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Richard Hamilton's Benching Is Unrelated To Potential Trade, According To Source

When Pistons head coach John Kuester decided to give the Pistons' eight-time scoring leader Richard Hamilton his first healthy scratch as a Piston, most believed it was due to an impending trade that would send Rip Hamilton (and the rest of his burden of a contract) to the Nets. MLIVE's Chris Iott reported last Friday, however, that Rip's series of DNP-CD's are merely a result of Kuester changing his rotation, which obviously no longer involves Rip:

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There has been some speculation -- and at least one news report -- that Joe Dumars ordered the benching of Hamilton to prevent his veteran guard from being injured because of the possibility that he could soon be traded to the New Jersey Nets.

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But the source said that is entirely untrue and that the decision to bench Hamilton was 100 percent coach John Kuester's.

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After today's game, Rip has now been buried on the Pistons bench for four straight games. In the five games before Kuester's change, Rip was shooting 32% (14-44) and the Pistons lost four of five. With Rip in, the Pistons were never capable of giving other shooting guard Ben Gordon (who is younger and has a similar contract to Rip) consistent looks to take advantage of his scoring ability. Further, the offense was beginning to run more smoothly with Tracy McGrady running the point position, which forced Rodney Stuckey over to the two-spot. Thus, feasible minutes for three to four shooting guards simply did not exist and Rip was the odd man out of the rotation.

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The potential trade, which has been close to being completed a few different times, and the fact that Rip is not a part of the Pistons future probably made Kuester's otherwise very difficult decision a little easier. And right now the move looks genius because the Pistons are 3-1 in the past four games and on their first three-game winning streak since March of last season. However, if a trade doesn't happen soon, the players and fans could turn on Kuester more than they already have up to this point -- after everything Rip's done for the Pistons in the past nine years, he definitely doesn't deserve the A.I. treatment. Certainly, he shouldn't be the one who suffers for the roster Joe Dumars constructed.