Hasheem Thabeet has spurned interest and higher pay from international squads and has decided to sign with the Grand Rapids Drive, the exclusive D-League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons.
Thabeet was an unremarkable addition to the Pistons training camp roster, much like he has been unremarkable since becoming the second overall selection of the 2009 draft. Thabeet was signed by the Pistons with a chance to make the roster, especially once Aaron Gray's heart condition cropped up, but he only played 4.7 minutes and had a goose egg in every box score category except for a lone missed shot attempt.
The Pistons, desperate for a reserve center with Gray out and Monroe suspended for the first two games of the season, traded for Joel Anthony instead of keeping Thabeet.
But the Pistons are able to designate up to four training camp roster cuts directly onto it's Drive roster, and Thabeet accepted that offer. Other players eligible would be Brian Cook and Josh Bostic. Another training camp player, Lorenzo Brown, already has his rights held by the Drive as he played for the Springfield Armor, who relocated to Grand Rapids.
Other former Armor players are also eligible to join the Drive, with guard Bruce Massey already committing to play for the Drive during its inaugural season.
It's true that getting back into the NBA is technically easier from the D-League than from overseas. As we saw in the lockout shortened season, international teams rarely let players out of their contracts. But that NBA chance will likely not come from Detroit, who has Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Anthony manning the center position.
But in the D-League any NBA team can call up a player from any NBA team so long as the player is not on an NBA team's active roster.
The rest of the Drive lineup will be filled out via the annual D-League draft, which is set for Saturday. The Drive have 10 picks in the first six rounds, including the first and fifth overall picks. The Pistons plan on installing the same offensive and defensive schemes as used by the parent club and it should be interesting to see what players Van Gundy and company believe can execute his ideal vision.
The team will be coached by longtime Magic executive and Van Gundy friend Otis Smith. The Drive's first game will be Nov. 15, with the first home game at the DeltaPlex Arena set for Nov. 26.