UPDATE: As always, I am an idiot. Langlois tweets that Monroe is starting, Chris Wilcox(!?!?!) is back-up big man and Maxiell is out of the rotation.
Pistons coach John Kuester, attempting to simultaneously stem the bleeding, avoid a mutiny and possibly save his job, has announced that he is ready to do something drastic — shorten the rotation.
When you are talking about roles, it is real simple,” Kuester said. “We have to make sure guys know their roles. We have spoken to them a lot about their roles defensively. We have offensive explosion, but we have to make sure we take care of the basketball.”
This comes on the heels of Ben Wallace and Ben Gordon being open about frustrations with lack of identity and lack of roles, and other players, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey, acting defiantly toward coach Kuester.
Dan Feldman at Piston Powered uses this, and a column from Vince Ellis to suggest that Hamilton and Prince might finally see reduced roles on the struggling team.
I think this paragraph from Ellis – who’s probably the most connected beat writer covering from the team – means Joe Dumars will give the OK to reduce the roles of Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, possibly as far as removing one or both of them from the starting lineup, if the Pistons keep losing.
Hamilton and Prince, especially Hamilton, haven’t done much to help the Pistons win this year. But I get why they’re playing. They’re known quantities. Their track record says teams can win with them. The Pistons rightly aren’t giving up on them after 25 games.
But what about 40?
Unfortunately, as much as I wish this to be the case, I think he’s got it exactly backwards.
If anything, I think a shortened rotation would mean MORE of Hamilton and Prince and less of Greg Monroe, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum and Austin Daye.
Where do I get that idea? Farther down in the article on Kuester’s rotation threat following the embarrassing loss to the Toronto Raptors, he explains his vision for how to make the Pistons a success:
“Kuester said the Pistons did a good job offensively at the end of the Raptors game – in regards to getting the ball to the right people.
Kuester wanted the ball in the hands of Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton.”
Despite evidence to the contrary, Kuester seems to think Prince and Hamilton are vital to some sort of Piston resurgence. To me, that means that the starting lineup would stay intact and changes would begin with what was tried — and failed spectacularly — last year: sliding Prince over to power forward and letting Hamilton play small forward.
I think Maxiell would be the first starter to get the hook, with Prince sliding to the four, Hamilton to the three and Ben Gordon coming in off the bench. Charlie Villanueva then comes in for Prince, Maxiell and Monroe fighting for time spelling Wallace, Tracy McGrady subbing in for Rodney Stuckey, wash, rinse, repeat.
If I am right, that means the current starting lineup, with its -15 plus/minus rating would remain intact and if the first sub is indeed Gordon, the lineup will rocket all the way up to a -9 differential, according to 82games.com.
Will it lead to the playoffs? Almost certainly not. Will it placate a group of stubborn veterans whose commitment is the only thing separating the Pistons from a top-3 lottery team to a struggling 30+-win team that buys Kuester another season? It might. And that is about the best Coach Kue can hope for at this point.
That means that the average age of our main rotation players becomes older than 28 — including a possible marginalized role for the 20-year-old Monroe dragging down the average — not what you’re looking for from a cellar-dwelling, rebuilding franchise.
And out of the rotation will be players that can legitimately help including sharp-shooting Daye, who is just itching to open up the lane for a driving Rodney Stuckey, and the team’s second-best rebounder in Monroe — I’m counting him because I’m really worried that his role is going to be greatly diminished, not because of play but simply due to the fact that he isn’t a veteran, he’s a quiet, reserved player, and “something needs to change.”
Kuester has shown that for the most part his bark is worse than his bite. We’ll see tonight when the Pistons face the Atlanta Hawks exactly what a “shortened rotation” might look like. Whatever it is, it will have more to do with placating a group of unhappy veterans than trying to actually create the most successful unit on the floor.