Marc Stein of ESPN has a writeup about today’s Piston Player Mutiny, and in it, he says that the players had been told the team was going to relieve head coach John Kuester of his coaching duties during the All-Star break.
Other stories about the incident have referenced an aborted boycott against Indiana in Detroit’s final game before the break, and attributed the info to Terry Foster’s radio show. The reports seemed to indicate that the Indiana boycott didn’t go through because of a family issue involving Kuester.
Stein, however, writes that it was aborted because the players were told Kuester would be fired.
The organization has to make its own statement on top of the damage those players have done to their own reputations … especially after Terry Foster of the Detroit News reported Friday on his WXYT-FM radio show that some of the same players were planning a similar protest on the morning of the Pistons’ final game before the All-Star break against Indiana but called it off and wound up winning when they were told that Kuester would be ousted during the break.
It’s unclear if Foster’s show is the source for the claim that Kuester was set to be fired or if Stein is adding in his own information. I have not seen that reported elsewhere, however.
For what it is worth, Stein leads his story with this blunt assessment: “Look for the Detroit Pistons to have a new coach by next week.” It seems to be more speculation than inside info, but I think we can all see where this is going.
The real question is how long they will wait. As mentioned in my earlier post about the incident, perhaps Joe Dumars is waiting for the sale of the team to become official so that the new owner can put his stamp on the franchise with the first of many changes — a change at the head coach position. Perhaps the deal was supposed to be finalized during the break, but last-minute haggling slowed things down. If the deal could be sealed any minute then perhaps the team will wait to dismiss Kuester. But perhaps with this kind of open insurrection, Dumars will be forced to make the move himself.
Another important question is what kind of discipline will be handed out to the players. Surely, even the dysfunctional Detroit Pistons, with a legacy of rough treatment of their head coaches, cannot stand by and let this action by the players stand. I think Dumars is going to have to merit out significant, multi-game suspensions for the players involved in this boycott to send a message that all the drama needs to end right here, right now. In fact, I think the players would be willing to stomach a three-game suspension in order to get Kuester off the bench. But anything more than that would bring a fight from the players association that the team does not need nor wants at this point.