Drafting Knight could be the end of Gordon

The euphoria over Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight falling into the Detroit Pistons’ lap at No. 8 in Thursday night’s NBA draft wasn’t necessarily shared by other members of the backcourt.
Knight won’t sit. He’ll play. It should be included in the still-unnamed coach’s contract that limiting Knight’s development could be a fireable offense. And those minutes must come amid an already-crowded backcourt.
But relief is on the horizon.
The new collective bargaining agreement — whenever that comes — likely will include a one-time contractual amnesty. Teams can buy out one toxic contract with no salary-cap ramifications.
It’s similar to what the NHL did when it returned from its seasonlong interruption six years ago. The Wings got out from underneath Derian Hatcher’s contract.
The Pistons would have plenty of candidates for that option. Rip Hamilton’s final two years at $21 million guaranteed is an obvious choice, as well as bringing an end to Charlie Villaneuva’s tenure here as a conscientious objector to defense. He’s also owed $21 million, over three years.
But getting out from underneath Ben Gordon’s remaining three years at a throat-clutching $33 million would be the proper decision.
Gordon told me prior to the season’s final game that something had to change next season. He didn’t demand a trade but acknowledged regrets about his time here. Gordon has never gotten the opportunity to truly thrive since his arrival two summers ago because he believed his arrival two summers ago would spawn the end of Hamilton’s time in Detroit.
Now Knight’s arrival means either Gordon or Hamilton has to leave by any means necessary.
And believe it or not, Rip’s contract is more valuable on the trading market. If there’s a lockout-shortened season as expected, the Pistons actually could get a living, breathing commodity in return for Hamilton.
Joe Dumars still believes that Rodney Stuckey is salvageable with another new coach and Knight wresting away his lead guard responsibilities.
But someone significant has to go. That might be the most encouraging news Gordon has gotten since he first came to Detroit.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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