Deividas Sirvydis and Derrick Walton Jr. played last season for the Detroit Pistons, as well as their G-League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise. However, they both have now been traded, but not by the Pistons.
Many basketball fans might not know G-League teams can make trades of their own and even exchange draft choices. Since almost all G-League teams are run by NBA clubs, people might assume everything flows from the big team.
The latest transaction involved two players who were with the Pistons organization last season, but the trade was strictly at the G-League level:
Ironically, the Mad Ants play in the old home town of the Pistons, who moved to Detroit from Fort Wayne in 1958.
Here is a breakdown of the trade:
Fort Wayne receives: returning rights to Derrick Walton Jr. and Deividas Sirvydis plus 2023 Cruise second-round pick.
Motor City Cruise receives: returning rights to former Indiana Pacers guard Keifer Sykes
Sirvydis has been part of the Pistons organization since they traded three second-round picks in June, 2019 to get his rights from the Dallas Mavericks.
The 6-7 guard stayed in his native Lithuania for a year but was on the Pistons roster for the 2020-21 season, appearing in 20 games. He looked promising at the end of the season.
However, Sirvydis was released shortly after the season finished, as general manager Troy Weaver needed the roster spot. Despite being cut, Sirvydis still played for the Pistons in summer league, participated in training camp and then assigned to the Cruise.
When Detroit was ravaged by COVID-19, Sirvydis even returned to play three games for the Pistons.
Even though the club trading him is affiliated with the Pistons, Sirvydis played for the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA Summer League, and had some nice games.
Detroit’s Derrick Walton Jr. going Down Under
Walton Jr. is a Detroit native, having played high school ball at Chandler Park Academy in Harper Woods and then was a four-year starter at the University of Michigan.
Walton also got a chance to play with the Pistons when most of the roster had to sit due to health protocols, and he did well, averaging 6.3 points and 7.0 assists. He also stood out for the Cruise, leading the G-League in assists.
However, with the drafting of Jaden Ivey, Cory Joseph opting into his contract and Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes still there, there was no path to making the Pistons as a smallish point guard.
Instead of the NBA, Walton will be this season in the NBL, the top professional league in Australia.
The Sydney Kings announced that Walton has signed a contract to play for them.
In the press release announcing the signing, Kings coach Chase Buford talked about how excited he was to have Walton:
"“Derrick is an NBA calibre point guard that we are thrilled to add to our group for next season. He is a terrific scorer and shooter, and he really excels at creating for teammates as a driver and playmaker out of pick & roll actions. He is also a physical and athletic defender capable of frustrating opponents,” Buford said.“More importantly, his character, attitude, and competitiveness will fit right in line with our returning core from last season and we envision Derrick being a strong leader within our group.”"
Now, why would the Mad Ants trade for a player who has inked a contract to play half-way around the world? Not like he can commute to play for both.
What Fort Wayne received was Walton Jr.’s returning rights, not, like in most trades, an actual contract. If Walton ever decides to return to America, and wants to play in the G-League, it will have to be for the Mad Ants.
The same holds true for Sirvydis, as well as Keifer Sykes. (who might be the first basketball player in 64 years to go from Fort Wayne to Detroit). They are not locks to be on their respective new teams, but, if they do decide to return to the G-League, it has to be to those specific teams.
Sykes and Sirvydis played some in the NBA last season, so they would both look to hook up with a team there, preferably.But it is interesting to see that the Cruise, much like its parent club, is not sitting still in the off-season.