Motor City Meltdown

Star players aren’t the only ones trying to control the front office of an NBA franchise.

In an attempt to oust coach John Kuester, five players skipped Friday’s morning practice and two more showed up late.

The protest resulted in seven players being unable to suit up for Detroit, leaving just six players available during a 110-94 loss to Philadelphia.

The starting five all played at least 35 minutes and the only reserve, forward Jason Maxiell logged 29 minutes of action.

Detroit was further handicapped in the second quarter as Kuester was ejected arguing a no-call against Maxiell.

The disarray was on full display as Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace and Rodney Stuckey were seen laughing as Kuester was making his way to the locker room.

What makes the incident in Philadelphia so baffling is the Pistons are only 4.5 games behind Indiana for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Although Detroit has a slim chance of reaching the post season, the final 21 regular season games will be interesting for other reasons.

It’s been no secret tension in the clubhouse has been brewing for months.

The conflict stems from Kuester benching shooting guard Richard Hamilton earlier in the season.

The move was a necessity for Detroit, as Hamilton was averaging just 13.3 points per game in 25.7 minutes, the lowest averages during his nine-year stint with the club.

Hamilton has been benched since Jan. 10 and has only appeared in 35 games this season.

Hoping to being dealt prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, Hamilton rejected a chance to play in Cleveland but couldn’t come to an agreement for a buyout from the Cavaliers, nixing any chance for a move.

Second-year coach John Kuester lost control of the Pistons months ago.

Instead of waiting for the team to move in a different direction, the Pistons roster tried to force the hand of ownership with its absence in practice.

The team was considering a protest prior to its 115-109 victory over the Pacers on Feb. 16, the final game prior to the All-Star break.

Believing Kuester was going to be fired, the team called off the protest and awaited the announcement during All-Star weekend.

Dissatisfied no action was taken, in terms of the team being sold, no coaching change or roster changes, the Pistons staged their rebellion against Kuester Friday morning.

The act of defiance isn’t the first this season in Detroit.

Prior to the All-Star break, following a loss, the team left during the middle of Kuester’s post game speech.

Clearly all respect for Kuester has been lost by the Piston players, but just fining Hamilton, Stuckey, Austin Daye and Chris Wilcox for being late or missing practice, also undermines any authority the coach could possibly have on the team.

Allowing the six player to dress and sit on the bench proved to be a mistake, but watching them laugh as Kuester was ejected made it impossible for anyone to side with the players.

Detroit’s antics weren’t limited to just the basketball court.

Even the players that did show up for Friday’s shoot around have taken shots at Kuester.

Following the loss to the 76ers, forward Charlie Villanueva had Twitter buzzing again, although this incident had nothing to do with Kevin Garnett.

Villanueva retweeted a message from a fan claiming Kuester doesn’t put his team in a position to win despite having talent.

With over 137,000 followers, Villanueva’s retweet further proves just how deep the rift between the Pistons and their coach runs.

No matter how badly the team dislikes its coach, there is no way only six players should be available to play.

Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski suggests the seven inactive players should be forced to apologize to their teammates and the organization for the embarrassment they caused.

Instead, Daye, Stuckey, and Wilcox were back in the starting lineup the following night. Tayshaun Prince, Hamilton and McGrady all missed Saturday’s contest against Utah.

With Kuester still at the helm and nine players seeing action on the court, Detroit defeated the Jazz 120-116 at the Palace in Auburn Hills in front of 18,564 fans.

Following the game, Kuester said he considered the incident over and was moving forward.

Basketball has always taken a backseat in Hockeytown and with this Detroit Pistons team, there is no reason for that to change anytime soon.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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