If you’ve been following the implosion of the Detroit Pistons this season, you have to feel a little bad for them. And if things weren’t bad enough, they somehow got worse last night.
Taking on the 76ers in Philadelphia, embattled Pistons coach John Kuester had only six players on his squad suit up for the game. This stems from a recent boycott of a morning shootaround practice by key players such as Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Tracy McGrady. In last night’s game, as Kuester was being shown into the locker room following his ejection, McGrady could be seen smiling and laughing at the incident.
Between the five Pistons starters, each played an average of over 42 minutes with point guard Will Bynum playing the entire 48 minutes without a break. In contrast, the Sixers, playing with four subs, were able to better rest their players and soundly won by a score of 110-94.
The question I find myself asking most in all of this is why Rip Hamilton has fallen so quickly from grace (at no fault of his own, I might add). Last year, Hamilton sat out a total of 36 games, but he still had valuable contributions when he played, averaging over 18 points in games he played.
This year, however, Kuester has kept a healthy Hamilton on the bench for a number of games, allowing him just one appearance since January 10th, and greatly reducing his minutes in games he gets to play in. The 33-year-old still has a lot of ability left, and if injury prone Tracy McGrady is starting, certainly Rip can still provide something more than just cheerleading from the sidelines.
Alas, with this most recent player uprising, I doubt we will see Hamilton back on the court for the rest of the year. But although it’s pretty much guaranteed that he’ll be back playing next year (in Detroit or elsewhere), I can’t say the same for Kuester. He should be fired long before the season is over.