The Detroit Pistons won a surprising and “significant recruiting victory” by coming to terms with free agent Wayne Ellington, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Ellington, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, is a career 38 percent 3-point marksman and has become a high-volume shooter in recent seasons. Several teams were in pursuit of Ellington after he was waived by the Phoenix Suns. The Suns acquired Ellington in a deal with the Heat that netted them Tyler Johnson in exchange for Ryan Anderson.
The Thunder, Sixers and Celtics were reportedly among the teams interested in pursuing Ellington.
So why did he choose Detroit? It doesn’t hurt that Pistons executive Arn Tellem used to be Ellington’s agent.
Detroit’s roster is already at a maximum of 15 players, so someone will have to be waived to make room for Ellington. The likeliest candidate is former first-round pick Henry Ellenson, who has never carved out a role in Detroit and who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Update: It was, in fact, Ellenson who got waived:
Detroit Pistons plan to release forward Henry Ellenson to make room for Wayne Ellington when he clears waivers, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 8, 2019
Ellington’s best position is at shooting guard, but the Pistons are ripe with bodies that work best at shooting guard, while having very little available at the small forward position. The team already traded away its top two small forwards in Reggie Bullock (himself undersized for the position) and Stanley Johnson.
Detroit will likely give second-year player Luke Kennard the first shot at taking on the starting small forward role, with Glenn Robinson III as his primary backup and the recently acquired Svi Mykhailiuk another depth option.
That means that Ellington joins Bruce Brown, Langston Galloway and Khyri Thomas as possibilities for the shooting guard spot. Brown has recently been starting at shooting guard with Bullock at small forward. With so much turnover, it seems like Dwane Casey might experiment for a while until he finds a mix he is happy with.
The wing position has largely been a nightmare all season for the Pistons, with Bullock the only saving grace. He is now gone. Brown is a good defender but has almost no offensive game and is prone to rookie mistakes. Galloway runs hot and sometimes very, very cold and Kennard is still too passive and in his own head as he tries to figure out how to fit into the flow of the offense and make the right decisions on the floor. Robinson, meanwhile, has been a disappointing free agent acquisition for Detroit who hasn’t delivered much on either end and missed time with an ankle injury.
Still, the team is slowly moving away from the failures of the Stan Van Gundy regime, and in Svi, Ellington, Kennard and even newly aquired big man Thon Maker, Detroit at least has a prayer of starting to make some 3-point shots.
That’d certainly be a sight for sore eyes.