February 25, 2011
It's hard to say. It is the dead of winter, the Pistons are in freezing Pennsylvania, and we've heard conflicting reports as to why five players didn't show up for work on Friday.
The Detroit News is quoting a "team source" as saying that the Pistons held a "player protest," but the News also quotes the team as telling its fans that several of the missing had legitimate excuses for missing shootaround.
For the worst-case scenario, it doesn't take a divining rod to figure out why the players would pass on practice. The Pistons are terrible, the trade deadline passed without any member of the team happily being sent elsewhere in a deal, no buyouts were structured for players to flee the area, and the entire roster seems to hate coach John Kuester.
Tracy McGrady(notes), Richard Hamilton(notes), Tayshaun Prince(notes) and Chris Wilcox(notes) all missed the team bus to shootaround, and as we mentioned above, the Detroit News quotes a team source as saying that the missing Pistons were staging a "player protest."
Only Charlie Villanueva(notes), Jason Maxiell(notes), Will Bynum(notes), Ben Gordon(notes), Greg Monroe(notes) and DaJuan Summers(notes) were present and fully participated. Jonas Jerebko(notes) also was there, doing his usual rehab workouts.
The players have not been happy with their coach, seemingly all season, for the way he communicates, among other reasons.
Kuester said the lineups will be evaluated before tip-off Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Kuester deflected direct questions about what was going on with his team.
"We'll go with the group that was here. We have a number of guys who have that bug," Kuester said. "These guys went through shootaround the way they were supposed to."
John Kuester was the supposed offensive mastermind behind Cleveland's 2008-09 run to the best record in the NBA, and he was hired by the Pistons in the summer of 2009 to great fanfare. The next two seasons have been an abject disappointment, and Kuester's Pistons are 21-38 as they enter play on Friday, 6 1/2 games out of the playoff bracket.
Detroit was the subject of myriad trade rumors and buyout options for good reason -- the team is thick with former stars who think they deserve better, without actually playing "better." Kuester's style has grated on the team, Detroit is easily the most boring team to tune into amongst the NBA's 30 squads, and according to the Detroit News, the mess has hit the fan.
We'll have to see how this plays out, though. Sometimes expected frustrations don't actually manifest in what you'd anticipate. It's quite possible that these pros actually have legitimate reasons for missing practice. It's also just as possible that these guys wanted nothing to do with showing up for another shootaround with John Kuester.