A Spot for Siva
3-for-1 trade that nets Jennings leads to contract for rookie point guard
Peyton Siva got married on the last Saturday of July. His wedding present from the Pistons arrived a few days later. Last week’s trade that sent three players to Milwaukee in exchange for Brandon Jennings opened two roster spots, clearing the way for Siva to spend the 2013-14 season in the NBA instead of looking for a spot overseas.
The Pistons signed Siva, whom they drafted with the 56th pick in June and then watched as he made a strong case during Orlando Summer League to stick, to a contract on Monday.
The flip side of the Jennings trade is that it further crowds Siva’s point guard position. He’ll come to camp No. 4 on the depth chart behind Jennings and two players with long Pistons histories signed as free agents in July, Chauncey Billups and Will Bynum. Brandon Knight, who went to Milwaukee in the trade along with Khris Middleton and Slava Kravtsov, could have moved over to shooting guard to ease the logjam, but Jennings is strictly a point guard.
So is Siva, and in Orlando he showed why an NBA team would want to keep him around. Over four games – Siva sat out the finale with a minor ankle sprain – spanning 104 minutes, Siva committed a mere six turnovers while racking up 24 assists. In an especially frenetic opener, filled with Brooklyn Nets hopefuls trying to crack the back end of a top-heavy roster on minimum-wage contracts and playing with appropriate desperation, Siva committed one of the game’s 45 turnovers.
“That was definitely something that stood out,” Pistons assistant general manager George David said, “how responsible he was with the basketball in his hands.”
A four-year product of Louisville and Rick Pitino, the last three as the starter, Siva led the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA title, beating Michigan in the championship game. Pressure, naturally, is no stranger to him, but using a one-week Summer League audition to convince an NBA team a roster spot should be yours is a different kind of pressure. And Siva passed that test with flying colors.
Most teams don’t carry four point guards, and it remains to be seen if Joe Dumars is finished remaking the roster with about eight weeks until training camp opens. But Siva fits the ideal profile of a young point guard there to provide depth: If he’s ever called on to play, he’ll protect the basketball, get his team into its sets and be a defensive pest. Siva also averaged three steals a game in Orlando.
He also accomplished something else in Orlando that won’t show up in box scores or even the most esoteric advanced statistical interpretations: Siva won over his teammates, striking up an especially tight bond with former Big East rival Andre Drummond, who is as central to the Pistons’ future as anyone. When a point guard wins the trust of his teammates, he’s won half of the battle.
“That’s just my guy right there,” Drummond said of Siva. “He sees the floor very well, a great defender and also a great teammate.”
“You can tell he’s a guy who’s been well-coached, played for a great coach for four years,” said Greg Monroe, who didn’t play in Summer League games but did go through five practices with Siva. “He won a national championship. When you’re playing at that level, you’re going to come in well prepared and you understand what it takes to be good at this level.”
And now, thanks to a slightly belated wedding gift from the Pistons, it appears he’ll get the chance to prove it.