Jokingly asked if he created a reminder for when his $1.7 million deal for this season becomes fully guaranteed, Moreland swore he wasn’t worried sweating it.
“I don’t even know the date. I told you that right from the beginning,” Moreland told the Free Press after his major contributions in his first career start in Saturday night’s 108-101 victory over the Houston Rockets at Little Caesars Arena.
“I play the same way, money or no money. I don’t even play basketball for money. I just want to go out there and keep learning. This is my first year playing. I can’t get involved in that.
That’s just not my mentality. I’m not trying to survive like that.”
He was told the deadline is Wednesday - just four days away.
“It’s the 10th? OK,” he said.
Is your contract locked up?
“You never know in this league,” he said. “You never know in this business. I’m not sure. I can only control what I control.”
It was fully expected the Pistons backup big man had played his way into a full guarantee, and ESPN.com reported late Saturday night Detroit “plans” to keep Moreland on the roster.
The news came after Moreland scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds — modest numbers when compared to Andre Drummond’s production. Drummond missed his second of three games with a right rib contusion.
But like Drummond, he has quick feet. He played 35 minutes with coach Stan Van Gundy staying with Moreland whenever star point guard Chris Paul was on the floor.
“Because on pick and rolls with Chris Paul, we wanted to (stay with Paul on screens),” Van Gundy said. “Chris Paul hurt us and had 13 assists, but I still think we played it the best we could play it. Overall, Eric did a great job being aggressive on their pick and rolls.”
“Man, I better be up because he’s going to get to dancing on me,” Moreland said. “Going in, that was a point of emphasis to be up when he’s coming off pick and roll because he’s really dangerous. He’s one of the better passers to ever play this game, so a point of emphasis was to be up to stop him from getting in the paint.”
Moreland, 26, played sparingly in two seasons with the Sacramento Kings because of injury.
He signed a three-year, $5.5 million deal in the offseason after playing well for the Pistons’ summer league team, but he faces several more guarantee dates over the life of the deal.
He has outperformed his contract and has surpassed the more expensive Boban Marjanovic in receiving backup minutes behind Drummond.
“I think I can do more,” Moreland said. “I’m pretty hard on myself most of the time. I feel like I can do more — whether that’s bringing energy, being in the right spots or getting other people open.
“I’m just trying to figure it out still. Trying to figure out this offense, making sure I’m in the right spots where coach wants. It’s all a learning process. I’ll be fine.”
Despite the surprising victory over one of the Western Conference’s top teams to move to 21-17, Van Gundy wasn’t in the best of moods.
In a running them, he is irritated over how officials allow teams to get away with physical play while guarding the towering Marjanovic. Van Gundy had similar comments nearly a month ago.
“With his size, they just officiate the game differently,” Van Gundy said Saturday. "If he pushed and shoved and held guys the way they are able to do to him, there would be a foul every time. I don't get it.”
Marjanovic had 10 points, five rebounds, but committed three turnovers.
Van Gundy repeated how the allowances are unfair.
“They don't let us hold or grab,” he said. "But when someone is that big, the game gets called differently. And I think that led to some of his mistakes. He's used to it because it's the same way overseas. He's used to it, but I still don't like it."
Spearheaded by Anthony Tolliver, the Pistons raised $230,000 for UNICEF to help hurricane relief efforts in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Owner Tom Gores, Van Gundy and the NBA Players Association backed the project and Tolliver presented the check at halftime.
The Pistons invited more than 1,000 DTE Energy employees who assisted in power restoration in those regions to the game.
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