Killian Hayes Meets Starter Criteria

Pistons guard Killian Hayes has met the “starter criteria” for potential restricted free agents by making his 26th start of the season on Wednesday night vs. Minnesota.

An RFA-to-be meets the starter criteria – which dictates the value of his qualifying offer – when he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the final season of his contract, or when he averages 41 starts (or 2,000 minutes) in his last two seasons before free agency. Hayes made 56 starts in 2022/23, so he has now made 82 over the past two seasons, for an average of 41.

As a result of meeting the starter criteria, Hayes’ qualifying offer, if the Pistons opt to issue one this summer to make him a restricted free agent, will be worth $9,942,114. Had he failed to meet the criteria, the value of that QO would have been $7,744,600.

For a player who is expected to sign a lucrative long-term contract, the value of that qualifying offer generally doesn’t matter much, since it essentially functions as a placeholder while he negotiates a multiyear deal.

However, for a player like Hayes, who isn’t assured of a major payday in free agency, that figure looms larger. Now that he has bumped the value of his qualifying offer from $7.7MM to $9.9MM, the Pistons may be less inclined to give him that QO — and if they do, Hayes may be more inclined to accept it, locking in a one-year salary just shy of $10MM.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Hayes has averaged 8.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game in 203 career appearances (26.3 MPG). The 22-year-old has put up 7.4 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 2.9 RPG on .400/.279/.681 shooting this season. He reclaimed his spot in Detroit’s starting five after Cade Cunningham was sidelined last week due to a knee injury.

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