Siva making a forceful case to return to Pistons for year two

Peyton Siva came to Summer League with his contract status for next season uncertain, but you’d never know it by the way he’s performing so far.
Fernando Medina (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

ORLANDO – Peyton Siva is coming up on his one-year wedding anniversary, a ceremony he squeezed between his rookie Summer League experience and a busy off-season at the Pistons’ practice facility. A year later, he’s counting down the days to fatherhood. Peyton Siva is a young man in a hurry, which makes it all the more ironic that he married a woman named Patience.

You’d think that a 23-year-old with a growing family would feel undue pressure to perform, given his contract status. The Pistons have until July 20 to decide whether to pick up the second year of his contract. It was written that way for a purpose: to give management a chance to fully assess him in Summer League.

But if you thought that type of stress would crack him, well, you don’t know Peyton Siva.

“Not at all,” he responds to questions – and he got an earful of them after his first Summer League game over the weekend – about the contract situation weighing on him this week. “Yeah, it’s a contract and they’ve got the option. But all I can do is control how I play. I can’t really worry about what goes on outside or if I happen to come back. I believe that God has a plan for me, whatever happens. Of course I would love to stay with Detroit. But all I can do is control how hard I play and go out there and play.”

And that’s what he did in the two weekend wins to open Summer League play. Raw numbers rarely tell the story of a point guard’s contributions, but Siva’s raw numbers were pretty darn good. He averaged 15 points and 6.5 assists against just 2.0 turnovers, playing 28 minutes each game. He shot 50 percent and hit 7 of 9 foul shots with six rebounds and three steals.

“Peyton’s a great point guard,” said the unequivocal star of Summer League’s opening weekend, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. “That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to run the floor, call plays and get us in the right position and that’s what he’s been doing for the last two days.”

Siva’s value to the Summer League team was perhaps more evident in the 12 minutes a game he wasn’t on the floor. Rookie free agents Marcel Starks of Georgetown and Ian Miller of Florida State are both talented offensive players, but Siva’s take-charge presence provides the structure required of an efficiently run half-court offense.

“I just think he’s a good basketball player,” Pistons Summer League coach Bob Beyer said after Saturday’s win over Houston. “He’s a point guard and he is thinking, ‘Set my teammates up first.’ He wants to run the team, but he has the ability – as we saw tonight, playing in high pick-and-roll situations, make good decisions, get to the rim and really that helps him out and it helps our team out.”

Siva, a three-year starter under Rick Pitino who led Louisville to the 2013 NCAA title over Michigan, experienced a similar pressure to perform in last year’s Summer League. He was the third of Detroit’s three draft picks last June, the 56th pick, and the Pistons didn’t go into that draft expecting to keep a late second-rounder on the roster. It was a pick they expected to stash in Europe – until Siva won them over with the intangible qualities that fly off of him like sparks.

“You always want to fight and try to stay in the NBA,” he said. “Especially in my situation, all I really can control is how hard I play. If the coach likes the way I play for the team, then so be it. If not, then it’s not the end of the world. I’m just taking it in stride. I’m truly blessed to have that opportunity to at least be able to play my way in.”

Now he needs to win over a completely new management team, led by Stan Van Gundy, who’ll also be coaching him if he gets his contract picked up.

“I’ve spent some time this summer working out with the coaches. I think it’s been going well. Hopefully, I can make a good impression on them and stick around. It looks like they’re doing a lot of good things and I definitely want to be a part of that uprising.”

Van Gundy told Siva that he wasn’t going to put much stock into the five Summer League games, which are often frantic and filled with desperate players with more tenuous contract situations – read: no contract – than Siva.

“He told me he wants me to come into the two-a-days and play hard and compete and I think I did a good job of that,” Siva said after the seven practices Van Gundy scheduled and Beyer ran last week wrapped up. “He told me not to really worry about the games. He put more emphasis on the practices. That’s what I tried to do – go out there and push it and work hard.”

Go out there and push it and word hard – also known as just another day in the life of Peyton Siva. He and Patience will add a daughter to their family in September, by which time Peyton hopes to be back in the Auburn Hills practice facility getting ready for his second training camp. He’s done everything within his grasp so far to make that a reality.