Cheeks gets one-year extension

Updated: November 13, 2003, 10:22 PM ET
Associated Press

PORTLAND,Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers agreed to a one-year contract extension with coach Maurice Cheeks on Thursday.

Terms of the deal, which runs through next season, were not released.

The popular Cheeks is in his third season with the Blazers, overseeing a team that has had a spate of off-court problems.

"There is a sense of relief in that I don't have to think about this during the year," Cheeks said.

Cheeks, a player's coach who had a 15-year NBA career, has led the Blazers to a 103-68 record going into Thursday night's game against the Sacramento Kings.

His extension adds stability to a Blazers management structure that has just recently been put in place. Team president Steve Patterson and general manager John Nash are both in their first seasons, having replaced former president Bob Whitsitt, who resigned in June.

Talks with Cheeks' agent, Lonnie Cooper, began shortly after Nash was hired in July.

Cheeks was reportedly miffed after the Whitsitt denied him the opportunity to interview for the Philadelphia head coaching vacancy in June. Cheeks played for the 76ers from 1978-89 and was an assistant under Larry Brown for seven seasons before being hired to coach Portland.

"That's not something where you sit and pout like a baby," Cheeks said. "That's done. I'm happy to be in Portland."

Cheeks has been a local favorite for his habit of chatting during games with fans that sit near the Portland bench and for rescuing a 13-year-old national anthem singer who forgot the words during the Game 3 of the Blazers' first round playoff series with Dallas.

Cheeks put his arm around Natalie Gilbert and helped her finish the song, an act of kindness that gained national attention.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press