January 13, 2011
Ben Gordon(notes) dropped a white-hot 25 points off the Detroit bench Wednesday night, Tracy McGrady(notes) has brought solid all-around play to the Pistons backcourt of late, and Rodney Stuckey(notes) (though he shot 5 for 15 Wednesday night) had been looking good from long range in the two games prior to Detroit's Wednesday loss to the Grizzlies.
Detroit coach John Kuester thought so, as he benched the former Pistons All-Star for the entire game, in spite of the fact that Hamilton (who has missed time to injury this season) was completely healthy. The Grizzles won handily.
And Hamilton, in a way that won't get himself fined or suspended, is not happy.
"They didn't tell me anything, I was definitely surprised," Hamilton said after the game. "Do I think it was a level of disrespect or unfair or anything? I'll leave that to you all."
First, I'd like to imagine Tayshaun with a British accent and raised index finger as he cries "Buffoonery!"
Secondly, you're not leaving it to us all, Richard.
The problem here is not that John Kuester didn't replace some of Stuckey's dodgy 39 minutes (McGrady is the team's de facto point guard these days) with some run for Hamilton. And the problem here is not some delayed reaction to Hamilton supposedly quitting on the Pistons last month.
The issue is that none of this matters.
The Pistons are such a nonentity, seemingly filled with nothing but shooting guards, that Hamilton's permanence or impermanence on the team has no bearing on things. He could be traded tomorrow or he could average 35 minutes per game for the rest of 2010-11, but it doesn't matter. Because Detroit is going to miss the playoffs and is losing at home to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Unless there's something we don't know about, it should have been on Kuester to at least find token minutes for Hamilton, especially as Stuckey was missing 10 of 15 shots. But you'll be hard pressed to find anyone watching the game Wednesday night, someone who wasn't a Pistons fan, who even noticed that Hamilton was picking up a DNP-CD.
The Nets, rife with potential and assets and looking to actually trade for Hamilton, actually do matter. The problem they have is that the team's one untouchable -- the once-All-Star worthy center Brook Lopez(notes) -- has been downright terrible for long stretches throughout this season. His once-iffy rebounding rate has dwindled to the ranks of the embarrassing -- Brook pulls in just over 10 percent of all available rebounds. For comparison's sake, the league leaders this year are managing 2 1/2 times that mark.
Rebounding wasn't Brook's issue Wednesday night, as he pulled in eight, a mark he's hit just one other time in the last month. But Lopez did force shots down the stretch, bad shots, he was pulled as a result, and had some choice words for Nets coach Avery Johnson as evidenced by a clip we can't show on this site.
This comes a few days after Avery Johnson tossed a shot Lopez's way, apropos of nothing, regarding the center's rebounding issues. And this is where Avery, and not Lopez, needs to get his act together, quickly.
Because the current approach isn't working. It's making Lopez worse, and Johnson is a fool if he thinks repeated use of the same approach, despite failure each and every time out, is the smart way to go here. The Nets are trying their hardest to make Lopez the second-best player on a team featuring Carmelo Anthony(notes), and while that's not going to be a championship core at its best, it's going to be far worse if Johnson keeps handling Lopez this way. Because the third-year center has taken a clear step backward, and it can't be coincidental that Johnson is talking smack on- and off-record about the guy every damn day.
This is what separates good coaches from great coaches. Great coaches get great things out of good players. It's easy to coach go-getters, self-motivators who would hit the floor and take the charge just for the fun of it. It's not easy to pull great things out of players who aren't used to giving that extra bit. And if Avery continues to draw this line in the sand, he's going to fritter away New Jersey's chance at some very good things.