That is what I get for going out of town for the holidays. The NBA trade market gets blown up, “untradeable” contracts get tossed back and forth, the Pistons’ starting lineup changes, a mysterious illness, a player away from a team and Detroit notches an improbable overtime victory against a quality opponent.
Bit it really all comes down to the mystery illness — TummyGate. Following the Pistons’ worst loss of the season, against the lowly Clippers, coach John Kuester again made some noise about lineup changes. Then prior to the game against the New Orleans Hornets, Kuester announces that Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva would be start. Then it’s announced that Richard Hamilton wouldn’t play at all because of what the team called an “upset stomach.”
The timing seemed suspicious and there was no lack of skepticism from the Interwebs. Then Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News does some great reporting and has sources within the organization call out Hamilton, with the bluntest statement being, “He quit on us.” It is not known whether those inside sources are players, coaches or management.
Things got to the point that general manager Joe Dumars was forced to discuss the Hamilton issue on a radio interview, saying “I’ll see how he is when he comes in tomorrow, and if he and I need to sit down and have a long talk, we will.”
With the Allen Iverson debacle is still fresh in many fans’ minds, pouting, refusing to come off the bench and mysterious illnesses cropping up is all too familiar. It seemed, like many have long suspected, that the once beloved Rip Hamilton was becoming A.I. 2.0.
At least for now, those fears seem to be overblown. Following practice Tuesday, Hamilton spoke with the media and said all the right things about coming off the bench, understanding why the move was made and that he just wanted to help the team win some more games. It’s not known if Dumars did have that long talk with him, but so far so good.
The Pistons don’t play again until Wednesday night against Toronto, but it appears the lineup changes are going to stick.
If anything, Hamilton should be encouraged by the recent flurry of trade activity in the NBA in the past week, including the shipping of Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Gilbert Arenas who all have worse contracts and have been less productive than Hamilton.