SI's Chris Mannix at least got it half-right when he tweeted a remark from an NBA exec reflecting on Dallas' inactivity in regard to the veteran Hamilton.
"They must really not want that contract," an exec told Mannix.
You're getting warmer …
Richard Hamilton, 32, seems in steady decline as a player. While he is "Pistons royalty,'' as former Detroit mate Chauncey Billups recently said, there might be some justification for coach John Kuester "phasing him out'' in Detroit.
Of course, that's not how this has gone down.
Hamilton's benching began when he was earmarked for a move to New Jersey in a proposed three-way trade involving Denver's Carmelo Anthony. That was way back on Jan 12 … and while the ‘Melo trade being "imminent'' has come and gone, Rip's burial on the Detroit bench has only gone deeper.
The DNP-CD's have morphed into the club reporting that Rip has "the flu.'' And now comes the spin out of Detroit that the Pistons are actually better without him on the floor: mLive.com does the math, reporting that in the 2009-10 season, the Pistons were 14-32 (.304) with Rip and 13-23 (.361) without him. This season, the Pistons are 11-23 (.324) with him and 6-7 (.462) without him.
Maybe it's illogical to argue that Rip is actually a detriment on the floor. But off the floor? A DallasBasketball.com source very close to the situation says, "The two big guys there, Rip and (Tayshaun) Prince, both feel the same way about the coach now.''
The Tayshaun Prince note is significant to the Mavs. Our sources tell us Prince remains very high on the Dallas Mavericks' pre-deadline wish list, and (see below) we've broken down in detail how that can work. (Nevertheless, some in the Dallas camp still believe that ultimately, Detroit GM Joe Dumars will follow his usual pattern and be loyal to Tayshaun, retaining him because of his talents, his leadership for a rebuilding club and his "royal'' stature as a Pistons champion.)
But Hamilton's situation is wildly different. There's little chance for reconciliation in Detroit, it seems … but there are financial ties that may bind the parties together in this unhappy union.
"If Rip was in a different circumstance, we might be able to see what he's got left,'' a scout from an NBA Western Conference team tells us. "But right now, you don't really know what you're getting.''
Except, that is, for the dollars that don't make sense.
*Hamilton is still owed about $26 million more on his contract (as of the trade deadline). A buyout doesn't erase a penny of that -- other than what reduction he agrees to, which would likely be minor at best. NBA players don't often forfeit $26 million, even in a situation as full of "buffoonery'' (Tayshaun's word for what the organization has done) as this.
*Detroit is in financial straits as it is (the Pistons exist in spending lockdown right now as the Davidson family is trying to get billionaire Tom Gores to buy the team) and the cap and tax considerations do not figure to change considerably after any conventional buyout.
*Following a buyout, there is no future cap escape. That buyout amount remains; you cannot trade it, or the player, of course.
And so, in summary … the Pistons and Richard Hamilton do have one thing in common.
They are both stuck. With each other.
And the SI report is somebody's fantasy … almost as if the author is a Rip fan who is himself proposing a deal be struck (with Detroit freeing the player while still enduring all the financial burdens).
That's not how these things work.
"They really don't have anywhere to go,'' one NBA exec tells us. "We'd be interested in him as a player, but …''
And that same "but'' goes for the Mavs. In the unlikely event that Hamilton negotiates his release, Hamilton would inch up the Mavs' wish list.
Indeed, if he finds himself a free agent, a bidding war will likely ensure, certainly up to MLE-sized proposals.
But right now? Hamilton has surely examined his options. Not in Dallas and not in Boston and not anywhere is there a team willing to pay up to the degree that Rip can depart Detroit with a fraction of his $26 million and make it up elsewhere.
The Mavericks' view on Rip Hamilton is this: Because of his fat contract and his lessened value, Detroit doesn't have the ability to trade him. Because of that contract, the Pistons' ownership being in limbo, the local economy and the possible labor-dispute issues, Detroit doesn't have the ability to buy him out.
The view from Dallas HQ? The Mavs aren't trading for Rip Hamilton.
The view from Dallas HQ? Nobody is trading for Rip Hamilton.