Detroit Pistons Free Agency: Who to walk away from and who to re-sign

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(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Pistons, Saben Lee
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I expect Detroit Pistons GM Troy Weaver to retain Saben Lee but not Dennis Smith Jr.

Saben Lee similar to Jackson, showed plenty of potential in a limited role during the 2020-21 season.  The Detroit Pistons used the 38th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft on Lee via the Utah Jazz.

We’re just a year removed from Lee being one of Weaver’s guys, and if it comes down to retaining Lee or Smith Jr. as I feel it will, the needle will sway in Lee’s favor.

Lee appeared in 48 games during his rookie season, scoring 5.6 points, 3.6 assists, and 2 boards. The 21-year old product of Vanderbilt shot 47.1% from the field and just over 34% from beyond the arc.

The youthful guard provided the Pistons with a spark at times, primarily playing as the third point guard coming off the bench.  Lee was forced to start 7 contests due to a host of injuries at the position and eclipsed the 20-point mark three times in 2021.

I expect Lee to remain with the organization as a depth guard moving forward.

Dennis Smith Jr. appears to be the odd-man-out for the Detroit Pistons.  The reclamation project may have rejuvenated his career after joining Detroit.  Smith Jr. landed in Detroit as a part of the Derrick Rose deal.  Smith Jr. was fell out of favor with the Knicks and actually requested to be placed in the organization’s G-League to remain sharp by playing real minutes.

I was impressed by the player’s request knowing that he had some past success in the association, wanting to play regardless of swallowing his pride to perfect his craft.

The Pistons allowed Smith Jr. to play significant NBA minutes once again as he averaged nearly 20 per game while averaging 7.3 points and 3.7 assists per game.  Smith Jr. shot 35% from three and 41% from the field.

Next. Pistons draft preview: Guard Cade Cunningham. dark

I suspect someone in the league will roster Smith Jr. as a third option, but I don’t suspect it will be in Detroit, but he’s a player I will root for after seeing his perseverance this past season.