Mo Cheeks Back In Action?
By Addam Francisco
If you haven't heard, Billy Donovan and The Oklahoma City Thunder are interested in bringing back former assistant coach Mo Cheeks to this brand new Thunder coaching staff, along with the recent controversial firing of New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams. Even though Oklahoma City fans aren't as familiar with Monty Williams, most are huge fans or at least know of Cheeks. He was a huge part of Oklahoma City’s team when they made the NBA finals in 2012, and I believe he was a huge part of the teams defensive intensity during that time. Though some don’t like him due to his experience as a head coach, I believe it’s clear that he makes a great assistant coach. Those are two completely different jobs, that require two completely different skill sets. As an assistant coach, the pressure isn’t as intense for him. He can focus on what the team wants him to focus on and that is most likely going to be Russell Westbrook, DJ Augustin and the other Thunder guards.
As many also know, with the ending of Kevin Durant’s contract nearing, the Thunder are making multiple moves to make themselves more attractive than the other NBA teams throwing themselves at Durant. Same goes for Russell Westbrook who's contract is up after the 2016-2017 season. Russ and KD are known fans of coach Cheeks and would more than likely love this re-hiring. With Mo being a former point guard in the NBA and seemingly the coach that best influenced Russell, I think this would be a home run deal. This seems to be the only coach that Russell really respected and listened to from 2009 to 2013, before Mo left Oklahoma City to take the head coaching job for just one year with the Pistons.
The West Texas A&M alumni, played 15 years in the NBA and 11 with the Philadelphia 76ers where he made it to four NBA All-Star games, helped the 76ers earn three trips to the NBA Finals in a four-year span in the early 1980s (1980, 1982, and 1983), including one NBA championship in 1983. Cheeks wasn’t so much known for his offensive game, but was known most for his defense game, which seems to be our weakness after this last season. He demands defensive pressure, and along with coach Donovan believes that defense creates offense and wins championships. Not to mention, he was named to four straight NBA All-Defensive teams from 1983 to 1986, and then earned a spot on the second team in 1987. He also ranks fifth all-time in steals and eleventh all time in assists. This could be motivation for Russell to become an even better all around player. I believe if these rumors are true and it happens, this will be great for our team and may be a huge factor in keeping both Durant and Westbrook in an Oklahoma City uniform for years to come.