Yesterday, the Pistons staged a “sleep-in protest” of John Kuester, with five pistons skipping practice. Kuester responded by benching those players for last night’s game against the Sixers, and wound up playing just six players. In a shocker, the Pistons lost by a healthy margin. But that wasn’t the surprising part. Kuester was ejected from the game for arguing with officials. And the Pistons who were benched, including Tracy McGrady, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Wallace, and Austin Daye showed the proper respect for such a thing happening to their coach in his hometown in front of his daughter. By laughing. Check out the video.
Not cool, Pistons.
But that’s not all. ESPN reports that the players’ had organized such a move before the All-Star break, but were persuaded not to by assurances Kuester would be fired over the break. After he was not fired, Rip Hamilton not traded and denied a buyout opportunity, the players were moved to go through with whatever they thought yesterday would accomplish. The result is about as close to a mutiny as you’re going to find.
The players’ biggest mistake here was surrendering the high ground publicly. Kuester’s a losing coach who obviously has lost the team. Simply following that line to its natural end would remove him. Even going to the media would have resulted in a better result than yesterday’s fiasco. Because now the media and fans will turn on you. They’ll abide discontent, they won’t abide quitting. If the players were avoiding the press for fear of a fine, that was a pointless pursuit because they’re sure going to be fined or suspended now.
Kuester has not been a good coach in Detroit, but the players shouldn’t have done this. It does make you wonder, though, what would drive a group of veterans, who, whatever their reputations, have always shown up to work, to take such drastic measures. As executive management, Joe Dumars has to punish the players. But he’s also got to look to the source of such behavior.
The only real victims here are Pistons fans.
DeMar DeRozan drains game winner to cap 37-point night, Raptors beat Knicks 92-91
With Kyle Lowry out until around the start of the playoffs, a lot is going to be asked of DeMar DeRozan. Monday night at Madison Square Garden, he delivered.
The Raptors needed a bucket as time ran down, not only got the ball to DeRozan but got the switch so Derrick Rose was guarding him, and that allowed the Raptors star to get to his spot, rise up and bury the midrange jumper for the win.
It capped off an impressive 37-point night for DeRozan — he’s going to need to do more of this in the coming weeks.
Kevin Hart rings bell before start of Sixers game vs. Warriors
Michael Beasley was getting back up court to try and defend a LeBron James drive to the basket early in the clock Monday night when he took an awkward step and appears to hyperextend his knee. You can see the video above. He tried to leave the floor under his own power but had to be helped back to the locker room by teammates.
Beasley has been solid off the bench for the Bucks this season, averaging 9.7 points a game with a and with a PER of 17.6 (above the league average). They would miss him in the rotation as they try to make a playoff push if he has to miss any time.
Kevin Durant on return to Washington D.C. that never was: “I really just didn’t want to play at home”
A year or two ago, there was a palpable buzz among Wizards fans — they had a shot to get Kevin Durant. LeBron James had just returned like a prodigal son to Cleveland, and there seemed to be a sense from fans that other stars wanted to go home to play. The Wizards needed another star, they had the cap space, so some saw a path for Durant to return to his native D.C.
Except, a lot of players don’t want to go home again. Not to play.
“I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home,” Durant said. “It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone.
“I was like, I’m trying to build a second part of my life as a man living in a different part of the country, just trying to do different things. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new. I didn’t want to come back. That’s just my thought process behind it. It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”
Not every Wizards fan will see it this way, but that’s an entirely reasonable thought process. Sometimes in life, we need a change of direction, and for Durant this would have been a step back into the past. The one he made to go to Golden State has worked out pretty well for him so far.
KD is not alone in this. Players see a lot of added stress returning home, both in terms of expectations and the demands of family and friends (asking for tickets, etc.), and some are just not into the idea of a return. The idea that Blake Griffin wants to return to Oklahoma and play for the Thunder may not fit with who he is right now. Russell Westbrook seems to like it in OKC and isn’t itching to get back to Los Angeles (but Paul George might be). Each player is a different case — how they view their hometown, whether they would want to play for the team there — and each will make his decision.