NBA Free Agency 2021: Pistons roster begins to take shape

ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 18: Kelly Olynyk #41 of the Houston Rockets demands a ref challenge against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center on April 18, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 18: Kelly Olynyk #41 of the Houston Rockets demands a ref challenge against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center on April 18, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) (2021 Alex Menendez)

The 2021-2022 Detroit Pistons roster is coming into focus with the NBA free agency period underway.


Hey Pistons fans, it’s a busy time in the NBA offseason right now. A flurry of free agency news hit on Monday at 6 p.m., with some big movement from big players. Kyle Lowry is now a member of the Miami Heat. Lonzo Ball is off to Chicago. Luka Doncic, Jimmy Butler, Trae Young, Steph Curry and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are all signing massive extensions with their current teams.

Sheesh, there’s a lot of money going around. Looks like I picked the wrong profession.

Locally, things were a lot quieter. The Pistons don’t have much cap space to work with this year, somewhere between $12 and $20 million, depending on what they choose to do with some of their own free agents and non-guaranteed deals. But they still made some moves to start the free agency period.

Kelly Olynyk

The biggest add was forward-center Kelly Olynyk. I personally love this signing. The deal is reportedly a 3-year, $37 million contract, which is pretty competitive, looking around the league.

Olynyk is a perfect fit for the Pistons, offering a stretch-big to open up the floor for the young Pistons backcourt, which now includes Cade Cunningham.

Olynyk, 30, is from Canada, and played at Gonzaga. He’s a shooter, first and foremost. He shot 40% from the three-point line last season, which he split with Miami and Houston.

In Houston, Olynyk found more playing time, and his stats popped. He averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds per game to finish the year.

The theme for the Pistons this offseason has been to improve shooting depth. Olynyk is exactly that.

Other moves:

  • The Pistons are reportedly bringing back point guard Cory Joseph on a 2-year deal. Joseph played well for the Pistons last year after being traded to Detroit from Sacramento in the Delon Wright trade. He’ll give the backcourt some depth.
  • Detroit is reportedly signing forward Trey Lyles, who has spent the last two season with the San Antonio Spurs. Lyles can shoot the three, but I wouldn’t expect to see too much of him on the floor. We’ll see.
  • Detroit has extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents, including Hamidou Diallo, Frank Jackson and Saben Lee. I’d expect all of them to return.

Related: Meet the 2021 Detroit Pistons NBA draft class

Lingering questions:

  • What’s Josh Jackson’s future with the Pistons? Jackson is entering the second of his 2-year deal, and could be tradable, especially if Diallo returns. They have similar playing styles, but Diallo has a higher ceiling.
  • Where does Sekou Doumbouya fit in? The third-year Piston has had an up and down start to his NBA career, but he’s still just 20.
  • Where do rookies start? The Pistons have four rookies on the roster, but I’m sure most of them will start in the G-League. The Pistons could have an extra roster spot or two when it all shakes out, so we could see Livers or Garza popping up early.

I wouldn’t expect much more action from the Pistons this offseason. The team will open up $30 million in cap space next summer when Blake Griffin’s deal comes off the books, so I’m sure they’re planning for more movement next year.

Here’s the current depth chart, in my opinion:

Guards: Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Cory Joseph, Josh Jackson, Frank Jackson, Saben Lee

Forwards: Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Sekou Doumbouya, Trey Lyles, Isaiah Livers

Bigs: Isaiah Stewart, Kelly Olynyk, Jahlil Okafor

That’s 15 players, which was the roster size last season. It could shrink this year. We’ll see if Luka Garza can make room for himself somewhere. This is also assuming the Pistons waive Rodney McGruder, who is on a non-guaranteed deal, and they keep Josh Jackson for now.


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About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.