The Detroit Pistons’ general manager, Troy Weaver, knew he had a rebuilding project on his hands when he took the job in June. But in the last week, the rebuilding has also included a lot of tearing down, moving around, wheeling, dealing, and all-around gamesmanship.
In fact, in the course of little over a week, Weaver made 18 — not a typo — different moves, and he’s not done yet, if for no other reason than the Pistons currently have 21 players on what will eventually be a 15-man roster.
Of course, all these moves are just the beginning of what promises to be a years-long process. And oddsmakers agree on the “years-long” front, as the Pistons — along with the Knicks, Hornets, and Cavaliers — are at +40000 to win the 2020-21 NBA championship on DraftKings, all the way down at the bottom.
So maybe don’t burn your dollar trying to win $400 on the Pistons hoisting the championship trophy. A more interesting wager, perhaps, is on Weaver’s thus-far signature move: the drafting of electric point guard Killian Hayes, who is +700 to take home Rookie of the Year honors on DraftKings.
Other top contenders include LaMelo Bell at +400, Anthony Edwards at +450, Obi Toppin at +600, and James Wiseman at +600. Clearly, Hayes — who should theoretically be seeing 28+ minutes from the jump — is right there with the players drafted ahead of him.
Michigan online/mobile sports wagering is set to begin next month or in early 2021.
A brand-new look
But the dizzying week Weaver orchestrated has fans still trying to get a handle on just what the Pistons are going to look like on the court.
So who’s on the team right now and how did they get here? Glad you asked.
Players who were under contract for the Pistons last year and are currently on the extended roster are Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Sekou Doumbouya, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, and Louis King. Additionally, 2019 draft pick Deividas Sirvydis is expected to sign with the squad.
Players drafted this year are Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, and Saben Lee.
Players traded for or signed as free agents are Dzanan Musa, Jaylen Hands, Rodney McGruder, Dwayne Dedmon, Mason Plumlee, Jahil Okafor, Josh Jackson, Jerami Grant, Delon Wright, Zhaire Smith, and Nikola Radicevic.
Got that? Yeah, us neither.
As for players who have left Detroit? That list includes Bruce Brown, Luke Kennard, Thon Maker, and the one player Detroit fans didn’t want to see go, the up-and-comer Christian Wood.
So what will the opening day roster look like for this team? Well, who knows if Weaver is done dealing yet, but numerous sources have reported Dedmon, McGruder, and Smith are going to be “waived and stretched,” meaning the Pistons will cut ties with the players but pay out their contracts over time. So that’s three players.
Obviously, the four new draft picks, along with the new signees — Plumlee, Okafor, Grant, Jackson, and Wright — are going to make the team. Griffin and Rose are obvious locks, and Doumbouya and Mykhailiuk are also certainties. That makes 13, with two spots remaining. But again: Weaver is probably not done making moves.
So if the core of the team remains, what do we know? Well, we know former Dallas Maverick Delon Wright is a beast when he is the focal point of the offense. EstablishTheRun.com’s Michael Gallagher noted Wright’s per-36 numbers with Luka Doncic, J.J. Barea, and Jalen Brunson off the floor were 13 points, 7 assists, and 8 rebounds, along with 2.3 steals. In short: If Wright is allowed to cook, he’s going to be putting up some gaudy stats. We also know Jeremi Grant has hops and is a defensive whiz. We know Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose are entering the season healthy (but we don’t know if they’ll be with the team come opening night, as trade rumors continue to swirl).
Unknowns? Um, everything else.
The NBA season tips off Dec. 22, and with it, a hoped-for new era for the Pistons, a team that has not won a playoff series — or for that matter, a playoff game — since 2008. Killian Hayes was 7 years old at the time, for a point of reference.