Tag:John Kuester
Posted on: November 16, 2010 1:56 pm
 

Kuester and Prince aren't exactly best friends

Posted by Royce Young

This got a quick mention in today's Shootaround, but any time a coach and player spar publicly on the bench, it deserves a bit more attention.

Monday night in Golden State, Tayshaun Prince and Pistons coach John Kuester had a discussion on the bench. Well, discussion probably isn't the right word. They had a verbal fight that included throwing things.

From the Detroit News:

On the way to the bench, Kuester and Prince had words. Then Prince slammed his towel down, yelling at Kuester and walked away from the huddle. Kuester responded in kind, and had to be restrained by assistant coach Darrell Walker. Kuester and Prince continued jawing throughout the stoppage in play. After the timeout, Kuester attempted to walk over to Prince and continue their discussion, but Walker stepped in again.

"This game is emotional," Kuester said. "This game is played with passion. That's what we needed at this stage of the game, that passion. And I thought he responded in the second half."

Prince did start the second half and took some of the blame for the argument.

"You can call me the bad guy, because I've said something to Flip (Saunders), Larry (Brown) and all my other coaches," Prince said. "It's part of the game. When you're getting beat by 30 early, strange things happen. I hope it don't happen again. I can't say it won't. I'm the type of guy where if I see something ain't right, I'm gonna say something."

How did it all start? Kuester yanked Prince in the second quarter (the Pistons were down 30) because he felt like Prince didn't work hard enough to get through a screen that allowed an open Reggie Williams 3. So Kuester told Prince what he thought and then Prince told Kuester what he thought. Eventually, Kuester waved at security to remove Prince off the bench and Kuester had to be restrained by an assistant.

So yeah, it was pretty bad.

They tried to downplay the blow-up, but the fact is, it happened. Stuff is going on in Detroit right now. Rodney Stuckey had to be benched earlier in the year because he ignored Kuester's orders. Other players like Ben Gordon and Austin Daye have made comments to the media questioing coaching decisions.

Prince started the second half against the Warriors and played relatively well, but wasn't on the floor when the Pistons closed in on the big lead and actually had a chance to win late. But the damage has been done.

Ben Golliver already wrote about if NBA dysfunction had a name, it would be the Detroit Pistons. And we're seeing it happen live and in action. So Monday's outburst really isn't a big surprise. And it might not be the last.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 1:42 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:40 pm
 

Pistons, young and old, play like strangers

The Detroit Pistons are caught between the past and the future, without a workable present. Posted by Ben Golliverdetroit-pistons

Tuesday night ended for the Detroit Pistons with a shirtless Richard Hamilton seated, hunched over a box score placed between his legs on the locker room floor, silent, oblivious to his teammates and the world for at least five minutes. Hamilton just stared and stared and stared at the numbers, which, once again in this young season, revealed a franchise stuck between the past and the future, with a hodge-podge present that simply doesn’t function.

The Pistons had just been worked by the Portland Trail Blazers, 100-78, with Portland’s litany of injuries not affecting their ability to dominate the game on both ends, and the glass. Pick just about any statistic on Hamilton’s box score and Portland dominated the category. Rebounds: 45 to 33. Assists: 26 to 16. Shooting: 50% to 42.5%. If Hamilton was searching for a silver lining, he wasn’t immediately finding one, and by the time he finally trudged off to the shower room, some of his younger teammates had already cleaned up, dressed, conducted their post-game interviews and headed to the waiting bus.

You need not spend more than a few minutes glancing at Detroit’s roster to realize this is a team divided, a group that, even with maximum effort and improvement from all of its rising players, isn’t constructed for short-term success. “We played like strangers,” Pistons coach John Kuester said after the game, making reference to his team’s ability to register just five second-half assists, but the statement fairly encapsulated the 2010-2011 Pistons as a whole.

Hamilton and old guard championship teammates Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince occupied one side of the post-game locker room, heads down, voices monotone, after the loss. Prince didn’t mince words when discussing his frustration. “It’s everything. Not just one thing. Everything. It’s always that way when you’re not winning. Even our wins didn’t feel like wins. When that happens, you know it’s a problem.”

A problem for Prince, perhaps, but his younger teammates on the other side of the locker room didn’t seem as touched, as Charlie Villanueva laughed and smiled, second-year forward Austin Daye exuded a flat air of relative indifference, and a shell-shocked Greg Monroe looked like he was trying to escape his decision to turn pro as he hustled quickly out of the locker room with headphones drowning out the world.

The night ended with that distinct divide, but it started that way too. Two hours before the game, Daye, Monroe and DaJuan Summers worked through their shootaround routines together, looking to develop skills under the tutelage of the team’s assistant coaches, and to enjoy a few laughs. Only after the young trio ceded the court did Prince and Wallace take the court, briefly and mostly in silence, to get their blood going before the game.

Asked to define the team’s identity after he completed his pre-game workout, Daye stuttered briefly before admitting the group feels like two halves of a team that haven’t yet joined together. “We’ve got older guys, younger guys, we’re trying to mesh it all together,” Daye said. He also pointed to himself, Monroe, Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon as possible core pieces for Pistons president Joe Dumars going forward. “He’s just trying to get a good nucleus and we’ll see where he goes.”

The in-game product evinced this generation gap, as Detroit’s offense was predicated almost entirely on which one of four perimeter players would shoot a jump shot, while Wallace was tasked with claiming any and all rebounds by himself. On defense, the Pistons leaked points, giving up 36 in the first quarter to the Blazers, the most Portland has scored in a quarter all season long. Multiple times Prince snapped at Daye for either missing a rotation or losing contact with his larger opponent, Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who ate the lithe Daye alive on the block, to the tune of 19 points and 17 rebounds.

Prince said he was only trying to help Daye. “I’m talking to him a lot because he’s in a tough position. Usually when you’re at a disadvantage, guarding a bigger guy, playing out of position, you want him to stay in contact with that guy so he can work the boards at all times. We’re asking him to do a lot. Not only asking him a lot to do a lot on defense but also keep a 7-footer off the boards every game. His job is harder than everybody else’s.”

Daye’s task isn’t just harder than everyone else’s though, it’s impossible. A pure shooting prototypical small forward who has worked to develop his NBA range, Daye is mismatched against just about every NBA power forward when the Pistons play him at the four spot in their undersized starting lineup. The positional switch is by necessity, so that Daye can get enough minutes to develop with Hamilton and Prince ingrained as mainstays, but given the directionless path Detroit is on, the lineup feels short-sighted. For his part, Daye says doesn’t mind it. “The playing time is a lot better,” he said with a smile before the game. Better to be playing out of position, than not playing at all.

But  the playing time would be even better for Daye, who is averaging 21 minutes a night, should the Pistons move either Hamilton or Prince in a midseason trade, allowing him to transition into a more natural perimeter role. League sources tell CBSSports.com that trade speculation surrounding Prince is accurate. Watching him slowly pull on his leather boots one by one after another defeat, it seems like a move is in the best interest of all involved parties. 

Should either Hamilton or Prince be moved, a big man capable of manning the glass and establishing a low post presence would seem to be the clear target. “It obviously hurts just having Ben as our only primary rebounder out there … I’m pretty sure all but one game we’ve been out-rebounded so we’ve just got to do better,” Prince said.

But he didn’t sound convincing when he uttered those words. Surely he realizes that Detroit’s biggest problem, rebounding -- they’re currently ranked No. 28 in the league in overall rebound rate -- is a matter of personnel and not effort. “Doing better” is not a viable solution for this team's rebounding ails. Better players is.

Nevertheless, after an extended post-game conversation with his team, Kuester finally faced the media and was asked how the Pistons might play more consistently throughout the course of a game. “I can’t pinpoint what we can do, but I do know we have to become better,” he said.

And that said it all. Hoping to do better, but with no specific plan to make it happen.

There really are no answers for this group, no matter how long you stare at the box score or how you juggle the lineups. It’s time to hit the trade market, and get started on the future.

Posted on: November 4, 2010 12:21 pm
 

Welcome to the hot seat, John Kuester

Detroit coach may be on the hot seat. Posted by Matt Moore

It takes a while for coaches to make their mark on their team. Even in the ridiculously knee-jerk NBA, you've got some sort of window for getting your point across and bringing the team together.

That sound you hear is John Kuester's window shutting while somoene behind him packs his bags.

It's not just the 0-5 start. Or the -9.2 scoring differential (third worst in the league). It's not the discomobulation, the wins per dollar amount, the defensive breakdowns, or the lack of cohesion. It's all of the above and more. The latest example?

Rodney Stuckey, the promising young point guard of the future who's stock has plummeted like BP the past year, refusing to acknowledge his coach and getting benched (Via the Detroit Free Press ). This after Tayshaun Prince responded to Kuester's criticism of the team's leadership by questioning the same element from the coaching staff . Yikes.

Here's the thing. Once you lose a locker room? That's pretty much it. Your locker room can stray, it can meander, it can roam the countryside and graze among distant pastures of distraction. But once you've lost it, when it's out of sight? That's usually it. You never get it back. Scott Skiles has lost multiple locker rooms despite being a tremendous coach. Kuester, from all accounts, never seems to have had this one to begin with.

If we're looking at odds for first coach fired before Christmas? Kuester's just run to the top of the list and rung the bell.

The Pistons are on the books for over $65 million this season, which is just a ridiculously high salary for the kind of production they're seeing. What's even more baffling is their reluctance to move Tayshaun Pirnce or Rip Hamilton. They have young talent they're not investing in, and the veterans are not responding to Kuester's prodding. It's a steamy soup of badness in Detroit, and eventually, Joe Dumars may have to dump the pot out and start over.

(HT: PBT )
Posted on: September 22, 2010 3:32 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Detroit Pistons

Posted by Matt Moore

Things could have gone worse for the Pistons last year. It would have taken an outbreak of the bubonic plague or an appearance from classic Ron Artest, but things could have gone worse. They had horrific injury issues, and when healthy, their big free agents struck far below their goals. The team is still seemingly in a transition period, as everyone waits for Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, or both to get moved, ending the 2004 starters once and for all. But in the meantime, John Kuester's got to get this team back on track. They have way too high a payroll in this economy to have performed as they did. If things don't turn around quickly, the situation could get hot all over in Detroit. With that, we turn to our Preseason Primer on the Pistons. 

Training camp site:  Detroit, MI

Training camp starts:  Sept. 27 

Key additions:  Tracy McGrady (free agency)

Key subtractions:  Kwame Brown (free agency), Greg Monroe (draft)

Likely starting lineup:   Rodney Stuckey (PG), Rip Hamilton (SG), Tayshaun Prince (SF), Charlie Villanueva (PF), Ben Wallace (C)

Player to watch:
 Ben Gordon. Gordon was the premier free agent for the Pistons as they tried to reconfigure their team. Instead, he was pretty bad last year, when injuries didn't keep him off the floor. His shot wasn't there. And Ben Gordon without a shot is like a bike without wheels. It's shiny, but it also doesn't actually do anything. He's not a tremendous defender, he's bad when it comes to creating opportunities for his teammates, and you're banking on him being a volume shooter. So if he's shooting poorly (his eFG%-factoring field goal percentage with threes factored- plummeted to 47% from 52% the prior year), he's not giving you much. He's pledged to be more aggressive this season, and if he bounces back, the Pistons will too... a little bit. Gordon needs to hit camp running, get the starting job, and become the premier talent the Pistons are paying him to be.

Chemistry quiz:
 It's either an egg waiting to be hatched, or a time bomb set to go off. Rip Hamilton hasn't been happy the last few years, and he and Tayshaun Prince, the last remaining members of the '04 championship team, have been on the trade block for years now. That situation could sour quickly if Dumars gets involved in late-stage discussions (to the point where one or both of the two are notified to start packing) and it falls apart. From there? There's no real sense of how these guys will do together, because the main cogs haven't been together that long. Stuckey's been around for years, but Will Bynum is still getting comfortable along with Gordon and Villanueva. Oh, Villanueva. That's a whole other story.

Injury watch:
 The entire team. Every single one of them. Only four players played more than 70 games last season. That team needs healing potion more than your level 78 mage.

Camp battles:
 The easy out here is shooting guard as Ben Gordon tries for 400th time in his career to win a starting spot while Rip Hamilton keeps his death grip. But given the odds that both of them will be healthy for the duration of camp, this one's hard to classify as a battle, especially with how willing Gordon is to accept a sixth man award role. The real battle is likely to be at power forward, where Jason Maxiell is no longer the kiddo and could make a legitimate push for the starting power forward slot if Charlie Villanueva doesn't show the requisite toughness for Kuester. And while Greg Monroe probably won't win it, his raw ability may put him into a fight with 84-year-old veteran Ben Wallace. All of this is before the Pistons' biggest dilemma. Dynamic Will Bynum who can be inefficient and force things at times, or Rodney Stuckey, who can simply vanish now and then. Pretty much Prince is the only one locked in.

Biggest strength:
 They can't be as bad as last year? The team has scorers, if they're healthy. If they can find a system that works to their strengths, they can put points up on the board. Villanueva is versatile and athletic, Gordon can detonate at any time, Monroe is going to be a great pick, and the team can attack the rim relentlessly... again, when healthy.

Glaring weakness:
 Defense. Clap clap. Defense. The Pistons were the fifth worst team in defensive efficiency last year. Some of that is injury related, but a large part of it is that Dumars gambled on heavy offense free agents subscribing to the system, and that just didn't happen. Ben Wallace was downright inspiring last year, but he's just got too many miles on him. This team is inconsistent, and seems to have problems with differing agendas. Camp needs to gel them on the defensive end.
Posted on: September 8, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 9:50 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Which coach is on the hot seat?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

Which coach has the hottest seat going into the season?


Scott Brooks.

No kidding, you have to put Scott Brooks on this list. Even though he's been instrumental in taking a team with nothing but young players and turning them into a playoff team that looks every bit ready to challenge for a Western Conference title, Brooks has to be on this list. Why? Because he was so good last year he won the career death sentence: the Coach of the Year award. Let's take a look at the previous winners, shall we?

Mike Brown: canned.

Byron Scott: deleted.

Sam Mitchell: terminated.

Avery Johnson: gonezo.

Yeesh. Watch your back, Scottie.

Okay, besides the superstition, who's actually in danger of losing their gig this year? Here are four candidates.

Jay Triano: It's been stunning how Triano has managed to avoid harsh criticism for his squad's performance which helped lead to Chris Bosh's departure without so much as a consideration for staying in Toronto. Brian Colangelo takes all the blame for constructing a spineless defensive team with too many inconsistencies offensively, despite acquiring Amir Johnson and Reggie Evans and being willing to spend for Hedo Turkoglu (who despite all his problems, was a legit quality free agent last summer). Yet Triano's team wound up with the worst defensive marks in the league, falling out of the playoffs down the stretch, and he walked away largely unscathed. Now the Raptors are suffering with a significant lack of talent, and often, guys who underperformed with talent end up getting removed when they actually have good reasons for underperforming... much like Triano faces this season.

John Kuester: The offensive wiz of a team now considered to be one of the greater disappointments of the last decade had a rough opening season. Injuries and subpar play from their big free agents (which most people saw coming outside of the Pistons, though not to the degree) played a part, but this is a cold hearted business that very rarely provides reasonable responses to legitimate causes for losing. If Kuester can't get the Pistons turned around with that payroll, his reputation may not spare him from the axe of Joe Dumars.

Flip Saunders: If anyone in the entire league has an excuse for struggling through two seasons, it's got to be Saunders. Saunders was at the helm for one of the most disastrous seasons in league history last year, and had to preside over the meltdown, grin, and bear it as all his talent was shipped out in a rebuilding plan. John Wall was a Godsend, but Saunders has to deal with re-integrating Gilbert Arenas, containing the combustible Andray Blatche, and trying to move the franchise forward with John Wall. Throw in new majority ownership from Ted Leonsis, and Saunders may have too much stacked against him to survive a poor start, fair or not.

Jim O'Brien: Larry Bird has committed to O'Brien, has stayed by his side, and recently gave him a vote of confidence. But he's in the last year of his deal, which makes letting him go much easier to swallow. On top of that, the questions about talent are no longer going to valid this year. The Pacers now feature a legit center in Roy Hibbert, a legit star forward in Danny Granger, and a star point guard in Darren Collison. If O'Brien can't make this team work in a thin Eastern Conference, with at least some improvement, Bird may run out of patience for him.


 
 
 
 
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