The Detroit Pistons signed forward Tyler cook to a multi-year contract, the team announced, after the athletic big man shined during recent auditions on a pair of 10-day deals. The deal is a guarantee for the rest of this season with a team-option for next season, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News.
The Pistons had an open roster spot following the release of forward Blake Griffin, and it made sense the team would audition players with an eye toward signing someone to a guaranteed deal with a bit of team control.
I thought they’d cycle through a few players before they landed on someone, but Cook received the team’s first 10-day deal, then a second, and now he’s secured a bit of guaranteed money.
Cook quickly became a favorite of coach Dwane Casey for his athleticism, competitiveness and hustle all over the court. He can leverage his explosiveness and a bit of touch to bully his way through traffic and make difficult shots near the rim. All of his shots this season are within 10 feet of the basket, and he’s shooting 60%-plus from within three feet and from 3-10 feet away from the hoop.
He seems like he has carved out a role as a backup hustle four/five — essentially a role 20-year-old Sekou Doumbouya has played in fits and starts this season to varying degrees of impact.
It’ll be interesting to see how Casey balances the minutes for the young reserves who keep fighting for more playing time including Cook and Doumbouya as well as Frank Jackson, Dennis Smith Jr. and even Deividas Sirvydis. As the season winds down, Casey might utilize more rest days for his veterans or an injury or injury management might clarify the issue at some point in the season’s last quarter.
Cook is averaging 10.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per 36 minutes in 11 games this season.
With the signing, the Pistons have 12 players under contract including the restricted free agency control of Hamidou Diallo and Saben Lee.
They also have Dennis Smith Jr. entering restricted free agency, but their depth at point guard and his sizable cap hold ($14 million) means he’ll likely walk in the offseason. They also have partial guarantees on veterans Rodney McGruder and Cory Joseph ($5 million and $12.6 million with $1 million and $2.4 million guarantees, respectively) who will likely walk.
Add in the four draft picks, and the Pistons are well-stocked entering the offseason. The ability to bring Cook back or decline his option or consolidate the draft assets and use a little bit of free agent money, means a lot will change between now and tip off next season.
The cupboard is not nearly as bare as it was from Troy Weaver’s point of view compared to the moment he was hired, but he still has enough wiggle room to make some significant changes this offseason.