Central Rumors: Pistons, Thibodeau, Bucks

Arizona small forward Stanley Johnson could be a perfect fit for the Pistons if he’s available with the No. 8 overall pick, according to David Mayo of MLive. The team’s biggest weakness is at small forward, which was manned by aging Tayshaun Prince and Caron Butler during the second half of last season. Prince, an unrestricted free agent, is expected to sign elsewhere this summer while the team holds a $4.5MM option on Butler’s contract. Johnson has the ability to create off the dribble, make mid-range shots and defend multiple positions, attributes that coach Stan Van Gundy covets, Mayo continues. Johnson is also the bulkiest of the small forwards expected to go in the first round, which will allow him to play a physical style at both ends, Mayo adds.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Pistons are unlikely to move their first-round pick to accelerate their rebuilding process because Van Gundy has long-term security, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Instead, they are taking a long look at stretch fours with the pick, particularly Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Kaminsky, Ellis reveals in a separate tweet.
  • Tom Thibodeau will likely take a year off and then explore his coaching options, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders opines. The recently-fired Bulls coach will likely wind up with an Eastern Conference contender, where the path to the NBA Finals is easier, Brigham continues. The Wizards, Raptors and Hornets are potential suitors for Thibodeau, depending upon how next season unfolds, though it’s conceivable that a team like Washington could pull the trigger this offseason if it feels Thibodeau is the missing link to a serious title run, Brigham adds.
  • The Bucks would like to draft an athletic big man who can play power forward and center, and failing that, a guard who can shoot, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who writes in his NBA PM piece that Georgia State shooting guard R.J. Hunter seems like a fit.

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