Michael Gbinije was a surprise choice with the 49th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. But it wasn’t hard to talk yourself in to why Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower liked him.
They apparently didn’t like him that much. After a lackluster rookie season, they waived Gbinije to free up an extra roster space and get further away from the luxury tax.
There’s a few next steps for Gbinije. He’s now an unrestricted free agent and free to sign a contract with any team out there. That seems unlikely. Stephen Zimmerman was also a second round pick waived earlier this offseason, is five years younger than Gbinije, and remains unsigned.
A training camp deal is a possibility, but that would likely be unguaranteed and requiring Gbinije to impress and stay healthy - two things he hasn’t been able to do as a pro so far - to make the cut.
He could become a two-way player for the Pistons. If this is the first you’re hearing of it, a two-way contract is an initiative by the NBA to improve the
D G League competition.
The NBA roster essentially grows by two this year thanks to two-way contracts, which allow a player to earn a salary from both his NBA team and G League affiliate while the NBA team retains rights to the player. The idea is to improve fringe player development in the league. Still, two-way contracts seem to make more sense for focusing on younger prospects than a 25 year old Gbinije.
The third option is that Gbinije vanishes from the NBA radar. As has gone the way for many second round picks before him.
As a prospect, Gbinije brought to the table versatility, a defensive mindset, shooting, and solid size. Those seem like attributes that would lend themselves well to the NBA.
But they didn’t materialize, as poorly timed injuries and ineffectiveness led to few opportunities for the rookie. Even in the D-League, Gbinije was underwhelming, struggling to make his presence felt on the floor.
To ever make his mark in the league, Gbinije has some work to do. As a 25 year old second year player, he doesn’t have much time left to do it.