Auburn Hills — Dwight Buycks had heard the news from his agent, but still didn’t want to celebrate until he got the official word.
He went to work on Friday just like it was any other day, but got the confirmation of the goal he had worked for all season: his two-way contract with the Pistons and Grand Rapids Drive in the development league had been converted to a fully guaranteed NBA contract.
It’s a multi-year contract and a nice pay bump for Buycks, 28, who is averaging 8.8 points in his eight games with the Pistons, including a career-best 17 points in Wednesday’s win at Brooklyn. He has played well since assuming the backup role behind Ish Smith since Reggie Jackson’s sprained ankle on Dec. 26 but he didn’t get the official word until coach Stan Van Gundy told Buycks Friday.
“It’s just relief. That’s what you sign a two-way for, to get the opportunity,” Buycks said. “It presented itself, I took advantage of it and I got rewarded for it. That’s why I did it: to hopefully be up here for good.”
The Pistons had an open roster spot so with Buycks’ addition, they won’t have to make a corresponding move. They do have the option of signing another two-way player, who could spend up to 45 days with the Pistons and Van Gundy said his staff is pursuing options along those lines.
Buycks starred in the Orlando Summer League for the Dallas Mavericks and signed with the Pistons on a two-way deal but was injured in training camp and only played 10 games with the Drive before being called up to help plug the hole caused by Jackson’s injury.
In those games, Buycks started slowly but has scored in double figures in four of the last five games and is averaging 13.2 points and 3.2 assists in that span.
“He earned it; it wasn’t something given to him by default,” Van Gundy said. “The original plan when Reggie went down was to look at all our options and in the meantime, he got to play — and played well.”
The promotion was a surprise for Buycks, who had an inkling of the news from his agent, but waited until all the paperwork was done — and got the word from Van Gundy. The first call he made was to his wife, Melinda.
“(My agent) ran it by me, but I didn’t know exactly where we were with it. I tried to block out everything until it was officially done,” Buycks said. “I came here to get ready and get better today and everything went through today, so it was great news.”
Now, he’ll have a little more time to hone his game, while Jackson continues on his timetable of returning around mid-February. Although scoring isn’t an issue, Van Gundy would like to see some specific improvements from Buycks as he gets more playing time.
“He’s a tough kid but we did know that. We need him to take care of the ball better and to improve defensively, off the ball with rotations. I like what he’s done,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a gritty kid who can score the ball and get in the paint and he’s not scared of anything or anyone.”
PISTONS AT BULLS
Tip-off: 8 Saturday, United Center, Chicago
Outlook: It’s the first meeting of the season against the Bulls (15-27), who will have guard Zach LaVine make his season debut coming off an ACL injury.