Andre Drummond

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Drummond, Kennard

There’s still plenty of uncertainty regarding Blake Griffin‘s status for the opening round of the playoffs. While Yahoo Sports reported that the Pistons All-Star power forward would likely miss the series against the Bucks, coach Dwane Casey said after practice on Monday that Griffin could play as soon as Game 2 on Wednesday. Griffin sat out Milwaukee’s 121-86 blowout victory on Sunday with a sore left knee.

“We need all hands on deck. He wants to play,” Casey said. “So when his body says he’s ready, whether it’s Wednesday night or Saturday (for Game 3), whenever it is, he’ll be available.”

Griffin, who worked out with the training staff during practice, said after the game that he wanted to play but the medical staff nixed it. Casey confirmed that Griffin is eager to return.

“He’s lobbying. He wants to play,” Casey said. “It’s the medical staff, the doctors are the ones making those decisions. Not me, not Blake.”

We have more on the Pistons:
  • Casey doesn’t think Andre Drummond‘s ejection during the third quarter on Sunday was warranted. Drummond received a Flagrant Two foul for shoving Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo to the court after Antetokounmpo grabbed an offensive rebound. “I’ve seen worse,” Casey said. “What do you expect our defense to do when you’re driving through there 100 miles an hour? Just move out of the way and let you go where you want to go?” Drummond was tight-lipped about the ejection because “I’m not trying to get fined.” There hasn’t been any indication the league will discipline Drummond for the foul.
  • Drummond recorded a minus-45 in the plus/minus category before he was tossed. That was the lowest in playoff history since at least 2001, according to Basketball-Reference. “I was more than ready. Prepared, ready to go,” he said. “I just have to do it a step harder.”
  • Casey felt his team played like it was just happy to be in the postseason while Milwaukee acted as if it had waited all season for the game. “The moment, playoffs, atmosphere, whatever it is, got us out of sync,” he said. The lone bright spot was the play of reserve guard Luke Kennard, who scored a team-high 21 points. “Luke was probably the most aggressive offensively of everybody and he was making the right basketball play,” Casey said.

O’Connor’s Latest: Gasol, Conley, OKC, Prince, More

As we relayed earlier today, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer hears that the Hornets‘ offer for Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and a protected first-round pick. That would be an underwhelming return for Gasol, but there hasn’t been much league-wide interest in the 34-year-old, O’Connor writes.

The Kings and Pistons were among the teams potentially in the mix for Gasol, according to O’Connor, but Memphis didn’t have any interest in Detroit center Andre Drummond and Sacramento was unwilling to part with promising young wing Bogdan Bogdanovic, whom the Grizzlies wanted.

The Raptors reportedly explored a potential Gasol deal, initially attempting to come up with an individual trade for one Grizzlies veteran before turning it into a package for both Gasol and Mike Conley, O’Connor writes. However, those talks didn’t advance and league sources tell The Ringer that it’s unlikely Toronto ends up with Gasol or Conley.

Elsewhere on the Conley front, the Jazz continue to make a strong push, with an offer that includes Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, and a first-round pick, per O’Connor. The sense around the NBA is that the Grizzlies won’t settle for a modest return for Conley, which is something we heard in relation to the Pistons’ offer earlier today.

O’Connor’s latest piece for The Ringer features several more trade-related tidbits, so we’ll round them up here…

  • The Thunder are believed to be among the teams with interest in Cavaliers guard Alec Burks, league sources tell O’Connor. However, Burks wouldn’t fit into OKC’s $10.88MM trade exception. The Thunder, along with the Sixers and Trail Blazers, have expressed interest in Hawks wing Taurean Prince, O’Connor adds.
  • Following up on his report from last week about the Rockets and Grizzlies discussing a Brandon Knight trade, O’Connor suggests that Marquese Chriss and a first-round pick would also go to Memphis in that proposed deal. Houston would be targeting JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple in the swap, though it remains in the discussion stage for now.
  • The Kings have made calls about veteran forwards Harrison Barnes (Mavericks) and Otto Porter (Wizards) but have found no traction on a Porter deal, writes O’Connor.
  • While DeAndre Jordan looks like an obvious trade candidate, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if the Knicks keep him around as a potential recruiter for Kevin Durant, according to O’Connor, who notes that Durant and Jordan are good friends. Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News wrote about this subject on Tuesday.
  • League sources don’t expect the Celtics to do anything at the deadline with Terry Rozier, since he could serve as potential Kyrie Irving insurance or a sign-and-trade sweetener for Anthony Davis in the offseason, says O’Connor.
  • According to O’Connor, the Pacers remain open to moving one of their two veteran point guards, Cory Joseph or Darren Collison. Both players are on expiring contracts.

Latest On Mike Conley, Marc Gasol Suitors

The Jazz and Grizzlies have explored a trade involving Mike Conley and Ricky Rubio, and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com hears that Utah’s interest in the former No. 4 overall pick is “very real.” The organization could feasibly build a package around Rubio and Derrick Favors, who are both on expiring deals, while peppering in a draft pick or two.

Utah is reportedly unimpressed with the 2019 draft class and their first-round pick is on the table in trade talks. It’s unclear if the Jazz would toss in a second first-round pick for Conley, though it would be a surprising development. Lowe speculates that Dante Exum could be in the mix as part of a package, adding that the Jazz could move on to more affordable targets, such as Nikola Mirotic, if the price for Conley remains too high.

The Conley sweepstakes are expected to heat up as we get closer to the deadline and surprise suitors could emerge. Lowe passes along more from Memphis regarding their two biggest stars:

  • Marc Gasol is hoping for a trade and teams are waiting to see if the Grizzlies lower the asking price for their long-time center, Lowe reports. As for a potential Pistons-Grizzlies deal, Memphis has not shown any interest in acquiring Andre Drummond yet and Lowe hears that Detroit may be saving its trade chips for someone else.
  • The Pistons and Grizzlies have talked about a Conley deal, though discussions did not get very far. Detroit would likely have to ship out Reggie Jackson is a trade for Conley.
  • While Conley would be a nice on-court fit for the Pacers, Indiana has stepped away from Conley talks, sources tell Lowe. Lowe speculates that the Grizzlies would likely ask for Domantas Sabonis is a Conley deal, something that wouldn’t appeal to the Pacers.
  • The Jazz would have interest in signing Tobias Harris this summer should they not trade for Conley or make a major move at the deadline that utilizes their future cap space. The Clippers have received calls for Harris, per Lowe, though rival teams get the sense that they have no interest in trading him. Lowe adds that Los Angeles would be happy to re-sign Harris in the offseason.
  • The Kings are not as interested in Gasol as reports and speculation might suggest. Sacramento doesn’t appear to be willing to hand over a future first-rounder in exchange for the big man, as the club owes its 2019 pick to Boston (Philadelphia gets the selection if it’s the No. 1 pick).

Central Notes: Pistons, Boylen, Evans, Cavs

Don’t expect the Pistons to move either Andre Drummond or Reggie Jackson anytime soon, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes in a mailbag.

As Beard explains, Detroit views Drummond as a long-term core piece rather than a trade chip. And while Jackson may not be quite on that same level, he’s probably a more valuable asset to the Pistons than he would be to another team, according to Beard, who expects Detroit to “ride through Jackson’s contract.” Drummond and Jackson can both become free agents as early as 2020, though Drummond has a $28.75MM player option for 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes an interesting, detailed look at how Jim Boylen has dove head-first into his new job as the Bulls‘ head coach this week, meeting individually with all his players after taking the reins from Fred Hoiberg.
  • As his first season with the Pacers progresses, Tyreke Evans continues to adjust to a new role and new expectations, as Mark Montieth of Pacers.com writes. Evans, who inked a one-year deal to play in Indiana, has been moved to the starting lineup during Victor Oladipo‘s absence but is still struggling to produce consistently.
  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson has been find $15K by the NBA for making an inappropriate gesture toward a fan earlier this week, the league announced today in a press release. Thompson flipped off some Brooklyn hecklers in the wake of the Cavs’ win over the Nets on Monday.
  • Speaking of that Cavaliers win over Brooklyn, head coach Larry Drew – who removed rookie Collin Sexton from the lineup down the stretch in that game – explained later that he doesn’t believe sitting Sexton in situations like that will stunt the youngster’s development. “You can learn just as much sitting over there watching, so you can kind of get a feel and see what other guys are doing,” Drew said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “But it’s a long season and we’re going to be in a lot of different situations where he’s going to be allowed to experience some of this stuff.”

NBA Super-Max Candidates To Watch In 2018/19

The Designated Veteran Extension, as we explain our glossary entry on the subject, is a relatively new addition to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. It allows players with 7-9 years of experience, who would normally qualify for a maximum starting salary of 30% of the cap, to qualify for a “super-max” contract that starts at 35% of the cap, a level normally reserved players with 10+ years of experience.

A player who has seven or eight years of NBA service with one or two years left on his contract becomes eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension if he meets the required performance criteria and hasn’t been traded since his first four years in the league. A Designated Veteran contract can also be signed by a player who is technically a free agent if he has eight or nine years of service and meets the required criteria.

The performance criteria is as follows (only one of the following must be true):

  • The player was named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.
  • The player was named the NBA MVP in any of the three most recent seasons.
  • The player was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.

With those criteria in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye on several players who could qualify for a super-max veteran contract with their play this season. Let’s dive in and examine a few of those guys…

Players who already qualify for a super-max contract:

Davis can’t yet sign a Designated Veteran Extension, but his All-NBA appearances over the last two seasons have ensured that he’ll qualify, even if he somehow doesn’t earn another All-NBA nod in 2018/19.

As of next July, the Pelicans will be able to offer Davis a contract extension that tacks an additional five years onto his $27.09MM salary for 2019/20. Based on the NBA’s latest cap projection for 2020/21 ($118MM), that five-year extension would be worth a staggering $239.54MM.

Players who could qualify for a super-max contract by meeting the criteria in 2018/19:

Technically, any player who earns an All-NBA spot in 2018/19 and meets the contract criteria can qualify for a super-max, but the players listed above are probably the only legitimately viable candidates. And even in this group, guys like Beal and Drummond are a real stretch — if they were to improbably make an All-NBA team, their clubs still probably wouldn’t put Designated Veteran Extension offers on the table, since they’re not bona fide superstars.

Thompson and Walker will both be unrestricted free agents in 2019, so if they meet the DVE criteria, they’d be eligible for five-year contracts with their respective teams worth up to a projected $221.27MM. Lillard and Green are still under contract for at least one more year beyond this season, but they’d qualify for super-max extensions if they meet the criteria — Lillard could get an extra four years, while Green could get five.

A team can only give Designated Veteran Extensions to two players, so the Warriors wouldn’t be able to offer both Thompson and Green super-max contracts, since Stephen Curry already has one. On the plus side, Kevin Durant won’t figure into this equation for Golden State, since he has 10+ years of experience. A deal starting at 35% of the cap for Durant wouldn’t count toward the Dubs’ super-max limit.

Finally, while Antetokounmpo can qualify for a super-max by earning All-NBA honors this season, he wouldn’t actually be able to sign such a deal until 2020, since he’ll only have six years of experience at the end of the 2018/19 campaign. Essentially, he’d be in the same spot that Anthony Davis is in now.

Players who can no longer qualify for a super-max contract because they were traded:

Butler, Irving, and Leonard are probably more worthy of a super-max investment than most of the players in the above group, but they no longer qualify because they were traded while on their second contracts — Butler from the Bulls, Irving from the Cavaliers, and Leonard from the Spurs. They’ll need to reach 10 years of NBA experience before qualifying for a starting salary worth up to 35% of the cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Griffin, Jackson, Johnson

Pistons center Andre Drummond doesn’t plan to shoot a lot of threes but he’s thrilled that new coach Dwane Casey has given him the green light, as he told the Detroit Free Press. Casey believes if Drummond hits a couple of long range shots every game, it will create more space for everyone offensively. “The 3-point shot is something I’ve added six years ago,” he said. “I just never had a coach that allowed to me to shoot it. It’s something I’ve worked on consistently for a long time, so I guess now is my time to really showcase it.” Frontcourt partner Blake Griffin doesn’t want Drummond to stray from the basket too often.  “We still want to use Dre to his strengths because he’s one of the most dominant centers, one of the best finishers, one of the best rebounders,” Griffin said. “So it would be doing him a disservice to keep him away from the rim and doing the things he does best.”

We have more from the Pistons:

  • Both of Detroit’s top big men believe the team should set lofty goals. Griffin said homecourt advantage in the playoffs, at least for the opening round, should be the team’s regular-season aim. Drummond expects the Pistons to be serious contenders in the East. “The time is now,” he said. “We have everything we need to be great. There’s no reason why we can’t be a top team in the East or a top team in the NBA.”
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson (ankle), power forward Jon Leuer (knee) and shooting guard Luke Kennard (ankle) will be limited for the start of camp but all should be ready to play by opening night, according to senior advisor Ed Stefanski. “Those three are not in basketball shape,” Stefanski said.
  • Stefanski wouldn’t specifically address a question whether the team was interested in trading for Jimmy Butler but he noted the team has payroll limitations. However, he’s not averse to dealing for star players with expiring contracts. “That wouldn’t bother me,” he said. “It depends on what you have to give up.”
  • Small forward Stanley Johnson is eligible for an extension but the franchise is more focused on whether he’ll develop into a consistent performer. Johnson admits he still has a lot to prove. “(Owner) Tom (Gores) said, ‘I’m tired of hearing the word potential,'” Johnson said.

Central Notes: Pistons Lineup, Griffin, Smith, Paxson

Determining the two starters who will join Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson in the lineup is one of the things to watch for during the Pistons’ training camp, according to Keith Langlois of the team’s website. Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard are the three major candidates for those two slots. Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson and Zaza Pachulia will vie for the role of first big man off the bench, though Leuer’s status for training camp is uncertain due to recent knee surgery, Langlois adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Having Griffin as the focal point of their offense for a full season has created optimism around the Pistons franchise, Ansar Khan of MLive writes in his latest player profile. The Pistons had trouble incorporating Griffin into the offense following the blockbuster trade with the Clippers in late January. But he has developed his all-around game and become a better 3-point shooter and passer, Khan continues. New coach Dwane Casey plans on putting the ball in his hands more often, Khan adds.
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith was issued a desk ticket for misdemeanor criminal mischief after he allegedly tossed a fan’s cell phone into a construction site on July 26, according to an ESPN story. Smith spoke to police in New York City on Friday about the allegation and he will appear in Manhattan Criminal Court later this year.
  • Jim Paxson’s title with the Bulls has been changed from director of basketball operations to director of pro personnel, the team announced in a press release. The Bulls also promoted Brian Hagen to associate GM, Steve Weinman to assistant GM and and Miles Abbett to manager of minor league scouting and analytics.

Pistons Rumors: Kennard, Ellenson, Smith, Projection

The Pistons have big plans for second-year guard Luke Kennard and he rates as a breakout candidate for the upcoming season, Ben Nadeau of Basketball Insiders writes. Kennard averaged 11.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 2.5 APG during the last 19 games of his rookie season and his role will expand under new coach Dwane Casey, Nadeau continues. Kennard has the ability to play three positions and he has the potential to become one of the league’s premier 3-point shooters, Nadeau adds.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Power forward Henry Ellenson has been selected for the USA National Team qualifying for the World Championships, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Ellenson has played sparingly in his first two NBA seasons after being chosen in the first round of the 2016 draft but his role is expected to expand during the upcoming season under Casey.
  • Point guard Ish Smith could be traded during the season, Ansar Khan of MLive.com opines. Smith is entering the final year of his contract and the Pistons also have Jose Calderon and Kennard available for that role, Khan continues. Otherwise, Smith will be the primary backup to Reggie Jackson. He improved his 3-point shooting toward the end of last season and is well-suited for the second unit due his energy, speed and ability to attack the basket, Khan adds.
  • The big man combination of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond should be enough for the Pistons to secure the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype predicts. Sierra sees Detroit finishing third in the Central Division and eighth in the conference despite a lack of talent beyond the frontcourt duo.

Central Notes: Pacers, Drummond, Leuer

A number of low profile offseason additions have helped the Pacers take a step forward this summer, so say a number of league experts, as Scott Horner of The Indianapolis Star writes.

The Pacers added significant depth when they brought aboard Tyreke Evans, Kyle O’Quinn and Doug McDermott and will benefit from the addition of first-round pick Aaron Holiday and whatever inevitable improvements Victor Oladipo makes to his game over the course of the offseason.

There was no shortage of journalists willing to praise the Pacers for their summer work and NBA.com’s David Aldridge even went so far as to say that they’re as good a threat as any in the East to challenge the Celtics this season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • There’s no denying that Andre Drummond has been busy working on his perimeter shooting, at least if you’ve followed his Instagram stories this offseason. Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes that the Pistons big man is hoping to use the new weapon to move away from the basket. “Adding that to my game is something I’ve been working on for years but this is the year where I’ve taken it to another level of putting up a lot more shots, and I’m getting more comfortable with it,” Drummond said.
  • Fans may be quick to call the new-look Eastern Conference a three-horse race involving the Celtics, Raptors and Sixers, but Brook Lopez assures Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype that the Bucks are confident they can take the crown. “I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.
  • Injured Pistons forward Jon Leuer had successful surgery yesterday, the team announced in a press conference. The procedure is related to a meniscus injury that occurred in a workout earlier this week. His status will be updated prior to training camp.

Central Rumors: Frye, Parker, Sexton, Garnett

Channing Frye‘s impact on the locker room had a lot to do with the Cavaliers’ decision to bring back the veteran forward, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. GM Koby Altman wanted a respected veteran voice to guide the team through tough times with the departure of LeBron James, Pluto continues. Frye is very popular with his teammates and shares a close bond with the team’s remaining star, Kevin Love. Frye was traded to the Lakers last February by Cleveland solely to make the deal work financially and not because the front office had any issues with him, Pluto adds. Frye agreed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The team option on Jabari Parker‘s two-year contract gives the Bulls flexibility during free agency next summer, Kevin Anderson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. With a projected rise in the salary cap, the Bulls could free up enough cap space to sign a top-level free agent even if they decide to keep Parker. That could be accomplished by allowing Bobby Portis and Cameron Payne to become unrestricted free agents if they are not signed to extensions. If they decide to let Parker go next summer, they could have between $35MM-$53MM in cap space during free agency, Anderson adds.
  • Cavaliers lottery pick Collin Sexton was a volume scorer during summer-league competition but reinforced the notion that his long-range game needs work, as Andre Snellings of ESPN details. Sexton did most of his damage inside the arc and needs to develop a consistent 3-point shot, Snellings continues. The University of Alabama product also displayed his ability to create for his teammates but he still can become a better passer, Snellings adds.
  • The Pistons made arrangements to have Kevin Garnett work with two of their bigs, center Andre Drummond and power forward Henry Ellenson, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.
  • GM Gar Forman’s promise two years ago to make the Bulls younger and more athletic is coming to fruition, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago writes. By drafting Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. in the lottery, trading for Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and signing Jabari Parker as a free agent, the average age of the projected lineup is 22, Walton points out. The team can now play at a quicker pace and cover more space defensively, Walton adds.