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Pistons sign rookie Luka Garza to full NBA deal

The 2021 Men’s Naismith Player of the Year at Iowa was previously signed to a two-way contract.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons have shuffled through a number of players as they’ve evaluated their final roster spot. With training camp just around the corner, they’ve made a decision.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Friday that the Pistons have converted Luka Garza’s two-way contract to a full NBA deal. We don’t know how much Garza will make, but the NBA minimum over two years seems likely for the 52nd overall pick out of Iowa.

This is a good deal for both sides. Garza, the 2021 Men’s Naismith Player of the Year, is the type of big who will struggle and, at times, excel in the today’s NBA. His cement shoes are going to make him a liability on defense, but his size as a rebounder and potential as a 40% shooter from 3-point territory make him a center that you can deploy in the right matchups.

Two-way players were allotted unlimited time on the NBA roster last season due to the pandemic-shortened season. That’s why we saw so much of Saben Lee. That wouldn’t have been the case this season as the league is reverting back to the 45-day limit on time spent with the big club.

So this allows Garza to play in the G League with the Motor City Cruise, but also provides unlimited time in the NBA if he’s needed—or proves worthy. It also locks him into Detroit for the next two seasons, showing that the team sees him as a piece with some future value.

I think there’s a chance he ends up being a center version of Doug McDermott with some poor man’s Enes Kanter sprinkled in... or maybe he’s just a Henry Ellenson who can actually shoot? Either way, it’s a low-risk gamble to lock Garza in and see what happens.

The dude is a HARD worker, and that’s a good culture fit on its own.

It’s not unrealistic that if/when this season falls apart late in the year, and the Pistons shift super young to tank for another high pick, Garza gets legitimate minutes and puts up some big (and hollow) scoring numbers down the stretch.

UPDATE:

This makes sense. Pickett had a productive summer league and showed some nice shooting ability with good size. He joins undrafted free agent Chris Smith as the other two-way player. This leaves the recently-signed Cassius Stanley as a likely member of the Cruise.

I know it’s just the G League, but a possible lineup featuring Lee, Stanley, Smith, Pickett and Garza could be fun to watch with the Cruise this season.