Pistons' Hamilton sits but talks
Feb. 8, 2011
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The whole Rip Hamilton-John Kuester situation has me completely flummoxed, dumbfounded, confounded, you name it.
It just doesn't seem to make sense that two grown men who won an NBA championship together could not somehow find a way to resolve whatever has come between them.
Hamilton did not play in Tuesday's 100-89 loss to the San Antonio Spurs because of a sore groin, which he partially attributed to not having enough time to get ready to play Saturday in Milwaukee.
"Certain preparation before the game and stuff I've been doing for years, getting myself ready for the game, I didn't get an opportunity to do it because I didn't know that one, I was going to be active, and two, that I was going to play," Hamilton said. "It happened. I'm happy I got in the game but kind of put me in a setback."
Rodney Stuckey returned after missing five games with a right shoulder contusion, scoring 10 points in 28 minutes.
Kuester has said that Hamilton is the third shooting guard behind Ben Gordon and Stuckey. Gordon had eight points in 23 minutes Tuesday.
But Hamilton scored 15 points in 20 minutes on Saturday. He might not be a great defender but he can still score when properly motivated.
Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace have already gone on record saying the team needs Hamilton on the floor.
An outside observer with a good perspective is former Piston and current Spur Antonio McDyess. McDyess said he still keeps in touch with Prince, Wallace and Hamilton and has dinner with them when he comes to Detroit or when they visit San Antonio.
"I'm confused because he's such a competitor, he's a winner," McDyess said. "To see him on that bench not playing is crazy. It just don't make sense to me. But hopefully whatever it is turns around for him."
The first thing that has to happen is, Hamilton has to accept that his role as the Pistons' main scorer has changed. Now that he's older -- he turns 33 on Monday -- and the Pistons have Ben Gordon, 27, and Rodney Stuckey, 24, his role should be as an off-the-bench spark plug.
Hamilton could actually talk to McDyess about that. McDyess used to be a starter and one of the top players in the league when he was younger and before he got hurt. McDyess has accepted that he's not that player anymore and he has thrived with both the Pistons and Spurs in his limited role off the bench.
If you believe what Hamilton says, perhaps he could be convinced to take on that role.
"The one thing that I always love to do, and that's play basketball," Hamilton said. "That's all I want to do is play basketball. I don't want to get into 'he say, she say.' I don't want to get into 'a source said this,' 'a source said that.'
"I speak and I tell you what I mean and what I have to say with certain things. Sometimes you hear 'sources,' I'm like, who's the source? My teammates talk, I don't need to talk. It's just one of them things that I just want to play basketball. That's it."
Since the Pistons have not been able to trade Hamilton, Kuester should find a way to incorporate Hamilton back into the team. Hamilton can still contribute and he's making a really nice salary, so you might as well use him.
Sure, Hamilton has not handled the situation all that well and has been stubborn, but not playing Hamilton when Stuckey was out with the shoulder injury seemed equally stubborn.
Can whatever has been said or not said between Hamilton and Kuester be resolved?
"That's a great question," Hamilton said. "I mean, It's one of them things that I thought should have never happened in the first place and then if it was something that needed to get resolved, it should have got resolved after the first game I sat, not 30 days later."
Since he said he wants to play, Hamilton was asked if he still wants to play here, for the Pistons.
"If it's here, you know, I'll be ready, just like I went into the game -- who'd we just play? Milwaukee," he said. "I mean, I went out and played, I wanted to win, we got a win, so that tells you my feelings and my experience for putting on that uniform. Every time I put it on, you know, I put my blood, sweat and tears in there every night."
Until the ownership situation gets resolved -- and prospective buyer Tom Gores was in attendance Tuesday -- it would behoove Hamilton and Kuester to play nice with each other. They don't have to send each other Christmas cards or go out to dinner together, but they can work together for the good of the team, at least for the time being.
McDYESS STILL LOVES THE DEFENSE
McDyess might be a Spur but he still has warm feelings for Detroit.
"Always, coming back, with the memories that I had in this arena, and with the players that's on that team, it's always kind of difficult and emotional coming back here playing, so this is always my home and I always call it my home," McDyess said. "This is the best, the highlight of my career when I played here. It's always good coming back."
The Spurs have the league's best record at 43-8 but McDyess said that doesn't mean a whole lot.
"I had that here, too," he said. "Still didn't win a championship. So I always try to tell the guys, no matter what your record is in the regular season, you just gotta continue to play and hope for the best when it comes to the postseason because anything can happen. You can have the best record but at the end of the day you can still be put out because everybody's zero-zero."
The Palace crowd was announced as 16,132, but it was a far cry from all the sellouts McDyess remembered from his time here.
"It is very odd," McDyess said. "Like Semi-Pro, that movie Semi-Pro with Jackie Moon and the Flint Thunders or something. It was crazy because it was so dead in here. Not to see the crowd into it and the crowd we used to have is kind of odd."
McDyess said no matter what happened with the Spurs in the playoffs, he intended to retire after the season.