AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons are set to part ways with Richard Hamilton. General manager Joe Dumars said Friday night the team has reached a “verbal agreement” and indicated a buyout would be forthcoming. The 33-year-old Hamilton spent the last nine seasons with the Pistons, leading them to the 2004 NBA title.
“We’ve come to a verbal agreement,” Dumars said. “Once it’s official, then I can get more detailed about why buyout instead of amnesty.”
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The league’s new amnesty clause allows a team to drop a player without having his salary count against the salary cap and luxury tax, but it doesn’t appear the Pistons will use it while cutting Hamilton.
Hamilton had a falling out last season with coach John Kuester and was benched for most of a seven-week stretch. The two appeared to be on better terms toward the end of the season, but Hamilton averaged only 14.1 points in 2010-11.
“It’s tough to see a guy like that go,” said center Ben Wallace, another member of the 2004 Pistons. “I won a lot of games with him, had a lot of fun with him. … You hate to see him not be here, but I’m pretty sure Rip, he’s going to bounce back, he’s going to land on his feet.”
Later Friday night, a message appeared on Hamilton’s Twitter account: “Thank u to all my Detroit fans. Love all of u. U will always have a special place in my heart. Yessssssirrrrr”
Kuester was fired after last season and replaced by Lawrence Frank, and the Pistons also have a new owner. Tom Gores purchased the team at the end of last season.
Detroit now needs to figure out how to reshape its roster, and cutting ties with Hamilton is a significant move. Hamilton was one of several players who missed at least part of a shootaround before a game at Philadelphia last season in one of the defining moments of the team’s season. The coaching staff used only six players in a loss that night, sticking with those who were at the full shootaround.
Now Hamilton will have a fresh start and the Pistons won’t have to keep him for the final two seasons of his contract. Tracy McGrady is also gone, having signed with the Atlanta Hawks.
Detroit isn’t moving on from all links to the past, though. The Pistons re-signed Tayshaun Prince.
“We feel like he’s the type of guy who will lead the right way under the right circumstances,” Dumars said. “You can’t just get rid of everybody. … You’re always going to have to have the right veteran.”
Prince was still a dependable player for Detroit last season, starting 78 games.
“It’s a commitment both on Tayshaun’s part and the organization’s part, that despite some of the issues that occurred over the last couple years, that he still wanted to be a Piston,” Frank said. “We felt that Tayshaun is still a very high-level performer at the small forward position, and plus, can now take it to another level and be a mentor to some of our guys.”
Detroit also re-signed forward Jonas Jerebko, signed draft picks Brandon Knight and Vernon Macklin and signed Jake Voskuhl, Kareem Rush, Walker Russell Jr. and Brian Hamilton to the training camp roster.
What’s less clear is whether guard Rodney Stuckey will be back with the Pistons. He’s a restricted free agent.
“He’s going through his first negotiation,” said Dumars, who indicated he would resume talks with Stuckey’s agent late Friday night.
Wallace is back after contemplating retirement at the end of last season.
“I don’t want to leave the game too late, I don’t want to stay too long,” the 37-year-old Wallace said. “If it works out, it works out. If not, I can live with knowing I gave it my best effort.”