Andre Drummond

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  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 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.

Central Notes: Rose, Thomas, Liggins

The Cavaliers have been without Derrick Rose since November 7 and may be without him for at least two more weeks, Joe Vardon of writes. The club has announced that the veteran point guard’s sprained ankle will be immobilized in a boot and that he’ll undergo treatment through the end of the month.

Rose’s tenure with the Cavaliers hasn’t gotten off to as a good as start as some may have hoped after a relatively successful year with the Knicks. The 29-year-old has averaged 14.3 points per game but has only seen action in seven of the team’s 15 games this season.

The injured ankle that’s been plaguing Rose is the same one that the Cavaliers guard missed nine days due to from October 20 to October 29.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • It wasn’t long ago when Andre Drummond was the subject of trade rumors due to his inability to hit free throws and a perceived lack of effort. These days, Vincent Goodwill of Bleacher Report writes, the Pistons big man has drastically improved his stock with head coach Stan Van Gundy and around the league.
  • Through 11 games with his sixth NBA team, DeAndre Liggins has impressed. The defensive specialist has made a name for himself as a gritty, energetic perimeter stopper and that’s served him well with the Bucks, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.
  • Injured Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas stands by his decision to forego surgery on his hip, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. “Every week now, every week I’m getting better and better. I’m doing more and more. I’m getting closer to being back on the floor and being able to play, so the only thing that is the frustrating part is the time.

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Drummond, Parker

Expect Eric Bledsoe to start in his Bucks debut tonight, Matt Velasquez of The Journal Sentinel writes. Milwaukee will clash with the Spurs in San Antonio and Bledsoe will see his first taste of in-game action since October 21.

For his first day of shootaround, you could see the dynamic of his speed, something that we don’t have at that position,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ll find out here quickly [how he fits with the team].”

The 27-year-old guard has averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per game over the course of his eight-year NBA career, his best two seasons coming with Phoenix last year and the year prior.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pistons know that Andre Drummond needs to keep his head in the game in order to be most effective. As Ansar Khan of MLive writes, the big man is well aware of that fact himself. “When I play with high energy and confidence it gives everybody else confidence and you can see it in everybody’s face when they’re playing,” Drummond said. “In previous years, I played down and it looked like it could bother me and everybody kind of moved around in slow motion.”
  • If the Bulls are to choose one of Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune believes it would be the former. Portis, he writes, is well liked by his teammates. He’s also on a cheaper contract and would handle coming off the bench behind rookie Lauri Markkanen better.
  • This isn’t Bucks forward Jabari Parker‘s first time recovering from an ACL injury. This time around, Steve Aschburner of writes, he does so well aware of what the process entails – and in a nicer facility, to boot.

Pelicans, Suns, Pistons Discussed Bledsoe Trade

6:28pm: It turns out the third team involved in the Bledsoe/Jackson trade discussion was New Orleans. Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated writes that the Suns would have landed Detroit’s 2019 first-round pick, New Orleans’ 2018 first-round pick, Alexis Ajinca, and Omer Asik. Jackson would have gone to the Pelicans in that scenario. The talks are now “dead,” the report states.

2:25pm: According to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, the Pistons offered the Suns a package including Jackson and a first-round pick for Bledsoe.

12:06pm: If they make a deal with the Pistons, the Suns would prefer to get a third team involved to take Jackson, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It makes sense that the rebuilding Suns wouldn’t want to absorb Jackson’s contract, which runs through 2019/20, but involving a third or fourth team typically makes trades more difficult to complete, so we’ll see if this goes anywhere.

11:39am: The Pistons should be added to the list of teams that have exhibited interest in disgruntled Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). However, Stein cautions (via Twitter) that for a deal to appeal to Phoenix, the Pistons would have to attach additional pieces to Reggie Jackson.

Shortly after Bledsoe publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with his situation in Phoenix a week and a half ago, the Suns sent him home and began aggressively seeking a trade. At that point, it seemed as if the Suns may resolve the situation quickly, but GM Ryan McDonough said this week that there’s no timetable for a Bledsoe deal, suggesting the team isn’t rushing to get something done.

Reports last week indicated that the Nuggets and Bucks might be the most likely landing spots for Bledsoe, but Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay have played well lately for Denver, and Malcolm Brogdon – whom the Suns would reportedly target – is off to a good start in Milwaukee. As such, the Suns may be looking to engage other teams in trade discussions.

The Pistons would be an interesting trade partner. It’s worth noting that the Suns were said to have expressed “strong” interest in Andre Drummond back in June. Jake Fischer of, who initially reported Phoenix’s interest in Drummond, tweeted today that Bledsoe’s name was part of those discussions as well.

For what it’s worth, Detroit has been linked to multiple point guard trade candidates over the course of the year, including Kyrie Irving in August and Ricky Rubio back in January. Those rumors never led to anything real, so it’s possible Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons are just doing their due diligence again here. However, the fact that they’ve kicked the tires on so many other point guards may also suggest they’re open to moving on from Jackson.

After enjoying a career year in 2015/16, Jackson struggled through an injury-plagued 2016/17 campaign. He’s off to a good start this season, averaging 16.4 PPG and 6.0 APG through eight games.

Central Notes: Pacers, Drummond, James

The Pacers won the Paul George trade, even if the Thunder happened to win it as well, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star writes. The scribe, who memorably critiqued Indiana’s handling of the George saga prior to the deal, says that he didn’t initially appreciate Kevin Pritchard‘s haul for their disgruntled star.

While it seems likely that Victor Oladipo won’t end up averaging the 23.8 points per game he’s averaged through eight games so far this season, he’s a more valuable player than what he came across as during his lone season with the Thunder. It’s reasonable to expect the Pacers two-guard to continue to post a scoring average in excess of the 17.9 points per game he posted in his career-high season with the desolate 2014/15 Magic.

Of course the component that makes or breaks the deal will be Domantas Sabonis. Fortunately for the Pacers, the 21-year-old big man has looked excellent averaging 13.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in just 27.1 minutes.

Doyel compliments Pritchard for winning a trade that seemed unwinnable, considering the lack of leverage the Pacers were left with after George’s agent leaked that George wanted out.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have had success running Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson in the pick-and-roll. Lately, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes, the big man has added a new tool, the ability to take his man off the dribble, giving the club another option to utilize on offense.
  • The business partner of Cavaliers forward LeBron James – long-time friend Maverick Carter – says that location won’t influence where James signs as a free agent next summer. “Could he sell a few more sneakers if he was in a gigantic market like Boston, Chicago, New York, or L.A.? Maybe. But not as much as if he wins. What matters the most is if he wins. When you win as an athlete that matters the most,” Carter said in an interview on The Rich Eisen Show (via Chris Fedor of
  • After vastly improving his free-throw shooting over the offseason, Pistons center Andre Drummond should look to get to the line more, Ansar Khan of MLive writes. Historically terrible from the free-throw line, Drummond has shot 70% from the line in 2017/18. He could now benefit from attacking the basket more aggressively.