Maurice Cheeks, Brandon Jennings

Maurice Cheeks talks with guard Brandon Jennings during a game against the Washington Wizards this season. (Duane Burleson / Associated Press / December 30, 2013)

The Detroit Pistons fired coach Maurice Cheeks on Sunday, making the former NBA champion the latest casualty in the underwhelming Eastern Conference.

The Pistons hired Cheeks last summer when they continued to upgrade their roster with the acquisition of All-Stars Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, but a 21-29 record -- good for ninth place in the East and only 3-1/2 games out of fifth -- was considered a bad start in a conference where a winning record right now gets a team home-court advantage in a first-round playoff series.

Said Pistons President Joe Dumars in a statement, “This was a difficult decision for the organization to make but we needed to make a change. We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers (17-33) fired general manager Chris Grant on Friday.

Cheeks, an All-Star point guard during his playing days, had previously been the head coach for the Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers, with whom he won an NBA title alongside Julius Erving and Moses Malone in 1983, but was fired in the fourth season with each club.

He had only two winning seasons as a head coach, his first two with Portland, although his overall record is not far below .500 at 305-315 (.492).

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