Moments ago, 76ers president Ed Stefanski announced the firing of coach Maurice Cheeks after a 9-14 start.
Having worked in Philadelphia, I could have predicted that it was going to be a contentious news conference. That's the way the cookie crumbles down there. But my theory -- supported by a person familiar with the Sixers' situation -- that Stefanski wasn't alone in deciding to dump Cheeks, was immediately buffeted by Stefanski himself in his opening remarks to the media.
"We made the decision -- or excuse me, I made the decision -- because I felt we were not progressing the way we wanted to progress," Stefanski said.
The degree to which Stefanski had been disappointed with Cheeks' execution of the running style he wanted isn't 100 percent clear. But as recently as several games ago, Stefanski was said to be solidly behind Cheeks and wanted to give him a chance to turn the season around. What changed? Either Cheeks was reluctant to commit to the up-tempo style given the offseason addition of power forward Elton Brand, or Stefanski was given orders from above to change coaches.
Stefanski revealed that he met with Peter Luukko, president of Comcast-Spectacor, the Sixers' parent company, and company chairman Ed Snider after a 101-93 home loss to Cleveland Wednesday night. He'd been speaking with Luukko on a daily basis about the team's poor performance. Company man Tony DiLeo was appointed to replace Cheeks for the rest of the season.
"I believe in this team," Stefanski said. "We're better than this. And we will continue to work to make our team better."