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: November 1, 2010 2:02 pm
Al Horford has agreed to a five-year, $60 million extension with the Hawks, becoming one of the few 2007 draft picks getting extensions by the midnight Tuesday deadline.
Horford joins only Kevin Durant and Joakim Noah among high-profile 2007 draft picks who will be getting extensions. Horford's deal marks a philosophical shift for Hawks GM Rick Sund, who has almost without exception declined to do such extensions in the past. Given uncertainty over a new collective bargaining agreement, few teams are extending their 2007 picks before the deadline.
Sources say the Hawks' hand was forced by the Bulls' decision to give Noah a five-year, $60 million extension. Atlanta officials were hoping that looming labor uncertainty would allow them to re-up with Horford at a discount, but that possibility went by the boards once Noah got his deal.
Jeff Green, Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Brooks, Wilson Chandler and No. 1 pick Greg Oden will not be getting extensions. Sources say Trail Blazers officials had a conference call Saturday with Oden's agent, Bill Duffy, to share the news. Horford's agreement with the Hawks prevents him from becoming a restricted free agent next summer, as the aforementioned players will become.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 3:44 pm
Jeff Green and Rodney Stuckey, two members of the 2007 draft class seeking contract extensions by Monday’s deadline, will not be receiving them, people familiar with the circumstances told CBSSports.com.
Thunder GM Sam Presti, who earlier Thursday told the Oklahoman that a deal would not be reached with Green, told CBSSports.com that he had good dialogue with agent David Falk and seriously explored the matter.
“We will have to revisit the discussions in the future,” Presti said.
As a result, Green will become a restricted free agent after the season, as will Stuckey, who also will not be reaching a deal with the Pistons, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com. Among other factors, Stuckey’s situation is complicated by an ownership change in Detroit, sources said.
To date, only Kevin Durant and Joakim Noah among high-profile members of that draft class have received extensions from their teams. Agreements for Houston’s Aaron Brooks, Portland’s Greg Oden and Atlanta’s Al Horford also are long shots at best – although a person familiar with the discussions told CBSSports.com that talks are scheduled this week between Hawks management and Horford’s agent, Arn Tellem.
The reason for the extension drought is simple: With a new collective bargaining agreement coming after the season, and a new pay structure and possibly altered contract lengths and guarantees along with it, it is difficult for teams to commit to new deals that in past years were foregone conclusions for players of this caliber. Even restricted free agency, which could change under the new agreement, is an unknown because executives and agents don’t know how it will change under the new agreement.
“People want more certainty and want to understand the rules,” a person involved in contract negotiation said. “Are contracts going to be 75 percent guaranteed? Fifty percent guaranteed? What are the rules?”
Posted on: June 23, 2009 5:02 pm
Even when a reputable, tireless, connected NBA reporter comes out with a trade that was discussed -- and goes to great lengths to make it clear that it was discussed and went nowhere -- the story is met with derision.
This is why the trade deadline and the draft are my least favorite times of year. It's hard enough to separate the fact from the fiction. When facts get thrown in the paper-shredder with yesterday's mail, it becomes even more confusing.
Fact: The Pistons and Celtics discussed a trade whose primary pieces included Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen going to Detroit for Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. Also fact: It never got to the point of being discussed by the men who ultimately would've made the decision, Danny Ainge and Joe Dumars.
Also fact: This is the way it was reported by Yahoo! Sports Tuesday -- as a dead-end proposal that went nowhere. And yet everyone comes out of the woodwork now to say what a bad idea it would've been for both teams.
No kidding. That's why it didn't go anywhere.
"Very preliminary," was how my source described it.
But this is the world in which we live. It's great and thrilling and competitive, and it's also quite stupid sometimes.
But I digress.
The fact that the names Allen and Rondo would even be discussed in a Celtics trade scenario tells you something. For one, it tells you that teams are willing to discuss trading anybody, no matter what they say. Discussing and doing are two very different things. But it also tells you that the Celtics, who meandered through the wilderness for years before scoring Allen and Kevin Garnett in two perfect-storm trade scenarios, have no desire to get lost like that ever again. And when you look at some of the numbers on their books going forward -- Garnett and Paul Pierce owed more than $40 million in 2010-11 -- you can understand why they'd at least discuss a scenario that would soften the landing.
But when I see Stuckey's name in this scenario, I'm not so sure it was the Celtics who walked away before elevating the discussion to the top executives. The Pistons traded Chauncey Billups because A) It gave them massive amounts of cap space; and B) They had Stuckey. Can't see them trading him now.
For his part, Ainge met with the Boston area media at the Celtics' training facility in Waltham, Mass., Tuesday morning and got right to work debunking the Pistons trade talk.
"I've heard speculation we're dissatisfied with [Rondo]," Ainge said. "We're going to trade him because he was late for a playoff game? That's not true. The first criteria that any trade rumor has to pass: Is it going to help us win a championship this year?"
Ainge, who has the 58th pick in the draft, also said this, according to the Celtics' official Twitter page: "Most of the players in the first round I wouldn't trade for J.R. Giddens or Bill Walker."
Ouch. A lot of future D-League All-Stars and slam-dunk champions available, which explains why almost every team in the top 10 after the Clippers is looking to trade down.
Basically, it is why every team is willing to explore anything over the next 48 hours.
"It could be crazy," one Eastern Conference GM said of the trades that could go down Thursday night.
One way or another, it always is.
Posted on: December 30, 2008 10:46 am
When the Pistons traded for Allen Iverson, it was clear that no coach with a contending team would have a more difficult job the rest of the way than Michael Curry. It's about to get a lot more difficult.
With Rip Hamilton missing the last two games with a groin injury, the Pistons have nonetheless extended their winning streak to four -- including a very Piston-like 88-82 victory over Orlando, ending the Magic's seven-game winning streak. After experimenting with a small lineup in recent weeks -- Tayshaun Prince at power forward, and a three-guard lineup of Rodney Stuckey, Allen Iverson, and Hamilton -- Curry has been forced to go with a more traditional lineup with Hamilton out. And you know what the great philosopher Rasheed Wallace once said: Necessity is the mother of invention. Or something like that.
While the Iverson trade clearly was designed to create cap space over the next two years, Curry's job is to put the best possible combination of players on the floor and give the team the best chance to win. Based on how the Pistons have played the last two games without Hamilton, it would seem that Detroit is better off with a two-guard lineup to start games. Against teams that play small, Curry could get away with a small-ball look and not get hurt in the post. But most nights, the Pistons will function best with two guards on the floor and three bigs.
Which brings us back to the question that was posed in the first place when Joe Dumars acquired Iverson: With Iverson, Hamilton and Stuckey all capable of starting, who sits?
Once Hamilton is healthy, the best candidate to go to the bench is Iverson. If Iverson looked at it objectively, he would see the benefit of reinventing himself as a killer sixth man, bringing instant offense off the bench the way Manu Ginobili does in San Antonio or Lamar Odom does in L.A. During the sometimes helter-skelter possessions that ensue with the second units on the floor at the end or beginning of quarters, Iverson would be a perfect fit to score buckets in bunches. Despite the beating he's endured over the years, he can still get to the basket and create his own shot with the best of them. He's also been a gambling steal-producer on defense his entire career -- not a sound, team-concept defender, which the Pistons need during the more structured portions of games.
The problem is, Iverson has never outgrown his desire to be on the floor 40-plus minutes every night. Every coach who has ever substituted for him can attest to the fact that you can't take Iverson out of a game without a dirty look and a few dirty words. This is partly a testament to Iverson's competitive fire, which has been matched by few -- if any -- of his contemporaries. But it's also a huge problem is Iverson is going to be placed in any kind of secondary role.
Iverson seethed when Curry took him out with four minutes left and the Pistons trailing the Hawks by six earlier this month. When Hamilton got ejected with about a minute left, Curry sent Iverson back in. According to this account, Iverson passed up an open look from beyond the 3-point arc with Detroit trailing by five, passing the ball without even looking at the basket. If you know Iverson, you know that A) he's never sized up a shot he didn't like, and B) there probably was a message for the coach behind it.
So if I'm Curry, I know what has to be done. Once Hamilton is healthy, Iverson needs to be sold on the glory of coming off the bench and showing his detractors that he can, in fact, reinvent himself at this stage of his career. Iverson will need a contract after the season -- either from the Pistons (not likely) or somebody else. For 13 years, the little guy has proved he's one of the greatest scorers ever to play the game -- and not just for his size. You don't wind up third in the history of the NBA in points per game -- behind Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan -- without being an all-time great. But he has reached a turning point in his career, a point at which he must show that he can not only accept the selfless fulfillment of being a great sixth man, but thrive in the role. He should listen to Ron Artest, who has gladly embraced any role presented to him for the sake of winning a championship.
Let's face it, the Pistons aren't winning a title this season regardless of how the Curry-Iverson feud plays out. But to have the best chance, Curry must have the courage to bench the unbenchable. And Iverson has to learn to like it.