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Greg Monroe’s first 20-point, 10-rebound game won’t completely overshadow Richard Hamilton’s inactive status

John Kuester showed his stubborn side – ignoring, for a moment, whether it was justified – tonight. By suspending Richard Hamilton despite having only 10 other healthy players, Kuester chanced foul trouble, injury or DaJuan Summers’ chaotic play wouldn’t doom Detroit’s chances of winning.

Thankfully for the Pistons, the Hamilton-Kuester showdown was their only lose-lose situation, and they beat the Nets, 92-82. But the non-descript victory – a likely lottery team winning at home against a worse team – won’t hide the elephant in the room.

That didn’t prevent Kuester from trying to detract attention from Hamilton after the game.

Asked about the logic behind keeping Hamilton inactive, the coach said, “it was an internal decision.” Kuester apparently liked that line, because he repeated it when asked, “Is Rip done here?” Obviously, the answer doesn’t make a lick of sense with that question.

On another Hamilton-related question, Kuester even praised the play of Summers, who took what would have been Hamilton’s minutes at shooting guard. By the way, Summers missed all three of his shots and had two fouls, one turnover, no rebounds, no assists, no steals, no blocks and a team-worst minus-8 in eight minutes. Drawing attention from Hamilton to Summers wasn’t the way to go.

If Kuester really wanted to pretend the Hamilton storyline was insignificant, he should have answered every question by talking about Greg Monroe, who had 20 points (10-of-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds . With his career-high in points, Monroe became the sixth rookie with a 20-point, 10-rebound game this season.*

*Those six have combined for 38 20-10 games – 31 by Blake Griffin. DeMarcus Cousins has three, and Monroe, Trevor Booker, Landry Fields and Timofey Mozgov each have one.

It’s scary how much better Monroe can get. Nine of his 10 baskets were assisted or putbacks. At some point, the Pistons will ask him to display the ability to create his own shot he showed at Georgetown.

But anything short of a 40-20 game wouldn’t have made this his night.

Hamilton’s stepped decline – his removal from the starting lineup, his removal from the rotation, and now, his removal from the active roster – has given several rounds of attention to his downturn with the Pistons. We’ll never know for certain, but the Hamilton situation hasn’t appeared to hinder the team’s focus.

But is everything hanging by a thread?

Tayshaun Prince called Kuester removing Hamilton from the rotation “buffoonery.” I doubt Prince feels much differently about Kuester suspending Hamilton.

Ben Wallace apparently expressed displeasure with Kuester’s decision, too.

After the game, Will Bynum said Hamilton could help the team and was asked whether he or other players had gone to Kuester to lobby for Hamilton. Bynum paused and laughed. “We can’t go to Q, man,” Bynum said.

I understand many players would have reservations about questioning a coach in any situation, but on well-functioning teams, players can go to the head coach with concerns. On most teams, there’s at least one leader who can express the players’ issues to the head coach.

The Pistons definitely aren’t well-functioning, and they’re not even most teams. This situation looks, by far, more irreparable than ever. Kuester will barely talk about it, and Hamilton said he thinks he’ll never play for the Pistons again.

Detroit, which entered tonight on a four-game losing streak, must keep winning to return attention to the court. That’s far from an easy task – even if Monroe produces more 20-10 performances.

For a while, the Hamilton saga will fill the center ring of the circus.  (And I might be treating the circus unfairly by comparing it to the Pistons’ season.)

8 Comments

  • Feb 5, 20111:24 am
    by Brett

    Reply

    I was at the game tonight and if for night only, it was nice to see good effort by the 10 guys who suited up (although CV didn’t look right tonight)…It’s strange how all the old guard see to be openly questioning Kuester, just a blatant lack of respect, but I suppose its not that strange when you consider that same group ran coach after coach out of town when they were all starting and playing 35-40 minutes a game and winning.  It’s apparent that Rip has played his last game as a Piston one way or another, and I’d be very surprised if Tayshaun is back next year (although the way he’s been playing, for the first time in a couple years I can’t complain about him on the court).

    The new era may FINALLY begin in full next year with Monroe, Jerebko, Daye leading the way…this team needs a real point guard in the draft more than anything…benching Rip may have helped, but the biggest help to this team was the insertion of McGrady into the starting lineup…Rodney Stuckey just is not the answer at point guard.

    Here’s to hoping that next year we can just talk about basketball…a young nucleus of Drafted Point Guard, Ben Gordon, Daye, Jerebko, Monroe, CV look alright, although far from great…I heard Matt Dery say on the postgame that he’s “tired of talking about talk” instead of basketball…I couldn’t agree more.

    • Feb 5, 20112:57 pm
      by rick

      Reply

      r u serious dude? U really like that win last night against the next sorry team to us.? That really gets your blood pumping? Who is that line up scaring(theone u mentioned)? Dumars fired the coaches not the players. Get over what the media feeds you. Dumars traded Billups before signing a true point guard. How do you get excited over a guy who has micro-fracture surgery and did not help this team win anything, and not appreciate what one non injured veteran did for you for nine straight years? Just because Detroit is your team does not mean that they can do no wrong, and in this situation they are wrong. Lack of respect is when you sign Iverson and the coach benches you over Iverson that is blatant lack of respect. Respect is not saying that Rasheed gets a pass because of his high level basketball i.q. along with playing skills. Come on Joe allowed for these guys to reign free and now he wants to put his foot down by hiring a career assistant coach who should know better and look at how a old school coach someone like Chuck Daly who said this a players league. I belive half of the players wont be on the team and that includes Dumars as well as Q and Hamilton. So their is that and by the way Dumars will get another job if he pleases,but Q wont unless Larry Brown hires him.

    • Feb 5, 20117:54 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Brett, I’m with you. I like seeing this team play with effort — no matter the opponent. It makes the game so much more enjoyable.

  • Feb 5, 20113:05 am
    by jgk281

    Reply

    What was up with Kuesters comments praising Summers’ great play tonight?

    The kid had ZERO’s all across the board, fouled a 3 pt shooter, and had a terrible TO.

    What was Kuester talking about?

    He was awful tonight. Literally contibuted nothing, but A few negative plays. smh

  • Feb 5, 20118:15 am
    by Ryan

    Reply

    I hate the way we keep firing coaches and I’d love for us to find a coach we can stick with BUT it’s time to fire John Kuester. I don’t think that Richard Hamilton is faultless and I expected far more from him in terms of leadership, flexibility and consistent defensive effort (I won’t blame him for the largely crap offense of the whole team) for all of that Kuester has handled this terribly.
    He should have been upfront with Rip way back when and said I’m benching you because you’re not playing as well as you can and it’s hurting us. Rip could have chosen to hear that very valid message and work his way back into the rotation or ignored it but either way it would have been on him. Instead Kuester hasn’t been direct and he hasn’t given a great player any road back.
    The result has been that Coach Kusters has alienated one of the great Pistons of all time, the fans and probably handed over his own job along the way.
    I’d love to see Kuester fired and a clear statement made that the organization does not tolerate childish behavior or leadership. Then I would like Brian Hill use the next two games as tryouts for the entire roster. We can finish the season on an up note, reestablish Rip as a cornerstone or at least get him some trade value and begin the search for a good coach.

    • Feb 5, 201110:12 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Ryan, I can’t say that I disagree with you. But I would point out that Brian Hill has allegedly had serious problems communicating and relating to his players in Orlando (twice) and Vancouver, which led to his getting fired. Hopefully he’s learned from those things, but I think there’s a chance that if he’s the interim coach, he runs things pretty much the same way Kuester does.

    • Feb 5, 20117:57 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Ryan, you want Kuester fired because “the organization does not tolerate childish behavior or leadership”? And on those grounds, the Pistons should do what with Rip?

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