The Detroit Pistons have to make a decision on their final 15-man roster. Heading into the preseason, most people figured that this was a fight between Joe Johnson and Christian Wood for the 15th spot.
This very well could be the case.
However, Ed Stefanski, speaking at Detroit Pistons media day, made sure to let everyone know he’s not taking any option off the table.
“Right now, that’s what most people will look at,” Stefanski said concerning the Johnson vs. Wood battle.
“But there could be other options as preseason goes on.”
All signs are pointing to Johnson being a lock to make the roster. Stefanski spoke glowingly of Johnson when asked about his impact on the team this year.
“It doesn’t hurt the younger players to see the work ethic that Joe can bring to the table. Plus, Joe can score. I don’t care, people will say he’s 38, I understand he’s 38.”
Johnson fills a need at backup small forward and a power forward, a position filled with young guys who aren’t quite ready for serious playtime, including first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya.
The tricky thing, however, is the Pistons have an obvious need for a backup center. A need that Wood seemingly should fit right into.
Unless the Pistons have grown a secret level of trust in Thon Maker to play full-time backup center, most would think Wood needs to stick to play the backup big man role. Also, if Andre Drummond were to go down, the Pistons would have zero option to replace him on the roster if Wood were to get cut.
Stefanski might be hinting that the team is very much open to trades that could help balance out the roster some. He has a surplus of shooting guards, with Langston Galloway being the first name to come to mind as a useful veteran on a medium-sized expiring contract.
Galloway is being paid $7.3 million this year, and while someone might be willing to trade a long-term deal for an expiring, it’s much more likely that Galloway gets shipped close to the trade deadline if at all.
The other trade candidates are Svi Mykhaliuk and Khyri Thomas. Both are coming into their second years in the NBA but both could be buried on the depth chart with little chance to develop this season.
Both Thomas and Mykhaliuk showed some signs of improvement in the Summer League this past season, but nothing that guarantees them playing time much less a spot in the rotation. With both of these players being young and on cheap deals, it would be much easier to ship one of them off in order to create space for Wood and Johnson.
One option that doesn’t appear on the table — letting Johnson go. With a partially guaranteed deal and the Pistons front office head offering up rave reviews, he’s pretty much a given Johnson is making the roster.
Stefanski seems much more likely to simply cut Wood since he’s on a non guaranteed contract.
Unless, of course, one of those “other options” he’s eager to explore (aka a trade) becomes available.