NBA rumors: Joel Embiid update, Spurs French Connection, Warriors odd man out

  • Kevon Looney not expected back with Warriors next season
  • Killian Hayes labeled as potential Spurs target
  • Joel Embiid expected back in late March

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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NBA rumors: Spurs named as potential landing spot for Killian Hayes

The Detroit Pistons waived former No. 7 overall pick Killian Hayes prior to the trade deadline. It was a sudden, if not particularly shocking move. Hayes was once again gifted a big role for the wayward Pistons, averaging 6.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.9 assists on .413/.297/.660 splits in 24.0 minutes. He even started in 31 of 42 games this season. But, the 22-year-old politely requested a trade and, clearly, none materialized.

It was past time for the Pistons to move on from Hayes. While it's too soon to write the obituary on his NBA career, Hayes' chances of sticking around are hanging by a thread. He needs a team that can better optimize his skill set while still affording him enough playing time to rebuild his reputation. The issue with seeking a better situation than Detroit is that Detroit actually let Hayes play through mistakes and carry a central offensive role. There aren't many teams around the league prepared to hand the keys over to one of recent history's preeminent draft busts.

That said, a 6-foot-5 guard with Hayes' athleticism, playmaking chops, and defensive upside — at 22 years old — is probably worth one more shot. When predicting landing spots for remaining buyout free agents, Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley pointed to the San Antonio Spurs as a potential home for Hayes.

"The point guard-starved, future-focused San Antonio Spurs feel like a perfect fit. A pass-first point guard can look pretty good when passing to a transcendent talent like Victor Wembanyama (just ask Tre Jones), and the Spurs need more players to set the table for their phenomenal freshman."

Yes, the Spurs are probably the best reasonable fit for Hayes. He shouldn't immediately absorb minutes that belong to Tre Jones or Malaki Branham in the backcourt, but if Hayes shows up to practice and gradually earns Gregg Popovich's trust, he could unlock new aspects of his game working pick-and-rolls with Victor Wembanyama.

The Spurs do truly need another setup man in the halfcourt. Hayes' 3-point limitations are his foremost obstacle, but the Spurs' track record of player development is undeniable. Plus, Hayes is another Frenchman for Wemby to play alongside and bond with off the court. It could be a mutually beneficial partnership if all goes well.