The signing of Josh Harrellson (right), formally of the New York Knicks, helps fill out the Pistons’ front court for the 2013-14 season. (andy_baker7, Flickr)
The Detroit Pistons struck a two-year deal Tuesday with free agent big man Josh Harrellson, perhaps finding their ideal 15th man for 2013-14 in the process. The signing came on the heels of Detroit reportedly having interest in newsworthy free agent center Jason Collins.
Though the Pistons had been talking to Collins, they were likely turned off most by his age and declining offensive skill. Harrellson doesn’t have issues in either of those categories, and was just named player of the year in China’s National Basketball League, where he led his Chongqing Fly Dragons to a 14-4 record, scoring 22.3 points per game while collecting 18.2 rebounds. Harrellson was also a defensive force at times, averaging a respectable 1.5 blocks per game in addition to 1.2 steals.
Prior to taking his game overseas, Harrellson helped lead the Kentucky Wildcats to a birth in the 2011 Final Four. He was then drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans in the second round of the 2011 draft. That season, he ended up playing with the New York Knicks, showing decently scoring 4.4 points a game while collecting 3.9 rebounds. Harrellson didn’t last long with the Miami Heat prior to heading to China, only seeing time in six games last year before departing.
In Detroit, though, Harrellson should be able to figure into the plans much more prominently. The Pistons needed some depth behind Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, and he’ll likely be first off the bench. If Harrellson can play less than half as well as he did in China and provide quality minutes offensively and defensively, he’ll be a solid signing. The team doesn’t need someone with phenomenal skill, rather, a player who can come off the bench and give the starters a quality blow from time to time.
By adding Harrellson, the roster now seems completely set heading towards October. The Pistons still maintain Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey’s expiring contracts, which should allow them the opportunity of more deals as the season progresses. The final piece for this offseason, though, seemed like the addition of a big man to spell the Pistons’ talented forwards. Detroit has found one with upside in Harrellson, who should be the perfect complement to Monroe and Drummond.
With Monroe, Drummond and Harrellson now in the fold, the Pistons have three of the best big men college basketball’s top programs featured from 2009-2012.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax