BOSTON - In a league where coaches are losing their jobs at a higher rate than ever, Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks have been in the minority as a consistent and successful organization. Cuban has employed just three coaches in his 14 years of ownership, while Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons have hired 10 in that same span.
With news breaking Friday of the firing of Mo Cheeks, Cuban discussed the challenges of managing an NBA franchise.
"Hiring a head coach is the hardest thing to do in professional sports, by far," Cuban told CLNS Radio. "There is nothing else even close and so you just never know until you know."
After making the playoffs every year of his ownership before last season, Cuban has enjoyed a strong relationship with coach Rick Carlisle. He is successfully navigating a team in transition that declined rebuilding and instead built its roster with the idea of remaining competitive through the twilight of Dirk Nowitzki's career.
Detroit made significant moves this offseason, trading for Brandon Jennings and signing Josh Smith to go with a young core built through the late lottery and mid-first round. But a lack of a coherent system and on-court chemistry has a team with playoff caliber talent out of the playoffs in an Eastern Conference with only four teams above .500.
"I feel for [Pistons owner] Tom Gores up in Detroit," Cuban said. "He made a tough decision and I'm sure it was the right decision. Mo Cheeks is a great coach, but sometimes that's not enough."
"Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change," said Pistons owner Tom Gores, via press release. "We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress. The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around. I still have a lot of hope for this season and I expect our players to step up. I respect and appreciate Maurice Cheeks and thank him for his efforts; we just require a different approach."
Cuban sees organizational consistency as one of the keys to success, as Donnie Nelson has been the Mavericks' longtime head of basketball operations - including the bizarre short stint Gersson Rosas as GM this summer - and steadily built a championship squad with Carlisle at the helm.
"[Consistency] makes a big difference," Cuban said. "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. But, it's also a management scenario where they got to be connected to the players and if you lose that at all, then you got big problems."
Cuban opted to continue to build with good value free agent signings and relying on continued leadership from management to keep the franchise on track.
"When too many teams tank, it takes away the advantage."
The Pistons decided not to tank, but their personnel decisions have left them with an underachieving squad reportedly hoping to turn things around with an interim coach in John Loyer, who has been an NBA assistant for 11 years.
But with such a high rate of turnover on the bench, the challenge for Dumars and Gores is bringing in a coach that can instill confidence in the locker room, considering the lack of security in the job.
Assuming Dumars is sticking around.