Cheeks gets one-year extension

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

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