Will the Pistons reduce Richard Hamilton’s and Tayshaun Prince’s roles?

The Pistons might not be far from changing their lineup, and I don’t mean the vague plan of shortening the rotation John Kuester frequently offers.

No, I mean the large, thought-to-be-forbidden changes many Pistons fans have requested – reducing Richard Hamilton’s and Tayshaun Prince’s minutes, or maybe, even removing them from the starting lineup.

What gives me this crazy idea? Vince Ellis’ Detroit Free Press article today about the aftermath of the Pistons’ loss to the Raptors on Saturday:

But make no mistake, Pistons officials are still smarting from the loss, and there could be fallout if things don’t improve soon for the 7-18 team that many in the front office think is good enough to challenge for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Usually, I’d take that to mean a trade. But with the Pistons’ ownership situation, that’s unlikely. So, I’m going to read between Ellis’ lines – and I want it to be clear I’m only guessing here.

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?

The Pistons are just four games out of the playoffs with 57 left. They’re certainly in contention for now.

But if they keep slipping out of the playoff race? Then I think they’ll make a change. I don’t expect it tonight, and I don’t expect it within a week, but maybe by month’s end.

As I’ve said before, politics plays a key part in John Kuester’s decision to start Hamilton and Prince. But continued losing, especially in such embarrassing fashion, will give the coach ammo for a change.

When Hamilton and Allen Iverson were fighting for the starting shooting guard spot, Hamilton said he was fine coming off the bench – as long as the Pistons won. They didn’t, and he demanded he start again.

What case will Hamilton and Prince have for starting if the season keeps spiraling out of control? Who will they be to whine if their minutes fall at the expense of Austin Daye and Ben Gordon?

Hamilton and Prince have earned the benefit of the doubt, but at a certain point, there might not be any doubt left.

Tags: John Kuester Richard Hamilton Tayshaun Prince

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