2021 NBA Offseason In Review: Detroit Pistons

Hoops Rumors

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2021 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s offseason moves, examine what still needs to be done before opening night, and look ahead to what the 2021/22 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Detroit Pistons.


Free agent signings:

Note: Exhibit 9 and 10 deals aren’t included here.

  • Kelly Olynyk: Three years, $37.2MM. Third year partially guaranteed. Signed using cap room.
  • Hamidou Diallo: Two years, $10.4MM. Second-year team option. Re-signed as a restricted free agent using Bird rights.
  • Cory Joseph: Two years, $10.07MM. Second-year player option. Re-signed using room exception.
  • Frank Jackson: Two years, $6.15MM. Second-year team option. Re-signed using cap room.
  • Trey Lyles: Two years, $5.13MM. Second-year team option. Signed using cap room.
  • Saben Lee: Three year, minimum salary. Third-year team option. Re-signed using cap room.
  • Rodney McGruder: One year, minimum salary. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
  • Chris Smith: Two-year, two-way contract.
  • Jamorko Pickett: Two-way contract. Converted from Exhibit 10 deal.

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Balsa Koprivica (No. 57 pick) from the Hornets in exchange for Mason Plumlee and the draft rights to JT Thor (No. 37 pick).
  • Acquired DeAndre Jordan, the Nets’ 2022 second-round pick, either the Wizards’ or Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable), either the Warriors’ or Wizards’ 2025 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable), the Nets’ 2027 second-round pick, and cash ($5.785MM) from the Nets in exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya.
    • Note: Jordan has since been waived.

Draft picks:

  • 1-1: Cade Cunningham
    • Signed to rookie scale contract (four years, $45,599,089).
  • 2-42: Isaiah Livers
    • Signed to three-year, $4.46MM contract. Third-year team option. Signed using cap room.
  • 2-52: Luka Garza
    • Signed to two-year, minimum-salary contract. Second-year team option. Signed using minimum salary exception. Converted from two-way deal.
  • 2-57: Balsa Koprivica
    • Stashed overseas.

Contract extensions:

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Hired Ben Wallace as basketball operations and team engagement advisor.
  • Hired Rex Kalamian, Jerome Allen, Jim Moran and Bill Bayno as assistant coaches; lost assistants Sidney Lowe, Micah Nori, and Sean Sweeney.
  • Hired John Beilein as senior advisor/player development.
  • Hired George David as assistant general manager; lost assistant GM David Mincberg.
  • Introduced new G League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise; DJ Bakker will be team’s head coach.

Salary cap situation:

  • Went under the cap, used their cap room, then used the room exception.
  • Carrying approximately $125.2MM in salary.

Lingering preseason issues:


The Pistons’ offseason:

A franchise starved for star power finally caught a break when it held the winning draft lottery combination. The Pistons hadn’t drafted No. 1 overall in more than a half-century and they took an unusually long time before settling on the consensus top pick, Cade Cunningham.

Cunningham’s combination of play-making, shot-making, length, versatility, poise and leadership was simply too much to pass up. The No. 1 pick suffered a minor ankle sprain in training camp but he’ll jump right into the starting lineup, though perhaps not at his projected position. He’ll share the backcourt with another young point guard, Killian Hayes, a 2020 lottery pick coming off an injury-marred rookie campaign.

GM Troy Weaver also added three second-round picks, including a draft-and-stash prospect. Luka Garza and Isaiah Livers figure to spend most of their rookie seasons with the Motor City Cruise, the team’s new G League franchise.

The most significant addition outside of Cunningham was Kelly Olynyk, who provides a much-needed floor stretching big. Mason Plumlee played well enough in his lone season with Detroit after signing a three-year free agent contract last summer, but his lack of a 3-point shot created spacing issues. Plumlee was traded to Charlotte on a salary dump.

Olynyk, a career 36.7% 3-point shooter who went on an offensive binge in a 27-game stint with the tanking Rockets last season, will share the center spot with second-year bruiser Isaiah Stewart.

Hamidou Diallo didn’t receive an offer sheet in restricted free agency, much to the Pistons’ relief. They re-signed him on a team-friendly contract. Frank Jackson, who was surprisingly effective as a spot-up shooter and offensive sparkplug last season, also chose to remain in Detroit. Diallo and Jackson will compete with Josh Jackson for backup minutes at shooting guard and small forward.

The front office waived Cory Joseph and his $12.6MM contract, which included a $2.4MM partial guarantee, then brought the veteran point guard at a lower number. Joseph endeared himself after being acquired from the Kings last season not only with his production but his willingness to mentor his younger teammates. He’ll be the floor leader of the second unit.

Trey Lyles fell out of favor with the Spurs last season but he’ll get a shot to earn rotation minutes as the backup power forward. He essentially replaces Sekou Doumbouya, a 2019 first-round bust.


The Pistons’ upcoming season:

There’s a positive vibe around the Pistons after more than decade of irrelevance. Cunningham puts them back on the national map and the roster has been built around the lunch-pail, hard-nosed motif that served the franchise so well during its glory years.

Jerami Grant blossomed as the No. 1 offensive option last season and he could be more efficient with young playmakers delivering him the ball and Olynyk stretching the defense.

Make no mistake — this is another building season for the franchise and playoff contention remains at least another season away. The Pistons are projected to win the second-fewest games in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Orlando. Detroit could have the youngest lineup in the league and it remains to be seen how the duo of Cunningham and Hayes will mesh.

However, the Pistons have enough depth and tenacity to give more seasoned opponents plenty of tough, down-to-the-wire battles. Their cap situation beyond this season is favorable, providing them with the ability to acquire another impact player. Add in another lottery pick in next year’s draft and the Pistons could return to prominence in the not-too-distant future.


Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Spotrac was used in the creation of this post. Luke Adams contributed to this post.

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