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.
Well played Stephen Curry, well played.
He was joking around with Justin Timberlake at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend (you can watch it on NBC, check your local listings) when Curry poked a little fun at himself by throwing his mouthguard.
Last time he did that he got a $25,000 fine. This time he got some laughs.
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and a number of Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets players wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts in warmups after the death of Eric Garner in New York. LeBron and his then Heat teammates wore hoodies for a photo shoot after the Travon Martin shooting. NBA players have made other protest fashion statements, with no repercussions from the league.
But when WNBA players wore black warmup shirts in support of Black Lives Matter and other anti-violence protests, the WNBA came down with fines for the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury ($5,000) and players involved ($500) for uniform violations. That led to a lot of backlash — including among WNBA players. Some refused to answer basketball questions with the media after recent games.
Saturday, the WNBA rescinded the fines. As they should have.
The women’s players’ union supported the move, via a statement from the director of operations Terri Jackson.
“We are pleased that the WNBA has made the decision to rescind the fines the league handed down to the players on the Fever, Liberty, and Mercury. We look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with the league to ensure that the players’ desire to express themselves will continue to be supported.”
I want a league — for men or women — where player’s individuality and statements can be made — I don’t want the NBA to be the button-down, cookie cutter NFL. Let the players be themselves. And if players want to weigh in on the biggest social issue of our time, they should. Without fear of repercussion.
Good on the WNBA for coming around to that.
Meyers Leonard could be poised for a big season in Portland. His minutes jumped last season because he provided spacing. With Portland adding Evan Turner on the wing to go with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, any big who can stretch the floor is going to get run, and Leonard has turned himself into a stretch four.
Leonard just hopes he can show what he can do at the start of the season — he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery. Here is what he told the Associated Press.
“My hope is to be ready right around the start of the season,” he said. “It’s a progression, first introducing rebounding, grabbing stuff overhead, then one-on-one, three-on-three, extending to the full court. We’ll see. You just never know.”
Leonard had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in April (they could have used him in the playoffs), and the timeline then was to have him back around the start of the season. Before he was shut down, he proved enough to get a four-year, $41 million contract extension with the Trail Blazers this summer.
The Trail Blazers will start Al-Farouq Aminu at the four, and Moe Harkless can certainly play there too (I’m far less sold on the future of Noah Vonleh). Leonard wants to get back before someone starts to steal any of his minutes.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Pelicans say they have signed free-agent forward Terrence Jones and re-signed guard Tim Frazier.
A person familiar with the negotiations says Jones, a four-year veteran, signed a one-year deal Friday for the NBA minimum of about $1.14 million, while Frazier has signed a two-year deal worth about $4.1 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not released contract terms.
The 6-foot-9 Jones, who was Anthony Davis‘ teammates on Kentucky’s 2012 national championship team, has spent his first four NBA seasons with Houston, posting career averages of 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Frazier played in 16 games for New Orleans late last season, averaging 13.1 points, 7.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 29.3 minutes per game.