Just when you think there isn’t any love to be lost at all between the Detroit Pistons and Rip Hamilton, news arrives in the latest tear in the once-strong relationship between franchise and player. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Detroit has formally deactivated Hamilton, removing even the slightest possibility that he’ll touch the court as a member of Pistons anytime soon. Then again, maybe this is a mere formality; Hamilton hasn’t played in any of the Pistons’ last 12 games, so in this case the line between DNP-CD and DNP-Inactive is rather slim.
If there was somehow any doubt of the tenuousness of these relations, it should now be promptly removed. Hamilton looks to be quite available for any team that wants him, though at this point in his career Rip is neither the scorer nor the defender he once was. It’s hard to say exactly what Hamilton is worth in his present state -- even the minutes he’s received this season have come inconsistently, and his role has hardly provided him firm footing on the year -- but he seems like little more than an average player with a bloated contract. Hamilton is due $12.7 million next season, and at least nine $9.0 million in the following year (that year is only partially guaranteed, meaning his team could choose to cut him and pay $9.0 million salary, or keep him and pay the full $12.7 million for that season as well). That’s a lot of shekels for mediocrity, so any borderline team looking to add talent at the trade deadline should think long and hard before taking on that kind of salary commitment.
Hamilton could become Detroit’s own Eddy Curry. If there aren’t any takers at this season’s trade deadline (which seems likely given his contract and concerns over a new collective bargaining agreement), Hamilton could become contractual dead weight. Detroit could be left with no other choice than to let Hamilton keep clogging up their cap room until his deal expires, which is a bit of a problem considering their currently underwhelming core and lack of avenues to improve.