The Pistons traded for Dennis Smith Jr. in early February, but they still didn’t get as much time as they had hoped to evaluate his future, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Smith battled injuries after coming to Detroit, including left knee soreness that sidelined him for the final 19 games of the season.
Smith showed some promise in the 20 games he was able to play, averaging 7.3 points per game and shooting a career-best 35.2% from three-point range. His qualifying offer would be worth $7MM+, so it’s likely that he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, especially considering the development of point guards Killian Hayes and Saben Lee.
“It’s been tough because this was the time for him to go out and show and be evaluated and get extended playing time,” coach Dwane Casey said in April. “It’s unfortunate he’s been hurt, but injury is something you have to deal with. We just have to figure out another way where we can evaluate him.”
There’s more from Detroit:
- The three-year, $60MM contract the Pistons gave to Jerami Grant was among the most surprising moves in free agency, but he rewarded their confidence by finishing second in this year’s Most Improved Player voting, says Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Grant averaged 22.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game and was the runner-up to the Knicks’ Julius Randle. Grant recently told Sankofa that he plans to take another step forward next year. “I definitely prepare different this offseason,” Grant said. “I think every offseason I prepare differently, my roles change pretty much from year to year. I think it’s a new role for me, so I know what I need to work on.”
- The Pistons would be fine with either Evan Mobley or Jalen Green if they keep the No. 2 pick in the draft, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Mobley is a seven-footer with the skills of a smaller player and plenty of value as a rim protector. Green could fill a need at shooting guard and could help as a shot creator.
- Detroit isn’t expected to be active on the free agent market, Beard adds in the same piece. General manager Troy Weaver recently said the Pistons don’t expect to have many roster spots available, and Beard believes the team will focus on keeping its own free agents.