Times have changed in Detroit. The 2004 NBA championship is a distant memory. No longer are the Pistons one of the most superior defensive teams in the League. Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace are gone, and the team is playing under its third coach since Larry Brown led them all the way in ’04.
It’s been a rebuilding process without a “rebuilding” label, and as expected, wins were hard to come by this past season in the D. After eight consecutive years going to the playoffs, the Pistons missed out and were in the Lottery in 2010.
As the franchise tries transforming its identity, it’s clear that Rodney Stuckey is a valuable piece to their future. It’s just not clear how valuable. Some view the 6-5, 205-pound guard as The Franchise; others see him as a solid starter (or even a sixth man) who would be better off as a third option. Stuckey has all the tools to be one of the top point guards in the game, with size, strength, and an explosive first step, but hasn’t yet performed for an entire season like the star some see him as.
I had the chance to catch up with Rodney this weekend. We discussed his summer, the difficulties of last season, and what’s to come from the Pistons.
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Dime: How has your summer been?
Rodney Stuckey: It’s been good. Right after the season I took time off to be with my family. I took a vacation. Basically, I just got my mind off basketball. I also got into yoga. Stretching and posing is a good workout. I did that for a month. Then I headed back to Detroit to work, and went out to (Vegas) summer league and worked out.
Dime: Did you spend most of your time at home in Seattle or in Detroit?
RS: First part in Detroit with some college buddies. Then the second half I spent in Seattle. I played in Jamal Crawford‘s pro-am league. I enjoyed being with my family. I have a 5-year-old daughter who’s about to start kindergarten. I want to spend as much time with her as I can before I have to go back to work.
Dime: When you say “back to work,” what exactly have you been working on?
RS: I was focusing on getting in better shape. I wanted to slim down, which I’ve done. I’ve also been working on my jump shot. I wanted to get those two things down. I will be alright with everything else. That’s pretty much it. I feel I’m there with my quickness and my strength. I also need to become more consistent.
Dime: I can tell you are driven after the difficult experience of last season. How do you feel things will turn out this season coming up?
RS: Last year was tough. We were inconsistent. There was no chemistry. We all just have to stay healthy and the sky is the limit for us. On paper, we are the best team in the League. We are deep and athletic. All we have to do is play to our abilities. We don’t have the biggest roster, but if we share the ball, we’ll be alright.
Dime: When you say there was no chemistry, what exactly do you mean?
RS: Everyone was injured, so there was no set lineup. The amount of minutes we played changed every night (due to injuries). It was never like that before. We had to find out right before games who was healthy and who was going to play and for how long.
Dime: Do you feel you are the franchise player in Detroit?
RS: I don’t think about that stuff. I just go and play. It’s my last year under my current contract, so I don’t know where I’ll be after that. The NBA is a business, so you never know.
Dime: How do you feel about the addition of Tracy McGrady to the team?
RS: I’m excited to get to know him and play with him. People have been doubting him. He’s trying to get his body right. He can definitely help us with the skills he brings. I’m happy to have him.
Dime: With the Pistons being up for sale, does that affect you at all as a player not knowing what the future will bring?
RS: No, I think we have been getting a lot of offers. Hopefully something good will happen. I haven’t paid much attention to it.