Playoffs

Pistons, Cade Cunningham agree to five-year, $224 million max extension

Pistons, Cade Cunningham agree to five-year, $224 million max extension

NBA: Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons

Detroit is changing. Troy Weaver is out and Trajan Langdon is in as the head of basketball operations. That led to Monty Williams being out as coach and J.B. Bickerstaff coming in. There are roster changes, too, as the Pistons lean into a rebuild with Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson, and just-drafted Ron Holland.

What's not changing: Cade Cunningham is at the heart of it all.

That's why the Pistons are locking down the former No. 1 pick with a max contract extension of five years, $224 million, a story broken by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed by others. That contract could jump up to $269 million if Cunningham makes an All-NBA team next season, or if he is named MVP or DPOY (those last couple are improbable, All-NBA is not out of the question).

This deal was expected.

Cunningham bounced back from a shin-injury-shortened second NBA season with a breakout third one, averaging 22.7 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.3 rebounds and shooting 35.5% from 3 last season. He is the focal point of the Pistons' offense, their one high-level shot creator who has the ball in his hands and uses a lot of screens to create looks. The Pistons are paying Cunningham to make another leap to All-Star and beyond.

Making All-Star could be a challenge because the Pistons will lose a lot of games again next season, even with adding veteran Tobias Harris. This is a high lottery team with a number of developing players that gets one more swing at it in a deep draft, then could quickly become too good to think winning the lottery. Whatever the Pistons look like in a few years, Cunningham will be at the heart of it.

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