Just three days after Terrence Williams signed a non-guaranteed training camp contract with the Pistons, his former rival from Syracuse – and later Houston Rockets teammate – Jonny Flynn signed a similar contract with Detroit.
The former top 10 pick from Minnesota last played in 18 games for Portland last season, after being traded from Houston after just 11 days. Plenty of moving around for the 23-year old from Niagara Falls, New York, especially after a terrific rookie season in 2010 that saw him average 13.5 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and shoot 42% from the field (35.8% from the three-point line).
Despite being picked immediately by the Timberwolves after the much-hyped Ricky Rubi0 (who didn’t make his way to the NBA until last season), Flynn made plenty of fans forget about the Spanish sensation by earning All-NBA Rookie Second Team with his solid rookie season.
The next offseason, however, he had hip surgery to fix a nagging injury and never truly recovered. After playing in and starting 81 of 81 games in his rookie year, he played in 53 the next season, started just 18 and saw his averages drop across the board. He quickly became the talk of trade rumors; a swap with the Rockets came to fruition on draft day 2011, as Flynn and Donatas Motiejunas were sent to Houston for Brad Miller and draft picks. He was traded one more time, to Portland, last season.
Needless to say, Flynn has plenty going against him as he enters training camp with Detroit. The biggest obstacle is the maxed out roster, which his former teammate Williams is trying to crack as well; there will have to be cuts or trades for either of them to make it. The nagging hip injury is also a problem, as it’s just one more thing that he’ll have to prove is behind him.
Not all is negative with Flynn, though. Being just 23 years old, he still likely has plenty of untapped potential. The Pistons aren’t the model of stability that they used to be, but they’re surely more organized than Houston and Minnesota. Flynn could simply need the spotlight taken off of him to truly blossom as a back-up, pass-first point guard – something that the team lacks. Will Bynum is the team’s only reserve point guard, and he’s never been one to create much offensively, so adding an athletic guard like Flynn could upgrade the team.
And those nagging injuries? Pistons fans have seen players come back from ailments (see: Antonio McDyess, Chris Webber) and have success with the team. While it’s no guarantee that Flynn will magically be healed, he surely has just as much, if not more, talent and offers more to the team than several of the current bench players.
It might be a long shot for Flynn to crack the roster, and it’ll take some roster maneuvering from Joe Dumars to make it happen, but if he can recapture some of his rookie season mojo, the team might just have someone to spell Brandon Knight.