Fresh off a solid professional debut in Spain, Kyle Singler said Friday that
he's excited and ready to finally join the Detroit Pistons and pursue a career
in the NBA.
Singler was the 33rd overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, but when a league lockout put the 2011-12 season in question, the former Duke University and South Medford High standout headed overseas to ensure he could continue playing basketball.
His efforts in Spain, initially with Lucentum Alicante and mostly with Real Madrid, proved successful and didn't go unnoticed by Pistons president of operations Joe Dumars, who said Friday that the team plans to sign Singler on July 11. Terms were not disclosed.
"We look forward to having him with the Pistons this season," Dumars told The Associated Press.
That's music to Singler's ears, although not totally unexpected. He already had an agreement in place to play with Detroit's summer league team, where Dumars and company planned to evaluate him further and decide what to do with the second-round selection. Once Singler helped Real Madrid come within one win of the Spanish League championship two weeks ago, the Pistons likely had their answer.
"I'm really excited about it," the 6-foot-8 forward said of playing in the NBA. "My experience in Spain was awesome, and if I didn't have the opportunity to play here, more than likely I'd go back and continue to play in Spain. But this opportunity is great and it's always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA and I'm really excited to get that started."
Singler returned to the states 10 days ago but said he hasn't had a break in action yet because he's been hard at work in Los Angeles preparing for the Orlando Summer League, which runs July 9-13. He's set to fly to Detroit on Monday to join his teammates and get some practice time in before heading to Florida for a quick run of games.
"It's going to be a different experience and I'm only going to be there for five games so I'm really going to try to focus and play well and try to help the team any way I can," he said. "We're not there for a long time. You play as many games as you would if you went to (the) Las Vegas (summer league), but it's in a shorter time."
Singler surprised some with his decision to play in Spain and then remain there even after the lockout ended, but he said he was only looking out for his best interests as a player and not for any issues he had with the Pistons.
"If there was no lockout, I would've played for Detroit, there's no question about it," he said. "(The Pistons) were disappointed that I didn't stay and play for them but, again, it was kind of a tough situation for me and I wanted to start playing basketball. When I went over to Spain, I just really enjoyed it, and I think they saw me get better as a basketball player in a different environment. I think they did see that this experience would only help me."
If there's one thing Singler said his Spanish venture showed is that he can fit into any situation and be successful and that he's far from simply being earmarked as a product of the Duke system.
For Real Madrid, he averaged eight points in 19.8 minutes per game and shot a crisp 55 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers escalated during the playoffs, and in the five-game championship series against FC Barcelona Regal, he averaged 9.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 23 minutes. He shot 9-for-20 from the field (45 percent), 4-for-7 from beyond the arc (57 percent) and 16-for-21 from the foul line (76 percent).
"I would say overall I had a decent year," said Singler, 24. "I shot the ball pretty well but at the end of the year you're always thinking you could've played better and shot the ball better, so that's always been the same for me no matter where I've played."
As someone who has earned a championship at every level of basketball he's played, Singler said falling short in the Spanish League finals in the decisive Game 5 was disappointing. The series also included a game-winning 3-point heave at the buzzer in Game 1 by Barcelona.
"It's tough to look at that game and say if that shot doesn't go in, do we win the series?" said Singler. "Every game we played against Barcelona was a tough game. They played well and we played well."
"The whole playoff series was pretty amazing and it was a neat experience," he added. "When we made it to the finals against Barcelona, it's kind of like the Duke-North Carolina matchup in Spain, so it was really special. To go five games but then lose was definitely heartbreaking and a tough way to end the season, but overall it was a good year."
Somewhat lost in Singler's production totals was the fact that he essentially had little ability to communicate with his fellow players and Spanish coaches. Singler said his Spanish "was awful" so he had to integrate himself into the equation mostly through his basketball IQ.
"I was one of only two people on the team that didn't speak or didn't understand Spanish and that way you feel a little uncomfortable and isolated from the team," he admitted. "We were able to communicate somewhat with each other but not really. We have guys that are assistants and translate for us so that helps, and toward the end of the year my basketball Spanish was pretty good and I could understand most of the things my coach (Pablo Laso) said."
Such issues won't be relevant with the Pistons, although the path to the playoffs won't be nearly as clear as Singler had in Spain. Real Madrid finished 26-8, which was one more victory than Detroit enjoyed last season in 32 more games. Singler said it was difficult to keep tabs on teams in the states, but he tried to keep up with the Pistons and some of his friends and former teammates as much as possible.
"I know they struggled but I think they have a good group of young guys and they drafted solid (Thursday)," he said. "I think they're moving in the right direction."
And come July 11, the Pistons will have one more engine they hope will power them back to the playoffs.
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