Following last night's beating at the hands of the Detroit Pistons, Cheeks was asked by the media if he'd start going with more playing time for some of Portland's younger players. Essentially, Cheeks said "no". He was going to go with the lineup every night that gave the team the best chance to win games, and that was a lineup that consisted primarily of veterans.
This was after - at the end of the game - he walked off the court arm-in-arm with Rasheed Wallace.
You're kidding, right?
I think it's safe to say that these were the final nails in the coffin. So, today, John Nash wasted no time in promptly firing Mo Cheeks -- a move that was long overdue. Replacing Mo will as the interim coach for the rest of the year will be Kevin Pritchard, the team's VP of Personnel. Rather than give you my wordy interpretation of what happened, here's a quick rundown of the press conference's key highlights:
- After the All-Star break, the team thought they had a chance to get back into playoff race with a full roster (that's funny). When that didn't happen, they decided they wouldn't extend Cheeks' contract, then decided not to force him to be a lame duck coach for rest of year.
- Then, they selected kevin pritchard because he has head coaching experience in the past (but not in nba by the way) and played in the league. But, moreseo because, being the VP of Personnel, his input is vital because he'll be a big influence as a decisionmaker regarding personnel in the future.
- Cheeks was a great coach and did a great job, and Nash hanked Mo for his efforts through trying times.
- Club will be adding some exciting pieces next year to what they alread have, including Monya, more Khryapa, Seing-Ha, Joel, and for the rest of this year we want to find out how good those pieces are.
- This is a wins and losses driven business and we felt it was someoneelse's turn to take the helm.
- Question: did mo's comment last night about playing veterans affect the decision? answer: no. the goal is to win as many games aspossible and that is what maurice was trying to do. decision didn'thave anything to do with that.
- Question: will you start looking for a permanent coach now? ans: no, we will evaluate the roster for the rest of the year and start loooking for a permanent coach at the end of the season.
- All of the current assistant coaches will be kept.
- Question: is this an audition for kevin pritchard? A: no, not an audition. This is not kevin's career path and he's coaching interim only to evaluate. Mo knows the team better than anyone and Kevin wants to get that knowledge first hand. We want to find out what we have with our younger players, evaluating them on three principles: play hard, play smart, play together. some of our veterans may haveto make some sacrifices.
- Kevin doesnt know who will start on friday night.
Folks, this is GREAT news. The team is making a commitment to doing what many of us have clamored for all along: giving more playing time to the young guys so we can see what we've got with them.
I'm very excited. It doesn't make up for the team doing nothing at the trading deadline, but is a very positive move in the right direction.