Pistons get salary cap savings by waiving Eric Moreland

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Eric Moreland

Las Vegas — Eric Moreland had an eye-opening performance on the Detroit Pistons’ Summer League team last year and looked to be carving a niche with his energy and effort last season.

Now, he's looking for a new team. 

The Pistons intend to waive Moreland after reaching an agreement with veteran center Zaza Pachulia on Sunday, a source told The Detroit News. 

The move helps in maneuvering around the salary cap and keeping the Pistons under the luxury-tax line. They faced a Sunday deadline for a partial guarantee of $750,000 of Moreland’s salary of $1.8 million; by waiving him and adding Pachulia, they save about $300,000.

Pachulia's salary will be $2.4 million and his cap hit will be $1.5 million.

Moreland was the primary backup to Andre Drummond and averaged 2.1 points and 4.1 rebounds and shot 54 percent from the field in 67 games.

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The Pistons have been active in free agency, looking to improve their roster by adding experienced players with minimum salaries to augment their younger talent. 

With Anthony Tolliver’s departure — he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves last week for $5.75 million — the Pistons lost some veteran presence and leadership in the locker room. Adding point guard Jose Calderon, 36, and Pachulia, 34, brings some of that back.

“Tolliver was terrific and I’m happy he got paid. We just didn’t have the wherewithal to do it financially and he’s a special chemistry piece and the players like him,” said Pistons senior adviser Ed Stefanski, who is acting in the role of general manager. “Getting a player like Jose who is another chemistry piece and great in the locker room is a guy we needed with Tolliver moving on.”

With Pachulia’s experience in the winning environment with the Warriors, plus Calderon’s with the Cavaliers, the Pistons are getting some residual benefits along with their cap savings. 

The Pistons have been operating perilously close to the luxury-tax line of $123.7 million, and after adding Glenn Robinson III on a two-year contract for $8.3 million ($4 million next season), they look to have made their biggest splash in free agency.

The deal to sign Calderon was similar to the situation with Pachulia: Dwight Buycks was scheduled to make $1.6 million next season on a non-guaranteed deal; waiving Buycks saved about $100,000.

The Pistons signed rookie Bruce Brown to a two-year deal for a reported $2.3 million; they still are working on a contract with their other second-round pick, Khyri Thomas. If that contract is about the same, the Pistons could be around $500,000 below the tax line, which team owner Tom Gores has said he didn’t want to cross.

Make it official 

The Pistons officially announced the addition of Gregg Polinsky as director of player personnel. After hiring Malik Rose as an assistant general manager last week, they are getting close to filling their open front-office roles.

“Malik’s a good person; I’ve known him since he was in high school. He’s grown and matured and he blew me away in his interview,” Stefanski said. “I knew he knew basketball and he’s been around the league as a player. He’s got depth and acumen with the cap — all these things I was pleased to hear.

“He works really hard and he’s learning the business and he’s going to be really good at that position.”

Stefanski said the Pistons are looking to add another assistant GM and they’re closing in on making an announcement soon.  


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard