Aron Baynes is a “starting-caliber center” and Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy knows it will be difficult to retain him beyond this season, he acknowledged to the assembled media. Baynes, who can opt out of the final year of his three-year, $20MM contract after the season, racked up 20 points and eight rebounds against the Thunder on Monday with Andre Drummond sidelined by ankle injury. “As the president, I’m not supposed to say this because the guy can be a free agent,” Van Gundy said. “You’re not supposed to promote him but he’s a starting center in the NBA. He’s just playing behind an All-Star. You look around at all the starting centers and Aron’s a starting-caliber center in the league, so it’s not surprising he played as well as he did.” The Pistons signed restricted free agent Boban Marjanovic this summer to a three-year contract in part to protect themselves if they’re unable to re-sign Baynes.
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
- Heat second-year forward Justise Winslow is out indefinitely with a left wrist injury, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Winslow, who is shooting 33.1% from the field, has been nagged by the injury for a few weeks, though X-rays were negative, Jackson adds. “I don’t want to come back too soon and then I take three steps forward and 10 steps backward,” Winslow told Jackson. “I want to get it to where it’s feeling 100 percent, where if I do hit against something, it doesn’t hurt. … I was doing my best to play through it. I could play through it, but it’s a long season.”
- Gerald Henderson says the Sixers cannot use injuries as a crutch for another poor start, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel and Jerryd Bayless have been sidelined but the veteran shooting guard is alarmed by the team’s lack of energy. “We do have some good, talented guys and good young guys, and we have enough to be able to compete better than we are,” Henderson told Pompey. “So, we just need to give better effort.” Henderson joined the Sixers on a two-year, $18MM contract this summer, though the second year is not guaranteed.
- Hawks power forward Kris Humphries has re-signed with veteran agent Dan Fegan, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. Humphries, who signed a one-year, $4MM contract with Atlanta this offseason, was being represented by Jason Renne and Josh Ketroser. Humphries fired Fegan, who works under the agency Independent Sports & Entertainment, in 2011. Fegan represents a number of NBA players, including DeMarcus Cousins and Chandler Parsons.