Now that the NBA trade deadline has come and gone, the buyout market will be in full swing. The Detroit Pistons have the opportunity to work towards a buyout with veterans on their roster that aren’t seen as a part of their future, or even as a part of the team next season.
A few names come to mind for Detroit, the most obvious being center Nerlens Noel.
Noel has played in just 14 games this season, averaging only 10.9 minutes per game during those contests.
He has a club option for next season, for just under $9.7 million. There clearly is not a spot for Noel on the Detroit Pistons, especially after the recent acquisition of the young and project center James Wiseman.
Furthermore, Noel was listed as OUT on the injury report for Friday night’s game against the Spurs and is currently not with the team, according to the report.
This isn’t a total shock after Noel was not dealt at the trade deadline. The best solution for both parties is for Noel to find a new home, which seems to have been in the cards for a while.
To reach a buyout, Noel has to reach an agreement with the Pistons. This calls for Noel to be paid a portion of what is already owed on his contract. In return, Detroit gets a bit of financial flexibility, as they’d only pay a piece of his $9.2 million salary owed this season.
The Pistons would also open up a roster spot by reaching buyout agreements, which can be used to take a flyer on a young player or give some of their two-way and other G League players NBA minutes.
As Noel isn’t getting much run in Detroit as it is, a buyout would be the best solution for the two sides.
However, it’s important to note that for Noel to agree to a buyout, he’d likely want some assurance that another team would pick him up once he’s cut free from the Detroit Pistons.
I’m not sure how strong the market for Noel is. But, he can find a fit with a team looking for frontcourt depth throughout the rest of the season. This gives Nerlens a new situation, and potentially more minutes. If he hears that an opportunity is out there, I’m sure that he would be more than happy to work toward a buyout with Detroit.
If this is the case, I’d expect a Noel buyout to happen sooner rather than later, to give him time to clear waivers and sign with a new team. In these situations, as much time as possible is usually beneficial to the player and his new team to get acclimated for a postseason run, putting the player in the best opportunity to provide impactful minutes down the stretch.
Buyout candidates on the Detroit Pistons
While Noel is the most clear buyout candidate on the Pistons current roster, he certainly isn’t the only one.
Veteran guards Cory Joseph and Rodney McGruder come to mind, as well. Joseph is signed with the team through this season, making a $5.2 million salary, while McGruder is currently on a one-year, $2.3 million deal.
I’m not sure if there would be much, if any, traction for either Joseph or McGruder in the buyout market. However, similar to Noel in the frontcourt, if any contender is looking for guard depth this year, there could be suitors.
Of course, either Joseph or McGruder would need to reach an agreement with the Pistons before they hit the open market. However, if there is are teams out there that could use veteran guards, I’m sure at least one of the two would be open to jumping ship towards a winning situation later in their careers.
GM Troy Weaver should be open to buying out any of his veterans on short-term deals that are not currently providing quality minutes to the team. So, if there is a market for Noel, Joseph or McGruder, the Pistons should jump.
Buying out these veterans paves the way for Detroit to solely focus on further development in an otherwise lost season.
Creating additional roster spots allows them to develop young guys that are already in-house, or take a flyer on a player looking to prove himself in the league.
We’ve already seen the Pistons look toward this route after a roster spot was created by dealing both Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox at the trade deadline, while only adding Wiseman in return.
Expect to see more of these deals come along as Weaver and co crawl towards the end of a difficult season. Buying out their end of the bench veterans will allow for more opportunities to find diamonds in the rough, who could potentially contribute to the team next season and beyond.