Theo Ratliff was at the Palace last night, meeting some new teammates, reuniting with others and talking to the press while wearing a Pistons (practice) jersey for the first time in almost 10 years. From my latest on HOOPSWORLD:
It's been several years since Ratliff has been a part of a contender, and he's spent much of that time on teams devoted to developing younger players whom he's helped mentor. "I think I had a great influence on those guys … [But] now's the time for me to get my satisfaction," he said while laughing. "My satisfaction of being able to become a Piston again, with the team they have and the record that they have and where they're going. I feel like I can add a lot as far as coming off the bench and being able to be a big spark, just fitting right in with the defensive mentality that these guys have. And that's why I'm so excited about being a part of this organization."
Ratliff was also effusive in his praise for Arnie Kander ("He's a miracle worker, so I'm going to let him lay his hands on me ...") and expects to be healthy enough to contribute the rest of the way. Flip Saunders agrees and said Ratliff will likely compete for more minutes than Dale Davis would have been expected to, especially come the postseason:
"I think we're committed to staying with the rotation that we have and see where that takes us," said Saunders. "But I think what we do have is we do have other players that, if things aren't working, maybe you have a little bit of a shorter leash … If our bench gives us in the playoffs what they're giving us right now, we're going to play them. Our hope is that they're going to be able to continue to do that."
Ratliff Returns to Detroit / HOOPSWORLD