Pistons news: Former first-round pick hits the waiver wire

Isaiah Livers #12 of the Detroit Pistons drives to the basket against Usman Garuba #16 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
Isaiah Livers #12 of the Detroit Pistons drives to the basket against Usman Garuba #16 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons still have an open roster spot and have a number of ways they could fill it.

They could bring back a veteran like Rodney McGruder, though given the fact that he is unlikely to play or make an impact, this would be more or less wasting the spot.

They could leave it open in the hopes of making a trade, which would make sense. If they were to move Bojan Bogdanovic, they might have to take back two smaller contracts, so having that open spot would be useful.

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The Pistons could also take a shot on a talent with upside, which has been Troy Weaver’s modus operandi since taking over as the Pistons’ GM. So far, risks on guys like Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith Jr., Marvin Bagley III, Kevin Knox, James Wiseman and RJ Hampton have shown little returns, but hitting on a guy like this is one way to find impact talent on the cheap.

One such player hit the market yesterday as it was reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder have waived forward Usman Garuba.

Should the Detroit Pistons be interested?

Detroit Pistons: Usman Garuba gets waived by OKC Thunder

Usman Garuba, who is originally from Spain, was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the 23rd pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Garuba was seen as a rebounding/defensive prospect after playing professionally with Real Madrid from the time he was 16 years old.

He enjoyed a nice career in Spain, becoming the youngest player to ever start for Real Madrid (replacing Luka Doncic) and record a double-double.

He is known for his relentless motor at 6-foot-8 with a massive 7-foot-2 wingspan that helps him as a shotblocker. Garuba came into the NBA as a model for the modern big who can play both power forward and center, allowing his team to go small.

But he hasn’t done much in his two seasons in the NBA, averaging just three points and four rebounds per game in just under 13 minutes for the Rockets last season. He was traded twice this summer, ending up on OKC who just waived him yesterday.

Given that Detroit has a similar (and better) player in Isaiah Stewart to go along with three more centers, it seems unlikely that they would take a flyer on a guy like Garuba. But Garuba does offer rim protection and had flashes as a 3-point shooter last season, knocking down over 40 percent, albeit on a limited number of attempts.

Is the shooting for real? Will Garuba eventually morph into an elite shot blocker? Will his defense, rebounding and energy be enough to offset his offensive limitations? These are all familiar questions, as the Pistons could ask the same about any of their bigs.

Given Troy Weaver’s fondness for centers, it wouldn’t shock me if Detroit took a flyer on Garuba, but unless they were to make another trade, he’d be buried on the depth chart just like he was in Houston, so doesn’t make much sense, at least for now.

Next. Offseason report card for the Pistons so far. dark