Central Notes: Pistons, Vaughn, Cavs

The Pistons are not expecting their lottery pick to become a starter next season but they will keep the pick unless they get a superstar talent, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports. Coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy told the team’s beat reporters on Monday that with ample cap space — approximately $20MM even after the Ersan Ilyasova deal — that he’ll fill the starting small forward vacancy through free agency or a trade, Langlois continues. Tayshaun Prince, the starting small forward during the second half of last season, is an unrestricted free agent. Van Gundy virtually shut the door on reports that the Pistons were shopping the No. 8 overall pick, including one on Monday about a possible deal with the Knicks for guard Tim Hardaway Jr., Langlois adds. “The one thing we are firm on is – minus a superstar being available – we won’t trade out of the draft,” Van Gundy said. “For your salary structure and everything else, it’s too important. It’s probably unlikely that we trade back, but it’s not impossible.”

In other news around the Central Division

  • Van Gundy acknowledged during the same press conference that he was “not entirely optimistic” about retaining unrestricted free agent Greg Monroe, the Associated Press reports. Though Van Gundy indicated it wasn’t a foregone conclusion, Monroe is expected to find a starting job elsewhere. The trade for Ilyasova gives the Pistons a starting-caliber power forward to replace him.
  • Shooting guard Rashad Vaughn was among six players brought in by the Bucks in their final pre-draft workout, according to the team’s website. Vaughn is rated No. 19 on ESPN Insider Chad Ford’s Top 100 prospects list, twice as high as DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony, who pegs him at No. 38.  The group consisted of mostly late first-round and second-round prospects, including centers Mouhammadou Jaiteh and Josh Smith (Georgetown) and forwards Christian Wood, Cody Larson and J.P. Tokoto. The Bucks own the No. 17 and No. 46 picks in the draft.
  • Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas was part of a group workout with the Cavaliers on Monday, according to Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops (Twitter link). Christmas is rated No. 34 on Ford’s board and No. 43 by Givony. The Cavs hold the No. 24 and No. 53 selections on Thursday.
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