Pistons Report: Getting Inside
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A day after most of the team’s veterans didn’t show up for a shootaround, the Pistons managed to get through an entire game without creating more controversy.
Embattled coach John Kuester was still patrolling the sideline, Richard Hamilton was still lurking behind the bench in street clothes, and owner Karen Davidson was in her usual seat along the baseline.
The club did not suspend anyone after seven players missed the morning shootaround in Philadelphia on Friday, which prompted Kuester to use only six players. Kuester remained on the job, mainly because he has a year remaining on his contract and Davidson is trying to finalize the sale of the team. President of basketball operations Joe Dumars kept a low profile, refusing to comment on the controversy. He also did not meet with the team Saturday. Monday, he issued a statement saying Kuester has his “full support.”
There has been one positive development amid the madness — the club’s younger players have displayed maturity despite the boorish behavior of some of their teammates. With Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Tracy McGrady and Ben Wallace unavailable Saturday, the younger players carried the team to a win over Utah.
“We’ve had a lot of interesting things happen to our team,” Kuester said. “The guys that worked tonight, God bless them, they gave me everything they had.”
Second-year forward Austin Daye, who along with Rodney Stuckey showed up late for the Friday shootaround and was benched, took the bullet and addressed the media after Saturday’s game. Daye said it was honest mistake, not a show of support for the vets who boycotted the session as a protest against Kuester.
“You make a mistake and you learn from it,” he said. “That’s exactly why I didn’t play (Friday). Trust me, if I could have been on time, I would have. It hurt me to see my teammates out there with only six players. That’s a mistake on me, and I apologize for it.”
Daye, Stuckey, Hamilton and Chris Wilcox were fined for being late or missing the shootaround. It’s unclear whether McGrady, Prince or Wallace were also disciplined. They supposedly had excused absences.
McGrady and Wallace were not at the arena Saturday, while Hamilton and Prince did not address the media. Those veterans still have some explaining to do, while younger teammates took responsibility for their actions.
“I got benched for a game, and I understand why,” Daye said. “I didn’t hold a grudge. I told Coach when I saw him that he made the right decision.”
Stuckey also apologized.
“I’ll take full responsibility for it,” he said. “It won’t happen again.”
PISTONS 120, JAZZ 116: The Pistons scored a season high in points while winning for just the second time in eight games. Guard Rodney Stuckey scored 28 points while Austin Daye added 18, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
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