Gigi Datome confirmed to La Gazzetta dello Sport that FC Barcelona showed interest for him to replace Kostas Papanikolaou but he will remain in the NBA. Datome has one year left with the Pistons and he wants to show to be an NBA caliber player after a difficult rookie season.
“I want to play at least one more year in the NBA. This is the reason why I have signed for two seasons with the Pistons because several players have difficulties during their rookie seasons” said Datome. “It is great to know that one of the most important basketball teams in Europe is interested in me. They did not offer me and we did not have any negotiation but I talked with my agent and we decided together to remain in NBA” added the captain of Italian NT.
Luigi Datome won Italian League MVP before the Pistons signed him last summer, so his fall to benchwarmer was pretty steep. To his credit, Datome seems determined to stick it out – for another season at least.
Datome has one year and $1.75 million left on his contract, so the Pistons would have had to allow Datome to leave by buying him out. If he really wanted to go, he could have negotiated that buyout down to $0.
At this point, the Pistons probably wouldn’t hate to see him go. They have 15 players under contract plus probably must make room for restricted free agent Greg Monroe. Even if Monroe isn’t long for Detroit, the qualifying offer brings him back for another season. Getting out of Datome’s contract, if that’s what he desired, would have been an easy solution.
But as long as Datome remains on board, there’s hope he finds a role in the rotation. Stan Van Gundy can definitely use more shooters, and Datome was a long-distance sniper in Italy. Maybe he’s more comfortable in the NBA next season.
By all accounts, Datome is approaching this with the right attitude. There’s no guarantee he’ll stick in the NBA, but his second season probably won’t go worse than the first. And if he doesn’t make the progress necessary to secure a second NBA contract, Europe will always be there.