After seven arduous years with the Pistons as Joe Dumars' infamous and failed point guard of the future, Rodney Stuckey is officially moving on, agreeing to a one-year deal with the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. USA Today reported it first and said Stuckey will make the veteran's minimum.
It's fitting that Stuckey's end with the Pistons coincides with Joey D's, because Stuckey was really the beginning of Dumars' ultimate downfall. Dumars made Stuckey the 15th overall pick in the 2007 draft, which was a nice pick in the middle of a draft at a time when the Pistons were making habit of getting to the Eastern Conference finals each year. Stuckey had a fine rookie season as a role player for the 59-win team, infusing energy off the bench while backing up one of the best point guards in the game at the time. As a role player.
But Dumars, dizzy from the team's third straight conference finals fall, saw no sacred cows and greatness in Stuckey, so much that he traded 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson two games into Stuckey's second season, putting insurmountable pressure on the 22-year-old. Even Iverson couldn't distract that.
Stuckey put up a few productive seasons in the middle of his tenure with the Pistons, but the physically gifted volume scorer was never built to be the leader of the team. A lack of surrounding talent and six coaches in seven years didn't help any.
Now, Stuckey finds himself back where he started and probably belonged all along -- with a contender as a role player.
UPDATE: Stuckey spoke to the Indiana media and had the following to say about his time in Detroit [via Detroit Free Press]:
"As far as being in Detroit and playing, it's been tough," Stuckey said. "I don't accept losing. I hate losing. It's never fun when you're losing. You got to try to get through it and that's what I tried to do. All that's behind me right now, it's a fresh start. I'm just excited about this opportunity to come into a great organization and compete." [...]
"I'm very humble, I'm very down to earth, I'm very respectful (but) I just don't like to lose. In Detroit, I've had people accept losing and I don't accept that," Stuckey said. "Yeah, I had my confrontations and whatnot. Was I wrong in some parts? Yeah, I admit it. Yeah, I was. It was all out of frustration.
"I was young and you live and learn, you go through every situation," Stuckey continued. "I'm 28 now, I've been through a lot of different experiences throughout life and I know how to handle different situations now. That's just how it is. I know for sure when I come in here, I'm definitely going to respect each and every one of these guys. I'm coming in to learn. I want to learn and I want to get everything down and make sure we're all going to be on the same page. There's not going to be separation between me and any other person on the team and even in the organization. I'm just ready to come in, I'm ready to learn and I'm ready to compete with my team."