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Pistons GM ‘loves’ centers, entertains jokes surrounding free agency strategy

Pistons

If you didn’t know by now, Detroit Pistons GM Troy Weaver is a particularly big fan of centers, and he’s not ashamed to admit it.

In his first offseason as general manager, Weaver wasn’t hesitant to shake-up the Pistons front-court.

Detroit declined to re-sign 6-foot-10, 26-year-old Christian Wood after a promising 2019-20 campaign, sending him to the Houston Rockets in a sign-and-trade. Wood received a three-year, $41 million contract with Houston.

Instead, Detroit signed backup center Mason Plumlee to a three-year, $25 million deal, then gave fellow ex-Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant $60 million over three years. Weaver also signed veteran center Jahlil Okafor (and wing Josh Jackson).

Plumlee averaged 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game in 2019-20, starting once. Grant played well in the bubble, but the $20 million annual price tag is steep for the Pistons. In other words, it’s possible that Weaver spent $85 million on two backup bigs.

Understandably, Weaver’s moves for the Pistons elicited confusion, criticism, and mockery around the league, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Weaver poked fun at his adoration for the big-man position.

“Let the record show, when people said we were collecting centers — I love centers,” Weaver said, via Rod Beard of the Detroit News. “I welcome all the center jokes, because I do love centers.”

Weaver also acquired the No. 16 pick, center Isaiah Stewart, on draft night to further crowd the front-court. The Pistons also selected guard Killian Hayes and forward Saddiq Bey in the first round.

The Pistons also have promising forward Sekou Doumbouya on the roster, who’s playing time could be restricted with Grant earning minutes at the small forward position.

The newfound depth in the frontcourt (however you assess the talent and contracts) has only fueled speculation that the Pistons might look to trade power forward Blake Griffin at some point this season. Griffin, 31, who struggled in 18 games last season (15.5 PPG) before being shut down with knee troubles, is set to earn $36 million in 2020-21, then will have a $38 million player option  for 2021-22.