The Indiana Pacers, winners of their last seven games, are streaking toward the postseason, and it’s been former Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey at the forefront of their turnaround. Averaging 19.4 points over his team’s last 11 games, some have been left wondering how he received nothing more than one-year offers during his 2014 free agency.
According to Mike Montieth of Pacers.com, the answer is simple.
Stuckey took a cut in pay to come to the Pacers to clear his name, and so far is doing a dramatic job of that.
“A lot of people were questioning my character,” he said. “’Oh, he’s not a good teammate.’ This and that. That and this. I’m a great guy. I’m very humble, I come to work each and every day, do my business.”
But someone with the Pistons tried to sully his reputation, he said.
“It’s just unfortunate,” he said. “I’m not going to say names, but I know who it was. It’s just unfortunate for that person to throw me under the bus.”
As a result of the suggested smear campaign, Stuckey struggled to secure a long-term deal in the open market.
If he hadn’t been forced to deal with that whispered defamation of character following his seven seasons in Detroit, Stuckey likely would have signed with another team over the summer – a team that could have offered to pay far more money than the reported veteran’s minimum the Pacers could offer. But Stuckey had nothing but one-year offers to select from, so he chose the team he thought offered the best opportunity to rehabilitate his image, regardless of the money.
Stuckey has been measured yet honest and critical of his time in Detroit since signing with the Pacers in July. In late December, he attributed the organization’s recent downfall to the 2008 trade that sent Chauncey Billups to Denver in exchange for Allen Iverson.
“After Chauncey left, that’s when everything went downhill,” Stuckey said. “Chauncey was the glue that held everything together and held everyone accountable. When you trade away that you see what happens. Everything was just a domino effect after that.”
Stuckey averaged 13.4 points per game over seven seasons in Detroit. Coming of age during an era of Pistons dysfunction that saw six coaches come through Auburn Hills during his tenure, Stuckey often found himself catching a heavy dose of criticism, with many citing inconsistent play and a failure to live up to the lofty expectations set by the departed Billups.
For now, Stuckey’s thriving in Indiana, coming off the bench but finding himself third on the team in minutes, all while leading the charge with his near 20-point-per-game average during their recent run. This time, he’s letting his game do the talking.