The frustration of the evening flowed over into the postgame. Walker and Kuester were overheard in a heated exchange in the coaches’ office, with Walker objecting to how he was being reprimanded, and Stuckey and Kuester had words when the coach met with the players about being ready to play no matter how long they’ve sat or what the circumstances involved.
Walker and Stuckey weren’t the only ones to indicate unhappiness with Kuester. Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press:
They were down 99-96, but there were 36 seconds left. There was no need to rush a three-pointer.
So what happened? Ben Gordon tried to get open for a three and was guarded. He passed to Austin Daye — who rushed a three-pointer.
"We should have gone for two," Kuester said. "The execution of the play did not work out the way we wanted to."
But Gordon was asked if they were supposed to shoot a three and said: "I guess everybody was a bit confused, and we forced a shot up."
And Daye was asked if players could ask more questions to be clear on what the coach wants. Here is what he said:
"Uh … I don’t know, man. I’m in my second year, so … I mean, yeah, I think I could ask more questions, but also I think it falls on … the collective whole team, us all being on the whole page. And I think at times we are and we’re really successful. And at times, when it’s crucial, we’re not … at times."
It was pretty clear: He didn’t want to say it was the coach’s fault, but he thought it was the coach’s fault.
For the Pistons’ short- and long-term outlooks, these situations are troubling. It’s troubling how little the team respects Kuester. It’s troubling that even assistant coaches can’t control their second-guessing in public. It’s troubling how that sentiment has spread from the old guard to the new guard (although not the newest guard).
But how meaningful is all this? Since late December, the Pistons have played harder and better. They’ve done everything that a team responding to its coach looks like it’s doing.
So, they can keep questioning Kuester publicly all they like. I’m not convinced they’ve tuned him out. That’s amazing to say about a coach who has taken more public hits than any this season, but I think it’s true.
Kuester’s Pistons tenure ending in disaster might be inevitable. But as long as he hold this team together – even if it’s by the weakest of threads – I’m not ready to concede he’ll lose it entirely.