Pistons waive BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson in order to cut roster down to 15, per report

Joe Johnson was, for a time, proof that the BIG3 could serve as a launching pad for older players back into the NBA. Sadly, Johnson's hopes for a return to the league were dashed on Monday when the Detroit Pistons waived the veteran swingman, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN

Johnson's contract was non-guaranteed, making him a natural choice for roster cutdowns. Teams need to trim their roster to 15 players prior to the start of the season, and Johnson was competing with another unguaranteed player, big man Christian Wood, for Detroit's final roster spot. It appears as though Wood has won that competition, though Wojnarowski also mentions the development of guard Khyri Thomas as a factor in the decision. His contract was guaranteed, and if the Pistons wanted to give him minutes, getting Johnson off of the roster was somewhere to start. 

Johnson, 38, worked out for a number of NBA teams over the summer, and this release does not mean his career is over. As injuries begin to occur during the season, Johnson will become a viable replacement option for teams that lose scorers or simply need wing minutes off of the bench. Johnson was the BIG3 MVP last season in leading the Triplets to a championship over the summer. Clearly, he still has plenty of basketball still in him. 

Johnson's return might be even more important to the BIG3 than it is to the NBA. If he is able to prove that a stint in the 3-on-3 league is a viable route back into the NBA for aging stars, more of them are likely to consider playing. Many have speculated about Carmelo Anthony as the sort of player who could follow such a path, though his interest in potentially doing so is unknown. Johnson playing in the NBA this season would certainly help. 

Given the league-wide need for bench scoring, it should only be a matter of time before another team gives Johnson a look. Detroit may not have been the right fit, but some team will be. 

Sam Quinn joined CBS sports as a basketball writer in 2019. Prior to that, he wrote for 247Sports and Bleacher Report. He is a New York native and NYU graduate who also has roots in Florida and California. Full Bio

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