Pistons, Italian League shooter Luigi Datome agree on terms to 2-year deal
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound small forward broke the new on his Facebook page Tuesday, that he will be leaving the Italian League to join the Detroit for the 2013-2014 season.
“I think that Detroit is the right place to make another step in my career and to realize a dream. I am very excited to play with the Pistons,” wrote Datome.
However, the deal will not become official until Wednesday when the league’s annual free agency moratorium ends, and Datome is able to ink his contract.
With the agreement, the Detroit Pistons have addressed one of their biggest needs this free agency – perimeter shooting.
Earlier in January, the Pistons traded forwards Tayshaun Prince and Suatin Daye in a three-team trade that sent them to the Memphis Grizzlies and brought Jose Calderon over to Detroit. However, the Pistons eventually lost Calderon too in free agency. They drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to address the void at shooting guard, but they don’t have much depth at the small forward position behind Jonas Jerebko.
Luigi Datome was an MVP for the Italian League last season, while leading the Virtus Roma to the championship round. He averaged 16.6 points and 5.8 rebounds, while shooting 51.5 percent from the floor and 39.4 percent from the 3-pointer range last season. Datome also shot 92.6 percent on his free throw attempts last season.
The 25-year-old Datome has a lot of international experience as one of the leaders on Italy’s national team and has been playing professionally since 2003. He is counted among the best three-point shooters in Europe and was one of the top free agents from Europe this offseason as he reportedly had several NBA teams – including the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Milawaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs pursuing him.
While its hard to predict how an European player’s game will translate into the NBA, Datome certainly shows the ability to give the Pistons a sharp shooter off the bench, which they very much need.
Datome’s eventual signing will bring up the Pistons’ roster to 16 players, one more than the maximum number of players a team can carry on its active roster. The Pistons also agreed to deals forward Josh Smith and guard Will Bynum during free agency.