A street-clothes-clad Rodney Stuckey stood on the sidelines during the Pistons 104-102 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night. As the game began, those in the twitter-verse were forced to speculate the reason for the benching because Lawrence Frank wouldn't provide any information before the game other than that it was a "coaches' decision." Some fans sent tweets out guessing that the reason for a Stuckey-less roster was a trade, others using the '#pistons' tag were speculating that an undisclosed injury was the reason. The game ended, Lawrence Frank was asked about Stuckey's absence, and the speculation continues nearly 24 hours later.
After the game all Frank had to say about the decision to bench Stuckey was that once again, it was nothing more than a ''coaches' decision."
"Just a coach's decision. Right now, let's talk about the game," Frank said, dismissing the Stuckey questions during the post game telecast.
Frank preferred to talk about the good things that the team did against the Magic. That's fine, but being defensively dismissive of the question says a lot to those of us still looking for the story around the benching. If it were an injury keeping Stuckey out, then why wouldn't Frank simply call it a chance for Stuckey to get some extra rest? When the telecast ended there were two options, a trade was coming or Stuckey got into another player-coach confrontation reminiscent of the John Kuester coaching days.
Today, the Detroit Free Press talked with Frank at the Pistons practice facility. There was prodding about Stuckey's availability for Tuesday night against Milwaukee, but Frank was pitching the same line:
“I’m not trying to pick and choose who and who I don’t give information to," Frank told a Free Press reporter today. “It’s going to be a blanket answer. There are certain things that are sacred to me, and one of them is team business. All you’re going to get from me is ‘coach’s decision.’ Right now, all I’m focusing on is getting ready for Milwaukee."
Although Stuckey's name was listed in our article about Pistons trade possibilities, it's doubtful that the benching had something to do with Stuckey being moved. In fact, Mlive reported that when Joe Dumars was texted about whether the benching had something to do with a trade he responded, "Not at all." (Read Mlive article here)
If we're using the process of elimination, it's safe to say that Rodney Stuckey got into verbal confrontation with Lawrence Frank.
If Frank and Stuckey did get into a verbal spat with one another, then the decision to bench Stuckey and the coaches' tight-lipped answers to the Stuckey questions aren't odd. With the team setting their sights on the eighth and final playoff spot, it's likely that Frank didn't want any distractions for a roster full of first and second-year players. The benching would serve to put out the distraction that Stuckey 'might have' caused in the locker room. The dismissive answers would serve as an attempt to turn the local media off the potential distraction, therefore preventing the press from creating more stories about something that is, as Frank put it, "sacred." The problem with that logic, if it was used, is that the distraction isn't going to go away just because no one in the locker room wants to talk about it.
Drama breeds distraction, and when the press is forced to cover a 17-27 team any sort of drama is going to dominate the headlines. Frank's silent treatment is only creating more of it.
Tags: Basketball, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Lawrence Frank, NBA, Rodney Stuckey
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