Why Mo Cheeks Was Fired

by Khalid Salaam

The truth is Cheeks was struggling. Regardless of anything else and anyone else and the other components of the tea, Maurice Cheeks was struggling. When news broke Saturday afternoon, my initial thought was not of surprise but of expectation. I have been talking about this for a couple of weeks, so this wasn’t exactly shocking. Yes, it was early and you have to be patient. But the rotations weren’t set, and it’s Week 7 of the season. Cheeks seemed to struggle with in-game adjustments and, at times, seemed overwhelmed with figuring out how best to use his players.

If not now when? Wait another month? Wait out the season? I would have been fine with any of those options, but I understand why he was let go. But I don’t understand why the Sixers fired him without a viable second option. Assistant GM and VP Tony DiLeo. Really? I sat frozen in front of the TV when that name scrolled across the screen. Do not tell me we made the stupid mistake of letting a guy go when we don’t have a plan of how to replace him. The Assistant GM? I mean come on, what does that mean? How will we get better coaching from a guy who never coached an NBA game in his life? This is a guy whose coaching experience begins and ends at coaching in Germany in the 70s and 80s. That’s the plan? So are we better or worse than we would have been with Cheeks? If you have to ask, the answer probably is, ‘No.’ Should I, as a fan, feel good about this?

Well, I don’t. But I’m trying to remain positive. It’s still December, so thoughts about next year are not even on the forecast. Damn next year. I’ll deal with the 2009-10 season Young Youngwhen it gets here. The plan now is to get this team rolling. I don’t have any NBA coaching experience either but f*ck it, here’s what I would do.

1. Run plays for Thad Young
I was infuriated by Mo Cheeks’ cavalier attitude toward running plays for Thaddeus Young. He was always bragging about how clever and talented Young is and how he gets points without scripted plays being run for him. He acted like whatever points Young gave were gravy, and not focusing on Young didn’t matter in the scheme of things. Young is averaging 13 and 5 on 47 percent from the field. He easily has the most upside of any player on the team. He is athletic and plays intelligently. He has a very solid body so he’ll always be a good rebounder. He should be no less than the second option. Not developing Young’s game is the main reason why Cheeks got fired. And it was the biggest mistake he made, bar none. For DiLeo or whoever takes over, making Young a go-to player should be the top priority.

2. Call Minnesota
Do it right now. Get Mike Miller. We need a shooter so bad, it’s not even funny. The whole point of getting Elton Brand was to allow for spacing so guys could knock-down open threes or at least lightly contested ones. Well the Sixers are shooting 29 percent from the three and 43 percent from the field and scoring 93 points per game. The Sixers broke the 100-point mark seven times. You know what that tells me? Not having a real two guard on the roster is dumb.

3. Dre Dala: Just relax!
Speaking of which. I never hate on a man for his money. If a guy gets a big contract and then craps the bed, hey, it is what it is. But I will criticize a guy for his play. Seriously, Andre Igoudala is making Sixer games hard to watch. He’s playing a listless, ignorant brand of hoops. He can’t shoot and is all of a sudden reluctant to drive to the basket. His defense is slipping. I’ve seen dudes get buckets on him way too easy this year. It’s disappointing.

And he doesn’t look for Thad. It’s like he doesn’t want him to take his shine or something. Granted, Thad has to demand the ball more, but he’s only 20. Iguodala is the vet, he should help him and stop hating. Jealousy is a weak trait, and I expect better from him. Right now, I respect Rod Blagojevich more than Dre Dala. Dude, shake off the anxiety. Don’t feel bad cause you got paid. You’re playing tight. You’re making Andy Reid look like Barack Obama. Relax and just drive to the hole.

4. Trade Dalembert
Sam Dalembert’s basketball IQ is really, really low. And that confuses the hell out of me. If anyone needs to go, it’s probably him. If he has to stay OK, play Marreese Speights more. He’s young and prone to mistakes like any rook, but he’s talented and gets better the more he plays. He makes smarter decisions than Dalembert even though Sammy is the vet.

5. Focus on role players
It’s too easy to hate on Brand. His numbers are down slightly, but I think he’ll be OK. My beef is not with him. Andre Miller either. They’ll both get better once the rest of the team does.

See ya coach.