Eastern Notes: Bakker, Wizards, Markkanen, Bulls

DJ Bakker has been named the head coach of the Pistons’ new G League franchise, the Motor City Cruise, according to a team press release. Bakker has spent the last three seasons as an assistant and player development coach under Dwane Casey and served as the Pistons’ summer league coach in 2019. Bakker has also worked for the Raptors, Bulls, Mavericks and Magic. Detroit’s previous G League franchise in Grand Rapids, MI will now be the Nuggets’ affiliate.

We have more on the Eastern Conference:

  • On paper, the Wizards have improved their 3-point shooting this offseason, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Rookie Corey KispertKentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma should all upgrade Washington’s perimeter prowess, along with the return of Thomas Bryant from his knee injury. However, Washington still has a number of subpar 3-shooters in its projected rotation.
  • The Bulls are driving a hard bargain for suitors of restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, demanding a first-rounder and no burdensome contracts in return for proposed sign-and-trades. However, Chicago might be better off dropping its asking price and moving on, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago opines. The Bulls created a lot of positive momentum with their offseason moves, so it may not be prudent to bring back a player who has made it clear he’d prefer a fresh start.
  • In the same piece, Johnson suggests the Bulls might carry 14 players on the roster — one below the limit — because they have a $5MM trade exception from the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade with the Rockets that they could use during the course of the season. Alternatively, the 15th player could be on a non- or partially-guaranteed contract.
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