March 3, 2013
By Vince Ellis
Detroit Free Press Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS -- Corey Maggette was probably being a little sarcastic when he thanked Pistons coach Lawrence Frank for saving his "body this year."
But after riding the Pistons' bench for most of this season, Maggette said he definitely wants to play next season.
"Right now I've had a full year recovering and working with (strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander)," he told the Free Press on Friday. "We'll see what happens."
When the Pistons first traded Ben Gordon to Charlotte for Maggette in the summer, the longtime NBA veteran wasn't certain if he wanted to continue playing past this season when the five-year, $48-million deal he signed with the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2008 comes to an end.
But Maggette, 33, who hasn't appeared in a game in 2 1/2 months, has taken to an elder statesman role with his young teammates.
"I really do like these guys and they won me over by just how hard they work," he said. "We have really good guys. From Kyle (Singler) to Kim (English) to Khris (Middleton) to Andre (Drummond) -- guys like Brandon (Knight) who is improving with each game. For me it's good to see that and help them out anyway I can."
Maggette even raised the possibility of resuming the role with the Pistons next season.
"Another option still is for me to be a veteran for these guys and come back here another year," he said. "That's another possibility because we have a lot of young talent here and still need a veteran to talk to, and I know I've gained the respect of those guys and I'll be able to do that.
"We'll see what happens after that."
The Pistons are open to a return engagement. The organization likes Maggette's positive influence despite a lack of playing time.
Pistons officials also insist there is still a market for Maggette around the league, which makes his dismissal of a possible buyout of the rest of his deal to go sign with another team kind of eye-opening.
When asked about it last week, Maggette said he didn't even know how the process worked. It's a moot point now since the deadline was Friday. But he was clear about what he thought of such a notion.
"I'm not a firm believer in giving up money anyway," he said. "But at the end of the day the approach is I'm here.
"It fits God's purpose that I'm here."