HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Richard Hamilton deserves better than this.
I don’t care what has gone on this season, what the rift is between Rip and Pistons coach John Kuester or if these are indeed Hamilton’s last days in a Pistons uniform.
The man deserves better than what is going on right now in Detroit. Witness the craziness, per Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press:
Hamilton told the Free Press on Sunday morning that Kuester’s attempt to reach out to him consisted of Jerry Hendon, the team’s security head, coming to him a minute before the team was meeting to go over strategy for Saturday’s game with Phoenix to tell him Kuester wanted to talk to him.
“I felt offended that he sent Jerry instead of coming himself or sending an assistant coach,” Hamilton said. “I could tell Jerry was uncomfortable and I said no.”
He didn’t say how or when, but Kuester told the media Saturday evening that he tried to make a connection with his shooting guard. Hamilton hasn’t played in seven games since becoming the subject of trade talks with New Jersey and Denver and lost his starting position to Rodney Stuckey.
“We made overtures and one of the things that’s important is he is somebody that’s on our team now,” Kuester said before Saturday’s game. “We know that and we’ve reached out to him.”
It’s no secret that the Pistons are looking to unload Hamilton in a trade (he was a part of the failed, three-team Carmelo Anthony deal that would have landed Hamilton in New Jersey alongside Anthony and his former Pistons teammate Chauncey Billups). But to allow things to dissolve into the mess they have become these days is a sad way to part ways with one of the best players in franchise history.
Hamilton might not rank up there with Pistons greats like Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, both Hall of Famers from the Bad Boys’ era. But he was an integral part of a crew that went to six straight Eastern Conference finals and played in back-to-back NBA Finals. Had the Pistons won that Game 7 in San Antonio in 2005 for their second straight title, there’s a good chance they’d have allowed that group to stay together another year or two longer.
Instead, the retooling began earlier. Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are the last two men standing from those Pistons teams (Ben Wallace is also back on the roster, after spending four seasons away from the franchise with Chicago and Cleveland, to finish off his career). And neither seems particularly smitten with Kuester and his style.
Bottom line: the glory days in Detroit are long gone. They are in a full-blown rebuilding process, with the potential sale of the franchise still looming as yet another factor in how that rebuild takes shape. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do right by a player like Hamilton, who showed he still has some fuel left in his tank with a 35-point showing in a win over Toronto just before Christmas.
It’s not like Hamilton is some aged former star that needs to be ushered out of town because he can no longer perform at a high level. Hamilton can still play. He can still be a factor for a playoff team.
For weeks now I’ve been lobbying for Hamilton to be moved to a team that needs exactly what he does best, scoring in a half-court set, a team like the Jazz. As a lover of the game, it pains me to see Hamilton waste away on the Pistons’ bench simply because he doesn’t fit into the long-term plan that Kuester (and the organization) have for the team.
Someone in Detroit needs to do the right thing and free Rip Hamilton (shown below in lighter moment)!