Motor City fire sale
THE Detroit Pistons are now in a full rebuilding mode.
A house fire sale it has become for the Motor City squad following the trade of center Andre Jamal Drummond and subsequent buyout agreements with guard Reggie Jackson and forward Markieff Morris.
Just minutes before the NBA trading deadline last February 6, the Pistons shipped the 6-foot-10, 26-year-old Drummond, the NBA’s rebounding leader, to the sad-sack Cleveland Cavaliers, afraid that the club won’t get any compensation if the University of Connecticut product walks away after this campaign.
At the time of the swap, Drummond, who had been with the Pistons since breaking into the NBA in 2012-13, owned a double-double average of a career-high 17.8 points and an NBA-leading 15.8 rebounds. He also has a contract that allows him to decline his $28.9 million player option for 2020-21 and become an unrestricted free agent in July.
The Cavs are just as dysfunctional, with associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff being elevated to the top post after college-great, but pro-ball bust bench strategist John Beilein resigned last February 19 following the NBA All-Star break with a East-worst 14-40 record.
The 67-year-old Beilein, though, has been reassigned to a different role in the organization following a financial settlement of a portion of the remaining money on his 2019-20 contract. Beilein had quit the University of Michigan last May and inked a five-year pact with the Cavs that would have paid him more than $4 million annually. Beilein is the third rookie NBA head coach in the last 30 years to pilot a team’s season opener and not make it through the season, joining Randy Ayers (Philadelphia 76ers, 2003-04) and Jerry Tarkanian (San Antonio Spurs, 1992-93).
Then came the buyout agreements with Jackson (February 18) and Morris (February 21).
Italy-born Jackson, a 6-foot-3, 29-year-old backcourter, has missed much of the current 2019-20 wars due to a back injury, having played just 14 games, averaging 14.9 points and 5.1 assists, including 12 of the Pistons’ last 13 assignments.
After clearing waivers, Jackson joined the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent. He made his Clippers debut in a 112-103 home loss to the Sacramento Kings last February 22, tallying eight points.
The Clippers had earlier acquired 6-foot-10, 30-year-old Markieff Morris’ twin brother, 6-foot-9 Marcus Thomas Sr., from New York in a three-team trade that also involved Washington on NBA trade deadline day.
Last February 21, Markieff himself agreed to a buyout with Detroit. He suited up in 44 games with the Pistons this season with per-game clips of 11 points and 3.9 rebounds. Last July, he inked a two-year pact with the club that would have paid him $3.2 million in 2019-20 and $3.36 million (player option) in 2020-21.
Markieff had $4.3 million left in the contract but he gave up the rights to the full amount to secure a buyout. He is eligible to be claimed on waivers by a team with a trade exception — which also means that the buyout agreement with the Pistons will be rescinded and his new employer will have to shoulder the full amount (remaining 2019-20 salary and $3.36 million player option for 2020-21) due him.
Once he cleared waivers, he would be able to sign with any team with a trade exception. The LA Lakers eventually won the Markieff sweepstakes.
The Lakers had been granted a $1.75 million disabled player exemption for the injury-plagued center DeMarcus Cousins, who was injured in an offseason workout and had been sidelined throughout the regular wars. Cousins had been waived last February 21 to bring the Lakers’ roster to 14 men and enable the team to snatch Markieff’s services.
Players who are waived on or before the March 1 (March 2 Manila time) deadline are eligible to participate in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, which commence on April 19 (Manila time).
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