Terrico White and the lockout


Almost every Piston will suffer from the upcoming lockout. Detroit’s pending free agents – Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Tracy McGrady, Chris Wilcox and DaJuan Summers – will likely have to find contracts in a new climate more favorable to owners. The other Pistons will eventually have to become free agents in the new conditions, too. And, of course, no players will get paid during a lockout.

But I started this post with “almost” for a reason.

Terrico White might benefit from the lockout.

White, a rookie last season, signed a two-year contract. The first year paid him $473,604. The second year will pay him $788,872, but – and this is a huge but – he won’t get any of his second-year salary if the Pistons waive him on or before July 18, according to Sham Sports.

Before we go any further, let’s quickly get two scenarios out of the way.

1. The Pistons think White is great. If that’s the case, they’ll definitely keep him, lockout or no lockout.

2. The Pistons think White is awful. If that’s the case, they’ll definitely waive him, lockout or no lockout.

If either of those scenarios is accurate, this is all extremely simple and the post can end here. But I don’t think either are.

I think a third scenario is likeliest: the Pistons believe enough in White to want him back under some circumstances, but not enough to want him back in all circumstances. If that’s the case, Detroit faces a difficult decision.

In a typical year, when free-agent negotiations begin July 1, the Pistons would have a much better idea of their 2011-12 roster by the time they’d have to make a decision on White. If they’ve already signed or traded for a better guard, they’d likely waive White. If they haven’t and don’t believe they can, they’d likely keep White.

But with a lockout looming, I don’t think the Pistons can chance waiting until July 18. I think they must decide by June 30, before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. If a lockout is still in effect July 18, the Pistons can’t make roster moves, meaning they can’t waive White.

It’s my understanding that if July 18 comes and goes and the Pistons haven’t waived White, his second season will become fully guaranteed for $788,872. Of course, the owners and players could always overrule the contract and collectively bargain a solution for clauses like White’s – perhaps, giving teams a few days after the lockout to still waive him. But do the Pistons want to risk that?

If they don’t, they must decide by tomorrow whether they can fill White’s roster spot with a more valuable player.

Or maybe they’ll decide it’s worth taking the chance of doing nothing tomorrow. They could hope the lockout will end before July 18, giving them more time to evaluate White.

If the Pistons haven’t waived White by the time the CBA expires tomorrow, his chances of making $788,872 next season will rise dramatically – whether the Pistons keep him or not. Without a lockout, he’d likely make that money only if the Pistons kept him.

Not bad timing for a lockout for White.