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Another Rodney Stuckey benching overshadows Pistons loss to Celtics

Friday, the Pistons’ loss to Chicago was overshadowed for a good reason: Dennis Rodman’s jersey retirement. Sunday’s Celtics loss was back to the norm: overshadowed by the detrimental conduct of a player.

Seventy six games into the season and Pistons coach John Kuester is still talking about a “growing process,” specifically in reference to a man who is 25-years-old and has been in the league four years.

Rodney Stuckey didn’t play against Boston, reportedly (according to the Free Press … kind of and confirmed by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News) due to the fact that he was asked to re-enter Saturday and refused. Kuester was asked about it in the post-game press conference and predictably gave his typical non-answer. Who knows what Stuckey’s issue is, but his clashes with Kuester are now a relatively common occurrence. He isn’t on the same page as his coach, and that’s understandable. Kuester hasn’t done a good job with this team. But Stuckey is a professional, he’s a veteran player even if he is still young and he just flat out hasn’t been a consistent player through the entire course of his career. His upside is undeniable, but he’s dangerously close to the point when discussions about a player’s “upside” quickly turn into conclusions about never living up to potential.

Joe Dumars has publicly reiterated his commitment to Stuckey a few times this season. Part of the reason he does that is he has to. It’s not exactly a sound strategy for the GM to go around criticizing his own players. But hopefully, it’s just typical GM speak by Dumars. The Pistons can’t trust Stuckey to be a pillar of this team. First of all, he just hasn’t played well enough to be that guy. His improvements in four seasons have been extremely incremental. There are constant excuses made for why he hasn’t become the player Dumars thought he would. The constant clashes with Kuester are a good indicator of why that is: Stuckey is immature. Professionals simply don’t refuse to re-enter a game, particularly a close game with the legends of your franchise in attendance watching.

And secondly, don’t these incidents really call Stuckey’s intelligence into question some? He’s a player with immense physical gifts who is heading into free agency. In the preseason, he talked of his readiness for a breakout year. He was given the starting point guard spot and the bulk of the minutes at that position for about half of the season, yet the breakout never arrived. He shifted to shooting guard and still played inconsistently. And on top of that, according to Goodwill’s article, this is at least the third incident of outright insubordination involving Stuckey this season. What team is going to invest big money in a guy who has not yet lived up to his potential and on top of that, has been a difficult personality to deal with? I certainly hope it’s not this team.

Teams often deal with difficult personalities because the tradeoff is their on-court production is worth any headaches they provide in the locker room. Stuckey is a middling NBA player who is not worth the issues he’s reportedly caused this season.

Oh yeah, there was a game

When Boston shoots 64 percent and ‘shots’ like this go in, no one is going to beat the Celtics. The Pistons did some nice things though. They forced 19 Celtics turnovers by exhibiting good hands defensively. Will Bynum was a bit sloppy with the ball and didn’t create as many shots for others as you’d like your point guard to, but he was constantly in the lane and scored 24 points against one of the top defenders in the league, Rajon Rondo. The Pistons built an early lead then had a terrible opening 10 minutes in the second quarter, but closed the half nicely with a 9-0 run to cut the lead to one at the half.

The third quarter once again doomed the team as the Celtics’ superior ball movement created open threes for Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett got free inside and the team quickly built a double-digit lead while the Pistons struggled to shoot the ball. Bynum and Charlie Villanueva spurred a couple of mini-runs to get back within single digits, but the Pistons never really threatened again.


  • Apr 3, 201110:01 pm
    by Tim Thielke


    Best failed alley-oop ever!

  • Apr 4, 20116:12 am
    by detroitpcb


    One would think that any observer of this season would by now have concluded that it is the intelligence of the coach that should be called into question and not the players.

    • Apr 4, 20119:03 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      Kuester’s lack of intelligence goes without saying. He’s as lame duck as a lame duck coach can get. But you can’t simply refuse to enter a game. You just can’t. Particularly when you’re heading into free agency and particularly when you haven’t been consistently productive over the course of your four year career. I don’t know what Stuckey’s intelligence level is. But for him to be disobedient to the point that he has now been benched three separate times this season for insubordination is a horrid business decision.

  • Apr 4, 20117:35 am
    by 2Tough


    I will not defend Stuckey any more.  This guy is a malcontent and a loser, and quite frankly, he’ll be lucky to be in the NBA next season.

    • Apr 4, 20119:05 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      The best thing for everyone involved might just be a fresh start elsewhere. Frankly, the expectations for Stuckey in Detroit were raised to unfair heights by management. Stuckey is a rotation caliber guard who still has upside. But you’re right, his attitude has been terrible. He can control that, and he had every reason to control it better with free agency looming.

  • Apr 4, 20119:10 am
    by vic


    i’m very dissapointed with Stuckey… He’s displaying immaturity.
    but to be absolutely honest he has the biggest pieces left in the chess match.
    He’ll be a semi-all star with the right coach. He has talent and ability and he knows it. He’s not Derrick Rose but he’s not a benchwarmer either. He should not be overpaid, but he does have more value than what he feels Kuester is giving him.  He can blossom with the Pistons new coach, or he can blossom with a c good coach from another tea.

  • Apr 4, 20119:59 am
    by gordbrown


    I have mixed feelings about Stuckey. And I’ve defended Kuester in the past because I wanted him to do well. But frankly a coach that costs his team games by putting his own ego in front of winning doesn’t deserve to be paid either. It has already been demonstrated that performance in games is not the standard to earn playing time, which I think is insane. In a way, the circus was here before Kuester, but you have Hamilton playing poorly, berating his coach, being benched and then being rewarded by a stamped starting spot and disappearing after the first quarter in game after game. Statistically, Stuckey is still a better player this season than Hamilton and has contributed more to the team’s success (such as it is) and yet the double standard stands out vividly. The difference is I suppose Hamilton was able to put a team on his back and carry it in the past (although he was always more of a complementary player) and still can sporadically. Of course, Stuckey can do that too, albeit also sporadically. Further, Gordon has also demonstrated that ability in the past and look how he is treated. So a large part of the circus is on Kuester. You can’t make the players responsible and give him a pass. It’s his job to put players in positions to succeed and the reason the team is flailing is largely his inability to do that. To play Stuckey with Maxiel and expect him to get assists is a crime. No wonder Stuckey is frustrated. Our hope has always been Stuckey would outgrow the negative elements caused by his frustration. At times this season, I have seen him make some strides in that. Frankly, I would still like to see him in an atmosphere where the entire team shares that same ambition.

  • Apr 4, 201111:11 am
    by BIG MARV


    All he had to do was shut the hell up for at least half of a season because not only you selling yourself to detroit but you selling yourself to other nba teams. They (other nba teams) will know when you cuss out a coach or refuse to come back in the game you just put another scar on your sub-par career. He has to go for the fact that friday he has no respect for the organization or the hall of fame players that paved the way for this team. Stuckey is a quiet west coast guy that you can tell dont like the east coast. let him go so he can fade away somwhere in portland, La clippers, or the Anaheim Kings.

  • Apr 4, 201111:24 am
    by Rodman4Life


    let’s cut bait this offseason!!

  • Apr 6, 20114:24 pm
    by Allen


    Stuckey is much better than his stats reflect.  Were his team in either of the past two years to have shot worth a darn…he would have two or three more assists per game and another bucket or two.  That is a reality.  If you are looking to cut ties with a guy that will never live up to expectations…trade charlie and open up space for when Jerebko comes back.

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