To help ease Michael Gbinije‘s transition to the NBA, the Pistons won’t be playing him at point guard during camp, according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com. The 49th overall pick out of Syracuse, Gbinije brings great versatility to Detroit, both on offense and defense. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said the decision to use Gbinije solely as as a swingman in the early going was made after summer league. That’s why the Pistons signed Ray McCallum to compete with Lorenzo Brown for the No. 3 point guard slot. Gbinije, who may get to hone his point guard skills with the Pistons’ D-League affiliate in Grand Rapids, said he accepts the decision. “I can just focus on one position at a time,” Gbinije said. “I’m sure the more comfortable I get, I might experience other positions. But right now, it’s good that I’m just limited.”
There’s more news from the Pistons’ training camp:
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doesn’t mind waiting until next summer for a new contract if that becomes necessary, writes Aaron McMann of MLive. The fourth-year shooting guard is eligible for a rookie extension through October 31st, and his agent, Rich Paul, is now negotiating with the team after a quiet summer. No word has leaked about how close they may be to an agreement. If they can’t reach a deal before the deadline, Caldwell-Pope will enter next summer as a restricted free agent. “That’s all on the organization here, if they would like to keep me or let me go into free agency,” he said. “Right now, my focus is on the season. I can’t worry too much about that.”
- The decision on Caldwell-Pope is the most important one the franchise will face in the immediate future, contends David Mayo of MLive. Mayo estimates the Pistons could probably re-sign Caldwell-Pope to a contract starting at $15MM-$16MM annually if they hammer out an extension before the deadline. But if he has another good season, that price might be closer to $20MM in free agency.
- Ish Smith was the first free agent the Pistons targeted over the summer, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. At 28, Smith is one of the oldest players on the roster and is expected to provide steady veteran leadership as the backup point guard. “It’s so much better than I thought,” Smith said of the situation in Detroit. “When I was in Philly, we played them four times and you see [the chemistry] from the outside looking in. When you get here and see the hard work everybody puts in and the dedication to win.”