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Struggling Sixers fire Cheeks
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The Philadelphia 76ers moved to jump-start their disappointing season by firing coach Maurice Cheeks and replacing him with assistant general manager Tony DiLeo, the team said on Saturday.

Philadelphia was 9-14 and in last place in the Atlantic standings when Sixers management decided to make the change. DiLeo won his coaching debut later on Saturday when the Sixers defeated the Washington Wizards 104-89.

"Decisions of this nature are never easy, and this was particularly difficult due to the great amount of respect I have for Maurice Cheeks," Sixers General Manager Ed Stefanski said in a statement on the team's website (www.nba.com/sixers)

"However, at this time I felt that it is in the best interest of this team to make a change while there is still time to accomplish the goals we set forth for ourselves at the start of the season."

In more than three seasons coaching the Sixers, Cheeks compiled a record of 122-147.

Last year, the Sixers went on a late-season 18-5 surge to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.

The Sixers acquired double All-Star forward Elton Brand during the offseason but the improvement management sought never materialized.

DiLeo, in his 19th season with the Sixers organization, will remain as coach through the end of the season, the club said.

(Agencies via China Daily December 15, 2008)

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