Jon Leuer’s tenure so far with the Detroit Pistons can be summed up as ineffective and injury-ridden. That is a harsh, but fair, assessment of a player that the Pistons thought would be a helpful 3-and-D power forward when they signed him to a 4-year $41 million deal in 2016. I am not here to mince words: Leuer is a huge net negative for the Pistons, both on the court and financially. The injury history is disappointing and unfortunate, injuries are a part of the game. But Detroit is in a financial bind because of it.
Nevertheless, Leuer appeared in 41 games for Detroit after seeing the court in just eight games the season prior. That is marked improvement and at least a speckle of hope for next season. However, Leuer played under 10 minutes per game, the first time that has happened since the 2012-2013 season when he was in Memphis (it is hard to count his eight games last season, but I will). In those scant minutes, Leuer averaged 3.8 points, 2.4 rebounds per game on 58% shooting. Hard to really assess any player on that small sample size.
The most critically poor aspect of Leuer as a member of the Pistons, aside from the health, is the lack of perimeter shooting. As a member of the Phoenix Suns in 2015-2016, Leuer shot a very respectable 38.2% from deep and cashed in on the thought that he could be a stretch four. Instead, Leuer has shot 27.6% from three as a member of the Pistons and a pathetic 9.1% last season. That aspect of his game, which was tantalizing at time, is seemingly gone. The Pistons have searched for spacing and shooting for years and now it is even more important with Blake Griffin on the roster.
So, the picture I am painting, with the injuries and poor play, is the Pistons need to find a way to get Jon Leuer off the roster unless it is more beneficial to swallow the pill that is his contract. The fear is that the price of getting his deal off the books would cost too much. Cleveland is reportedly willing to move that coveted J.R. Smith contract to a team looking to shed salary, but it will come at a price. Leuer plus the 15th pick in the draft for J.R. will probably get it done, but that is an awfully high price to pay. That would create more cap flexibility for Detroit but removes a young asset from the roster. It depends how valuable GM Ed Stefanski sees extra cap space being this offseason.
I was tasked to find the best moment of the season for the respective player in these reviews, but it is tough for Leuer. So, I will simply say that the fact he played half a season is a step in the right direction toward acceptability.
He had eight points and four rebounds in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, a game he started. There, that’s the game of the year, I guess.
I feel bad for Jon Leuer, I really do. He obviously did not choose to be injured and get overpaid, it just happened. That being said, it puts Detroit in a bind at a juncture in time where Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond are coming off of great seasons and Reggie Jackson stayed healthy. The Pistons could really use the extra space, and offloading Leuer would help immensely. But Stefanski has shown to be prudent, and it is unlikely they will trade away a young player with potential or a first-round draft pick just to MAYBE get some space for a free agent. Expect Leuer to stay on the roster at the start of next season, for better or worse.
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