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Detroit Pistons

Pistons Owner Has ‘Full Confidence’ In Van Gundy

It has been a rough month for the Pistons, who were off to a 14-13 start this season before dropping 11 of their next 16 games to slip to 19-24. Still, despite the club’s struggles, head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy doesn’t have to worry about his job security, according to team owner Tom Gores. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Gores said he has “full confidence” in Van Gundy, whom he met with on Saturday.

“We are having a hard time and Stan and I are very real about that, but we also know we have a great group of guys,” Gores said, per Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. “We believe they’ll work through this. We’ve hit a bump in the road and that’s what success is about – you gotta work through it.

“I never worry about Stan, because he wants to win,” Gores continued, per ESPN. “He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen in my life. I believe in him as a man and I believe in him as a strong person.”

As Ellis details, Van Gundy also spoke to reporters about Saturday’s meeting with the Pistons owner. Van Gundy explained that he and Gores agreed that the last six weeks shouldn’t outweigh the positive work the franchise has done over the past couple years.

“His thing was to not overreact to six weeks out of what has been over a two-and-a-half-year building process,” Van Gundy said. “We talked through our team and our options and what I thought we had to do to play better this year and what the long-term picture was and everything else.”

One player who could be a key part of that long-term picture for the Pistons is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The fourth-year guard is averaging career-best numbers in several categories, including FG% (.426) and 3PT% (.404). While the Pistons didn’t extend Caldwell-Pope back in the fall when they had the chance, the club remains committed to retaining him when he becomes eligible for restricted free agency this summer.

“I know Kentavious well. He is a hard worker. He is reliable and is improving every day,” Gores said, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “He should be a Piston. That’s just bottom line. He has what it takes to be a Piston. He was a shy kid when I met him and he’s become a leader.”

Gores Thinks Pistons Will Make Run; Bullock Thrown Into Rotation

Despite the team’s dismal record, Pistons owner Tom Gores has every bit of confidence in Stan Van Gundy to lead the franchise, and is optimistic that the club will turn things around in the second half. “I think we’re going to make a run,” Gores told the media on Sunday night, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “I like our guys. I like this group of guys. We’re going to make a run.”

After sneaking into the playoffs and faring as well as anybody could have hoped against the Cavaliers in the first-round, the Pistons have struggled in 2016/17. Heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the team was 11th in the Eastern Conference.

  • It didn’t take long for Reggie Bullock to get dropped into the deep end for the Pistons, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Bullock had intended to work his way back from a torn meniscus slowly, but injuries to other perimeter threats on the roster have pushed him into a bigger role, faster.

Ellenson Finds Opportunity As Pistons Struggle With Health

While the absence of Jon Leuer has hurt a Pistons team desperate to regain its footing in the East, it has opened an opportunity for first-round pick Henry Ellenson to play meaningful minutes for once. This week Ellenson checked into a game in the first half for the first time this season writes Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois.

It felt different, for sure,” the 20-year-old Pistons big man told Langlois of the matchup against the Kings. “It felt good to be out there, to be a part of the rotation. […] For me, personally, it was nice to get some of that action.”

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy reiterated how important it will be to have Ellenson available as the team returns to health in the coming days. Leuer is expected to be sidelined for at least two more games.

We need all hands on deck,” Van Gundy said, before clarifying that while the rookie may be relied upon more than he has been thus far, it’s unlikely he’ll see “great big minutes” for the Pistons.

  • The Pistons haven’t played up to a standard that Van Gundy is happy with, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News, but the head coach believes that his team is capable of it. “I thought the early part of the year — probably the second 10 games or so — we got to where we were playing at a high level and we haven’t been able to gain a rhythm since then,” Van Gundy said. “This last 20 games, I haven’t done a good enough job of getting us to play at the level we’re capable of playing at“.
  • The results of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s Friday MRI are in and the shooting guard suffered a Grade 2 left rotator cuff strain. The team’s official press release states that he’ll be doubtful for the Pistons through the weekend, with his status continually reevaluated and updated.

Stein’s Latest: Rockets, Cavaliers, Blazers, Pistons

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein takes a swing at picking the All-Star starters from each conference and passes along some trade rumors in his latest column. He lists four teams that could be active with the deadline less than six weeks away:

  • The Rockets‘ hopes of acquiring Mike Dunleavy Jr. fell through this week when the Hawks committed to keeping him, but Houston is still looking for another shooter. GM Daryl Morey tried to get involved when Atlanta was searching for a third team in its deal with Cleveland, and he had interest in acquiring Dunleavy when it looked like he might not report to the Hawks. Sources tell Stein that K.J. McDaniels has surpassed Corey Brewer as the Rocket most likely to be traded. McDaniels has one season left on his current deal at more than $3.3MM, while Brewer is signed for one more more season at $7.6MM.
  • The Cavaliers have $4.4MM left from their Anderson Varejao trade exception, which will expire February 20th. That means a trade for a backup point guard may be just as likely as a veteran free agent signing such as Mario ChalmersJarrett Jack or Norris Cole.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has moved ahead of Reggie Jackson on the list of untouchable Pistons in possible trades. Caldwell-Pope is now atop that list alongside Andre Drummond. Detroit is well below .500 since Jackson returned from tendinitis in his left knee in early December. Jackson, whose 5.5 assists per game are the lowest during his time in Detroit, still has three seasons and more than $51MM left on his current deal.
  • Three Trail Blazers who signed huge offseason deals will become eligible to be traded on Sunday. Keep an eye on whether Portland tries to unload some of the salary it committed to Allen Crabbe, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

KCP Injury Leaves Club Thin At Wing Spots

  • Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard are the only healthy wing players the Pistons have left in the wake of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s shoulder injury, Aaron McMann of MLive.com reports. Caldwell-Pope was injured in the early going against the Warriors on Thursday when he crashed into Golden State center Zaza Pachulia, who was setting a screen. Caldwell-Pope will have an MRI on Friday. That leaves the Pistons with the second-year duo of Johnson and Hilliard sharing the shooting guard spot until he returns. “We have two right now,” coach Stan Van Gundy said of his two-guard situation. “I mean, two actual wings, unless we play Marcus (Morris) or Tobias (Harris) there. Yeah, we’re down in numbers right now.”

Jon Leuer May Miss A Few Games Due To Knee Injury

  • Jon Leuer, who had been starting for the Pistons, left Sunday’s game with a knee injury, and while Stan Van Gundy indicated it’s likely not serious, Leuer may miss a few games. Rod Beard of The Detroit News, who notes that rookie Henry Ellenson may receive some more minutes in Leuer’s absence, has the details and quotes.

And-Ones: Austin, Facebook, Postponement, Oriakhi

Former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin, whose NBA dreams were derailed by health problems, has signed his first professional contract, tweets international journalist David Pick. Austin will join Red Star Belgrade affiliate FMP in the Adriatic League. He was considered to be a late first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft before being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. Austin received medical clearance to play again in late November. “He was told he’d never get a chance to play again, so he’s thrilled to get on the court,” said Austin’s agent, Dwon Clifton. “His talent is there; he hasn’t lost it; he loves the game.” (Twitter link).

There’s more basketball news to pass on tonight:

  • The NBA is preparing to stream its first game on Facebook, although it will only be available in India, the league announced on its website. The Kings will host the Warriors Sunday in the team’s fourth annual Bollywood Night, which features a celebration of Indian culture. It will be streamed to India on the Facebook pages of the NBA and both teams. “We are always looking for ways to utilize technology for opportunities to connect with our diverse group of fans throughout the world and are thrilled to engage with our followers in India tomorrow night,” said Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts.
  • Tonight’s game between the Pistons and Trail Blazers was postponed because of severe weather conditions in Portland, according to a league statement. It will be made up Sunday night.
  • Alex Oriakhi, whose rights are owned by the Kings, has signed to play in Mexico, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 6’9″ forward began the season in Turkey. His rights were acquired in the 2014 deal that sent Isaiah Thomas to Phoenix.

Allen Crabbe's Deal Could Be KCP Precedent

The Pistons have known all along that the pending free agency of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be tough to handle, but it would be an easier pill to swallow were they winning at the rate they enjoyed in 2015/16. According to Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois, Caldwell-Pope’s agents could use Allen Crabbe‘s four-year, $72MM deal with the Trail Blazers as a precedent and then ask for considerably more.

Caldwell-Pope averaged 36.7 minutes per game last season as the Pistons crept into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Only three players, James Harden, Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler played more for their respective teams.

The Pistons already have four players owed over $10MM next season, including Andre Drummond who will collect $23.8MM, but the team will see Josh Smith‘s $14MM wiped as consolation.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 1/5/17

Here are Thursday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

6:29pm:

  • The Warriors have assigned rookie center Damian Jones to their D-League affiliate, according to a team-issued press release. The big man has made four starts with the Santa Cruz Warriors so far this season.

3:33pm:

  • The Rockets have recalled rookie big man Chinanu Onuaku from the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). The 2016 second-rounder, who has earned a spot in highlight packages with his underhanded free throws, has averaged a double-double (11.8 PPG, 10.5 RPG) in 19 games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers this season.
  • The Grizzlies have assigned Wade Baldwin and Troy Williams to the Iowa Energy, according to a press release issued by the team. The duo should get a chance to suit up for Memphis’ D-League affiliate tonight against the L.A. D-Fenders.

11:27am:

  • Richaun Holmes, who is recovering from a concussion, has been recalled from the D-League by the Sixers, according to a team release. Holmes had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Delaware 87ers on Wednesday night, and was apparently deemed ready to return to the NBA.
  • The Knicks recalled Maurice Ndour from the D-League after sending him down on Wednesday, the team announced (via Twitter). Ndour had a big game for Westchester last night, posting 26 points and nine rebounds.
  • Rookie forward Georges Niang has been sent to the D-League, according to a press release issued by the Pacers. Although he has played sparingly for Indiana so far, Niang has spent most of the season with the NBA club — this is just his second NBADL assignment.
  • The Pistons have recalled first-round rookie Henry Ellenson from the D-League, the team announced today in a press release. Ellenson recorded 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit’s D-League affiliate, in a Wednesday victory.

Bullock Could Return January 18; Van Gundy Remains Patient

  • Having recently returned to practice, it appears as though Reggie Bullock could return to action for the Pistons as early as the end of their upcoming west coast trip, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. The Pistons play at home against the Hawks on January 18.
  • As both the coach on the sidelines and one of the executive charged with making personnel decision, Stan Van Gundy has his work cut out for him with the struggling Pistons. He voiced his perspective on the matter to MLive’s Aaron McMann. “We’re all frustrated, but you can’t make decisions out of frustration,” Van Gundy said. “You’ve got to try and have an objective analysis of what we’ve got and where we’re going and everything else.”

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