Sports Outside the Beltway

76ers fire coach Maurice Cheeks

Another NBA case of blame the coach.

The slumping Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday became the fifth NBA team to make a coaching change before Christmas this season, deciding they had to fire Maurice Cheeks despite extending his contract twice in the past year.

As reported by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, citing sources close to the situation, Cheeks was informed of his dismissal Saturday morning after the Sixers suffered their eighth loss in 10 games Friday night at Cleveland and dropped to 9-14.

The move was officially announced by the Sixers later Saturday. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo will replace Cheeks on an interim basis. Philadelphia defeated the Washington Wizards behind Elton Brand’s season-high 27 points on Saturday night in DiLeo’s first game.

Philadelphia who isn’t a very good shooting team, has to contend on a regular basis with teams like Boston and Cleveland who are tearing up the league at present. When someone is 22-2, that makes it difficult for other teams to play .500 ball.

The firing of Cheeks is dumb in light of this.

NBA coaching sources told the Sixers were determined to give Cheeks every chance to halt Philadelphia’s slide after picking up his option for this season in February, extending his contract again in September and spending big money in the offseason to sign Brand away from the Los Angeles Clippers and re-sign Andre Iguodala.

No matter how often I see it done, I remain dumbfounded by pro sports franchises and universities to fire coaches with time remaining on their contracts. You pay for someone not to coach.

In light of the way the NBA recycles coaches, I expect Cheeks to pop up somewhere else in league. After all didn’t half the NBA keep rehiring Kevin Loughery in spite of his mediocre track record.

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