NBA Trade Rumors: Rodney Stuckey returns, but for how long?

The Detroit Pistons host the Milwaukee Bucks tonight, and after being benched for Sunday's tilt in Orlando, Rodney Stuckey is expected back in uniform.

Stuckey also spoke with reporters, seemingly in good spirits:

It's nice to see the Pistons will be at full strength, but it's worth asking, might his days in Detroit be numbered? Officially, the word from the mountaintop says no -- Joe Dumars flatly denied a trade being in the works when asked by MLive on Sunday. But just because Stuckey's benching wasn't related to a specific trade doesn't mean he's not available.

It's crystal clear by now that Stuckey is no longer part of Detroit's long-term vision -- or at least, Lawrence Frank's interpretation of it. Brandon Knight is being given every opportunity to succeed (or fail) as the starting point guard, with Stuckey being relegated off the bench. And the fact that Stuckey needs the ball in his hands to produce (and has regressed to near rookie-level production without it) hasn't gone unnoticed. From MLive's David Mayo:

Twice in two days, immediately after Saturday's practice and before Sunday's game, Frank made unspecific negative references to player types which might be construed to apply to Stuckey. He noted that players who can only be effective with the ball or with specific teammates can't play a regular role.

"If you can only play well with certain guys, you know what you're called? A specialist," Frank said Sunday. "When you can play with anyone, you're a rotation player."

Stuckey is a known quantity around the league, for better or worse. He comes with a fair amount of baggage, but it's worth noting that he seems to be aware. As we learned last year (and as Vince Ellis noted again today), Stuckey is candid about visiting a therapist to deal with anger issues. If another team is willing to give him a fresh slate for his various run-ins with coaches and puts him in position to succeed on the court, he could be a relatively low-risk gamble: As Ellis notes in the above link:

The timing is curious, with the Feb. 21 trade deadline approaching. Stuckey is a player who intrigues league executives. His name comes up in conversations when teams are doing their due diligence about perspective trades.

And he isn't that expensive. If he were traded a team could audition him for the remainder of the season. If it doesn't work out, only $4 million of his $8.5 million salary for next season is guaranteed, so a team could turn him loose before the June 30 deadline.

Is Stuckey returning to normal usage because he's being showcased for a trade, or because he's a legitimate building block for the future? We'll find out by Feb. 22.

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