GR3: ‘We’ve got a lot of great talent. I think we can do some big things’
LAS VEGAS – Ed Stefanski didn’t expect to make news on the first day of free agency. Doesn’t mean he was going to sit on his hands when the clock struck midnight July 1.
The first phone call Glenn Robinson III took came at 12:01 a.m. last Sunday. It was Dwane Casey on the other end.
“It was crazy,” Robinson said. “I never experienced anything like that. It was crazy just to hear all the coaches, all the organizations reach out. It was a fun time. It was a really good experience and I’m glad to be here in Detroit. I’m glad we got things worked out.”
“We didn’t expect we would get Glenn that quickly,” Stefanski said. “We felt getting the two-year commitment was huge to us. To find a young wing who can make a shot, they’re hard to find in the league. When the opportunity came up that quickly, we felt we had to make a move. If it wasn’t for him, we would still be out there looking for a guy.”
The Pistons went into free agency with the mid-level exception as their biggest chunk of bait and Robinson agreed to a reported two-year, $8.3 million deal with the second year at the team’s option. Robinson, 24, missed the first four months of last season after tearing two ankle ligaments in what he called a freak accident on the last day of training camp.
The 40th pick in the 2014 NBA draft after two seasons at Michigan, Robinson was waived by Minnesota midway through his rookie season. He landed with Indiana for his second season and began to show skills development – including a vastly improved 3-point shot – that made his combination of size and athleticism infinitely more intriguing.
Teams look for some combination of size, athleticism, defensive ability and 3-point shooting in wings – probably the most coveted position group in today’s game – and often have to settle for someone proficient in one or two of those areas.
Though Robinson is still a work in progress, he gives the Pistons elements of all four areas.
“He can play the three and you can move him to the four if you want to. He has versatility,” Stefanski said. “We’re thrilled that we could get him.”
Robinson attended the Pistons Summer League game with Memphis on Saturday night at Cox Pavilion along with the other free agent the Pistons signed, veteran point guard Jose Calderon. They sat with Andre Drummond courtside and met with Casey and assistant coach Sidney Lowe at halftime.
“I think that we’ve got a lot of great talent,” Robinson said. “And I think, most importantly, we’re young and we’re hungry. That’s what we’re going to need to succeed. I’ve got a lot of faith in this team. I think we can do some big things.”
The son of former all-time Big Ten great and 1994 overall No. 1 pick Glenn Robinson, Robinson averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 21 minutes a game while shooting 38 percent from the 3-point arc in 2016-17 for the Pacers. He’ll compete for minutes at small forward with Stanley Johnson, but both have the versatility to play up or down a position and both have the size and athleticism to switch from point guard through power forward, giving Casey defensive flexibility.
Robinson did his homework before free agency opened and had keen interest in the Pistons both for his Michigan roots and his sense of the fit here. He might have been surprised the Pistons called so quickly, but he had an inkling they’d be one of the teams checking in on him.
“I did. I was hoping so,” he said. “I don’t really follow much on Twitter and everything, but all of my Michigan fans were hitting me up, like ‘Detroit gotta recruit Glenn this year.’ So when it became real, Coach was the first to give me a call at 12:01. I talked to coach Casey immediately and he explained a little bit of my role, what it would be coming here, what it would mean to him, so I’m more than excited to be here and I’m ready to have some fun.”
Robinson said Casey “knows my game well – a shooter, defender, able to spread the floor and attack the basket. I know they’re looking for some shooters at the small forward position. I’ll be able to stretch the floor and help those guys out on the inside, Blake (Griffin), (Andre) Drummond. I think we’ve got a great team and I know we’re all excited and think we can really get this playoff push going. All of us are coming in with strong confidence and chips on our shoulder.”