|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
|Cheeks' Blazers Story|
|First two seasons||Last two seasons|
|Scoring||95.9 ppg||91.4 ppg|
|Longest win streak||12 games||5 games|
|Tim Legler's Take|
While the firing of Maurice Cheeks isn't a surprise to me, the timing of it is quite surprising. While the Blazers were never a team that was expected to contend for a title this season, it was thought that they would have a shot at a playoff spot. But for a number of weeks, it's become quite evident they wouldn't, so it's a little strange that the Blazers management didn't either move more quickly to rescue the season or leave Cheeks in place until the end of the season to avoid the turmoil that comes with a coach being removed during the season.
All that said, I don't believe that Cheeks is a bad coach. He will make a good coach somewhere else down the line, but this was just a tough mix with the different personalities that he had to coach. Also, the front office has to accept some of the blame for the mistakes that were made in personnel decisions and for letting the players usurp Cheeks' power.
Now it's time for the Blazers to find a coach who can whip this team into shape, and that's going to be difficult. Obviously the two big names on the coaching market are Phil Jackson and Flip Saunders. Blazers owner Paul Allen definitely has the money to lure either one of these coaches, but Saunders may be a better match for the Blazers. He has a system that is suited for the current personnel and he's respected enough to earn the support of the players. I'm not sure that Jackson is ready for this type of challenge at this stage of his career, which may be why he stays away from the job.
ESPN analyst Tim Legler is a frequent contributor to Insider .