Hasheem Thabeet may stick around in the regular season, Stan Van Gundy suggested this week. A lot of people assumed the 27-year-old journeyman center was signed simply to provide an extra body to bang with during training camp, perhaps earning a D-League assignment with the Grand Rapids Drive.
But with Aaron Gray's availability this season still unknown (at least publicly -- the team hasn't indicated one way or another if he's expected to play this season) and Greg Monroe serving a two-game suspension to start the year, Van Gundy included Thabeet among the candidates to be Detroit's backup center at the start of the year. From Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
Despite the Pistons being at the league limit of 15 guaranteed contracts, Van Gundy said the backup center those first two games will be Thabeet or Tony Mitchell, who has a guaranteed deal.
"I don't really look at Thabeet as just a camp guy," he said. "He's a veteran NBA guy."
Thabeet is entering his sixth NBA season, and while he won't ever be the player the Memphis Grizzlies thought he was when they selected him second overall in the 2009 NBA draft, he's essentially a replacement-level backup big, capable of bringing most of what Gray brought to the court.
Thabeet is Detroit's only healthy player who's yet to see the court during the first two exhibition games, but there's five more games between now and the regular-season opener Oct. 29.
If he does make the roster, I'm going to assume it's at the expense of Gray, whose contract theoretically could be removed from the books as a medical exception. (Disclaimer: Or not. I'm really just throwing that against the wall -- I won't pretend to be an expert on the NBA's CBA or have knowledge of whatever guarantees are in Gray's deal.) But that still leaves one other player on the bubble. My hunch is still Will Bynum, but we'll have to wait and see.