The Oklahoma City Thunder have reportedly added former NBA head coach and ex-Thunder assistant Maurice Cheeks to its coaching staff. The Thunder now have two former head coaches on their coaching staff (Cheeks and Monty Williams) under first-time head Billy Donovan.
The Thunder has added Mo Cheeks to its coaching staff, The Oklahoman has learned. Billy Donovan now has two former NBA head coaches on staff— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) June 29, 2015
Cheeks was last seen in the NBA community during the 2013-2014 season when he coached the Detroit Pistons to a disappointing 21-29 record before being fired mid-season, although that may not fall upon his hands entirely. At that time, the Pistons were a young team who had made then-splashy summer signings in Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. Falling short of raised expectations doesn't fall squarely on Cheeks in that scenario.
When Cheeks was fired, several Pistons players at that time were unpleased with the decision:
As for his time with the Thunder, he spent 2009 to 2013 with the team as an assistant coach. He was a constant presence in their developmental period that cumulated to an appearance in the 2012 NBA Finals. In Cheeks' last year with the Thunder, their season record was 60-22, a far cry from the 23-59 record that the team was coming off of when they hired him.
I think the Thunder made the right move by welcoming Cheeks back, with all of the experience he has to offer. The team clearly wanted to surround Donovan with a NBA-proven coaching staff, and they added someone who is quite familiar with the players – especially Kevin Durant, whose free agency decision might be influenced by another friendly face.