Andre Drummond

Pistons Will Exercise Patience In Free Agent Market

The Pistons will wait until the big free-agent signings are made before trying to fill out their roster, new senior advisor Ed Stefanski told Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Salary constraints will likely prevent Detroit from being active during the early days of free agency. “We’ll see who’s out there in the second wave,” Stefanski said. In general, Stefanski doesn’t foresee much of a roster turnover due to the decisions made by the previous regime, headed by former coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy“The luxury-tax line is on us,” Stefanski said. “We’ll see what players are available. The team we have now is our team because we don’t have the flexibility at this time.” Re-signing veteran power forward Anthony Tolliver, an unrestricted free agent, will be difficult because of that lack of flexibility unless the Pistons can somehow clear cap space by moving a big salary.

Here’s more from Beard’s interview with Stefanski:

  • The Pistons feel they lucked out that Dwane Casey essentially fell into their laps during their coaching search. “We’re very happy to bring Casey on board; it was our first priority,” Stefanski said. “We’re very fortunate that the Coach of the Year was sitting out there without a job. It’s unusual in any sport that that caliber of coach is out there.”
  • All of Detroit’s draft preparation is complete, thus there’s no rush to hire a GM. The team doesn’t own a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Assistant GM Pat Garrity remains in the running for a front-office position.
  • Casey met this week with many of his top players this week during summer workouts in California, including Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard“He’s getting an idea of how each guy will play and have them work that into their individual (summer) workouts,” Stefanski said.

Van Gundy Disappointed, Wants To Coach Again

7:52pm: Van Gundy was willing to give up his front office duties and just coach the team next season, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets.

“When it came down to this, I was perfectly willing to only go in one role and to give up the front office and go into (just) coaching. I didn’t fight to hang on to that at all,” he told Beard.

5:40pm: Stan Van Gundy said he’s disappointed but not bitter that the Pistons cut ties with him on Monday, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Owner Tom Gores parted ways with Van Gundy as both head coach and president of basketball operations when they couldn’t come to an agreement on proposed changes Gores wanted to make.

Van Gundy, who was entering the final year of his five-year contract, admitted he wanted to fulfill the rest of the contract and sees how much the team could improve next season with Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson playing together regularly. The Pistons traded for Griffin in late January when Jackson was sidelined with an ankle injury and Griffin sat out the last eight games with an ankle injury. The trio only played four games together.

“To not get a chance to coach a full season after the (Griffin) move we made is disappointing to me. I’m not bitter and I was treated well,” Van Gundy told Ellis. “I’ve got no complaints.”

Van Gundy also said he would like to coach again if he found something to his liking. “If the right situation came along, I wouldn’t dismiss it,” he said. “I’m not going out on the terms I would like.”

That comes somewhat as a surprise, considering that Van Gundy told Hoops Rumors and other reporters in April that he was set for life and would probably retire if he didn’t return next season.

Central Notes: LaVine, Parker, Pistons

Comments from Bulls vice president John Paxson suggest that the franchise is keen on letting the market decide pending restricted free agent Zach LaVine‘s value and, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun Times writes, the 23-year-old’s fate remains a dicey topic.

Cowley writes that a source of his claims that LaVine’s camp regards him as a max or close-to-max player but that the Bulls may not be so sure.

The Bulls, he adds, have been passive in restricted free agency negotiations in the past, “lowballing” Jimmy Butler back in 2015 and letting the market dictate Nikola Mirotic‘s value last summer.

Well, the market dictates a lot and how things go,” Paxson said. “I think the market has tightened up a little bit the last couple of years since the spike. [The Bulls] obviously value Zach a lot, and we think he’s a part of our future, but he has the opportunity to explore things.

There’s more from the Central Division:

And-Ones: Wright, 2K League, EuroCamp, Fines

After leading his Wildcats to their second NCAA title in the last three years, Villanova head coach Jay Wright figures to draw interest from NBA teams this spring. Three NBA clubs currently have interim head coaches in place and will be in the market for full-time solutions in the offseason, and a handful of other franchises could make changes on the sideline too.

Still, it may be difficult to pry Wright away from Villanova, as Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports writes. The school’s athletic director Mark Jackson acknowledged that NBA interest in Wright will be “inevitable,” but he has “no sense” that the head coach wants to go anywhere, he tells Eisenberg. Assistant coach Ashley Howard agrees with that sentiment.

“I think he loves it here at Villanova,” Howard said of Wright. “He’s shown that. He’s had opportunities to go in the past, and he’s shown that he’s committed to staying here at Villanova and continuing to make this program great.”

Wright is currently making $2.6MM per year, Eisenberg notes, but a raise figures to be on the way after the latest championship if he remains at Villanova. Since the Suns are one team that may have interest in hiring Wright, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 did some digging and was told that Wright is expected to have his salary increased to at least $4MM, making it harder for him to walk away from the Wildcats (Twitter link).

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

  • The draft for the NBA’s new 2K eLeague took place this week, and the league is putting its weight behind the new esports venture — as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes, Shaquille O’Neal will run the Kings‘ 2K squad (Kings Guard Gaming), while commissioner Adam Silver is looking to make his mark on North American esports, per Ohm Youngmisuk and Jacob Wolf at ESPN.com. We won’t be covering the league on a regular basis, but for more details on the NBA’s foray into professional gaming, check out Alex Kennedy’s FAQ at HoopsHype.
  • As Adidas withdraws its support from the annual EuroCamp for international prospects, the NBA is looking to salvage the event, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. The Eurocamp will take place from June 2-5 in Treviso, Italy and will be rebranded as the NBA Elite International Camp, according to Givony. In a separate story, Givony also takes a closer look at the new Next Generation program, an event organized by the NCAA, NBA, and USA Basketball for prospects during the Final Four.
  • Nets forward Quincy Acy and Pistons center Andre Drummond were fined $25K and $15K by the NBA earlier this week, according to the league. The two players engaged in a shoving match during Sunday’s game in Brooklyn, resulting in ejections for both.
  • Grand Rapids Drive center Landry Nnoko, who was in camp with the Pistons in the fall, was named the NBA G League’s Defensive Player of the Year for 2017/18. Peter J. Wallner of MLive.com has the details.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Pistons Rotation, Griffin

Victor Oladipo knew a breakout season was possible after speaking with Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard on the team’s private plane prior to his introductory press conference last summer, as Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated divulges in a feature story. Pritchard assured Oladipo that the club truly coveted his services, rather than just matching up salaries to facilitate the Paul George blockbuster with the Thunder. Indiana wanted to play faster this season. “This wasn’t a dump. We targeted you,” Pritchard told Oladipo, according to Jenkins. The All-Star shooting guard is averaging a career-high 24.4 PPG for the surprising Pacers.  “It was the first time in my career I felt like a team really believed in me,” Oladipo told Jenkins. “I was just thinking, Don’t mess this up.”

In other nuggets involving the Central Division:

  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will likely go with a 10-man rotation once Reggie Jackson returns from his Grade 3 ankle sprain, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com.  Jackson would join a starting unit of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock. Ish Smith would return to his usual role as leader of the second unit with center Eric Moreland and forwards Anthony Tolliver and James Ennis getting steady minutes, Khan speculates. Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway would split time as the backup shooting guard, Khan adds.
  • Pistons owner Tom Gores invited Griffin and his business partners over to his California home immediately after the blockbuster deal with the Clippers, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details. Gores wanted to assure Griffin how badly the Pistons wanted him and address any concerns the five-time All-Star power forward might have, Langlois continues. The Pistons are 5-3 since Griffin joined their lineup. “We were very quickly on the same page with the same view of what we want to achieve and the approach to get there,” Gores told Langlois. “He’s definitely hit the ground running. It’s been great to see how his teammates, the whole organization and the fans have embraced him.”

Andre Drummond To Replace John Wall In All-Star Game

The NBA has announced that Andre Drummond will replace John Wall in next month’s All-Star Game, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets. The big man has enjoyed a career year with the Pistons, averaging 14.7 points and 15.1 rebounds per game.

Drummond, one of the most notable omissions from the initial wave of All-Stars, will suit up for his second such contest, his last appearance coming in the midst of Detroit’s 2015/16 push to the postseason.

Per Zillgitt, Silver made the decision to include Drummond because he received more voting points from coaches than any other player left off the initial roster in the Eastern Conference.

When the initial rosters were revealed, Drummond seemed particularly offended by his having been left out. At the time, he took out his frustration in the form of a 30-point, 23-rebound, 6-block, 3-steal night against the Jazz.

Wall’s absence from the game is unsurprising after this morning’s announcement that he’ll miss six weeks tending to a troublesome knee.

Clippers Trade Blake Griffin To Pistons

11:46pm: The trade is now official, according to a press release issued by the Pistons.Blake Griffin vertical

“We are serious about winning, and this is a major move to improve our team,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement.Blake Griffin is one of the NBA’s elite players, and when you get an opportunity to add that kind of talent, you take it. … He is a great fit for our team and will bring a combination of toughness and athleticism that will elevate our team and excite our fans.”

5:20pm: The Clippers have agreed to trade star power forward Blake Griffin to the Pistons in a multi-player deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Detroit will ship forward Tobias Harris, shooting guard Avery Bradley, center Boban Marjanovic, a first-round pick and a second-round draft pick to the Clippers, Wojnarowski adds, citing league sources.

Forward Brice Johnson and center Willie Reed are also heading to Detroit, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

Detroit’s 2018 first-round pick is protected if it’s a top-four selection, according to Wojnarowski; It has the same protection for the next two drafts, then goes unprotected in 2021. The second-round pick in the trade will come in the 2019 draft (Twitter link).

The Pistons, long rumored to be active on the trade market, have been trying to shake up their team while nosediving down the Eastern Conference standings. They have lost eight in a row and now sit in the ninth spot in the East. Wojnarowski had reported just hours ago that Detroit was shopping Bradley and his expiring contract.

Griffin re-signed with the Clippers on a five-year max deal over the summer, so the Pistons are taking on an enormous salary commitment in order to pair him with current franchise player Andre Drummond. Griffin is making $29.5MM this season and he’ll be due another $141.6MM over the next four years, though the final year of the contract includes a player option.

The longtime Clipper will also receive a $860K trade bonus spread over the next four seasons, salary-cap expert Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The Griffin trade bonus is not voided because his current salary is slightly below the max, Marks adds.

The Clippers are in the playoff hunt at 25-24, so dealing Griffin certainly signals a change in the franchise’s long-term direction. It’s possible that this will be the first of multiple moves for the Clippers, since players like DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams have also been considered potential trade candidates.

Aside from Drummond, who is making approximately $23.8MM this season, Harris and Reggie Jackson are Detroit’s highest-paid players at $16MM this season. Bradley is making $8.8MM and Marjanovic is pulling in $7MM this season. Johnson is earning approximately $1.3MM and Reed has a $1MM contract this season.

Both teams are hard-capped and near the luxury-tax line, as Marks notes in a tweet, so it was crucial that each team sent and received about the same amount of money.

The Clippers will get cap relief in the long run as the contracts of Harris and Marjanovic expire after the 2018/19 season. Once this deal is finalized, Danilo Gallinari‘s contract will represent the only guaranteed money on L.A.’s cap beyond 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reaction To The Blake Griffin Trade

The Pistons and Clippers agreed to the biggest blockbuster trade of the season on Monday, with star forward Blake Griffin as the centerpiece.

Here’s how some top columnists from around the country view the deal:

  • Acquiring Griffin is more likely to be the beginning of the end for Stan Van Gundy’s regime with the Pistons than it is to turn the franchise around, Kelvin Pelton of ESPN opines. Detroit will hard-pressed to make any moves after the season because Griffin’s contact will push the team close to the luxury-tax line, Pelton points out. The Pistons also weakened themselves at the wing spots by trading Avery Bradley, while the Clippers added another quality starter with an affordable contract in Tobias Harris, Pelton continues. Trading Griffin also gives the Clippers a better chance at creating max cap space next summer to pursue top free agents, though trading a star player at the beginning of a long-term deal won’t help the Clips build trust with those free agents, Pelton adds.
  • The Clippers have positioned themselves to be major players in the 2019 free agent market, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kevin Love and Kemba Walker could be available and the team will have just one guaranteed contract on the books for the 2019/20 season, Bontemps notes. LeBron James and Paul George could also be available if they sign one-year deals with their current squads, Bontemps adds.
  • The Pistons paid a king’s ransom for Griffin and it’s unlikely to work out in their favor, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News opines. Griffin’s injury history is a major concern, particularly his left knee issues, and he has missed one-third of his team’s games since the 2013-14 season, Deveney notes. He’s also a questionable fit next to Andre Drummond, since Griffin is a subpar three-point shooter and has also struggled with his mid-range game this season.
  • Detroit hasn’t landed a big-time free agent since Chauncey Billups in 2002, so the Pistons can only acquire an All-Star talent through trades, according to Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The Pistons need Griffin to make the playoffs, while the first-rounder is the biggest piece the Clippers landed. That likely gives L.A. two first-rounders in the next draft during a time when picks are highly coveted, the USA Today duo adds.
  • The Clippers clearly seem to believe they can make a serious run at LeBron James when he enters free agency in July and this trade will facilitate that goal, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Potential trades involving DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams will be aimed in helping them in that quest, Stein adds.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, 10-Day Contracts, Marjanovic

Sidelined Pistons big man Andre Drummond doesn’t need to be medically cleared to return to the court following a bruised rib injury, it’s simply a matter of where his pain tolerance sits, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes.

The Pistons play the Sixers tomorrow – the potential third installment of Drummond’s personal series against Joel Embiid – but there’s no guarantee that Drummond will be a part of it.

It’s is a pain-tolerance thing. Everybody has had them,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said after a Thursday practice that Drummond missed. “It’s hard to breathe and hard to move. Whenever he’s comfortable enough to go, he’ll go. It’s a painful injury, no question.”

In the first four years of his career, Drummond only missed three games total.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Friday marks the first day that NBA teams are permitted to sign players to 10-day contracts and it’s “possible” that the short-staffed Pistons will look to bring in temporary relief, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site tweets.
  • He may be the most efficient scorer in NBA history but Boban Marjanovic isn’t a practical option for Stan Van Gundy on a nightly basis when Andre Drummond is healthy. Chris Herring of Five Thirty Eight broke down how the reserve’s game stacks up historically and what’s preventing him from seeing more time on the court when the starter ahead of him is in the lineup.

Pistons Notes: Bradley, Drummond, Jackson

Avery Bradley, who was dealt to the Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris over the summer, didn’t want to leave the Celtics, but he understands Boston’s decision to make the move, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press relays.

“I understand what they did. I have no hard feelings at all. I ended up with a great situation and a great organization so I’m happy and they’re playing well,” Bradley said.

The shooting guard added that the team warned him that a trade was a strong possibility prior to making the transaction.

“There were [conversations] that me and [GM] Danny Ainge had, but when it does happen, it still catches you off guard a little bit destination-wise, where you end up,” Bradley said. “I know it’s part of the business so I respect their decision and I know that Danny is going to make the best decision for the Boston Celtics.”

The Celtics own the best record in the league at 18-4, but the Pistons sit just 3.5 games behind them for the Eastern Conference’s top spot after a pulling out a win on Monday in Beantown.

Here’s more from Detroit:

  • Bradley will be a free agent after the season, though it’s “obvious” that both he and Pistons have interest in a long-term deal, Ellis adds in the same piece. “It’s been really good for me so far,” Bradley said. “We have a great group of guys, a great coaching staff that’s pushing us every day and I feel like we are going to continue to grow as a group.”
  • Andre Drummond was seemingly available for the right price at last season’s trade deadline, but after improving his game this offseason, he is no longer on the table in trade talks, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes.
  • Executive/coach Stan Van Gundy believes the improvement is a result of Drummond putting in the necessary work and playing hard on a nightly basis, Beard passes along in the same piece. “There were never any doubts about his ability and he’s always been a good guy; the concern was whether he was going to play hard on a nightly basis,” Van Gundy said. “That was the question in my mind — and so far this year, it’s been a lot better.”
  • If the Pistons are going to remain in the conference’s top tier, they’ll need Reggie Jackson to maintain his level of play, Matt Barresi of NBAMath contends. The point guard is shooting a career-high 38.4% from downtown and he’s averaging nearly one more assist per 36-minutes than he did last season.