And-Ones: Baynes, Kilpatrick, Early

Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy cannot understand why Aron Baynes has so many social media critics, he told the assembled media, including Hoops Rumors. Van Gundy signed Baynes to a three-year, $20MM contract last summer to back up All-Star center Andre Drummond and believes he’s gotten his money’s worth. “Some of you guys tell me that some fans on comment boards don’t like him. I don’t know what they’re watching,” Van Gundy said. “He’s certainly one of the top backup centers in the league. You compare him to the other backup centers, he’s been absolutely terrific. He plays with great passion and emotion.” Baynes scored a career-high 21 points against the Nets on Saturday.

In other news around the league:
  • Sean Kilpatrick‘s offensive ability earned him some long-term security, Nets interim coach Tony Brown told the media, including Hoops Rumors, over the weekend. The shooting guard agreed to a multiyear deal that includes a guarantee for next season after his two 10-day contracts with the team expired. “He’s very effective shooting from deep and he’s been getting some good looks off the dribble,” Brown said. “Obviously, the new deal for him is well deserved. They’re thinking down the road, for the future of the ballclub, that he’d be a nice piece to have on the roster.”
  • The anticipation for next season is growing in Philadelphia as the current season winds down, Sixers coach Brett Brown told Brian Seltzer of NBA.com. “Names get associated with prospective draft picks that we’re studying now that the [NCAA] Tournament’s going on,” Brown said. “The end is near where you’re looking at our existing players and how we’re going to respond to some of the people that are out of contract.  You start talking a little bit more seriously about some of the free agent strategies.  You start talking a little more seriously about the Joel Embiid situation, and Dario [Saric] situation, how it all fits.”
  • Former Bucks and Pelicans point guard Nate Wolters is leaving his Turkish team Besiktas, international journalist David Pick tweets, citing a source. Wolters chose to play overseas in July after playing for the Clippers’ summer league team.
  • The Trail Blazers recalled shooting guard Luis Montero and power forward Cliff Alexander from the D-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors on Sunday, the team informed Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Both rookies appeared in four games with the Warriors’ D-League affiliate during their assignment and have played seven games apiece for the Blazers this season. Alexander will likely be active for the Blazers’ game against the Mavericks on Wednesday because big man Meyers Leonard is out indefinitely with a dislocated shoulder, Richman adds.
  • The Knicks assigned small forward Cleanthony Early to their D-League affiliate in Westchester on Monday, the team tweets. The Knicks activated him on Sunday for the first time since he was shot in the right knee during a December 30th robbery.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.

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