The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reported that the Orlando Magic were set to cut third-year guard R.J. Hampton. Detroit Pistons’ GM Troy Weaver immediately set to work. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that after clearing waivers, Hampton plans on signing with the Pistons.
Hampton, the former 24th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, is making his way to the third team in his young career. He spent the past two seasons and change with the Magic after the Denver Nuggets dealt him in a package for Aaron Gordon. Hampton showed promise in his first season with Orlando. He averaged 11.2 points, five rebounds and 2.8 assists in 26 games with the team in 2020-21. However, His minutes dropped and his production regressed in each subsequent season.
This season, Hampton averages 5.7 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. His minutes have dropped to 13.9 per game after averaging over 20 in his first two seasons with the Magic. His production was limited, and with Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs at the top of the Magic’s guard rotation, Hampton was expendable.
This marks the latest in a long line of reclamation products for Weaver. This season alone, Kevin Knox and James Wiseman have been brought to Detroit in an attempt to spark life into their careers. Pistons beat reporter Omari Sankofa of The Detroit Free Press reported the Pistons had an interest in Hampton during the 2020 draft.
Hampton has talent. At 6-4, he has versatility as a combo guard. His athleticism was the big draw during the draft process. He possesses the tools of a solid defender and has some moments as a passer. It is all a matter of putting the pieces together. He has not done so thus far in his career.
R.J. Hampton joins the Detroit Pistons for the rest of the 2022-23 season
Reports indicate Hampton’s contract with the Pistons is through the end of the season. Playing time will be available to the 22-year-old with no Cade Cunningham in the lineup.
Hampton has an opportunity coming out of the All-Star break. He enters a competition for minutes with Jaden Ivey, Killian Hayes, Alec Burks and Hamidou Diallo. There is no doubt the guard will receive playing time as Detroit continues its tank to the bottom of the NBA standings.
It is a low-risk, high-reward signing by Detroit. The Pistons are not tied to Hampton beyond this season. With Hayes’ future up in the air entering a contract season in 2023-24, Hampton could play his way into a backup role for the next few years.
Hampton will not be available when the Pistons take on the Magic on Feb. 23, so there is no revenge game on the horizon. However, if he makes his debut against the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 25, he will have 22 games to work for a roster spot next season.
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