If there is one thing we have learned about Troy Weaver in his time with the Detroit Pistons, it’s that he loves to take a flyer on a first-round bust.
Looking for “change of scenery” talent has become Weaver’s modus operandi as the Pistons’ GM, as he has taken flyers on Dennis Smith Jr, Josh Jackson, Marvin Bagley III, Kevin Knox, James Wiseman and now RJ Hampton.
The strategy is clear: Weaver tries to acquire players who were seen as high-ceiling talent but have yet to thrive. The cost is usually low, so if one of these guys hits, the pay-off will be big in the form of an impact player on a lowball deal.
It hasn’t really worked yet, but the jury is still out on James Wiseman and RJ Hampton, the most recent first-round disappointments to find themselves wearing a Pistons’ uniform.
RJ Hampton is the most-recent acquisition, and it was recently announced that he’ll be spending the rest of the season and possibly beyond, with the Detroit Pistons.
Detroit Pistons: RJ Hampton signs two-year deal
When I first saw that the Detroit Pistons had signed RJ Hampton to a two-year deal I thought, “here we go again,” as it seemed like Weaver had once again offered a deal to a player who had done little to earn it, similar to the Bagley III deal, which was his worst move as the Pistons’ GM.
But the details of the Hampton deal make this far less of a risk (and far less expensive) than the Bagley III deal, and is more akin to the contract Kevin Knox got from the Pistons:
The deal will pay Hampton $485,403 for the rest of this season and $1,997,238 if Detroit picks up the option which is not guaranteed. So the Pistons can give Hampton a tryout and if they don’t like what they see, he’ll be a free agent again in the offseason. If they do, they potentially have another minimum contract in the rotation.
Hampton also gives some insurance for Killian Hayes, who is extension eligible this offseason. The Pistons could decide to go in a different direction and would have a cheaper option. But it’s more likely Hampton was brought in to replace Cory Joseph, who will be a free agent at the end of the season and is not likely to be back. Hampton is a cheaper, more athletic option with way more upside, so this would be a smart trade off for Detroit if Hampton sticks.
At some point, Weaver is going to have to try and build an actual team instead of just adding what I call “transaction players” but Hampton does have some talent and may just need a chance to showcase himself. Of course, we said that about Smith Jr. and Jackson and Knox…