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An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rip-less Pistons haven't looked pretty

Pistons fans calling for the team to trade Richard Hamilton have gotten to see a glimpse of what the team looks like without Hamilton over the past five games.

Wonder if they like what they see?

The results —1-4 — have not been pretty.

Why Hamilton — who has been a huge part of the Pistons’ success over the past decade — has not been able to win over some of the Pistons fan base is surprising.

Before the ink could dry on Ben Gordon’s contract, people were ready to ship Hamilton out of town and toss him aside like yesterday’s news.

How many leading scorers on an NBA championship team have been treated in such a fashion and without showing a decline in their skills?

Hamilton, for all his faults as a player, was the least of the Pistons’ recent problems. In my humble opinion, it’s another member of the 2004 championship team (not named Wallace) that has gotten the free pass from fans, despite being vastly overrated, but that’s another column for another day.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out what Hamilton has to do to get the respect he deserves in Detroit. He’s already came out and said he would like to stay here for the rest of his career and one day have his No. 32 retired.

Does he have to pull a Chauncey Billups and lead another team to the conference finals before people appreciate what they have?

I know what people who want to trade Hamilton are saying, ‘This team needs a big guy.’ Well if you trade Hamilton, this team will need a shooting guard.

Offensively, Gordon is one of the top guards in the league. But a starting backcourt of Gordon and Rodney Stuckey can’t get the job done defensively. And Will Bynum, who has been unbelievable, can’t back up both guys.

Trade Hamilton for a big guy and who is your backup shooting guard, Chucky Atkins? DaJuan Summers? Wonder if Deron Washington would come back?

The Pistons’ best option is Stuckey and Hamilton in the starting guard spots, with two great backups in Gordon and Bynum. The Pistons’ four guards, when healthy, are one of the better units in the league.

Nobody is going to argue the Pistons will need to improve their frontcourt to become an elite team again, but are any of the rumored big men on the trading block going to do that either?

If you trade for Carlos Boozer, is he going to help the Pistons overtake the Celtics, Cavaliers and Magic? I think not. And do the Pistons want to give him the max deal he is going to want in the offseason?

Another name out there is Chris Kaman, who is playing great for the Clippers right now. But is he really going to propel the Pistons back to the NBA’s elite? I think he’s got a better chance of getting Baron Davis to invest in his farm.

I could list more guys, but you get the point. There is a reason these guys are ‘available.’

Do you really want to give up Hamilton and likely something else to get them?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Hamilton is untouchable by any means, but he is certainly not a weakness for the Pistons.

Hamilton is a solid scorer and defender, whose presence on offense helps open up things for others.

The only knock I have on Hamilton is his leadership. Can Hamilton step up and be a leader? I don’t know the answer to that. He hasn’t had to do it up to this point in his career with the Pistons, but they need him to be a leader this season.

It should be noted, though, that the last time Hamilton was asked to be a team’s unquestioned leader was at Connecticut and he led them to the 1999 national championship.

Pistons fans just have to be patient with this team, which I know is hard to do when you’re used to success. Make a wrong move and it could take years to fix.

Hamilton has earned the right to get a chance to lead this team. But if you don’t believe me, then, hey, run him out of town.

Just don’t be surprised when whatever team Hamilton lands on is still playing in May and June, while the Pistons are counting their ping-pong balls.


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