In all likelihood, Harrellson and Siva will survive the deadline.
Harrellson, though limited, has proven himself a reliable backup and maybe even a good backup. Plus, he’s under contract for next season for an unguaranteed minimum salary. Not only is he a good deal this year, he’s a bargain next season as well.
Siva hasn’t fared as well in the NBA, and the Pistons’ offense has sputtered when he’s played point guard. But he’s just a rookie and likely has a longer leash. He’s played well since being sent to the D-League, averaging 25.5 points, 6.5 assists, 5.0 steals and 5.0 turnovers in two games. To some degree, Siva is clearly on a hot streak – he’s made 7-of-10 3-pointers with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, an unsustainable percentage – but he’s probably shown enough to stick on the Pistons’ roster.
Still, the question of whether to waive either player isn’t just about them.
Cutting a player before this deadline without a plan to replace him isn’t totally without merit. That roster spot and money could go to better use down the road, and this is the last chance to free the space. But Harrellson and Siva probably don’t deserve to be waived without a plan.
However, what if they’re waived for a plan?
Perhaps, Joe Dumars is close to a trade that would bring back more players than it sends out. In that case, considering the Pistons have a full roster, waiving Siva would make sense.
Or maybe there’s a free agent the Pistons think is more valuable than Siva. I would have argued replacing Siva with Kendall Marshall – something the Pistons could have done at no cost – might have made sense, but the Los Angeles Lakers already beat Detroit to the punch and signed Marshall, who’s excelled in two games as a starter. Players like Rodrigue Beaubois, Josh Howard and Tyrus Thomas are still available, and this is a last chance to swap one of them for Siva without having to pay the rest of Siva’s contract. It’s too early to give up on Siva’s pro potential, but any work into developing him is a sunk cost. If another player is more valuable right now, the Pistons should waive Siva and upgrade, because there’s no cost to doing so.
In the end, I expect the Pistons to keep both Harrellson and Siva.
Keeping Harrellson definitely seems like the right move. Keeping Siva might be, though because so much of his contributions have come behind the scenes, it’s difficult for me to say so with certainty.
It’s really progress the Pistons even have this option. They’ve come a long way from the team that guaranteed $9 million of Richard Hamilton’s $12.5 million 2012-13 salary, which either predicted the impending failure of Hamilton’s extension or added a nearly pointless provision to his contract. Now, the Pistons are showing savvy in negotiating advantageous contracts, catching up with the rest of the league in this regard.