The Detroit Pistons were a dysfunctional family the last two years. John Kuester was in a bit over his head in dealing with a rebuilding team that had very little direction — a Frankenstein mix of the championship Pistons teams with a group of young players who needed time to make mistakes.
The old guard fought back a bit last year and it eventually got Kuester unceremoniously fired after going 57-107 in two seasons. There was a moment last year when veterans Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Tracy McGrady skipped a shootaround and a practice to show their displeasure with their new coach. This hardly looked like the team or the franchise that dominated the 2000s with consecutive conference finals appearances.
Kuester is gone, rejoining Mike Brown’s coaching staff now in Los Angeles. Lawrence Frank was hired. Everyone is moving on.
It was an ugly time, and, with Kuester returning to Detroit last night for the Pistons matchup with the Lakers, Tayshaun Prince admitted to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that he wished he had handled things differently with Kuester last year.
“Everybody wishes they would have done something different,” Prince said. “Not just going on when Kuester was the coach, but what was going on when everybody was our coach.
“You always did something and said, ‘Man, I wish I would have did something differently.’ Even with the one good year I had with Carlisle, the two good years I had with Larry, the three good years I had with Flip. Those years I had times where I wish I could have done something different.
It is a perfectly evasive answer — not going into too much detail over what exactly went wrong in the Kuester era — but enough to admit there were things he could have done better to be a professional and play for his team.
Prince was an integral cog of those championship-caliber teams in the mid-2000s. He is still averaging around 14 points per game, even under Kuester. But this year he has seen his field goal percentage dip to 40.8 percent. This defensive ace was not able to be that second scoring option with Richard Hamilton in the wake of the Chauncey Billups deal. And, of course, the Rodney Stuckey experiment has floundered and the Ben Gordon/Charlie Villanueva experiment has flopped too.
It is just a tough situation for a veteran. Perhaps he, and the other players that took part in that “protest” last season, vented their furstrations in simply the wrong way. And now it was time to let bygones be bygones.
Kuester was not even able to get the last laugh. The Pistons topped the Lakers in overtime with Prince scoring 10 points on 5-for-15 shooting. Seems like nobody won in this battle.