A Detroit kid rolls out of bed, goes to Pistons practice: ‘It’s a blessing’ – Derrick Walton
Logan Riely/NBAE/Getty Images
DETROIT – Derrick Walton doesn’t have to worry about housing costs eating up any of his Pistons salary, at least.
“I just felt weird for the first time today, just getting out of my own bed and coming to a practice,” said Walton, the Detroit native signed to a 10-day contract in the wake of Reggie Jackson’s negotiated buyout earlier this week. “It’s like, surreal. But it’s a blessing.”
Walton starred at the University of Michigan after his high school career at Chandler Park Academy – where he just this week had his jersey retired – and spent the 2017-18 season on a two-way contract with the Miami Heat. Last year was spent playing in Lithuania and Germany, but Walton made the Clippers out of training camp and eventually had his contract fully guaranteed.
Then he became a victim of the Clippers’ trade-deadline maneuvering, dealt to Atlanta to offload salary and enable Los Angeles to add Marcus Morris from the Knicks. The Hawks subsequently waived Walton.
The Goin’ to Work title Pistons of 2004 – he was 8 at the time – occupy some of Walton’s earliest and fondest basketball memories.
“I had a conversation with Chauncey not too long ago,” he said. “I definitely was a fan. My dad was a fan. Everybody was a fan around that time. It was fun times around here.”
Walton started 125 of 127 career games over his four years at Michigan, averaging 15.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting 42 percent from the 3-point line as a senior for a Wolverines team that had a memorable run through the Big Ten tournament – four wins in four days after the team plane slide off the runway upon takeoff – and eventually lost a Sweet 16 matchup by one point to Oregon.
Even in a limited sample size, Walton’s 3-point shooting has translated to the NBA. In 39 career games, he’s made 42.1 percent of his 38 3-point tries.
That was one of his strongest appeals to the Pistons.
“His leadership. His intelligence,” Dwane Casey said of Walton’s calling cards. “Talking to the Clippers coaches and I remember him at the University of Michigan, just his leadership, his ability to shoot the ball. He’s a good shooter, so we’ll see. I’ve seen him today and the other day when he came in and worked out, so I’ll hold my assessment until I’ve coached him.”
Walton will hit the road as the Pistons embark on a nine-day road trip that takes them to Portland, Denver, Phoenix and Sacramento. He’d be eligible to sign a second 10-day contract after the first expires. He’s lived with uncertainty of status since going undrafted, so the specter of having to make an impression over 10 days doesn’t faze Walton.
“I’ve always had the same approach. I do what I can,” he said. “The rest takes care of itself. I don’t really put too much pressure on myself. I do what I do.”