The Detroit Pistons have a number of players who will become free agents. But when the team’s regular season wrapped last month, general manager Troy Weaver mentioned that he didn’t expect as much turnover.
The team likes the group of players they built over the 2020-21 season. So continuity is an important part of the team’s restoration. The team has three restricted free agents, two of those will likely receive qualifying offers, while one may not. Detroit also has two unrestricted free agents.
With the Pistons expecting to add just a couple of new faces this offseason, here are some of the team’s pending free agents.
Hamidou Diallo (RFA) — The 22-year old came to Detroit via a trade that sent Svi Mykhailiuk and a second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder. While it took him some to find his bearings, Diallo showed some comfort toward the end of the season. Of his 20 games with the Pistons, he started in four.
He averaged 11.2 points on 46.8 percent shooting from the field and had 5.4 rebounds per game.
With Detroit leaning into developing their young core, Weaver said that Diallo fits in with the group, especially with his growing comfort in Casey’s system.
He signed a three-year, $3.9 million dollar contract with the Thunder and the current qualifying offer is around $2.1 million. So with the Pistons trading for Diallo in March and seeing him as a part of their core, the former Kentucky Wildcat could be back in Detroit next year.
Wayne Ellington (UFA) — The Pistons signed him to a fully guaranteed one-year contract at the veteran minimum at the beginning of last season. He put up some strong numbers this season, averaging 9.6 points per game on 44.1 percent shooting from the field and 42.2 percent shooting from three.
He was hot from distance in January which primed him to be one of Detroit’s top trade candidates ahead of the 2020-21 deadline, but the team ultimately could not find the right deal.
With the team needing shooters, the Pistons could try to retain Ellington. Considering they have put a focus on youth, Ellington could look for a new home since he turns 34 in November
Frank Jackson (UFA) — He signed a two-way contract with the team two days into the 2020-21 season and made a case for himself in the second half of the season. Earlier in the season, the NBA restricted two-way players to 50 games but later lifted the restriction.
From March 15 to May 9 Jackson provided the Pistons with instant offense coming off the bench or plenty of spacing as a starter. He averaged 9.8 points on 45.7 percent shooting from the field and 40.7 percent shooting from three.
Pistons head coach Dwane Casey sang his praises many times during the season and he fits the timeline of the team’s restoration. So the Pistons will likely look to retain the guard since he would give them a much-needed shooter.
Saben Lee (RFA) — On the night of the draft, Weaver traded cash to the Utah Jazz to get the rights to Lee. Like Jackson, he was on a two-way contract and had plenty of moments where he showed potential as the team’s primary ball-handler coming off the bench.
In 48 games, he displayed his ability to facilitate and finished averaging 5.6 points, 3.6 assists on 47.1 percent shooting from the field and 34.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
He turns 22 later this month and is considered to be one of Weaver’s “Core Four” in Detroit’s restoration. So Pistons fans will likely see the point guard on the roster next season.
Dennis Smith Jr. (RFA) — The Pistons acquires Dennis Smith Jr. via the trade that sent Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks. He showed promise early on, but injuries derailed his season limiting his minutes. In 20 games, he averaged 7.3 points and 3.7 assists on 41.5 percent shooting from the field and 31.7 percent shooting from long range.
Though Smith fits the timeline agewise, Detroit has a few options at point guard in Lee, Killian Hayes and its pick in the upcoming draft. Plus, the Pistons could hold on to veteran Cory Joseph, so the team’s backcourt could be a bit crowded. So, Smith may have to carve out a role somewhere else next year.