There was a moment during the Detroit Pistons' recent win over the Sacramento Kings that Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars should have taken notice of.
During a third quarter timeout, assistant coach Brian Hill had the team huddled near the bench, and head coach John Kuester stood on the outside of the huddle, looking over Hill's shoulder as he drew up the ensuing play. The same scenario unfolded multiple times in the Pistons' previous win over Toronto as well.
It's painfully obvious Kuester's voice falls on deaf ears in the Detroit locker room. Hill's, however, may not.
Sitting at 11th place in a dismal Eastern Conference (the Pistons were 14-26 entering Sunday), Detroit is in need of change, even if it is just change for change's sake.
Swapping out Kuester for Hill is the easiest step towards breathing new life into the team. It's a change that should have been made yesterday.
Hill has a wealth of NBA head coaching experience, something Kuester came to Detroit without. While he is under .500 all time as an NBA head coach (298-315), he reached the playoffs four times, including back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and an NBA Finals appearance in 1995 with Orlando. Kuester went 27-55 in his first year at the helm of Detroit and doesn't have the team in contention for a playoff spot this season, either.
Certainly, Detroit's problems run deeper than just the head coach, but removing Kuester would mend some immediate wounds. Currently, the Pistons lack an identity. Players don't know their roles because they do not have defined roles. Kuester switches lineups at the rate Wall Street brokers sweat through shirts.
The team's veteran leaders—Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace—are clearly alienated. Rodney Stuckey, once thought of highly enough to be the point guard of the future, doesn't know what position he's going to be asked to play or how many minutes he'll get. Neither does Ben Gordon. Or Charlie Villanueva. Or Tracy McGrady.
Kuester is up against an unwinnable battle. Whether it's Tom Gores or the next guy in line, the Pistons are going to be sold. That owner is going to want change, and an explanation for why he's paying $100 million for two bench players. There is no way Kuester is the team's head coach next season. He's a lame duck and his players know it.
Dumars might not survive the ownership change either, but his best chance is to make a move, or multiple moves, that lead to some positive momentum in the second half of the season.
Sometimes it's not the play being called or the speech being given, but it's the voice and the style in which they are delivered. The Pistons need a new voice.
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