"ESPN sources say Pistons are signing Hasheem Thabeet to non-guaranteed deal to give him a shot to make their team in training camp," tweets Marc Stein. A team source later confirmed the news to MLive.
The Pistons had 16 players under contract -- one over the NBA's regular-season limit -- before signing Lorenzo Brown to a similar, non-guranteed deal last week, so the chances Thabeet actually makes the roster seem incredibly slim. Nevertheless, he's 7-foot-3 and a talented shot-blocker, so it can't hurt to bring him in for a look.
Drafted second overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008, Thabeet has been a bust in the NBA, bouncing to the Rockets and Trail Blazers before signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012. He spent the last two years with OKC, appearing in 89 total games for the Thunder while averaging 10.8 minutes, 2.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game.
Despite last playing with the Thunder, Thabeet technically hit free agency as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired him (and cash considerations to help offset his $1.25 million contract) last month and immediately waived him in exchange for a protected second-round pick in 2015 and a trade exception. NBA accounting, y'all. Thabeet bid farewell to Thunder fans yesterday:
I WANNA TAKE A SECOND TO THANK YOU OKC.. THE ENTIRE THUNDER ORGANIZATION AND THE FANS HAVE BEEN NOTHIN SHORT OF AMAZING. THE MEMORIES I'VE MADE HERE WILL LAST A LIFETIME AND I APPRECIATE YALL FOR THAT. LOUD CITY; STAY TRILL.
At least on paper, Thabeet's biggest competition for a roster spot is Aaron Gray. Their numbers the last two years are actually quite comparable: Gray's appeared in 79 total games with the Raptors and Kings, averaging 11.0 minutes, 2.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.2 blocks.
But Gray's also a better overall defender, and despite being "just" 7-feet tall, he's beefier -- weighing seven pounds more despite giving up three inches to the wiry Thabeet. (More reading: Shinons* player preview for Gray from last week.) And to be honest, the Pistons sought out Gray early in free agency and reportedly gave him a multi-year deal, so it seems unlikely that the team would cut bait on him. For what it's worth, Gray turns 30 in December, while Thabeet turns 28 in February.
I wouldn't be surprised if the true intention behind this signing was to assign Thabeet to the Grand Rapids Drive -- as Sean Corp explained earlier this week, NBA teams are currently allowed to allocate three training camp players (and possibly up to four) to their D-League affiliate. He'll never live up to the unrealistic expectations put on him coming out of college, but with a bit more polish he could stick around the NBA for several more years.
Last but not least: the Pistons' infatuation with UConn players continues. I'm curious if Andre Drummond and/or Caron Butler pushed for this.
Now your thoughts. Stay trill.