RIP AND THE ROTATION
Richard Hamilton isn't close to returning from the groin strain that has forced him to miss five consecutive games. He has yet to sprint or make a hard cut since he was sidelined.
When he's ready to return, Rip needs to make a sacrifice. For the better of the team, he needs to be the first guard off the bench.
That's a lot to ask of a player who has been an All-Star the last three years. But with the current state of the roster, Hamilton would be doing Michael Curry and his teammates a big favor and bring some cohesion to the rotation.
After winning seven straight, the Pistons obviously are better when they play a conventional lineup. Rodney Stuckey needs to remain the starting point and Amir Johnson has to stay in the starting frontcourt to solidify the team's interior defense and rebounding. The Pistons have zoomed up the NBA's defensive charts since they virtually scrapped their small ball tactics.
I don't think Allen Iverson would work well as a sixth man - he's too used to playing heavy minutes and needs that extra time to get into a groove. But how about having Hamilton and Antonio McDyess as your sixth and seventh men? Tell me that doesn't make them a legitimate championship contender.
Here's how Curry should approach it. Start Sheed, Tay, Amir, AI and Stuckey. Bring in Hamilton and Arron Afflalo late in the first quarter for AI and Prince. When Stuckey needs a rest, send AI and Prince back in to handle the ball.
McDyess and Jason Maxiell would play most of the second quarter up front.
Curry can determine as the game goes along which five players should be on the court at crunch time that night.
Now, you've got a coherent nine-man rotation. Walter Herrmann and Kwame Brown are out of the mix. Both would play a lot more somewhere else but you can't have 10 or 11 guys running in and out of there. That's one of the problems the Pistons had earlier in the season.
Say what you will about Boston and Cleveland but they can't match the Pistons' from 1-9 if Curry goes in this direction. That makes them a much more dangerous team this spring, which is what the AI trade was supposed to bring all along.