Eric Moreland played all of two minutes total across three games for the Kings’ last season before suffering a labral tear in his shoulder that ended his season (he did get paid his full $507,336 salary because of that, though). Then this summer, with a pretty full roster, the Kings waived the undrafted 6’10” forward rather than guarantee his deal.
So where does he land now? Maybe Detroit, reports Shams Charania of RealGM.
Free agent Eric Moreland has multiple deals to compete for a roster spot in NBA training camp, with the Detroit Pistons as frontrunners, league sources told RealGM. The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are strong under consideration for Moreland, sources said, and their front offices expect the 6-foot-10 forward to settle upon a destination once the final offers are presented.
This would be a camp invite, make-good contract with maybe a little guarantee. Could he make the roster in any of those places? That’s an uphill climb.
Detroit has 17 guaranteed contracts and already is going to have to cut a couple of them. They also have a front line with Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver at the four, then three centers in Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes, and Joel Anthony. Not sure where Moreland fits in there.
The Lakers have 12 guaranteed deals but a pretty stacked frontcourt, Mooreland would need to beat out someone like Tarik Black (whom the Lakers like). The Kings have 14 guaranteed contracts and already waived him this summer so he wouldn’t be a guaranteed deal on their books, plus they have Willie Cauley-Stein in his young, shot blocker role.
Mooreland likely chooses whoever gives him the biggest guarantee. It’s about the money.
In Detroit, newly minted max player Reggie Jackson is going to be the starting point guard for Stan Van Gundy. Behind him there is Brandon Jennings, who is coming off a torn Achilles. Jennings may be ready to go when the season tips off, but even if he is Van Gundy may want to go easy on his minutes.
Then there’s veteran Steve Blake.
Van Gundy wanted insurance in case Jennings wasn’t ready to go when the season tips off, plus Van Gundy likes shooters and Blake is a career 38.5 percent from three (35.2 percent last season). So the Pistons traded Quincy Miller for Blake (the trade was with the Nets, who had gotten Blake in a draft night deal with Portland).
Van Gundy was looking for a veteran presence on the bench, but he’s got a suspicion Blake will find his way onto the court, he told the official Pistons’ website.
“That’s one of the things my brother (Jeff) said when we talked about the trade,” Van Gundy grinned. “He said, ‘If I had to bet, I’d say he finds a way to get on the floor no matter what.’ That’s sort of what he’s always done. He’s found a way to play.”
If Blake is playing a lot at age 35 it’s not ideal, it means Jennings isn’t right. Blake game has started to slip in recent years, but he can be solid. What Van Gundy saw in Blake was a professional, a guy who puts in the work, a smart veteran player —the kind needed in the locker room of a young team. He and Joel Anthony are the veteran voices.
“The last two people we (signed) were Joel and Steve. It’s a young team,” Van Gundy said. “We really didn’t get any older. Our starting lineup will average under 25 years old. I’m not sure having all young guys is the best way to develop all those guys. I think we saw the benefits of Caron (Butler) and Joel and Anthony Tolliver last year. Besides what Steve can do on the floor, I think Steve, Joel and Anthony as our only guys over 30 give us veteran guys who are really, really solid pros and good people for those guys to watch and grow up around.”
There certainly are real questions about them, but I’m higher on Detroit next season than a lot of people. Jackson and Andre Drummond showed some chemistry last season. Ersan Ilyasova is a better fit stylistically at the four in Van Gundy’s system than Greg Monroe. I think players like Marcus Morris and rookie Stanley Johnson can make an impact. They need shooters (expect Jodi Meeks’ role to grow) but there is some potential here.
I think this is a playoff team in the East. So long as Blake can be that veteran voice that helps keep the young players on the right path.
It was a bit surprising when the Pistons picked Darrun Hilliard with the No. 38 pick in the draft.
But they obviously liked the 3-and-D wing from Villanova then, and they haven’t changed course.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
If the Pistons haven’t officially signed Reggie Jackson, who agreed to an $85 million deal, they could fit Hilliard into cap space. Otherwise, they had to use part of their room exception. (Minimum-salary exceptions can be for up to two years.)
Giving Hilliard three years makes sense, because it gives the Pistons his Bird Rights if he plays well through three years. With a partially guaranteed second season and non-guaranteed third season, the downside is low for Detroit.
The Pistons’ more-immediate challenge is trimming the roster. They’re committed to 17 players, including Jackson and Joel Anthony, who has yet to formally sign. Danny Granger and Cartier Martin are prime candidates to get waived, and Reggie Bullock could fall in that group, too. There’s no rush. Detroit doesn’t need to reach a 15-man roster until the regular season begins.
So, these battles could extend into training camp. The Pistons will explore trades in that time, too.
Really, it shouldn’t be out of question to waive Hilliard if other players shine in the preseason. But given the contract he got today, I’d be shocked if Detroit seriously considers it no matter how he plays before his rookie year.