Pistons release Joe Johnson, keep Christian Wood

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — It came down to a numbers game.

The Pistons were faced with trying to whittle down their 15-man roster by Monday’s deadline and try to keep all the players they wanted. With 14 players under guaranteed contracts, the decision came down to 18-year veteran Joe Johnson and 24-year-old Christian Wood.

NBA veteran Joe Johnson (24) was waived by the Pistons on Monday.

After some final deliberation, the Pistons went with Wood, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski

Johnson, 38, was the MVP of the Big3, the 3-on-3 summer league, was signed to a partially guaranteed contract, with only $220,000 committed to him during the summer, but Wood had a strong training camp and averaged 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in the preseason, getting the final nod.

Wood, 24, was claimed off waivers in the offseason and fills an immediate need in the Pistons’ thin frontcourt. He showcased an ability to score around the rim, especially on pick-and-roll plays, and a deft touch on 3-pointers that will allow him to play meaningful minutes at backup center.

At 6-foot-10, Wood can play either power forward or center. He is on a non-guaranteed contract worth $1.6 million, with half guaranteed if he’s on the roster Wednesday — the date of the Pistons’ first game — and the other half on Jan. 10.

Wood hasn’t played more than 21 games in a season in career — and now he’ll get his shot. After bouncing around with four teams in his first four seasons, Wood seems to have found a home where he’ll get regular minutes.

“I feel like I played for keeps,” Wood said last week. “I felt like I showed Casey everything he needed to see — and then some more. I did everything at 110 percent and whatever decision they make, I’m going to be happy with it, because I know I played hard.

“I showed my versatility and the way I play defense. I can put the ball on the floor, be a stretch (center) for any team and I did a great job.”


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard