Posted on: February 26, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 4:31 pm
Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox have been fined for missing shootaround without an excuse, but the Pistons are not planning a coaching change in the wake of the perceived mutiny against John Kuester, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Saturday.
The team engaged in lengthy organizational meetings Saturday to discuss the latest meltdown in a season that has spiraled out of control. Though sources are downplaying a significant rebellion against Kuester, a proposal to buy out Hamilton -- who had another in a series of confrontations with Kuester recently -- will be presented to ownership before the March 1 deadline for him to be eligible for another team's playoff roster. The chances of a buyout for Hamilton, however, are "slim," a source said, given that he has two years left on his contract.
Hamilton and Wilcox flew back to Detroit with the team after the Pistons -- with only six available players -- lost to the Sixers in Philadelphia. Both players are expected to be available Saturday night against Utah, but whether or not they play will be a "coaching decision," the source said.
Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace also missed shootaround Friday prior to the Sixers game, but all three had legitimate excuses, the person said. The Pistons' training staff confirmed to management that McGrady and Prince had been sick. Wallace is dealing with the sudden terminal illness of a close family member, the source said.
Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey were late for shootaround, missing the team bus and catching a cab, the source said. They were fined for being late.
Whatever the reasons, the incident -- and the perception of a team-wide rebellion against Kuester -- has put the Pistons' already miserable season in an even grimmer perspective for the remaining 22 games.
Each of the most sensible resolutions -- buying out Hamilton or firing Kuester -- is complicated by the fact that the team is waiting for an ownership change to be completed. It is unlikely, sources said, that the ownership transfer would be completed in time for Hamilton to be bought out before the March 1 deadline for him to be playoff-eligible with a new team.
"This is not the climate where anybody wants to cut a big check just so a guy can go play somewhere else," said the person familiar with the Pistons' latest controversy.
Hamilton, who has two years and $25 million left on his deal, was close to being shipped to Cleveland at the trade deadline but could not agree to terms of a buyout with the Cavs.
Hamilton and Wilcox apologized for missing shootaround. It was not clear Saturday whether the ill players -- McGrady and Prince -- or Wallace would be available for the Utah game.
Given the ongoing rift between the Pistons' old guard -- led by Hamilton and Prince -- and the younger core, the mere perception of a mutiny against Kuester will be enough to make the remaining six weeks of the regular season close to unbearable. The inability of team president Joe Dumars to take action without ownership clarity has made the situation one that Kuester and the coaching staff will have to navigate the rest of the way.
Tension that has been building for months between Kuester and the veteran players boiled over in an ugly recent confrontation between Hamilton and Kuester, sources said. It was not the first time this season that the two have verbally gone after each other, though this incident was reported to have been a one-way tirade from Hamilton to Kuester in which the former All-Star questioned the coach's decisions and credentials.
In mid-January, Kuester made the decision to move Hamilton to the bench in order to give more playing time to Ben Gordon. Soon after, Hamilton's agent, Leon Rose, attempted to have him included in a trade that would've sent Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey. The trade, like many Melo scenarios, never happened. But Hamilton has remained on the bench ever since, playing only once in the past 23 games.
Hamilton, 33, could be a useful addition to contenders such as the Mavericks and Celtics, who both have internally discussed signing him if he were bought out. It appears that he will instead languish where he's been since Jan. 12, on the Pistons' bench and at a point of no return in a lost season.
Posted on: February 19, 2009 2:15 pm
Posted on: February 18, 2009 11:32 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2009 12:28 am
In a stunning development announced shortly after 11 p.m. EST, the trade sending Chandler to the Thunder for the expiring contracts of Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox, plus the rights to 2008 second-round pick DeVon Hardin, was voided. It wasn't clear what issue Thunder doctors discovered, but it doesn't matter. The deal's off.
"We welcome Tyson back with open arms," Hornets general manager Jeff Bower said in a statement released by the team. "We went into this trade to garner more frontcourt depth to add to our team as we continue our push towards the playoffs. We expect Tyson and the rest of our big guys to step up to the challenge."
Thunder GM Sam Presti said in a statement: "During the course of the physical examination and outside consultations, some questions arose that gave us cause for concern. We felt that this course of action was the best for our organization.”
UPDATE: Yahoo! Sports reports that the injury in question is turf toe, which Chandler had surgically repaired a couple of years ago. Regardless, the next question is this: Where do the Hornets turn now to get the luxury tax and payroll savings they thought they'd achieved with the Chandler deal?
The cash-strapped Hornets thought they were going to save almost $12 million next season and close to $25 over the next two years by trading Chandler. The only way they can clear that much money without tearing up their team is to part with Peja Stojakovic, who is due almost $30 million over the next two years. The trade deadline just became a lot more interesting.
Posted on: February 17, 2009 8:08 pm
When a team executive told me recently that the New Orleans Hornets would be actively trying to dump salary by Thursday's trade deadline because, "They're broke," he wasn't kidding.
The salary dump has begun, and there will be more where that came from across the league.
Tyson Chandler's numbers were down this season, but not enough to justify trading him to Oklahoma City for Chris Wilcox, that annual trade-deadline, expiring-contract favorite, Joe Smith, and the rights to the Thunder's 2008 second-round pick, DeVon Hardin.
The move saves the Hornets about $11.5 million next season, depending on what they do with Hardin, and $12.75 million in 2009-10. Both Wilcox and Smith are on contracts that expire after this season.
The Thunder are very likely not done. The rights to Hardin and the aforementioned expiring contracts were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of tradeable assets GM Sam Presti has at his disposal -- not the least of which are five first-round picks in the next two drafts.