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Rip met with coach to repair relationship

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich.

Detroit Pistons president Joe Dumars gave head coach John Kuester a vote of confidence Monday.

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The Pistons' coach has been embroiled in controversy after reports surfaced that several players skipped a team shootaround last Friday in Philadelphia in an alleged act of protest against Kuester.

But the team made an effort to distance itself from the hullabaloo following Monday's practice.

"First of all, John Kuester has my full support as we try to make a push towards the postseason over these last 21 games," Dumars said in the message published on the team's Twitter account.

"We expect everyone that represents the Detroit Pistons to do so in a first class manner and that will continue as we move forward," he added.

Kuester has had a volatile relationship with the players, most notably 11-year veteran Rip Hamilton, since taking over as coach before last season, according to multiple reports.

Hamilton, who reportedly instigated the alleged player protest, has been fighting a season-long battle with Kuester, including an "expletive-filled" verbal assault on the coach that resulted in his benching in January.

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The three-time All-Star allegedly labeled Kuester a failure and "nothing more than a career assistant coach" during the outburst, according to Yahoo! Sports.

But the pair have reportedly cleared the air during a recent closed-door discussion, according to a report on the team's official website.

Neither player nor coach would divulge details of the conversation, with Hamilton simply saying the two had come to a "mutual agreement."

"What we talked to all the players about today was we're starting this thing really fresh," Kuester said following Monday's practice, according to the team's website. "What I mean by that is being able to earn your minutes on the basketball court in practice, in shootaround, in the game itself. The energy was pretty much there today."

The Pistons are five-and-a-half games behind Indiana for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Detroit plays Tuesday at Milwaukee.

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