LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons finalized what has been a formality, cutting ties with three-time All-Star Richard Hamilton.
Detroit made the move Monday after both sides agreed to terms of a buyout.
Hamilton was due to make $19 million guaranteed over the final two years of his contract in Detroit. He was bought out for $11 million, saving the rebuilding team $4 million in cap space this year and $4 million more next season.
A text message seeking comment was sent to Hamilton by The Associated Press.
Hamilton has posted messages on his Twitter account about cleaning out his locker and parting ways with the Pistons.
“Thank u to all my Detroit fans,” a message reads on Hamilton’s Twitter account. “Love all of u. U will always have a special place in my heart. Yessssssirrrrr.”
The Pistons planned to retool with Hamilton when they traded his backcourt mate Chauncey Billups to Denver 2008, but the shooting guard and the team has been reeling ever since that transaction was made.
Hamilton and some of his teammates clashed with former Pistons coach John Kuester last season and he scored just 14.1 points per game, his lowest average since his rookie season.
During the good times, though, Hamilton was one of the key players who helped the franchise win the 2004 NBA title. He starred during a run in which the Pistons reached at least the Eastern Conference finals six straight seasons and almost won back-to-back league titles. He was acquired from Washington in a six-player trade that sent Jerry Stackhouse to the Wizards before the 2002-03 season, one the moves that turned an awful team into a championship contender.
Hamilton has averaged 17.7 points in a career that started in 1999 with Washington and flourished in Detroit.
Relentlessly running around screens to set up his mid-range jump shots, Hamilton averaged more than 20 points over 120 playoff games with the Pistons and led them in scoring in eight of his nine regular seasons with the team.
Hamilton is one of four active players — Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are the others — and 20 players in NBA history who have averaged at least 20 points over 120 postseason games, according to STATS LLC. The list is led by Michael Jordan, who averaged 33.4 points in the playoffs.
“We thank Richard Hamilton for his time here with the Pistons organization,” Detroit president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said in a statement released by the team. “Rip was a champion with us and a big part of our success over the last nine years. We wish him all the best in the future.”
The native of Coatesville, Pa., is expected to land with the Chicago Bulls. Hamilton would have to clear waivers and pass a physical, but the Bulls appear to be a fit for him and his game.
“I think Rip’s a hell of a player,” Chicago center Joakim Noah said Saturday. “I have confidence they are doing the right things.”
AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Deerfield, Ill., contributed to this report.
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