Pistons to sign former Michigan star Derrick Walton Jr. to 10-day contract
Detroit — Derrick Walton Jr. is coming home.
After a four-year career at the University of Michigan and two stints in the NBA, Walton is getting another shot — this time, it’s in his hometown. The Pistons plan to sign Walton to a 10-day contract, league sources confirmed to The Detroit News.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania was first to report the agreement.
“I can't speak about that right now because nothing is official, but his name is on the list,” coach Dwane Casey said before Thursday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The signing could become official before the Pistons’ four-game western trip, which begins Sunday at Portland.
Walton, 24, played at Michigan from 2014-17 and was the Big Ten Tournament MVP in his senior season, helping the Wolverines reach the Sweet Sixteen. He played in high school at Chandler Park Academy, where his jersey was retired on Wednesday.
Walton played 23 games with the Los Angeles Clippers this season, where he averaged 2.2 points and shot 43% on 3-pointers, after earning the last roster spot in training camp. He also played in 2017-18 with the Miami Heat, with 16 games as a rookie.
Adding Walton on a trial basis will give him a chance to make a bigger impression, possibly secure a spot for the remainder of the season and give the front office a chance to assess his potential fit moving forward. In the short term, it will allow Bruce Brown to play more at shooting guard and move from point guard.
“(We’ll look at) guys that are pure point guards and have played the point quite a bit just to see and also to give Bruce some more reps at his natural position as a (shooting guard),” Casey said. “Bruce will still defend some (point guards) but have a little less ball-handling responsibilities, to kind of free him up a little bit.
“I just really think that it helps him all around to have a little less ballhandling responsibilities and kind of be the secondary, maybe the third ballhandler in a lineup.”
Walton, 6 feet, 180 pounds, fills the roster spot left after Reggie Jackson’s buyout this week. It’s something of a flip, as Jackson will join the Clippers and take the spot that Walton had after being released ahead of the trade deadline.
The final 25 games of the season will be a challenge without two of the Pistons' top scorers from before the trade deadline, but they’re ready to move forward without Andre Drummond and Jackson.
It’s going to put more onus on Christian Wood and Thon Maker to pick up some of the scoring slack and to play more like starters than the reserve roles that they had occupied for much of the season.
“We want to establish our identity with our young guys because going forward, it’s not like it’s going to radically change, but we have to be a little creative in how we score,” Casey said. “We have to give some other guys some more responsibility, to get Christian Wood a little more scoring responsibility from that standpoint.
“A lot of things that we ran through Blake Griffin, we can run through Christian. So, it’s just trying to be creative in our scoring. Defensively, we will be the same.”