Healing Time

Stuckey will sit out finale, sees inside help key to quick turnaround

Rodney Stuckey will sit out the finale at Minnesota to let his injuries heal.
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
Rodney Stuckey is shutting it down for the season, which means the Pistons’ regular-season finale at Minnesota on Wednesday will be played like 70 others in this star-crossed season: shorthanded.

It’s probably a safe bet that Rip Hamilton and Chris Wilcox will join him in street clothes, which will push to 155 the number of man games lost to injury in 2009-10 – triple the average (53.3) for the last four seasons. And when you consider the players those injuries most affected – Hamilton will have missed 36 games, Tayshaun Prince 33, Will Bynum and Ben Gordon 19 apiece, Ben Wallace 13 and Stuckey nine – the effect is about tenfold what it’s been for any season in Pistons memory.

Stuckey came out of the shower nearly an hour after Monday’s loss to Toronto in The Palace finale with his bruised chest and ribs wrapped and iced. He gave it a go against the Raptors after sitting out weekend games at Miami and Charlotte, which followed the nasty forearm/elbow shot to the side from Philadelphia’s Marreese Speights a week ago.

Once the season ends, he’ll head back home to Seattle, where his 5-year-old daughter is getting ready to start kindergarten classes in the fall, and train in ways both conventional and unconventional.

“I’m going to take some time off and let my chest heal,” he said. “After that, it’s back to work. I’m going to go back home and take some boxing lessons. It’s just a good workout. I haven’t done it before, so it’s something I want to try. And I’ll start back up with my yoga sessions and just constantly be in the gym.”

Stuckey, about as easygoing as they come, more than once this season suggested he’d like the Pistons to play at a higher tempo – which doesn’t necessarily put him at odds with John Kuester, either. Kuester has consistently said he wants Stuckey in attack mode, but it’s not a style the Pistons are accustomed to playing.

“I would like to get up and down the court more,” he said again. “I think a lot of us on the team would like to do that a lot more. I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we’re getting up and down the court and we’re attacking teams. It’s just like we have them on their heels. When we come down and slow the ball down, first of all it’s not fun, but secondly, we’re just wasting time and we’re always with five seconds left on the shot clock trying to get off a shot. All of us would like to play a little bit faster.”

As for what he’d like to see happen over the summer to the roster, Stuckey doesn’t disagree with the commonly held perception of the Pistons: They need some frontcourt reinforcement.

“An inside presence,” he said. “A nice big would be good. A couple of bigs would be good.”

He watches college basketball and likes both of the big men seen as the best of the bunch, Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors, though the Pistons almost certainly would need to win a top-three pick in the May 18 lottery to have a shot at either.

But Stuckey looks at the current roster, combined with a well-managed cap structure and the asset of a lottery choice and sees a turnaround within comfortable reach.

“A lot of it is doable,” he said. “We’ll just see what happens during the off-season. Joe is up there trying to work his magic to get something done, so we’ll see what happens.”

Stuckey is a big fan of the three Pistons rookies and plans to travel from Seattle to Las Vegas to work out with them while they’re in town for the NBA Summer League schedule July 9-18.

It remains to be seen if all three Pistons rookies attend Summer League – if they draft one or even two big men, having Jonas Jerebko there as well as DaJuan Summers and Austin Daye might be counterproductive to the goal of giving the draftees playing time – but Jerebko said on Monday night that he still anticipates attending.

“Our rookies are going to help us out,” Stuckey said, at which point Jerebko, hovering near Stuckey’s locker, interjected, “Not rookies any more, though,” to which Stuckey replied, “Yeah – for one more game.

“They just come in and work hard each and every day. I’m always in the gym with them, after every practice, just getting up shots and being around them. Outside of basketball, they’re just a good group of guys, young guys, and that’s what this organization needs.

“No matter what else happened this year, we just always have a good group. It’s just always fun being around this group of guys. We always have fun and keep a good spirit.”

  • It’s not something he hopes to make a part of his routine, but Joe Dumars will be representing the Pistons at the May 18 draft lottery during the conference finals.

  • Monday’s loss ensured that the Pistons’ worst-case scenario on draft night would be picking 10th. They can no longer overtake either the Clippers or Knicks. A win over Minnesota would mean they would either have the sixth-most or seventh-most four-digit lottery combinations depending on what happens to Philadelphia. The 76ers are one game ahead of the Pistons in the standings but finish their season at Orlando.

    Even though Orlando has wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the East, the Magic will have incentive to beat Philadelphia. Unless Sacramento somehow manages a road win against the Lakers tonight – a win that would give Sacramento 26 wins, tying the Pistons – then Orlando will need a win to clinch home-court advantage in the NBA Finals should they wind up playing the Lakers in June.

    Should the Pistons win and Philadelphia lose, the teams would share equally the 106 lottery combinations assigned to the Nos. 6 (63) and 7 (43) finishers, meaning each team would have a 5.3 percent chance at getting the No. 1 pick, a 6 percent chance at getting the No. 2 pick and a 13.9 percent chance at the No. 3 pick. For purposes of determining draft order should neither team get a top-three pick, the NBA will hold a drawing on Friday to break all ties among lottery teams.

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