Has Richard Hamilton quit on the Detroit Pistons? That's what some people in the organization think after Hamilton sat out Sunday's game with an upset stomach.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Hamilton began feeling ill around the time Pistons coach John Kuester announced that he was going to make changes to the starting lineup. (He also did not participate in Saturday's practice, according to the Detroit News.)
One of those changes was for Ben Gordon to get the start at shooting guard, moving Hamilton to the bench. The move seemed to work out for the Pistons, as Gordon scored 24 points in an overtime win over the New Orleans Hornets.
But even after Gordon's performance and a big win, there were some grumblings about Hamilton's supposed illness.
"He quit on us," one team source said. Another team source said Hamilton is acting out of emotion and should adjust.
Hamilton's been on the trading block for two years, and he would like a change of scenery.
General manager Joe Dumars is apparently aware of the perception toward Hamilton right now. Of course, he's also likely worried about such rumors affecting his trade value.
"If I need to have a long talk with him, I will," Dumars said Monday on WDFN. "I'll see how Rip is doing tomorrow when he gets in here. Rip's been good for me."
Hamilton, 32, is in the midst of the worst season in his nine years with the Pistons. He's scoring 13.6 points per game, four points below his career average. Hamilton is also shooting approximately 41 percent, which would also be a career-worst. (Though he shot a similar percentage last season.)
Three ejections on technical fouls this season also call into question Hamilton's demeanor on the court. Is he really frustrated with how referees are calling the game? Or is his behavior a manifestation of unhappiness with his role on the team, Kuester, and a 9-19 record?
But even if Hamilton wants out, and Dumars wants to trade him, getting another team to make a deal might be difficult. Of course, the unresolved ownership situation might present a problem. But after signing a $34 million extension in 2008, Hamilton carries a rather hefty contract to unload. Next year, his salary is $12.5 million. (He's being paid the same amount this year.) And in 2012-13, at least $9 million of his salary is guaranteed.
If this isn't already an ugly situation, it certainly appears that it could get much worse.
(via Ball Don't Lie)