Maurice Cheeks’ introductory press conference falls flat

When he hired John Kuester, Joe Dumars said, “He might have the most job security in the whole NBA right now.”

When he hired Lawrence Frank, Dumars said, “We are desperately trying to settle into a long-term coach.”

Both Frank and Kuester were fired after two seasons, and this time, as he introduced Maurice Cheeks, Dumars offered no similar promise of stability. As far as I heard, he wasn’t even asked about it.

Perhaps, reporters know it’s futile to ask when the results are so clearly contrary to what Dumars says in this part of the process. Or perhaps Dumars knows he no longer has the security himself to promise it to a coach.

Instead of discussing Cheeks’ chances of surviving his four-year contract, the Pistons delivered a clinic in how not to handle an introductory press conference.

The most impactful person in the organization, Tom Gores, didn’t make an appearance, and he apparently spent just “a couple hours” with Cheeks.

Dumars declined to address roster upgrades – far, far more essential to the Pistons’ future than a coaching change. “A different time, a different press conference,” he said.

No player was mentioned more than Rodney Stuckey, the middling malcontent whom Cheeks brought up without prompting, and neither Andre Drummond nor Greg Monroe were mentioned.

Want to excite fans and/or make them feel like they’re worthy of understanding their team’s direction? This was a lesson in how not to do that.

Cheeks certainly has positives, and even if I believe his negatives outweigh them, I was more than willing to look for reasons to hope. Highlight his best attributes and present them with excitement, and I could have gotten temporarily excited, even if would have lasted just an afternoon. Instead, Cheeks and Dumars muttered away with a disinterested tone.

It’s like the Pistons have given up any hopes of generating buzz. Dumars even said nobody ever buys at the time of the press conferences, even when the Pistons were perennial conference finalists –  but I don’t think that true at all. Back then, Dumars had the benefit of the doubt, and every transaction could reasonably be analyzed through the lens of, “What did the great Joe Dumars see here to believe it would work?” Once that was identified, fans and media got on board. Heck, Rick Carlisle attended his own firing press conference and praised Dumars for the move.

Winning the press conference is not that important – see Frank – but it’s better to excite in it than to not. Frank didn’t fail because he won his press conference, just as Cheeks won’t succeed because he lost his.

I guess I’ll have to wait until the fall for another chance to get truly excited, even if just momentarily, about Cheeks.

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Tags: Joe Dumars John Kuester Lawrence Frank Maurice Cheeks Rodney Stuckey Tom Gores

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