Rip Hamilton is living in basketball limbo.
He hasn’t been playing, sat down by his coach. The Pistons are trying to find someone to trade for him but Hamilton but he is owed $25 million over the next two seasons. Guaranteed.
At that price nobody is interested in making a trade, reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.
There were reports that Boston or Dallas would want him, but you know why those two franchises are near the top of the league? They make smart player-personnel choices. Well, Boston does. Dallas already signed Brendan Haywood to the “vastly overpaid role player” spot on the roster, so they’re good. Heading into new, unknown financial waters with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, no smart team is taking on $25 million for a nice role player (which is what Rip is now, at age 32 he is not the scorer to be feared he once was).
The problem for Rip is, the Pistons sat him Jan. 12 against the Memphis Grizzlies (because the rumored three-team Carmelo Anthony trade was about to go through) and the team is a solid 5-5 without him. That includes knocking off the Magic and Mavericks, plus putting a real scare into the Heat on Friday. They are playing their best ball of the season. Sure, playing .500 is not getting them to the playoffs but for this season’s Pistons it is a huge step up. And if you learned just one thing from Bull Durham it’s that you don’t mess with a streak.
The Pistons could buy him out. (Dallas, Boston and others would have interest in a free agent Hamilton at a league minimum). However until the ownership sale to Tom Gores goes through there is no chance of that happening. And with all the stops and starts in that process we could have peace in the Middle East first.
Rip is too good to be sitting out Pistons games with the “stomach flu.” Detroit under John Kuester has gone away from running Hamilton off picks for catch-and-shoots and doing some of the things he can still do (the way Boston uses Ray Allen, for example).
But with the team playing well Kuester has no reason to change.
So Rip lives in basketball limbo.