Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press is the latest to chime in on the Pistons’ chaos. I don’t know that anything Rosenberg says is incorrect. But I don’t see many reasons to believe his arguments.
Let’s start with this:
If you believe Stuckey simply overslept, I have Pistons playoff tickets to sell you. He is a talented player, but his attitude has been a question for a long time. I absolutely believe he was protesting against Kuester — and when he realized how many guys actually were going to shoot-around, he panicked and got in a cab. And I believe forward Austin Daye did the same thing.
If Stuckey were smarter, he would realize that he is going to be a restricted free agent this summer and "Organized Shoot-around Boycott" is not a good line on the résumé. This is why I don’t believe that Tayshaun Prince really boycotted practice. Prince clearly does not like Kuester, but he is also a very bright man whose contract is almost up. Prince knows he can criticize the coach in interviews or behind the scenes, but leading a team revolt only will hurt his market value.
Rosenberg makes a huge mistake by assuming Stuckey and Daye were acting rationally.
Criticizing your coach’s ability in the media, yelling at your coach in the huddle and calling your coach’s decisions “buffoonery” will only hurt your market value. Tayshaun Prince did those things earlier in the season, anyway.
If that’s the entire basis of Rosenberg’s argument, I can’t get behind it.
Austin Daye never made a ton of sense as a boycotter. In a locker room divided by young and old, would Daye split ranks with Charlie Villanueva? They appear to be pretty good friends, and Villanueva hasn’t exactly been on the pro-Kuester bandwagon.
If Stuckey alone showed up late, I’d believe Rosenberg’s version of events. But because Daye was in the same boat, I’m buying the story that Stuckey and Daye were late because of scheduling confusion. I’m not certain that was their true reason, but without new contradictory evidence, it’s, by far, the most believable story.
But McGrady is also a smart veteran, and I wonder: Did he have an excuse to skip shoot-around? Or did he get an excuse simply so he could skip the boycott? Put yourself in McGrady’s shoes. You know the coach is in over his head. You know a boycott is going down. You don’t want to damage your reputation by joining the boycott, but you don’t want to tick off your teammates by going to practice. Maybe you get an excuse to skip shoot-around to try to stay out of it.
This is an interesting theory. It appears to be a pretty random theory, but it fits within what we know.
Let’s, for a moment, say it’s correct. Faking a headache to avoid the boycott still means missing the shootaround. That’s the lack of respect for league and profession Patrick wrote about. McGrady doesn’t get a pass because his motive for skipping the shootaround wasn’t to protest John Kuester.
Sure, McGrady would have been in a tough spot in this situation, and he’d have to make a tough choice. But he has to live with the consequences of his decision. If he deliberately chose to skip the shootaround when he could have been there, he’s no different than the boycotters when it comes to the treatment he should receive in the short-term.*
*The only difference this would make long-term is McGrady would be a more attractive player for a Kuester-coached team, if that ever comes up.
Rosenberg goes on:
Then again, maybe McGrady was really sick. What matters here is that Kuester benched him Friday night anyway. And Kuester benched Prince, too. That, as much as anything, tells you Kuester has lost his team. He either doesn’t trust anybody to tell him the truth, or wanted to look like the victim — or both.
The boycott tells me Kuester has lost his team. The continuous whining to media by his players tells me Kuester has lost this team. The Pistons’ terrible record tells me Kuester has lost this team
Kuester benching the boycotting and tardy players? That tells me he disciplined a group of players who deserved punishment. Nothing more.
Even Rosenberg’s speculative excuse for McGrady described a scenario where he’d deserve to get benched. You can’t intentionally skip a shootaround when you could have been there and not face consequences.
Earlier in the column, Rosenberg said, “Prince had a medical excuse for missing practice.” If you believe that, maybe that same medical excuse why he missed the game, not Kuester benching him. If you don’t believe that, Prince deserved to be benched for boycotting the shootaround. Rosenberg can’t have it both ways.
Hamilton has spent months playing victim while attacking Kuester’s credibility. If Kuester wanted to reverse the roles, he could have leaked information about Hamilton’s screed long ago.
Even though the local media had hinted at an incident for quite some time, nobody made the specifics public.
Another point from Rosenberg:
Meanwhile, from all accounts, Chris Wilcox really DID oversleep.
What accounts are those? I haven’t seen any mention that Wilcox overslept besides word from the Pistons, and Rosenberg already said he doesn’t believe them about Stuckey and Daye.
Wilcox hasn’t addressed the media, according to Chris Iott of MLive.com. So, which trustworthy source is saying Wilcox overslept?
Near the end of his column, Rosenberg said:
With no good alternative, Hamilton escalated his ongoing feud with Kuester. And not surprisingly, Stuckey got on board, too. It was disappointing that Daye joined Stuckey (Daye apologized for being late), but you have to hope Daye learns from it.
We’re just a few paragraphs past Rosenberg saying he believes Stuckey and Daye boycotted the shootaround. Now, all of a sudden, it’s become fact?
Rosenberg has some of the best sources of any Detroit-area reporter, and maybe he talked some of them before writing this column. If he did, he should have indicated so in the article. Right now, it reads like a bunch of speculation.
I have no problem with Rosenberg using his knowledge of how the Pistons operate to read between the lines and theorize about what happened. But, as presented, I can’t take this column as anything more than that.