Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince Must Depart So Detroit Pistons Can Rebuild

Greg Eno@@GregEnoSenior Analyst IMarch 1, 2010

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 26:  (L-R) Tayshaun Prince #22 and Richard Hamilton #32 of the Detroit Pistons sit on the bench in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 26, 2009 in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  The Cavaliers won 99-78.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Pistons just slogged through another unproductive, unsuccessful road trip out west. Of course, they can’t really win out east, down south, or up north, either.

“Pistons’ inconsistency maddening to fans” read a headline on MLive.com.

The Pistons aren’t inconsistent; they aren’t any good—that’s the problem.

They win a game here and there, then lose several, not due to any inconsistency, but due to the fact that they don’t have the goods to hang with most NBA teams on most nights.

But the Pistons can do this re-tool, rebuild on the cheap, if they permanently cut all ties to their glorious past.

It’s time to part ways with Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, and go with what’s left over, then add to it—via the draft and mid-range free agents.

The Pistons have a chance to get through this rough patch and still maintain a degree of dignity, if they make Jonas Jerebko a starter, same with Ben Gordon, and give playing time to Austin Daye and DuJuan Summers.

Rodney Stuckey is the clear choice at point guard, and he should be; Stuckey has what it takes to be a top-tier NBA No. 1 guard.

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Start Gordon, Jerebko, and Daye, team those guys with Stuckey and the venerable Ben Wallace, and call it a season. You’re not going to the playoffs; you may not even win 30 games.

Dump Hamilton and Prince, even if it means choking down their contracts. If the Pistons are serious about turning the page and rising from the ashes, then they ought to divorce themselves from the 2004-05 glory years entirely.

Neither player is what he once was. Neither provides leadership or inspiration. Neither is anything special; players like Hamilton and Prince are to the NBA what cooked rice is to a Chinese restaurant.

Prince, especially, is useless. The ball gets dumped into him and he holds onto it for about a week. He has no explosiveness, no moves. He doesn’t draw fouls. His shot is erratic. He’s not a particularly good passer. Other than that, he’s great.

Prince is a 12-point, six-rebound a night guy, and there are about 150 players in the league who can do that. He hasn't made a big play since blocking Reggie Miller's layup in the 2004 Conference Finals.

The Pistons can prevent a total bottoming out if they hit a home run in the draft and bring a low-scoring big man to Detroit. The home run comparison is not only apt, it’s mandatory. President Joe Dumars hasn’t been a power hitter in the draft; sometimes he hasn’t even fouled the ball off. But this summer, there can be nothing less than a drive over the fence in order to save face.

Speaking of faces, who are the Pistons? What is “Piston basketball” anymore? And who is the face of the franchise now?

Answer: no one.

Stuckey is a good player but he’s frightfully low on effervescence. Wallace is too old. Jerebko is too young.

The face might have to be whoever ends up being the Pistons’ first-round choice in 2010. That might be the player who gets splashed on the cover of the media guide and yearbook and whose mug you see on the fold-out schedules that rest on all the counters of all the party stores around town.

Dumars must show signs of having some semblance of a plan. The Pistons are in danger of skimming bottom with no discernible plan or identity. That’s not a good combo.

They can start in both categories—plan and identity—with the cashiering of Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, forthwith. Why not cut Ben Wallace, too? Because Ben comes to play every night and he’s on his last legs anyhow. His better-than-expected season is one of the few things worth talking about when it comes to this group of Pistons.

All I see when I look at Hamilton and Prince are two reminders of what the Pistons used to be; I don’t see where the team is heading.

That is, unless they hang onto those guys. Then I see things getting worse before they get better.


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