‘Rave reviews’ for Snell, whose addition lets Pistons focus on PGs in free agency

Dwane Casey says Tony Snell’s 3-point shooting and size at his position makes him an ‘excellent addition’ to get the Pistons’ off-season off and running
Rocky Widner (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

AUBURN HILLS – Having two former Milwaukee Bucks assistant coaches on staff has served the Pistons well twice over the past five months.

Just as Sean Sweeney and Tim Grgurich passed Thon Maker’s potential and character with flying colors when the Pistons pondered a trade for him at mid-season, so did they highly recommend last week’s trade for Tony Snell that plugged a major off-season roster need.

“When the trade presented itself, they had nothing but rave reviews,” Dwane Casey said of Snell, who brings precisely the size and 3-point shooting on the wing the Pistons were hunting via any means necessary. “He didn’t have a great year last year, but you don’t forget how to shoot. I remember preparing for him when (Toronto) had them in the playoffs.”

The Pistons got Snell for Jon Leuer, limited by ankle and knee injuries the past two seasons and essentially passed by in the rotation by the Maker acquisition. The move satisfied Milwaukee’s need to move off of Snell’s contract to accommodate the attempt to retain its own free agents. For taking on the extra season of Snell’s deal – he’s owed $11.4 million next season, $12.2 million in 2020-21 – the Pistons got Milwaukee’s No 1 pick, 30th overall, and swapped it to Cleveland for four second-round picks. Three of those picks facilitated two second-round trades that give the Pistons two depth prospects for future seasons.

Snell, the 20th pick in the 2013 NBA draft, spent his first three season with Chicago and the last three with Milwaukee. He’s started 218 career games, including 80 in 2016-17 for the Bucks and 12 last season. A late-season ankle injury kept Snell sidelined into the first-round playoff series with the Pistons. Snell averaged 6.0 points in 17.6 minutes a game and shot 40 percent from the 3-point arc in 74 games.

He becomes the favorite to start at small forward for Casey’s second season with the Pistons. Snell measured 6-foot-7¼ with a 6-foot-11½ wingspan at the 2013 NBA draft combine, length that would have identified Snell as a target had he been a free agent this summer. And his 3-point shooting – 57 percent of Snell’s shots last season were triples, in line with his career rate – fits like a glove for Casey and what his offense needs next to Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.

“You have to prepare for it,” Casey said. “All it’s going to do is create space for Andre and also for Blake on the floor. Teams are not going to be able to cheat off of him with him on the floor.”

Landing Snell – plus the bonus first-round pick – streamlines the Pistons’ free-agent strategy. With their need for a wing with more size satisfied, Ed Stefanski and his front office can focus on recruiting point guards when free agency opens June 30.

“Excellent addition to our team with the size, the length,” Casey said. “Forty percent 3-point shooter. We ranked in the top of the league in attempts – now we’ve got to make some of ’em. In today’s NBA, we have to be able to make shots and he adds to that. More of a stand-still 3-point shooter than off of (dribble handoffs) and bounce than some guys do, but excellent addition for our team. Defensively, he can guard bigger guys. The length and size at that position is huge.”

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