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Isaiah Stewart Out At Least Two Weeks With Toe Sprain

The already floundering Pistons got more bad news on Monday as big man Isaiah Stewart has a sprained right big toe and will be out a minimum of two-to-three weeks, according to a team press release.

Stewart suffered the injury in the second quarter of Monday’s game against Toronto. At the time, Stewart’s injury was listed as a right foot sprain. Further testing conducted by team doctors updated the diagnosis.

Stewart is averaging 12.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game this season while starting all 15 games. He made 71 starts last season, averaging 8.3 points and 8.7 rebounds.

Coach Dwane Casey had expressed a desire to go with bigger lineups and play Stewart more often at power forward. That plan will have to be put on hold.

Stewart added a 3-point shot to his skill set this season, knocking down 33.3% of his attempts so far. Without Stewart, the Pistons will use Marvin Bagley III, rookie Jalen Duren, and Nerlens Noel as their primary bigs.

Franchise player Cade Cunningham has missed the last three games due to left shin soreness. The team is now without two starters until Cunningham returns.

Pistons Notes: Stewart, Bagley, Bey, Bogdanovic

Isaiah Stewart has spent most of his young career at center. Pistons coach Dwane Casey believes that will eventually change, Keith Langlois of writes.

“Eventually, he’s going to be a power forward-slash-center – the other way around,” Casey said. “He’s developing into that because he can guard all five positions. So now the last part to come out is his 3-point shooting.”

That process began when Marvin Bagley III, who just returned last week from a knee injury, replaced Saddiq Bey in the lineup on Monday. However, Stewart exited the contest against Toronto with a right big toe sprain, just before the start of a road trip, and will be sidelined for a minimum of two weeks.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Casey wanted to go with a two-big lineup because the team has struggled to rebound and defend due to a lack of size around Stewart, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes. Bagley gives the first unit a true vertical threat for the backcourt of Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham, though Cunningham is currently nursing a shin injury.
  • With Stewart out, Edwards anticipates that Bey will return to the starting five.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic has boosted the offense with his perimeter shooting but may need to pick his spots more judiciously as a creator, Edwards notes in the same piece. He had five turnovers in Monday’s loss, four the previous game and seven in a game against the Bucks last week. Yet he’s averaging just 1.9 assists per night.
  • Bagley was re-signed to a three-year contract this summer and tried to use his time wisely after suffering the knee sprain during the preseason, Langlois writes in a separate story. “I was really focused and locked in,” he said. “My main goal was to stay locked in throughout the whole time – practices, on the bench during games, just being ready. The day (his injury) happened, I didn’t know how long I was going to be out but once I got the timeline I was going to be out, I just mentally prepared for it and now I’m back, ready to play.”

Marvin Bagley III Out At Least 3-4 Weeks With Knee Injury

Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III has been diagnosed with a bone bruise and a sprained MCL in his right knee, the team announced today in a press release. Bagley underwent an MRI after sustaining the injury during Detroit’s preseason game vs. Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

According to the Pistons, the injury will require rest and rehabilitation, with Bagley expected to miss at least the next three or four weeks. That means he’ll be unavailable when the team begins its regular season scheduled next Wednesday vs. Orlando. Still, there’s some relief that his injury wasn’t more serious, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

A former No. 2 overall pick, Bagley was traded from Sacramento to Detroit at last season’s deadline. He averaged 14.6 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 18 games (27.2 MPG) for the Pistons down the stretch, earning a fully guaranteed three-year, $37.5MM deal in free agency this summer.

The Pistons will have to take advantage of their depth in the frontcourt in the early part of the season, with Bagley sidelined and Nerlens Noel – who just started light team activities a couple days ago, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link) – still on the shelf. It could mean that lottery pick Jalen Duren sees some playing time right away behind starting center Isaiah Stewart.

Central Notes: Burks, Holiday, Bucks’ Start, Mitchell

Alec Burks, who has yet to make his Pistons debut, is listed as questionable to play against Boston on Wednesday, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News tweets. The veteran shooting guard was acquired from the Knicks in a draft-night deal. He has been sidelined while recovering from a fractured left navicular bone.

Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III, who has been out since the third preseason game due to a right knee sprain, has been upgraded to doubtful.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Guard Jrue Holiday has been instrumental in the Bucks’ 9-1 start but they’ll likely have to play Oklahoma City on Wednesday without him. The team has listed Holiday as doubtful due to a right ankle sprain, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.
  • Milwaukee’s early season success has been fueled by Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s dominant start, a soft schedule, and the team’s top-ranked defense, Jamal Collier of ESPN writes. When Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton returns from injuries, the Bucks will have reinforcements to deal with a tougher slate.
  • Donovan Mitchell quickly became aware of the team-first culture in the Cavaliers’ organization after being traded by Utah and he took steps to make sure he fit right in, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Cleveland players, coaches and front-office members noticed Mitchell showed no ego from preseason workouts through the start of the season.

Central Notes: Beauchamp, Nwora, Dosunmu, Mitchell, Bagley

Rookie MarJon Beauchamp has looked ready for his opportunity as he moved into the Bucks‘ starting lineup this week, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Beauchamp played just 12 total minutes in his first six games, but injuries to other players have expanded his role. In Wednesday’s double overtime win at Oklahoma City, he was on the court for nearly 30 minutes, scoring 19 points, and he followed that up with 34 minutes Friday night.

“It’s not a perfect process,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s hard. He’s probably confused at times and hears probably multiple (things) – hopefully not from me. I would say right now we’re more in the mindset of encouraging him to be aggressive and find ways to impact the game and not just be in the corners (offensively). Because it is going to naturally happen. You’ll get to that and it’s important that you’re good and your footwork in the corners is good and your ability to read closeouts in the corners is good, but he’s also, we feel like can help us and give us more.”

The absence of Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton has also opened up more minutes for Jordan Nwora, who re-signed with the Bucks shortly before training camp began in September.

“Honestly it’s more just the hustle and effort all around, just playing a lot harder than I have in the years past,” Nwora said. “Not just on the offensive end but on the other side of the ball, running in transition. Not just chucking up shots, trying to find people on offense when I’m playing with those guys (the starters).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Last season’s frustrating playoff performance inspired Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu to improve his game during the offseason, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bucks swarmed DeMar DeRozan during their first-round series and dared Chicago’s other players to beat them from the outside. No one could deliver, as the Bulls shot just 28.3% from three-point range for the series and Dosunmu was 3-of-13. “I always want to get better,” said Dosunmu, who’s connecting at 38.3% on three-pointers this season. “So far I’ve prepared myself being shot-ready at all times. I try to take all the open shots. I try to get downhill, play to my strengths, playmake. But when the three is open, I’ve really been focusing on that.
  • Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves due to a right ankle strain, tweets Chris Fedor of Jarrett Allen and Dean Wade are also questionable, and there are concerns that Wade might have bursitis in his right knee (Twitter link).
  • Marvin Bagley III, who suffered a sprained MCL and bone bruise in his right knee during the preseason, could return for the Pistons tonight, according to Keith Langlois of (Twitter link). After playing Friday night for the first time this season, Alec Burks is listed as questionable.

Pistons Notes: Ivey, Cunningham, Bogdanovic, Duren, Lineups

The Pistons have lost six of their last seven games but the last two outings have been encouraging. They snapped a five-game losing streak by defeating defending champion Golden State on Sunday and lost on the road to Milwaukee by two points on Monday.

Jaden Ivey, the fifth pick in the draft, has scored in double digits in every game he’s played, including a combined 34 points the last two nights. Backcourt partner Cade Cunningham notched a total of 50 points, 16 rebounds and 16 assists in those two games.

“It’s a confidence builder for a young group, for a kid like Ivey and we keep forgetting Cade’s in year two, for those guys to understand what it takes to beat great teams like we’ve played the last couple nights,” coach Dwane Casey said during Monday’s postgame press conference.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • When Bojan Bogdanovic was acquired from Utah just before training camp, many people speculated he’d be flipped this season for assets. That could still happen but it seems less likely after he signed a two-year extension, Keith Langlois of writes. Having a veteran like Bogdanovic has been a boon to an otherwise green starting group, and his deal looks quite reasonable compared to recent extensions given to other veterans around the league with the salary cap expected to significantly rise.
  • Rookie center Jalen Duren is grateful 21-year-old Isaiah Stewart has taken him under his wing, he told Sam Yip of HoopsHype. “It means a lot, because I came in kind of with the same mentality, just team success,” he said. “However we can do that I’m all for. So, for me coming in, of course, playing the same position as Isaiah and him already being there, you know, just welcoming me with open arms was huge.” Duren missed Monday’s game with a left ankle sprain but could rejoin the team for its next game at Milwaukee on Wednesday, Mike Curtis of Detroit News tweets.
  • Nerlens Noel made his Pistons debut on Monday, though Marvin Bagley III is still sidelined by a knee injury. When all of Detroit’s frontcourt pieces are healthy, Casey may utilize bigger lineups, according to Curtis. Casey has been hesitant to play Duren and Stewart together because he didn’t want either of them to get into foul trouble.

Injury Updates: Davis, Ayton, Leonard, Noel

One downside to the Lakers‘ first win Sunday night was continuing back pain for Anthony Davis, writes Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. Davis, who had been listed as questionable for the game, was grimacing and limping around the court, Hernandez observed. Afterward, he admitted being in a “pretty good amount of pain.”

Davis sat out Friday’s game due to lower back tightness, and his health is a constant concern after playing a combined 76 games over the past two seasons. On Sunday, he told reporters that he doesn’t know what to expect regarding his back from day to day, adding, “It kind of just comes and goes.”

An eight-time All-Star, Davis is crucial to any success the Lakers hope to have this season. He’s averaging 23.8 points and 10.6 rebounds through five games, along with 2.4 steals and 2.0 blocks.

“AD’s impact is not only huge defensively, but also very efficient offensively, giving us possessions at the rim, knocking down the jumper, just all around very efficient tonight,” LeBron James said.

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • The Suns are grateful that Deandre Ayton‘s sprained left ankle wasn’t more serious, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Ayton got hurt Friday when he landed on the foot of Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas after taking a jump shot. “When you look at the play, just one of those plays that should’ve been called a foul,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “Just kind of go from there, but for me, I’m just grateful it wasn’t worse. We will look at it in another week to make sure he’s ready to go.”  
  • Injury management continues for Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, according to Law Murray of The Athletic. Leonard sat out Sunday’s loss to the Pelicans to protect his surgically repaired right knee and won’t play tonight against the Rockets. He has only played twice this season, coming off the bench both times, and is averaging 12.5 minutes per game.
  • There’s a chance Nerlens Noel could make his debut with the Pistons tonight, tweets James L. Edwards of The Athletic. Jalen Duren didn’t travel with the team to Milwaukee after rolling his ankle in Sunday’s game, and Marvin Bagley III remains out with an MCL sprain. Coach Dwane Casey has said Noel, who is reconditioning after plantar fasciitis, might be available to play in an emergency.

And-Ones: Breakout Candidates, Wembanyama, Thornwell

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype polled 20 NBA executives on their top three breakout candidates for the 2022/23 season and found that Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey was the most popular pick. While I’d argue that last season represented a breakout year for Maxey, some executives have far higher expectations for him going forward.

“Maxey’s going to be better than James Harden,” one general manager said to Scotto. “He just keeps getting better and better and will be a huge reason why they have success this season.”

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Magic forward Franz Wagner, and Rockets guard Jalen Green were among the other popular breakout picks, based on the responses Scotto got from executives. Interestingly, Warriors big man James Wiseman and Pistons forward/center Marvin Bagley III were each picked as this year’s top breakout candidate by one GM.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In his latest look at the top prospects in the 2023 NBA draft class, David Aldridge of The Athletic passes along several entertaining quotes from NBA executives, including one Eastern Conference exec’s response to whether Scoot Henderson could surpass Victor Wembanyama as next year’s No. 1 pick: “Scoot’s good, but, no. Short of Wembanyama having murdered somebody, there’s just no way.”
  • Veteran guard Sindarius Thornwell has signed with Frutti Extra Bursasport, the Turkish team announced this week (via Twitter). Thornwell has appeared in 160 total NBA games and played for New Orleans and Atlanta in 2020/21, but wasn’t in the league last season.
  • Longtime NBA referee Tony Brown, who officiated over 1,100 games, including one in the 2020 NBA Finals, passed away on Thursday after a fight with pancreatic cancer, according to his family (story via

Injury Notes: Bagley, Bogdanovic, Mobley, Curry, Gallinari

The Pistons will find out the extent of Marvin Bagley III‘s right knee injury when he undergoes an MRI on Wednesday, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Bagley suffered a non-contact injury when he slipped during the opening quarter of the Pistons’ preseason game against the Thunder on Tuesday. He had to be helped off the court. Detroit re-signed Bagley on a three-year, $37MM contract this summer.

Another Pistons forward, Bojan Bogdanovic, acquired from the Jazz last month, is nursing a calf strain, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets.

We have more injury-related info:

  • Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley is making good progress in his recovery from a right ankle sprain and could appear in a preseason game, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Mobley underwent a lengthy workout after Tuesday’s practice. “We’re hopeful. We haven’t ruled it out,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “It’s always about tomorrow and how it responded the day before. But we have not ruled him out from playing in a preseason game.”
  • Nets guard Seth Curry will not play in the remaining two preseason games and his status for opening night is questionable, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets. Curry is still working his way back from left ankle surgery in May.
  • The Celtics’ Danilo Gallinari, who is expected to miss the season due to a torn left ACL, started walking a few days ago and is receiving physical therapy on his knee, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets.

Pistons Notes: Gores, Cunningham, Noel, Bagley, Livers

The Pistons have delivered only one winning season since Tom Gores became the majority owner. With the way general manager Troy Weaver has revamped the roster, Gores believes the franchise is ready to take off, Keith Langlois of writes.

“I’ve now owned the team for 11 years, and I’ve never felt this way,” Gores said. “This is a great foundation, it’s a tremendous foundation. Part of the reason I love the players on this team is that you have tremendous skill, but there’s a lot of humility here. With humility, you also reflect and that’s how you improve. I really love this energy. I love it, and I don’t say that often.”

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Cade Cunningham realizes he may have to make some individual sacrifices in order to become a true leader, as he told James Edwards III of The Athletic. “Right now, we’re still trying to figure it out and build our way up to being a winning team,” Cunningham said. “Everything that I’m doing, everything that the team is doing, should be with that in mind. Maybe, right now, I have to sacrifice some things. Maybe I have to sacrifice 50 shots a game to make sure the chemistry is good, we’re flowing, whatever. We need to know how we’re going to play. So, when it gets that time, everyone is confident, everyone is ready to go. That’s how I see things.”
  • Center Nerlens Noel, who has been working his way back from a foot injury since being traded from the Knicks, participated in his first practice on Tuesday, Edwards tweets. It would be surprising if Noel played this week, but he could get some rotation minutes while Marvin Bagley III recovers from a right knee injury, which is expected to sideline him for at least three or four weeks.
  • Along with Bagley, Alec Burks (left navicular fracture) and Isaiah Livers (right hip) are also listed as out for Wednesday’s season opener against Orlando, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News tweets.

Central Notes: Nesmith, Pistons Lineup, Middleton, Drummond

Pacers guard Aaron Nesmith is nursing a foot injury and his availability for opening night is in question, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Nesmith is expected to play a second-unit role after being acquired from the Celtics in the Malcolm Brogdon deal. Coach Rick Carlisle said the former first-round pick has “a plantar fascia issue.”

“He’ll miss some time,” he said. “The hope is that there’s a possibility he could be back for the opener, but we don’t know for sure. As the days go on, we’ll have a better feel for that.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons could alter their frontcourt lineup depending on matchups, according to Mike Curtis of the Detroit News. Recently acquired Bojan Bogdanovic will join Saddiq Bey at the forward spots with Isaiah Stewart in the middle against certain teams. When a bigger lineup is desired, Bogdanovic could come off the bench with Marvin Bagley III sliding into the starting five.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Khris Middleton is “making progress” but “he’s still got a ways to go,” Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. The Bucks are hopeful Middleton will return early in the season after undergoing surgery in August to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist.
  • Bulls backup center Andre Drummond is looking to become a 3-point threat, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “It’s something that I spoke to the coaching staff in the summertime when I signed here, that it’s something that I’ve worked on, that I want to be able to stay on the floor, and I want to be able to add different facets to my game to be able to help this team win,” Drummond said. “And if I’m able to make that corner 3 when I’m wide open, it adds another element to our team.”

Pistons Re-Sign Marvin Bagley III To Three-Year Contract

JULY 6: Bagley’s contract is now official, per’s transactions log.

JUNE 30: The Pistons have agreed to bring back restricted free agent power forward Marvin Bagley III on a three-year, $37MM contract, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

After being selected by the Kings with the second pick in the 2018 draft over multiple future All-Stars, Bagley struggled through erratic playing time and a variety of injuries with Sacramento, but produced on offense when given some leeway by the team. He holds career averages of 13.6 PPG, on 50.1% shooting, and 7.4 RPG.

Bagley was traded to the Pistons in a four-team deal this February. In 18 games with Detroit, Bagley averaged 14.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG and 0.7 SPG across 27.2 MPG. The 6’11” big man, still just 23, has yet to become a plus defender, but has value as a scorer on a rebuilding young Pistons team.

Detroit has already enjoyed a busy 2022 offseason. In this year’s NBA draft lottery, the club selected guard Jaden Ivey and center Jalen Duren. The team also traded for veteran shooting guard Alec Burks and reserve center Nerlens Noel from the Knicks. These new additions will join Bagley, 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, an All-Rookie First Team selection, promising young center Isaiah Stewart, and former lottery pick Killian Hayes as the Pistons continue to look toward the future.

Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III Among Players Receiving QOs

The Suns have issued a qualifying offer to center Deandre Ayton, making him a restricted free agent, reports Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Ayton’s qualifying offer is worth $16,422,835.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Qualifying Offers]

Although there have been consistent whispers about the possibility of Ayton leaving Phoenix in free agency this summer, there was never any doubt that he’d receive a qualifying offer. That QO ensures that he doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent and gives the Suns the opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs with a rival team. Ayton also has the option of signing the one-year, $16.4MM deal if he wants to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023, though that’s considered very unlikely.

Here are a few more updates on qualifying offer decisions from around the NBA:

  • The Pistons have tendered a qualifying offer worth $7,228,448 to big man Marvin Bagley III, making him a restricted free agent, tweets Smith. Multiple reports in recent weeks and months have indicated that re-signing Bagley will be a priority for Detroit this offseason. His cap hold will exceed $28MM, but if the two sides agree to terms quickly once free agency opens, the Pistons will be able to maximize their cap room by reducing that $28MM cap hold to a first-year salary that will come in much lower.
  • The Nets have issued qualifying offers to center Nic Claxton and two-way guard David Duke, per Smith (Twitter link). Claxton’s QO is worth $2,228,276 while Duke’s is for another two-way contract. Both players are now restricted free agents.
  • The Nuggets have extended qualifying offers to forward Vlatko Cancar and two-way swingman Davon Reed, according to Smith (Twitter link). Like Claxton, Cancar has a $2,228,276 qualifying offer. Reed’s is for another two-way contract, though it’s possible he could generate interest from teams interested in giving him a standard roster spot.
  • Wizards forward Anthony Gill received a qualifying offer making him a restricted free agent, according to Smith (Twitter link). Gill’s QO projects to be worth $2,011,516, though that could increase or decrease slightly depending on where the salary cap for 2022/23 ends up.
  • The Warriors have made swingman Quinndary Weatherspoon a restricted free agent by giving him a two-way qualifying offer, reports Smith (Twitter link). Golden State reportedly agreed to a deal with Lester Quinones to fill the team’s other two-way slot.

Central Notes: Middleton, Lopez, Stewart, Bagley, Bey

Khris Middleton won’t be ready to play by opening night as he recovers from wrist surgery. Joe Ingles is still rehabbing from a major knee injury.

So who will step up in their place? Eric Nehm of The Athletic examines potential lineup combinations the Bucks may use in their absence. Pat Connaughton will likely start until Middleton returns, though Jordan Nwora and MarJon Beauchamp will have opportunities to establish themselves as rotation pieces. Wesley Matthews and Grayson Allen will fight for minutes at shooting guard.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Middleton has a $40.4MM option on his contract for the 2023/24 season, while center Brook Lopez will be an unrestricted free agent unless he signs an extension. However, there hasn’t been any buzz about it at Bucks camp, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. In fact, Lopez claims that “I wasn’t exactly aware this was a contract year” until the subject was brought up.
  • Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley may be more suited to playing center but they’ll both see action at times at power forward this season, Keith Langlois of writes. That will allow Nerlens Noel and rookie Jalen Duren to get some minutes off the bench. “It’s tough,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “What’s going to have to manifest itself is – it’s not natural right now – for Isaiah to kind of slide to the four just to open some spots for everybody.”
  • While most of the attention regarding the Pistons is focused on their young backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, third-year forward Saddiq Bey has served notice that he could be an offensive force this season, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. “He’s putting the ball on the floor a lot better, finding guys a lot better,” reserve guard Cory Joseph said. “We know how he can score and the attention he’s going to get. He’s making the game better for himself and everyone around him right now. He’s playing really well.”

Central Notes: Pistons, Haliburton, Dosunmu, Lopez

Marvin Bagley III‘s knee injury is the latest mishap for a Pistons team that will start the season with a diminished frontcourt, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News.

Nerlens Noel, who was acquired from the Knicks in an offseason trade, is reconditioning after plantar fasciitis and hasn’t played during the preseason. Rookie center Jalen Duren hurt his shoulder last week, but was able to return Tuesday. Newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic sat out Tuesday’s game with a strained calf, and Alec Burks, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo are all dealing with injuries as well.

“It’s part of the NBA,” coach Dwane Casey said. “That’s one reason (general manager Troy Weaver) has done a good job of bringing multiple guys in. Unfortunately, the multiple guys are (sitting out, injured) behind the bench. I think it’s a freak thing. I do know that some of the guys that were behind the bench — Kevin, (Diallo) — if it was a regular season game, they’d be able to go. That’s refreshing to know that.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers seem headed for a rebuilding year, but that’s not how the players are approaching the new season, according to Michael Marot of The Associated Press. Trade deadline deals for Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Smith have added some youthful enthusiasm to the team. “I think we’ve just got a lot of guys who love basketball, who love to compete and that’s a great place to start,” Haliburton said. “There are so many young guys and they have a lot to prove not only to the media or the naysayers but to themselves.”
  • Ayo Dosunmu will take over as the Bulls‘ starting point guard while Lonzo Ball is sidelined, per Annie Costabile of The Chicago Sun-Times. Coach Billy Donovan confirmed that Dosunmu won the role with his performance since camp opened. “Ayo right now is going to be the guy back there for us,” Donovan said. “He’s done a really good job this training camp and preseason.”
  • The Bucks are counting on better health from Brook Lopez to improve their defense, notes Jamal Collier of ESPN. The veteran center was limited to 13 games last season because of back issues, but he came to camp noticeably leaner and motivated to prove he deserves a contract extension. “He’s in the best physical condition I’ve seen,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He seems hungry. … I feel like he’s moving well at both ends of the court. His aggressiveness is in a good place.”

Pistons Considered Potential Suitor For Marvin Bagley III

The Pistons are considered a team to watch as a possible suitor for Kings big man Marvin Bagley III, according to Marc Stein. Within his latest Substack column, Stein cites league sources who say Detroit has been tracking Bagley since last season, before the forward fell out of favor in Sacramento.

The second overall pick in the 2018 draft, Bagley had a promising rookie year for the Kings, averaging 14.9 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 62 games. However, his production hasn’t improved at all since then and his role has been reduced. Last month, the Kings informed Bagley that he wouldn’t be part of the club’s rotation to open the season, prompting agent Jeff Schwartz to put out a statement blasting Sacramento for its handling of his client.

“It’s clear they have no plans for him in the future, and yet, passed on potential deals at last year’s deadline and this summer based on ‘value,'” Schwartz said in that statement. “Instead they chose to bring him back but not play him, a move completely contradictory to their ‘value’ argument. This is a case study in mismanagement by the Kings organization.”

Bagley has appeared in just one game so far this season, logging 10 minutes of action on October 22 in a loss to Utah. A report earlier this week suggested that the 22-year-old refused to check into Monday’s game when head coach Luke Walton called his number.

While the Kings would presumably welcome the opportunity to trade Bagley, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, Stein says a deal is unlikely to be made until sometime after December 15, when more players become trade-eligible.

It’s unclear what the Pistons would be willing to give up for Bagley. The team only has three players earning over $6MM this season — Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk, and Cade Cunningham. Grant and Cunningham obviously wouldn’t be in play for Bagley, and I doubt the team would want to give up Olynyk just months after making a significant commitment to him in free agency.

In order to match Bagley’s $11.3MM salary then, the Pistons may have to package a couple lesser-paid players, including perhaps Hamidou Diallo ($5.2MM), who doesn’t currently have a regular role in the club’s rotation. Diallo can’t be dealt until January 15.

Injury Notes: Zion, Grizzlies, Raptors, Beasley, Bagley

Pelicans star Zion Williamson, who left a preseason game early last week with left ankle soreness and subsequently missed the finale, was a full participant in practice on Monday, per head coach Willie Green (Twitter link via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez). Green sounded non-committal about Williamson’s status for Wednesday’s regular season opener, but Williamson put speculation to rest by stating, “I’m playing Wednesday,” as Lopez tweets.

The 22-year-old former No. 1 overall pick looks to be in great shape for 2022/23 after missing all of last season with a broken foot, so hopefully the ankle issue is as minor as it seems.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said the team is hoping to get some 5-on-5 work in for Jaren Jackson Jr. “in the next couple of weeks,” tweets Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jackson underwent foot surgery at the end of June and will miss the start of the regular season. Jenkins also said second-year wing Ziaire Williams missed practice on Monday with a non-COVID illness in addition to knee soreness, and his status for the season opener is up in the air (Twitter link via Michael Wallace of
  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher, who’s dealing with a hamstring injury, was able to practice today and the team is hopeful he’ll be ready for the opener on Wednesday, per head coach Nick Nurse (Twitter link courtesy of Sportsnet’s Michael Grange). Eric Koreen of The Athletic relays (via Twitter) that free agent addition Otto Porter (hamstring) did not participate in practice and Koreen expects him “to be out for a little bit.”
  • According to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link), Jazz shooting guard Malik Beasley recently said his sprained left ankle feels “completely healed” he and expects to play in Wednesday’s season opener. Beasley was acquired from Minnesota this offseason in the Rudy Gobert deal.
  • Marvin Bagley III admits “it was a little scary” when he suffered a sprained MCL and bone bruise in his right knee during preseason last week, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscription required). “When I did it, all types of stuff was running through my mind,” Bagley said. “It was something I couldn’t have really prevented. It happened so fast. That feeling, I never felt it before. Getting up and not being able to put pressure on it, it was a little scary for me. God had his hands on me; had His arms around me, so that’s all I can ask for.” The big man added that he’s not going to rush the rehabilitation process and will only suit up for the Pistons when he’s ready, but he’s feeling progressively better every day.

Agent Blasts Kings For Benching Marvin Bagley

Excel Sports agent Jeff Schwartz, who represents Kings big man Marvin Bagley III, released an explosive reprimand of Sacramento (via Twitter), revealing that the team has decided to hold Bagley out of their rotation completely to start the 2021/22 season. Schwartz called the decision to keep his client out of the club’s lineup “completely baffling.”

“It’s clear they have no plans for him in the future, and yet, passed on potential deals at last year’s deadline and this summer based on ‘value,'” Schwartz said. “Instead they chose to bring him back but not play him, a move completely contradictory to their ‘value’ argument. This is a case study in mismanagement by the Kings organization.”

The relatively new Sacramento front office regime, led by second-year team president Monte McNair, is clearly not too invested in the former No. 2 overall pick out of Duke. The current club is prioritizing more switchable, smaller lineups around its exciting young backcourt, looking to build around maximum-salaried point guard De’Aaron Fox and intriguing recent lottery selections Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell.

At the power forward slot, Harrison Barnes and and Maurice Harkless are expected to soak up the majority of rotation minutes. At center, the recently-extended Richaun Holmes has emerged as the team’s apparent preference to start, while newly-added vets Tristan Thompson and Alex Len will back him up.

The 6’11” Bagley showed plenty of promise during his 2018/19 rookie season, with his output that year (14.9 PPG and 7.6 RPG in 25.3 MPG, across 62 games) meriting inclusion on the 2019 All-Rookie First Team alongside future All-Stars Luka Doncic and Trae Young. Since then, the 22-year-old’s numbers have stagnated and he has missed significant time with injury issues. Last year, he averaged 14.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG across 25.9 MPG, while missing 29 games.

Where this leaves Bagley is unclear, as the big man and his agent surely are hoping for a trade, but his value to other teams appears to be trending in the wrong direction if he has been deemed unworthy of making the opening night rotation for a probable lottery-bound team. The Kings are scheduled to make their 2021/22 regular season debut Wednesday night against the Trail Blazers.

Bagley is on an expiring contract and is eligible for restricted free agency in 2022. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (Twitter link), if Bagley doesn’t meet the NBA’s starter criteria, his potential qualifying offer for next season would be worth $7.3MM instead of $14.8MM.

Community Shootaround: Detroit Pistons

After going 43-111 over the past two years, tied with the Magic for the second-worst record in the NBA over that span, the Pistons are one of the rebuilding teams hoping to take a step forward in 2022/23. General manager Troy Weaver has completely reshaped the roster since being hired on June 18, 2020, and the trade for Bojan Bogdanovic showed Detroit is serious about improving in both the short and long term.

The starting lineup features several recent first-round picks, including Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart (Bogdanovic is the fifth starter). The reserves include a couple more recent first-rounders in Killian Hayes and Jalen Duren, plus veterans Cory Joseph, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox and Rodney McGruder.

Marvin Bagley III (knee), Alec Burks (wrist) and Nerlens Noel (foot) are currently sidelined with injuries, but second-year forward Isaiah Livers (hip) has been removed from the team’s injury report and could make his debut in Saturday’s game against the Pacers, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Pistons have gotten off to a 1-1 start thus far, with a close victory over Orlando and then a blowout loss to the Knicks. Ivey and Duren, both lottery picks this year (No. 5 and No. 13) have been surprisingly effective for rookies in the early going. Ivey has averaged 18.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 6.5 APG and 1.5 SPG on .519/.375/1.000 shooting (30.5 MPG), while Duren has put up 11.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG and 1.5 BPG in 22 MPG.

There’s definitely talent on the roster, with Cunningham, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, headlining the group. Bogdanovic helps improve the team’s shooting, which has been a major weakness (the Pistons finished 29th in both two-point and three-point percentage last season).

Still, the East is stacked with strong teams, including (in no particular order) the Celtics, Bucks, Sixers, Raptors, Hawks, Cavs, Heat, Nets and Bulls. I liked the Knicks’ free agent additions of Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein, and the Wizards should be better than last season’s 35-win campaign if they’re healthy, so it seems like the Pistons might have a difficult time finishing better than 12th in the standings unless there is major internal development.

In our over/unders last month, 51.6% of our voters predicted the Pistons to finish with more than 28.5 wins (they finished 23-59 in ’21/22).

That brings us to our question of the day. What’s a reasonable goal for the Pistons this season? Do you think they have a shot at the play-in tournament if things go well, or is it a year too early? Would an incremental step forward, like winning 30 or so games, be considered a success?

Head to the comments section and let us know what you think.

Central Notes: Osman, Hill, Pistons Rotation

Cedi Osman has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors, including a potential deal involving Suns forward Jae Crowder. He’s trying to block out those distractions during training camp, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.

“I’ve been hearing those things,” the Cavaliers forward said. “But I’m just focused on my basketball because you cannot control that. That’s why whenever I stepped on a court I was just working on my game and trying to get better. It’s been six years since coming over, six years in Cleveland. I’m happy here and this is my home.”

Those rumors persist and the franchise would like to upgrade at small forward, if possible, though the fact that Cleveland is close to the luxury tax line complicates the issue, Fedor adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • George Hill admits that enduring an injury-plagued season actually encouraged him to keep playing, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The Bucks guard had seriously considered retiring after last season. “I felt like I let the city of Milwaukee down last year not being able to perform the way I normally perform,” he said. “I let my teammates down being injured. And I thought about retiring. … but as a competitor I didn’t want to go out like that. So, had a great offseason for the summer, decided to come back and try to redeem myself and make myself better.” Hill signed a two-year, $8MM contract prior to last season.
  • With the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic, how will the Pistons’ frontcourt rotation shake out? James Edwards III of The Athletic projects the former Jazz forward to start alongside Saddiq Bey, with Isaiah Stewart at center. Edwards projects Marvin Bagley and Isaiah Livers as part of the second unit ahead of Jalen Duren, Nerlens Noel and Kevin Knox.
  • Will the Pistons’ drought without a playoff win extend to 15 seasons? That’s what John Hollinger of The Athletic anticipates. He sees this as a 28-win season in Detroit with the caveat that the team’s fortunes should improve sharply in the near future.
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