– John Loyer (Left) Interim Head Coach, and Henry Bibby (right) Assistant Head Coach will look to improve this ailing Piston team after the firing of former Head Coach Maurice Cheeks just 50 games into the year (Fastest Head Coach firing in Detroit Piston History).
Yahoo Sports reported around noon eastern time that the Detroit Pistons had relieved Head Coach Maurice Cheeks of his coaching duties just 50 games into the 2013-2014 season, fastest firing of a Piston Head Coach in franchise history. Cheeks (21-29) was rumored to have lost the locker room before the season had even started.
Cheeks was very strict on his playing time for his bench guys, mostly playing just an 8-man rotation, with guys like Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings going over 40 minutes a game on the usual. Along with his extremely short rotation, Cheeks had spats with several different Piston players throughout his time in Detroit, as well as not even knowing who would be the inactive players in the lineup just hours before game time.
He had spats with a whole list of Piston players, from Josh Smith early in the year, Rodney Stuckey, Andre Drummond, and most recently Will Bynum in the most animated confrontation of the season down in Orlando on February 5th in a blowout loss to the hands of the lowly Magic.
Along with the rough start to the year, the spats with players, and not having a lineup ready to reveal to the media, Cheeks was also blamed for taking too long to disband the big three (Monroe, Smith, Drummond) lineup. Playing them together for most the time on the floor, resulting in awful perimeter defense.
Even with all of the problems Cheeks has had this year, this move to fire Mo was not General Manager Joe Dumars’ call, this move was led by the ownership group, Tom Gores, who was not pleased with the lack of success Detroit has seen this year.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who was first to report the firing of Cheeks had this to say about who was behind the firing of Mo: “Owner Tom Gores had become increasingly impatient with Cheeks and young Pistons team, league sources told Yahoo. He had pushed for change.”
Pistons owner Tom Gores via the Detroit Pistons official Press Release: “We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress. The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around. I still have a lot of hope for this season and I expect our players to step up. I respect and appreciate Maurice Cheeks and thank him for his efforts; we just require a different approach.”
Now, with Cheeks out as the Head Coach, it was rumored that the Pistons would make a move for former Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins who is open to a return to the Head Coaching seat, and seems enticed by the opportunity in Detroit.
However, Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported later on Sunday that Detroit may not look to conduct a coaching search until after this season: “Detroit plans to let John Loyer coach the rest of season, league sources tells Yahoo Sports. Pistons won’t be conducting a search now.”
So, now that we know who will be leading this playoff push for the Pistons during the second half of the season, let us get to know the new man in charge of lineup card in the Motor City, former Assistant and now Interim Head Coach John Loyer.
Loyer has been with the Piston Organization for almost three years now, he was a lead assistant under former Piston Head Coach Lawrence Frank in his two years with Detroit, and was a part of Mo’s staff assembled this offseason. Before that, John was a part of the New Jersey Nets staff for two seasons, one of which was under Lawrence Frank in his first stint in the Nets organization. (Frank was hired back as a lead assistant in the Brooklyn Nets organization this summer, before being demoted by active Head coach Jason Kidd, as he is now required to write daily reports for the team).
Before John Loyer’s time with the New Jersey Nets, he spent four seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers organization as an Assistant Coach. Loyer got his start in the NBA spending his first five seasons as a member of the Portland Trailblazers organization (2000-2005). He started out as the teams Video Coordinator from 2000 to 2001, but was then promoted the following year to the advanced scout position on the team. It was not until 2003 where he became an Assistant Coach for Portland, coaching his final season with the Blazers in 2005.
Before his start in the NBA with the Blazers, Loyer spent 12 years coaching at the collegiate level, where the teams he had worked with posted a 73 percent win percentage (234-86).
John worked with the University of Akron from 1987-1989, where he received his four-year degree in Social Studies. After being a part of the University of Akron, Loyer went on to coach as an assistant at the University of Cincinnati for 10 years (1989-1999). During his ten years there, the Bearcats made it to the Final Four once, and the Elite Eight twice under his watch.
After his departure in 1999, he coach at Wabash Valley College for a single season (1999-2000), before his entrance to the professional level (NBA).
Loyer has never been a Head Coach in the NBA, but has filled the role when he has been asked to when coaches have been ejected or could not coach for varies reasons. This will be Loyer’s first true shot at a Head Coaching job in the NBA, even if it is for only 32 games.
John is expected to finish out the season as the Pistons Head Coach, and the Pistons will most likely conduct another coaching search this offseason if Loyer does not impress the Piston Ownership group/Front Office.
Loyer does seem to have respect across the board in the Piston locker room, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports: “Chauncey Billups on Loyer: Everybody loves him. He won’t change because his title changes. He’s going to be a coach.”
It does seem that John will get a fair shot to prove he is worthy as an NBA Head Coach, and it all starts Monday night as the Pistons welcome the San Antonio Spurs to The Palace in a 2005 NBA Finals rematch.
Langlois also reported that the starting five will remain the same: “Loyer will keep the same starting lineup Pistons have used last three games, meaning Kyle Singler remains starter at 2G.”
Hopefully a coaching change was the first step in saving this turmoil filled season, Detroit will be looking for their third consecutive victory Monday against the second best team in the Western Conference (record wise), the Spurs (37-14).
*Info provided by NBA.com