Rodney Stuckey was a serviceable point guard option for the Pistons during his first seven NBA seasons, but when it was time for him to become a free agent, he believes that someone on the team tried to sabotage him.
Stuckey is a bench player in name only. He’s led the Pacers in minutes played the last two games, and ranks third on the team in minutes per game. He played 36 minutes, 58 seconds against Milwaukee, including all of the fourth quarter and overtime. Call him a reserve if you like, but attach an asterisk to it.
“A lot of people were questioning my character,” he said. “’Oh, he’s not a good teammate.’ This and that. That and this. I’m a great guy. I’m very humble, I come to work each and every day, do my business.”
But someone with the Pistons tried to sully his reputation, he said.
“It’s just unfortunate,” he said. “I’m not going to say names, but I know who it was. It’s just unfortunate for that person to throw me under the bus.”
Stuckey is on a minimum salary deal with the Pacers, and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
He wants to remain in Indiana, but should have plenty of offers to play elsewhere, too — as long as he isn’t similarly disparaged by a member of the Pacers on his way out of town.
Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: San Antonio reminds you they are the champs
1) San Antonio would like to remind you they are the champs (and are playing like it again).We talked about this on PBT Extra Monday — the Spurs are starting to play like the Spurs again. Which should concern other teams out West with title aspirations because the Spurs are the bar to clear. With their comfortable win Tuesday over Toronto, San Antonio has won six in a row. During that streak, they are scoring 112.6 points per 100 possessions (second best in the NBA at that time) while allowing just 95.5 points per 100 (sixth best). It all starts with Tony Parker getting into the paint again — half his shot attempts Tuesday came within eight feet of the rim — and he finished with 23 points and nine assists. Plus, Parker was 6-of-9 on contested shots. However, the real star was Kawhi Leonard with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and five steals. If you’re looking for a highlight, he threw down on Tyler Hansbrough.
2) Meanwhile, the Raptors slide continues unabated. Part of the reason San Antonio looked so good Tuesday was that Toronto looked so awful. Again. The Raptors have now lost 9-of-10, and that one win was against the Sixers. The problem is their defense, which is allowing 109.1 points per 100 possessions in that stretch, 29th in the NBA. Tuesday they scored a respectable 107 points against the Spurs, Kyle Lowry scored 32, but they lost by 10. It’s strange because Dwane Casey has the reputation as a defense-first coach, but this team’s system leaves them in constant mismatches and finds them scrambling as much as any team in the league. The Raptors looked better in the second half; they made their run, but by then it was too late.
3) You can’t throw an alley-oop pass too high for Anthony Davis. Look how high Davis has to go to pull in this pass from Norris Cole. Seriously, so long as it’s in the building he can get it.
4) LeBron became the Cavaliers’ franchise leader in assists. LeBron James moved past Mark Price to become the Cavaliers all-time assist leader when he hit James Jones in the corner, and Jones knocked down a three. That gave LeBron 4,207 assists as a Cav. By the way, he already owns the franchise records for points and steals.
5) Rodney Stuckey? Rodney Stuckey keeps the Pacers train rolling right toward the playoffs. Every once in a while Rodney Stuckey can still get it going, and Tuesday night was one of those times — he came off the bench and shot 6-of-7 for 16 points. And that was just the first quarter. Stuckey had 25 points by the half and finished with 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting. He had one beautiful shot chart on the night.
The Pacers tied their franchise record wit 17 three-pointers on their way to an easy 118-86 win over Orlando. Indiana has now won six in a row and looks like they should take one of those final two playoff spots in the East. Plus the team will get Paul George back soon, although not by March 14 as he had once hoped. But soon.
Rodney Stuckey says Pistons’ downward spiral began with Chauncey Billups trade
Seemingly overnight in the late 2000s, the Detroit Pistons went from perennial title contender to…well, what they are now. There were plenty of factors that led to this, including the disastrous signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in 2009 and the recently-waived Josh Smith in 2013. But former Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey, now with the Pacers, says the biggest factor in the franchise’s decline was trading 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to Denver for Allen Iverson in 2008.
“I wish they wouldn’t have traded away Chauncey, to be honest with you,” Stuckey said. “I wish they would’ve took the San Antonio Spurs philosophy of keeping all their vets and get younger guys around their vets and doing it that way. You see how successful they are.”
“After Chauncey left, that’s when everything went downhill. Chauncey was the glue that held everything together and held everyone accountable,” Stuckey said. “When you trade away that you see what happens. Everything was just a domino effect after that. If I’d say one thing that would be my thing.”
The Billups/Iverson trade was a disaster from the start. Iverson checked out as soon as he got to Detroit. He bristled at coming off the bench behind Rip Hamilton and had his worst statistical season to that point. Billups, meanwhile, led the Nuggets to that year’s Western Conference Finals, their deepest playoff run of the Carmelo Anthony era.
That trade took place during Stuckey’s second year in the league, when he was still developing and looked up to Billups as a mentor at the point guard position. There are few better people to learn from as a young guard than Billups, so it’s no surprise that Stuckey was shaken up by the trade.
There were a lot of terrible moves made by former Pistons GM Joe Dumars. That trade was near the top of the list.