Westbrook, along with Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson. One of the greatest point guards ever, Cheeks’ role in OKC has been to mentor and work with the Thunder’s young guards. The Pistons could be intrigued with the idea of Cheeks doing the same with Brandon Knight.
Before joining Brooks’ staff as his top assistant, Cheeks served as head coach of the Trail Blazers (2001-05) and 76ers (2005-08).