Andre Drummond

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Ellenson, Johnson, Jackson

Many teams remain interested in trading for Pistons center Andre Drummond, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Ellis talked to several talent evaluators around the league, who say that at age 24, Drummond still has the potential to become a successful big man despite questions about his energy and defense. Teams don’t seem reluctant to take on Drummond’s contract, which will pay him more than $105MM over the next four seasons.

The people Ellis spoke with don’t believe the Pistons are currently shopping Drummond, athough they were over the offseason and before February’s trade deadline. However, he cites two potentially interested parties in Knicks GM Scott Perry, who was an assistant GM in Detroit when Drummond was drafted, and Clippers executive VP Lawrence Frank, who coached the Pistons when Drummond was a rookie.

There’s more this morning out of Detroit:

  • Henry Ellenson‘s impressive preseason could mean more minutes for the second-year big man, Ellis adds in the same piece. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Ellenson is “playing at a high level” after he scored 16 points in 17 minutes Friday. He is competing with Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer and Anthony Tolliver for playing time at power forward.
  • The competition at power forward will keep Stanley Johnson at small forward, which may not be his best position, Ellis writes in a separate story. Many observers believe Johnson would excel as a stretch four, but Van Gundy expects nearly all of Johnson’s minutes this season to come at small forward. “We just don’t really have a need for another [power forward],” Van Gundy said. “There may be some defensive things late in the game where teams go small and we could go small with him, but we’ve got enough stuff we could run without having him to spend a lot of time there. I’m not going to confuse him and have him having to work and know all the sets at [power forward].”
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson is ready to take on a larger leadership role this season, Ellis writes in a another story. Now one of the oldest players on the team at 27, Jackson wants to erase the nightmare of last year when knee problems forced him to miss the start of the season and the team wasn’t able to incorporate him smoothly once he returned. Part of the problem was physical, as assistant coach Tim Hardaway says Jackson never fully recovered. “He’s the catalyst,” Hardaway said. “He wants to come out here and be the man. He can be the man, but first he has to be healthy. Once he’s 100% and shape, everybody’s going to see a different Reggie because last year he was hurt all the time.”

Central Notes: Bucks, Williams, Drummond, Pistons

The Bucks have a couple of options beyond making a trade to drop back below the luxury-tax line, as Gery Woelfel of points out. Citing sources, Woelfel calculates the current Milwaukee payroll at $120.6MM, which would put it approximately $1.4MM over the tax threshold. The Bucks could shed some payroll by either releasing point guard Gary Payton Jr., who has a non-guaranteed $1.3MM deal, and/or waiving Spencer Hawes $6.5MM contract. By using the stretch provision, the Bucks could reduce Hawes’ 2017/18 cap hit by more than $4MM.

In other items involving the Central Division:

  • Unrestricted free agent forward Derrick Williams could wind up back with the Cavaliers, Sam Amico of reports. Williams has drawn little interest in the open market but the Cavs could sign him to a one-year, $2.4MM contract once they decide whether to trade Kyrie Irving, Amico adds. Williams averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.3 RPG on 51% shooting in 17.1 MPG over 25 regular-season games with Cleveland but was used sparingly in the playoffs.
  • Andre Drummond has already noticed a significant difference in his breathing and stamina since undergoing sinus surgery this summer to correct a deviated septum, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Playing at a high altitude in the NBA Africa Game in South Africa, the Pistons center said he was breathing much easier on and off the court, as he told Beard. “Just being able to breathe, I can’t even explain how great it feels to sleep easier and breathe easier when I play,” Drummond said. “I’m not worried about gasping for air when I go hard.” Drummond had been breathing mainly through one nostril during his NBA career prior to the surgery.
  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will have difficult decisions on his power forward rotation, as Keith Langlois of notes. Tobias Harris could wind up splitting his time between both forward spots and the rest of the power forward minutes will be soaked up by a combination of Jon Leuer, Anthony Tolliver and second-year man Henry Ellenson. Leuer, who signed a four-year contract last summer, could wind up as the starter despite slumping badly after the All-Star break, Langlois continues. Tolliver signed up for his second stint with the franchise this summer and brings the elements of toughness and 3-point shooting, while Ellenson put his shot-making ability on display in summer-league action, Langlois adds.

Community Shootaround: Pistons Stars

After a stellar 2015/16 campaign in which they qualified for the playoffs and showcased their potential in a first-round series with the Cavaliers, the Pistons took a significant leap backwards in 2016/17.

Although the team struggled across the board last year, much of the team’s general disappointment can be traced either directly or indirectly to the injury that sidelined point guard Reggie Jackson for over a month to start the season.

When Jackson finally did return to the court after undergoing platelet-rich plasma injections to treat a knee issue, the Pistons were a far cry from the unit that fired on all cylinders the year prior.

As Jackson struggled to regain form, Detroit big man Andre Drummond struggled as well, initially unable to establish the same connection with his point guard that helped him to a career season in 2015/16.

While backup point guard Ish Smith performed admirably when called to fill in for Jackson, much of Detroit’s struggles in 2016/17 can be attributed to the fact that the dynamic inside-outside combination the club relied on previously was missing.

The resulting campaign can be summed up rather simply: the Pistons dropped from 44 wins to 37 and missed the playoffs.

Meanwhile Drummond’s line of 16.2 points and 14.8 boards per game in 2015/16 fell to 13.6 and 13.8 last season, while Jackson’s own line plummeted from 18.8 points and 6.2 assists per game down to 14.5 and 5.2.

Not surprisingly, the pair have found themselves front and center in trade rumors since partway through season. While Stan Van Gundy didn’t end up pulling the trigger on any deals, it’s been written that the barrage of speculation impacted Drummond.

The question we have for readers in this Community Shootaround is whether Drummond and Jackson should be moved as soon as the franchise can get a reasonable return or whether the Pistons should hold on to the tandem because their value couldn’t possibly dip lower.

Put another way, will 2017/18 mark a bounce back season for two former up-and-coming young stars? Should they be given the benefit of the doubt? Weigh in below.

Pistons Notes: Marjanovic, Backcourt, Kennard

Long one of the NBA’s most intriguing reserve big men, Boban Marjanovic will be utilized differently this season than he was during his first under Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. Keith Langlois of the team’s official website spoke with the Van Gundy about his 7’4″ backup.

The questions are going to be how [Marjanovic’s stellar play at the end of 2016/17] holds up over time and how many minutes he can take on a nightly basis,” Van Gundy said. “Those we don’t know, but we do know that he’s got unbelievable size and skill and that’s a pretty good combination.”

With Aron Baynes now a member of the Celtics, Marjanovic figures be the primary backup to Andre Drummond, splitting duties perhaps with Jon Leuer when more mobility is required.

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Point guard Reggie Jackson made a point of travelling to meet Avery Bradley as soon as possible, Ansar Khan of MLive writes. Jackson said he wants the new-look backcourt to hold each other accountable this season.
  • Rookie Luke Kennard will need to outplay Langston Galloway and Reggie Bullock for a prominent place in the Pistons’ rotation but in his defense he has already assuaged some concerns about his mobility that Stan Van Gundy had prior to the summer league, Keith Langlois of writes in a mailbag.
  • Big man Andre Drummond has shouldered the blame for Detroit’s lousy 2016/17 campaign, Michael Lee of The Vertical writes. “It starts with me,” Drummond said. “I didn’t come out playing the way I was supposed to. I needed to take it upon myself to be a leader this summer, to really take care of myself, take care of my body to make sure my team got better.

Central Notes: Irving, Drummond, Pritchard

Although they didn’t make Cavaliers All-Star Kyrie Irving‘s specifically curated list of preferred destinations, the Suns have come up as a potential landing spot for the disgruntled point guard. Details of a supposed Phoenix offer have come to light, an azcentral report writes.

The Suns are said to have offered the Cavaliers Eric Bledsoe, Dragan Bender and a first-round pick, the article says, attributing the initial report to an ESPN radio station in Minnesota.

It’s not hard to see why the Cavaliers didn’t immediately accept the offer. While Bledsoe is a serviceable veteran guard, his injury history only reduces his already limited value (relative to Irving, that is).

Further, 19-year-old Bender was quite raw during his first NBA season and wouldn’t likely impact the Cavaliers’ chances of contending with the Warriors next season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • After a sinus operation, Pistons center Andre Drummond is breathing easier, sleeping better and growing less tired on the court. Rod Beard of the Detroit News documents the big man’s offseason, noting that the soon-to-be 24-year-old has taken trade rumors to heart.
  • When the Pacers let Kevin Seraphin go, they freed up more cap space, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. His contract would have become guaranteed on August 1.
  • Although it’s hard to truly gauge the Paul George trade, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has had a successful offseason since, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star writes. Unfortunately, he suggests, the franchise may have been better off temporarily bottoming out.

Suns Expressed ‘Strong’ Interest In Andre Drummond In June

The Suns were among the teams that expressed “strong” interest in Andre Drummond in June, reports Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. According to Fischer, Sacramento also showed significant interest in trading for Drummond — the Kings’ interest has been previously reported.

While Drummond remains in Detroit for now, Fischer is skeptical that he’ll finish his contract with the Pistons, noting that the club dangled its starting center in trade talks at the deadline and again leading up to the draft.

A report earlier this week suggested that Pistons owner Tom Gores is a big fan of Drummond, whereas head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy isn’t quite as bullish on the young center. According to that report, the Pistons didn’t receive any trade offers this offseason that merited a serious conversation between management and ownership about the 23-year-old’s future in Detroit.

The Suns, meanwhile, entered the summer in the market for a major frontcourt upgrade, so their interest in Drummond doesn’t come as a real surprise. Phoenix reportedly went into free agency targeting Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap. However, after missing out on Griffin, the Suns pulled back on their pursuit of top free agents, opting instead to exercise a little more patience with their rebuilding process.

Of course, given Drummond’s age, he may still fit the timeline for a rebuilding team like the Suns or Kings, despite his massive contract. So those clubs shouldn’t necessarily be ruled out as suitors if the Pistons revisit trade possibilities for the former ninth overall pick later this offseason or at next year’s deadline.

Trade Notes: Carmelo, Blazers, Celtics, Drummond

The Knicks put Carmelo Anthony trade talks on hold last week, but that decision is likely temporary, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, who suggests that the team wanted to get new general manager Scott Perry involved in the process. The Knicks reportedly hope that Anthony will be willing to expand his list of preferred destinations beyond Houston and Cleveland, but there has been no indication yet that the star forward is open to going to a team like the Trail Blazers, despite alleged interest from Portland.

According to Mannix, the Trail Blazers have been involved in Anthony talks, but have primarily been acting as a third-team facilitator in discussions so far. Per Mannix’s report, an inability to find a fourth team willing to take on Meyers Leonard‘s contract stalled “at least one version” of the proposed deal.

Anthony’s preferred destination is believed to be Houston, and given his no-trade clause, the fact that Carmelo is willing to accept such a deal is a good start for the Rockets. However, GM Daryl Morey will still have to get the Knicks and potentially one or two other teams on board in order to land Anthony, which is why the situation remains in a holding pattern for now.

Here are a few more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Within the Vertical piece linked above, Chris Mannix notes that it’s “widely believed” the Celtics will make a run at Anthony Davis if the Pelicans‘ season goes south. New Orleans has been vehemently opposed to considering Davis deals, and while it’s possible that will change if the team struggles this season, DeMarcus Cousins would almost certainly land on the trading block first.
  • According to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post, many teams around the NBA sensed this offseason that Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy was dissatisfied with center Andre Drummond. Detroit took calls on Drummond, but team owner Tom Gores is a big fan of the 23-year-old, and the Pistons didn’t receive any offers strong enough to merit a serious conversation about the big man’s future, per Bontemps.
  • Appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Jimmy Butler confirmed that he left a June exit meeting with Bulls brass believing that he’d remain in Chicago. “I thought I was going to be there so I’m not going to say word for word what they said, but when I left there I did think I was going to be there,” Butler said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “But like I said, it’s a business and it is what it is.”

Pistons Notes: Luxury Tax, Point Guard, Drummond

With approximately $95MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for 2017/18, the Pistons will be in danger of going into luxury tax territory if they re-sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a maximum salary contract or something close to it.

However, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press tweets that a source in the know told him the Pistons would be okay with being slightly over the tax line. As Ellis notes in a piece for The Free Press, even if Detroit begins the ’17/18 season in the tax, that doesn’t necessarily mean the team will be on the hook for tax penalties at the end of the year. Luxury tax penalties aren’t determined until the final day of the regular season, so the Pistons could make trades to sneak back under the threshold, if necessary.

Here’s more out of Detroit:

  • Given their current cap situation, the free agent market won’t offer an easy path to roster upgrades for the Pistons, Ellis writes for The Free Press. Ellis expects Detroit to attempt to find a point guard to play behind Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith, but that would likely be a minor move. Within the piece, Ellis also suggests that Caldwell-Pope’s restricted free agency may not get resolved quickly if he doesn’t find an offer sheet he likes.
  • Andre Drummond‘s name surfaced in trade rumors again last week, and while Drummond has been “hurt” in the past at being mentioned in trade rumors, he’s most accustomed to it now, per head coach Stan Van Gundy (link via The Detroit Free Press).
  • The Kings, who have had interest in Drummond in the past, were linked to the veteran center again last week, but Ellis writes that Detroit wasn’t motivated to make a move. “It’s part of the usual draft-day dance,” a Pistons source told Ellis shortly before the draft. “Sacramento making a play for him and would like to make it happen. Us not so much.”
  • Shawn Windsor of The Detroit Free Press wonders if the Pistons will end up regretting making the “safe” play and picking Luke Kennard on draft day.

Trade Rumors: Nuggets, Butler, Dudley, Drummond

The Nuggets, who spoke to the Bulls at the February trade deadline about Jimmy Butler, have engaged with Chicago again as the draft approaches, a source tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN. According to Goodman, any offer Denver makes obviously wouldn’t include Nikola Jokic, but would feature multiple young players and draft picks.

Butler, of course, has reportedly indicated that he wants to remain with the Bulls. And while a fondness for Chicago and his Bulls teammates may play a part in that stance, he’s also aware that he’ll no longer be eligible for a potential Designated Veteran Extension if he’s traded. Butler would be eligible for that super-max extension if he earns an All-NBA nod next year, but only if he remains on the Bulls, which is the “real reason” he doesn’t want to be moved, tweets Chris Broussard of Fox Sports 1.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA as the draft inches closer:

  • The Suns have talked to the Pelicans about a potential Jared Dudley trade, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), who adds that any deal would likely involve second-round picks. New Orleans may not have the cap room to absorb Dudley’s $10MM salary outright, so the Pelicans may have to send out a contract or two in a possible swap.
  • Although there have been whispers about Sacramento’s interest in Andre Drummond, a deal between the Kings and Pistons remains unlikely at this point, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press adds (via Twitter) that he has been told multiple times that any Drummond trade is unlikely, though that could change.
  • Amick passes along another note on the Kings, tweeting that while Sacramento plans to use pick at No. 5, there’s a chance the team will move the No. 10 selection in order to land a player and a later pick.
  • A source tells Jason Quick of (Twitter link) that there’s “no way” the Trail Blazers acquire LaMarcus Aldridge from the Spurs.

Pistons Gauging Trade Market For Drummond, Jackson

The Pistons are gauging the trade market for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, league sources tell Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). As Scotto notes, Detroit initially attempted to determine Drummond’s and Jackson’s trade value around the deadline back in February.

Both Drummond and Jackson are coming off underwhelming seasons. Drummond, who inked a five-year, maximum-salary contract last summer, saw his scoring average slip from a career-high 16.2 PPG in 2015/16 to just 13.6 PPG this past season, while Jackson also failed to build on a career year, with his numbers slipping across the board — he was nagged by injuries throughout the year and was benched down the stretch.

Although Drummond and Jackson didn’t produce the way Detroit had hoped in 2016/17, they’re still the most talented players on the Pistons’ roster, making them intriguing potential trade chips. Stan Van Gundy has said he’s not looking to blow up his roster, but also expressed displeasure with the club’s showing in ’16/17, suggesting that changes could be on the way.

Even if the Pistons look to shake things up a little, a trade of either player – particularly Drummond – would qualify as a surprise. When our Dana Gauruder previewed the Pistons’ offseason earlier this week, he observed that it would be difficult for the team to get fair value in deals involving Jackson or Drummond, meaning it might make more sense to bet on them to bounce back rather than trading them.

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