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Maurice Cheeks Takes Over As Pistons Coach

Maurice Cheeks, who made solid accounts of himself as the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers, has been named the new coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Cheeks, an assistant in Oklahoma City for the past four seasons, on Monday formally agreed to take over for fired Lawrence Frank, the team announced.

“After spending some time with Maurice, I was very impressed not only with his basketball knowledge but his communication and leadership skills,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. “We are very excited to have someone of his experience and talent help take this franchise into the future.”

ESPN.com reported on June 2 that a third interview in Detroit, after two previous meetings with Gores, appeared to nudge Cheeks ahead of co-finalist Nate McMillan.

Cheeks has posted a career mark of 284-286 in stints coaching the 76ers and Blazers, with three first-round playoff exits in his six full seasons as a head coach.

Besides former Portland and Seattle coach McMillan, the Pistons interviewed Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew, former Phoenix Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer, and New York Knicks aassistant Darrell Walker.

The Pistons announced in May that former coach Phil Jackson, a longtime friend of Gores, was acting as a consultant during the search. But the hiring of Cheeks came without Jackson’s favored candidate — Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw — ever interviewing for the job.

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