It could be a match made in heaven, according to Jabari Young of The Athletic.
An important connection — Brian Wright, an assistant GM with the Spurs, worked in Detroit when the team drafted Johnson in 2015, and he is apparently still a believer in Johnson’s talents.
It might be that he just needs a change of scenery after being a square peg attempting to fit in several round holes during his five-year career with the Pistons.
At this point he is working as bench forward depth and a primary defender for the Pistons. But the scoring is still not there and overall development has been stagnant. He is averaging 7.9 points and shooting just 39.1 percent from the field and a career-low 27.2 percent.
Frankly, the shot will probably never come. It’s still a flat, ugly looking specimen. That, combined, with his below the rim game makes me skeptical he will be able to “put it all together” even in the vaunted Spurs system.
According to league sources, behind the scenes, the concern with Johnson is his focus. The work ethic is there, but some feel Johnson is working on the wrong things with the coaches who aren’t employed by Pistons in the offseason.
“The tools are there,” one Eastern Conference scout said. “But whatever he wants to do doesn’t fit in with what they want him to do.”
But Johnson is an eighth overall pick who some around the league feel is a talent who can be saved if he lands with the right team.
“Can (the Spurs) fix everything that’s wrong with him?” another NBA scout asked, pointing to Johnson’s shooting as a concern. “Maybe (the Spurs) are the culture for him to turn him around.”
Another complicating factor — the Spurs and Pistons are two teams bumping up against the luxury tax. Johnson isn’t the kind of difference maker San Antonio would dip into the luxury tax for, and the Pistons, under no circumstances, should pay the tax this season.
That means you need to find a salary package that is near Johnson’s $3.9 million or add end-of-the-roster flotsam on both sides to even things out. Bryn Forbes is a $3.1 million 3-point shooter at a position where Detroit has reasonable depth.
There is also a point guard prospect like Derrick White and filler like Quincy Pondexter or Ben Moore that could work.
What do you think? Is it time to end the Stanley Johnson era?