-- Richard Hamilton found out painfully this summer there's more to the NBA than basketball. Shortly after asking the Washington Wizards, who had proclaimed him a centerpiece of their future, for a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract extension, Hamilton got the call that he had been traded to the Detroit Pistons.
"I was definitely shocked," Hamilton said before tonight's preseason game with the Wizards at the Palace at Auburn Hills. "When I found out, I was getting my hair braided and my agent called me and told me and I was like, 'You're kidding me?' He said, 'No, you're going to Detroit.' Then I was like, 'Okay.' There was no other way to take it."
Hamilton, Hubert Davis and Bobby Simmons were dealt to Detroit for Jerry Stackhouse, Brian Cardinal and Ratko Varda.
Hamilton, who averaged a career-high 20 points per game last season and is considered one of the league's emerging stars, said his feelings were hurt, not so much because he was dealt, but because of the circumstances surrounding it. He knew his game -- Michael Jordan last season called himself Tonto to Hamilton's lead role as the team's Lone Ranger -- wasn't the reason he had to leave a place he wanted to call home.
Rather, it was his request for a long-term deal when the team wanted him to play out this season before discussing an extension.
"That was the really difficult part to get over," Hamilton said. "I spent three years there. I gave them everything I had. They're always telling me that I was the future of the team and things like that but in turn, they didn't want to extend me. Right then and there, it told me where they were with me. I was definitely committed to them. I wanted to finish my career there. When they said no, it made it difficult for me to get over. One minute they say I'm crucial to the team, the next minute they say they didn't want to do anything.
"That's how I took it."
Hamilton is starting at shooting guard for the Pistons but hadn't really found his shooting stroke until a 25-point game against the Miami Heat on Tuesday. He said he has looked forward to facing the Wizards tonight and four more times in the regular season but harbors no ill will toward his former teammates.
"There's no hard feelings," said Hamilton, who added that he has not broached talks of a contract extension with the Pistons. "It's time for me to move on and hopefully take this team back to the playoffs. I never thought I would be this happy about the trade until I got here and met everybody and they made me feel wanted."