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2015 NBA Draft: Darrun Hilliard signed to three-year contract

Stan Van Gundy signed Darrun Hilliard to a three-year contract, making him the second second-round pick signed for multiple years.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons just signed Darrun Hilliard to a three-year contract. This is the second time in as many years that Stan Van Gundy has locked up his second-round pick to a multiple-year contract.

For the uninitiated, signing second-round picks to multiple-year deals isn't necessarily the norm like it is for first-round picks. In fact, the NBA's collective bargaining agreement doesn't prescribe rules for second-round picks like it does for first-round picks; as a result, many teams pay their second rounders as little as possible for as short a duration as possible in order to maintain roster flexibility.

In his first two summers, Van Gundy has eschewed common practice and locked his second rounders up for multiple seasons, and although two years doesn't necessarily make a pattern, I think Van Gundy and team are on to something here.

In the summer of 2015, it made sense to lock up Spencer Dinwiddie, who was widely regarded as a first-round talent who slipped due to injury. Signing Dinwiddie for multiple years allowed Dinwiddie to recover and gave the Pistons plenty of time to evaluate whether a long-term investment made sense.

However, the reasons for signing Darrun Hilliard to multiple seasons might not make as much obvious sense. In context, though, this signing might suggest a creative front office strategy that could pay big dividends down the road.

So, what's that context?

  1. Tom Gores is willing to spend money to improve the Pistons. Importantly, Gores has proven he's willing to eat contracts if it helps the team.
  2. Internal development of young players is a key piece of Van Gundy's long-term strategy to improve the team.
Put as simply as possible, signing Hilliard for three years gives Stan Van Gundy the best of all possible worlds. It gives him the opportunity to develop Hilliard's talents. It gives him plenty of time to evaluate Hilliard's growth. Most importantly, if Hilliard takes strides and establishes himself as a legitimate NBA player, the Pistons will get that production at a bargain price and establish Bird Rights in the process.

And if things don't pan out? Hilliard's second year is only partially guaranteed - waiving him would cost next to nothing, relatively speaking, and Gores is willing to pay for it regardless - and the third year is a team-friendly team option.

Regardless of how Spencer Dinwiddie and Darrun Hilliard develop, Van Gundy's approach to developing young talent internally is a breath of fresh air for Pistons fans, who have seen far too many promising young players find their NBA niches elsewhere.