What should Detroit Pistons do with Cassius Stanley? They seem not sure

Detroit Pistons guard Cassius Stanley. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Cassius Stanley. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Cassius Stanley has played well for the Detroit Pistons since he was brought in when their roster was ravaged by injury and COVID-19. Now that they are getting the troops back, Detroit will need to make a roster move, of some sort, with Stanley.

One of the few positives coming out of the pandemic that ripped through the NBA is that a lot of guys got the chance to play in the league, and get meaningful minutes, who would not otherwise. Some of them were old-timers like Joe Johnson and Lance Stephenson, others who have played in the league for a while, but had not hooked up with a team yet this year (like our friend Stanley Johnson).

The Pistons took a different approach, going for young players, either from the G-League or those coming off 10-day hardship contracts with other NBA teams.

Cassius Stanley was playing with the Pistons’ G-League team, the Motor City Cruise, when Detroit, which had avoided players contracting the virus for almost a year and a half, suddenly had half its roster having to enter the NBA health & safety protocols. WIth key players like Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk already out due to injury, the team needed some help just to be able to play games.

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The 6-foot-5 guard had been drafted in the second round by Indiana last year, after spending one season at Duke. He made appearances in 26 games for the Pacers but played little, and his two-way deal expired at the end of the season.

Stanley signed with Detroit, participated in training camp, and then was  waived. He stayed in the city to play for the Cruise, which is where he was when Stanley got the call and signed a 10-day hardship contract.

There was no slowly being worked into the lineup for Stanley. Detroit needed bodies and Stanley knew the plays, having been in training camp, and at least had some NBA experience.

Of the emergency troops, Stanley, along with Detroit native Derrick Walton Jr., stood out.

Stanley’s big moment came against the San Antonio Spurs. He poured in 19 points, including sinking three of four three-point shots, as the extremely short-handed Pistons won, 121-120, in overtime.

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The win over the Spurs kicked off a three-game winning streak for Detroit, which had won just five of its first 34 games.

WIth players coming back off the health & protocol list, Stanley’s playing time began getting reduced, but he had shown the Pistons organization he could play and contribute. A highly-rated player out of high school, Stanley is just 22, and the kind of player Detroit likes to work with.

Stanley’s first 10-day contract was signed on December 25 (Merry Christmas!), his second on January 8 and then a third 10-dayer (NBA contract rules kind of out the window in Age of COVID-19) came on January 21.

However, it seems like the Pistons organization have kind of a split personality when it comes to Stanley. They like him, but apparently not love him, as a player. Even though he is under contract with the big club, this came down:

The reason for this is legit, with Grant and Jackson returning to play, going back to the Cruise is a chance to get some of the younger players some needed playing time.

But Garza and Lee are on full NBA contracts, Stanley’s expires on February 1. On a team more interested in finding what pieces will be valuable for the future than winning now, is this not the time to put Stanley in there, and see if he can duplicate what he did against the Spurs?

With the trading deadline approaching, and Detroit likely to do some kind of deal, a roster spot could open up for Stanley on a permanent basis.

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Getting a read on what general manager Troy Weaver and the organization think of Stanley is hard to pin down. They keep giving him 10-day contracts but no permanent spot on the roster. Sometimes they play him in NBA games, sometimes not.

What happens with Cassius Stanley in Detroit the rest of the season is certainly something to keep an eye on.