I’m sorry, typical Pistons fan. You’re not going to like this. You’re already sick of Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, and this won’t make you like them more. Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
Hamilton and Prince didn’t elaborate on the improvement in chemistry that is required, but you don’t have to be a psychologist to figure it out. Take the lingering bitterness over the Billups trade, combine it with three coaches in three seasons, and lather it all up with losing and you have a team that one person close to the situation said is "in need of serious change."
The way the veteran core of Hamilton, Prince, Billups and Rasheed Wallace ran roughshod over Flip Saunders at the end of his tenure has come full circle. After a dismal year under the inexperienced, but no-nonsense Michael Curry, the Pistons have another pushover in the lead chair on the bench. Old habits have returned under first-year coach John Kuester, whose vision for the future is being clouded by the faces of the past.
There’s a growing feeling in the locker room that Kuester isn’t holding the veterans on the team accountable, and that he’s "too soft," said a person with direct knowledge of locker room conversations.
"Once Joe traded Chauncey, that was sort of the tipping point for all that stuff," the person said. "There is this old-guard mentality there, and it holds them back."
Berger’s column has plenty of flaws (see below the jump). But I think the above passage gets at a huge issue with the Pistons.
I’ve noted Tayshaun Prince’s apparent poor attitude with his new coach and his new teammates. And I expressed doubt’s about whether Kuester could transition from being an assistant to a head coach who commands respect.
I’m not ready to vilify Hamilton. I think he really wants to be in Detroit. He went out of his way to praise Ben Gordon before the season, and I think that was, in part, an effort to show the two could coexist. And he’s transformed his game to fit better as a second fiddle. Still, this column gives me pause.
Looking for a silver lining? Maybe these issues will make it more likely Joe Dumars trades Prince and Hamilton. Not so fast. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
“Teams calling the Detroit Pistons about Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are finding out that GM Joe Dumars isn’t interested in expiring contracts, but getting value for his players.”
“The Pistons’ chemistry experiment is 15 months in the making, and the toxic stew that was cooked up when Chauncey Billups was traded to Denver in 2008 still isn’t any more palatable.”
Truth: This group of core players has played two games together. Two! I have a lot of doubts about whether it will work, but you can’t say they’ve had a chance and failed – at least not yet.
Stuck in the middle are the players who represent the future, in the form of Rodney Stuckey and 2009 draft picks DaJuan Summers and Austin Daye.
Truth: Has he ever heard of Jonas Jerebko? Pistons most productive rookie? Playing in the rookie-sophomore game? Ring a bell?
“Prince would be good in the East or the West.”
Truth: This is more a distraction that a flaw. Any player who’s good in the East would be good in the West and vice-versa.
“Trading Hamilton is much more problematic. The extension he signed in 2008 — believing, at the time, that Billups would remain with the team — has three years and $38 million remaining.”
Truth: Hamilton actually signed the extension after Billups was traded.
They are the ultimate proof that you can either be in contending mode or teardown mode; you can’t do both.
Truth: Except the Pistons already did that once. Between the 2001-02 and 2006-07 seasons, the Pistons won 50 games every year. They also completely turned over their roster in that span. And they even made the playoffs the two seasons after that.
Such an owner also would not necessarily be loyal to the Dumars regime, which produced six consecutive conference titles and one NBA title but nothing much since.
Truth: Well, it was only two straight conference titles (six consecutive trips to the conference finals). But this is like saying James Cameron hasn’t directed a ground-breaking movie since “Avatar.”