The brief, exasperating, energetic Thon Maker era is over in Detroit. In a move that will surprise exactly zero non-Australian true-believers, the Pistons decided not to extend a qualifying offer to Maker, who set to become a restricted free agent.
By not extending the offer, the former 10th overall pick becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Pistons traded for Maker in 2019, taking a flyer on the big man in exchange for fellow disappointing lottery pick Stanley Johnson as part of a three-team deal with the Pelicans and Bucks.
It was an opportunity to see if the 21-year-old big man could put it all together on a new team with a more consistent role the Bucks couldn’t provide. In his time in Detroit, Maker proved in more than 1,300 minutes that he definitely could not.
His 3-point shot never really developed, his defense never grew beyond spastic and he could never put on the kind of weight that would make him a workable big man in the NBA.
While the move was expected, after a flurry of moves in Detroit it becomes important as the math and salary cap space gets tighter.
The move frees up $4.8 million Detroit would have paid Maker if he took the Pistons’ qualifying offer.
As it stands, the Pistons look to have a shade under $10 million with more moves expected as it works to transform its roster. It’s unclear if part of that transformation will involve Christian Wood returning in a Pistons uniform.
Currently, the Pistons can’t offer a salary significantly higher than the mid-level exception that any team over the cap could offer. It also would prevent them from securing assets for Wood in any potential sign-and-trade.
There are several reports that the Pistons swung a trade earlier Thursday for Dwayne Dedmon with the intention of then flipping Dedmon to another team. Dedmon has a $13.3 million salary and another $13.3 million on the books next year, but with only $1 million guaranteed.
Dedmon came over from the Hawks in exchange for Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas, who was subsequently waived by Atlanta.
In surveying trade assets on Detroit’s roster along with Dedmon, the Pistons have Trevor Ariza, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin. Everyone else has either already been traded or is a young player making a pittance compared to those veterans.