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Andre Drummond reportedly very close with Pistons owner Tom Gores, who fired Maurice Cheeks

Feb 10, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

Andre Drummond

In one of the NBA’s most-surprising coaching decisions, Maurice Cheeks benched Andre Drummond just 11 seconds into the second half of a loss to the Mavericks a couple weeks ago.

In one of the NBA’s most-surprising front-office decisions, the Pistons fired Maurice Cheeks just 50 games into a multi-year contract.

Perhaps, the moves were related.

Though he’s always been the type to trust his coaches, Drummond was clearly upset by his benching. And apparently, Drummond has the ear of Pistons owner Tom Gores (even beyond Gores playing third wheel on Drummond’s date with Jeanette McCurdy). So maybe Drummond, even if he tried to stifle his feelings, influenced Gores.

Dave Mayo of MLive:

One player later said the problem was that Drummond did exactly what he thought he was supposed to do and Cheeks didn’t understand that it was a product of miscommunication, not defiance.

Drummond and Gores communicate every couple of weeks about things, the player said, and seeing the franchise player unhappy probably didn’t go over well with the owner. Within a couple of days, Gores was in southeast Michigan, and the process of dismissal began to take shape.

Andre Drummond is not a superstar – not yet, at least – but he creeping toward the level of determining his coaches’ fates.

As a rookie, Drummond, indirectly, got Lawrence Frank fired last year. Frank’s stubborn insistence on not playing Drummond, who was already the Pistons’ best player, really sunk the their chances of winning. Maybe if Drummond had ranked higher than eighth on the team in minutes per game, Detroit would have won a little more and Frank would have kept his job.

And now Cheeks is gone shortly after their dustup.

Really, that’s exactly how it should be. I think Gores realizes Drummond is the most valuable member of the franchise, and coaches – and maybe even general managers – come second to a potential franchise player.

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Last year, Drummond needed minutes to develop. Frank didn’t provide them, so he had to go.

This year, Drummond needs a clear gameplan to reach the next level. Cheeks didn’t provide that, so he had to go.

Drummond has always professed a willingness to follow the direction his coach sets. It’s probably good someone higher up in the franchise is watching for his best interests.

That it’s the owner – who’s as high in the franchise as it gets – certainly says something about Drummond’s stature.

  1. riterboy - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Please do not try to put this on Drummond or any other Pistons player. As a fan who has watched virtually every game this season and attended several, I think Cheeks has been horrible. The only mistake that Gores made was waiting a week or so to pull the plug after making his decision.

  2. hdsnake867 - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Hey Pistons, keep the ball rolling and get rid of Joe Dumars next. Finger to nose, this guy couldn’t pick a winner.

  3. nycalldayz - Feb 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    It’s easy to put blame on Mo Cheeks, but the Pistons were poorly constructed from the beginning. Joe Dumars is the guy that needs to go if anything. The personnel of players Dumars assembled during the 2013 off-season were a disaster waiting to happen.

  4. DonKellyBaby - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    This article paints an image that Drummond acts like a spoiled little brat; however, this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

    Cheeks was another horrible coaching hire by Joe Dumars and that’s all that needs to be said. The reason why the Pistons haven’t gone out and tried to hire a guy like Hollins is because Dumars will be on his way out after the season. The New GM will look to make a splash and one guy I can see them targeting is George Karl.

    • spursareold - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      Karl actually has a decent touch with immature players. He managed JR Smith for years in Denver, and got more out of him than any other NBA coach of his, they being Byron Scott and Woodson. He didn’t play JaVale much, though, and that could be a problem, vis a vis Drummond.

      • mintberrycrunch1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        Drummond isn’t an immature player. Young? Yes. Immature? No.

  5. thomaskouns - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    It rarely ever turns out well for the team and player when owners get too close to their best playerj (D. Howard – Orlando & C. Anthony – Knicks) and give them influence in personnel decisions as they loose their objectivity which they should be delegating to someone else.

  6. casualcommenter - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Don’t really buy Drummond specifically as the reason why Cheeks was fired.

    The owner said it himself. He knew the Pistons were a young team, but he was expecting to see steady improvement at the very least. There was no steady improvement under Cheeks, which meant that it was time for a change.

  7. lenbias34pt - Feb 10, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Seriously?

    The Pistons sign 2 players every NBA fan worth his salt KNEW were nut jobs/ coach killers.
    So when the pistons play just like everyone (other than the owner and Joe) they fire the coach?

    This is clear IQ fail.
    No team with Josh Smith and Jennings have a chance of a winning record. IGNORE the highlights and the points.
    Try watching a game!

    Neither understands basketball beyond a 4th grade level.

  8. campcouch - Feb 13, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    the NBA and hiring retreads. The whole players respecting the coach is ridiculous. These are grown men being paid tons of cash, if you have daddy issues and need another grown man to be there so you can respect him,you have problems. the coach is there to facilitate the game plan. agents take care of your emotional needs. stop hiring coaches because “players or coaches respect him”. Respect him for what? Wearing a tie? hire a jerk,he’ll get the job done.

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