Avery Bradley

Central Notes: Cavs, Bradley, LaVine

The Cavaliers are essentially playing without a true point guard, as both Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose are out with injuries and Jose Calderon has been relegated to the bench, averaging only 6.7 MPG. Lately the Cavs have been using Iman Shumpert as their starting point guard, with LeBron James handling ball-handling duties as well.

However, according to a team press release, the Cavs will now also be without Shumpert for at least the next 5-7 days. Shumpert left last night’s game against the Clippers in the first half with left knee soreness. He was examined and did not return.

As first reported by Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavs will likely recall two-way player John Holland from the Canton Charge to replace Shumpert on the Cavs’ active roster. According to VardonDwyane Wade could also see his role at point guard increase after he filled in admirably during the Cavs’ come from behind victory against the Clippers last night.

There’s more from Cleveland and the rest of the Central Division:

  • As detailed by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.comKyle Korver has become an important centerpiece of the Cavaliers’ line-up so far this season. Perhaps most telling is James’ comparison of Korver to former teammate and 10-time NBA All-Star Ray Allen. “You’ve got two of the greatest shooters to ever play this game,” James said. “There’s a lot of similarities in their approach… they take that craft, that marksmanship very seriously.
  • In another piece for Cleveland.com, Fedor analyzes how James is beginning to accept the challenge of defending the opposing team’s best offensive player during crunch time. In the fourth quarter of the Cavs’ recent victories against the Knicks and the Clippers, James was the primary defender in the fourth quarter against both Kristaps Porzingis and Blake Griffin.
  • Avery Bradley is slowing becoming one of the best two-way guards in the NBA, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Bradley is averaging career-bests in PPG (17.8) and 3P% (45.2%) this season and Stan Van Gundy has been impressed. “He came in with the respect based on what he had done, but it grows a lot more when you’re out here every day and see the way he goes to work.” The Pistons are currently tied for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 10-5.
  • The Bulls’ Zach LaVine is expected to be cleared for practice on Monday, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. LaVine, who has not yet played for the Bulls this season after being traded from the Timberwolves as part of the Jimmy Butler trade, has been out with a torn ACL since February.

Central Notes: Portis, Love, Pistons

Having served his team-mandated eight-game suspension, Bulls forward Bobby Portis will make his return to action on Tuesday night. As Nick Friedell of ESPN writes, however, it’s not yet clear how he’ll fit into the club’s rotation.

I think he’s handled it as well as he could have,” Bulls center Robin Lopez said of Portis. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen going forward with rotations or anything, but I know he’s mentally prepared for it, and we’re excited to have him back.

Portis came on strong for the Bulls toward the end of last season but the franchise is in a much different spot now than they were just a few months ago. There’s no guarantee that the big man’s spot on the depth chart will look the same in 2017/18.

Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen has thrived at the four, averaging 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in his first campaign.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • After exiting Sunday’s afternoon tilt with the Hawks, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was sent to the hospital as a precautionary measure because of an illness, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. Details are not yet known.
  • After a busy offseason, the Pistons are off to their best start since 2008/09. It’s not because of recently acquired starter Avery Bradley alone, however. “I’ve said this several times, I think [Bradley] has changed the demeanor of our team,” head coach Stan Van Gundy told the media, Ansar Khan of MLive among them. “I would give him a good part of the credit, but then I think Stanley Johnson being in the starting lineup has helped with that. But I don’t want to take away from the other guys – Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, some of those other guys have made a more concerted effort talking.”
  • As of Saturday evening, the Cavaliers had allowed a league-worst 111.9 points per 100 possessions. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes that the teams offensive woes could be having an impact on their performance on the other side of the ball. “When we’re not making shots and not scoring I think it becomes mental,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s for a lot of teams. If you’re not scoring, your defense drops. So, I think a lot of guys are frustrated that we’re not making shots and we’re not scoring.

Pistons Notes: Bradley, Rotation, Tolliver, Bullock

The Pistons are finding early success by doing some things that are out of character, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Andre Drummond is perfect from the foul line, Reggie Jackson isn’t dribbling through the shot clock, Stanley Johnson is under control and coach Stan Van Gundy is giving minutes to his young players.

Another key to the successful start has been shooting guard Avery Bradley, who has bolstered the team’s defense and inspired Jackson to improve in that area. The opportunistic Pistons traded for Bradley in July when the Celtics were trying to clear cap room to sign Gordon Hayward.

“Anybody watching us can see a difference from what they had seen a year ago, in terms of the spirit and energy and fight — I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Van Gundy said. “To me, it’s some of the guys coming back, taking greater pride and understanding. We’ve seen Reggie, Andre and Stanley step up a lot more in terms of that. Avery has had a lot to do with it. They watch him every day in practice and it raises everybody’s level.”

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Van Gundy has been mixing and matching combinations through the first week of the season, notes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Eric Moreland, Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson, Anthony Tolliver, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway and Boban Marjanovic have all been used in different roles during the first three games. The only substitution pattern that has remained constant is Ish Smith filling in for Jackson at point guard. “It’s taking me time to figure it out,” Van Gundy said. “We’ll just keep going at it every night and trying to learn guys and learn our unit as we go. Hopefully, I’ll make better decisions as time goes on.”
  • Tolliver, who signed with the Pistons in July, played a key role in erasing a 21-point deficit Saturday against the Knicks, Langlois writes in a separate story. After sitting out the first two games, Tolliver sparked the comeback with his defense on Kristaps Porzingis. “Here he was inactive the first game, didn’t play last night, gets his first opportunity and is a huge contributor,” Van Gundy said. “That’s just a great, professional effort and that’s why you put somebody like Anthony Tolliver on your roster.”
  • Swingman Reggie Bullock will provide even more depth when he returns from a suspension this weekend, according to a piece on MLive. Bullock was sidelined five games for a violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. He is expected to compete for a rotation spot at small forward.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Hollis-Jefferson, Ntilikina

The Celtics had a historically busy offseason, Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes, involved in so many major transactions that it’s hard to pinpoint just one single deal to to summarize the commotion. In early July it was announced that the C’s had agreed to a deal with Gordon Hayward, the only thing they lacked was cap room.

Given that it was a known fact around the league that the Celtics would need to shed salary, Boston executives were swamped with calls from teams looking to facilitate their Hayward signing by helping the club clear space. The eventual deal that was agreed upon – the one that would send Avery Bradley – to the Pistons – was struck at the last minute.

News of the deal was initially kept quiet while the Celtics and Pistons set out to inform the respective players involved but Detroit managed to get in contact with Marcus Morris well before the C’s were able to reach out to Bradley. Bradley, it’s said, had to find out that he was traded through Google.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Entering his third season with the Nets, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has yielded praise from head coach Kenny Atkinson, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. “I’ve really been kind of thrilled with his performance and that’s from the first day of training camp,” Atkinson said. “He’s matured. I think he’s more level, even-keeled, I think he’s more consistent. It’ll be huge if he can continue that type of demeanor, that type of approach.
  • In response to comments that Isaiah Thomas would, possibly, never talk to Danny Ainge ever again, the Celtics‘ general manager said the guard would forever be a part of franchise history. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg posted a transcript of Ainge’s exact comments on Twitter.
  • The Knicks have been impressed with Frank Ntilikina‘s eye for Xs and Os, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. The guard apparently picked up on new plays that Jeff Hornacek added to the rotation while watching a preseason game from home as he nursed a knee injury.

NBA GMs Weigh In On 2017/18 Season

NBA.com has completed its annual survey of NBA general managers, with John Schuhmann of NBA.com asking each of the league’s 30 GMs an array of questions about the league’s top teams, players, and coaches. To no one’s surprise, the Warriors are viewed by the NBA’s general managers as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2017/18 championship, with 28 of 30 GMs (93%) picking Golden State to repeat.

While there are many responses in the GM survey worth checking out, we’ll focus on rounding up some of the more interesting ones related to rosters and player movement. Let’s dive in…

  • Although half of the league’s GMs picked LeBron James as the 2017/18 MVP winner, LeBron only finished third in voting for the player GMs would want to start a franchise with today. Karl-Anthony Towns (29%) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (21%) were the top vote-getters for that question.
  • NBA general managers loved the Thunder‘s acquisition of Paul George. George received 59% of the vote for which offseason addition would make the biggest impact, easily beating out Jimmy Butler (17%), Chris Paul (10%), and Kyrie Irving (7%). Additionally, Oklahoma City was chosen as the team that made the best offseason moves, with 43% of the vote. The Celtics (25%), Timberwolves (14%), and Rockets (11%) were runners-up.
  • The Nuggets‘ signing of Paul Millsap (24%) and the Pistons‘ trade for Avery Bradley (17%) were regarded by NBA GMs as the most underrated acquisitions of the summer.
  • The Timberwolves (69%) were the runaway choice for most improved team, beating out the Sixers (17%) and a handful of other clubs. Of course, it’s worth noting that Minnesota was also the GMs’ pick for that question a year ago.
  • While Dennis Smith Jr. of the Mavericks (37%) was voted the biggest steal of the 2017 draft, most GMs expect Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball (62%) to win the Rookie of the Year award.

Central Notes: Galloway, Pistons, Thomas, Nwaba

Having received a three-year, $21MM deal, Langston Galloway was the Pistons‘ biggest free agent investment of the offseason, and even he admits that he was surprised how quickly he reached an agreement with the team, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

“I really thought it was going to take a while. I thought I was going to be on the board for a long time,” Galloway said. “My agent was pretty optimistic. We knew there were a few teams talking about me, but nobody really said, ‘We’re going to take a chance on you and go with you.’ But, hey, once 12 o’clock hit and I got an unexpected call from [Pistons president of basketball operations] Stan [Van Gundy], that was amazing.”

As Langlois details, Galloway is comfortable playing at both the one and two, and his ability to handle the point allowed the Pistons to avoid having to go out and sign a third pure point guard behind Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Central Notes: Bradley, Cousins, Cavaliers

There haven’t been many people outside of Detroit praising the Pistons for how they handled their offseason, a Detroit News report claims, but one move that’s gotten recognition is the addition of Avery Bradley.

Bradley joins a Pistons team that got off to a slow start in 2016/17 and never fully recovered. When the club breaks camp this October, they’ll look to Bradley as a featured contributor both on and off the floor. The vaunted perimeter defender will step into what could be the largest offensive role of his career and could even, according to at least one reporter, make a case for an All-Star berth.

The report draws attention to a recent feature from CBS’ Brad Botkin. In the piece, Botkin compiled a list of five under-the-radar NBA moves from the summer and thinks that the 26-year-old entering into a contract year could be a major upgrade for the Pistons over the outgoing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • In his list of five under-the-radar offseason moves, CBS’ Brad Botkin writes that the Cavaliers will get a perimeter defender, the likes of which they lacked last season, in recently acquired forward Jae Crowder.
  • The Cavaliers will remain contenders following the Kyrie Irving trade but uncertainty abounds for the franchise. Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com dredges up some of the instabilities that the organization will have to address in the coming months.
  • We’ve written about how the Pelicans have at least a passing interest in Iman Shumpert. Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype has taken things one step further, amalgamating various hypothetical deals that could unfold between the Pels and Cavaliers. It’s unlikely that a Shumpert trade would escalate to the point of DeMarcus Cousins and the Brooklyn first-rounder changing hands but there’s at least some merit to the speculation.

Pistons Notes: Roster Turnover, New Arena, Leuer

The Pistons had the chance to bring back the core of their 2016/17 squad this offseason, but elected to swap continuity for the possibility of a better situation, Keith Langlois of NBA.com explains.

Detroit has undergone serious roster turnover since executive/coach Stan Van Gundy arrived in town with only one player — Andre Drummond — remaining on the roster from the team which Van Gundy inherited. This summer, the franchise had the opportunity to bring back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and allow the core time to gel. However, by letting KCP walk, trading for Avery Bradley and carving out a bigger role for Stanley Johnson, the team will for the third straight season try to incorporate new pieces.

Langlois believes the team’s offseason moves will allow the Pistons to become more diverse on the offensive end as well as remain flexible in the accounting department. Had the organization inked KCP to a long-term deal, it would have been meant approaching or surpassing the luxury tax and it would have created difficulties if the team needed any substantial changes. As it stands, Detroit has a season to evaluate how Johnson progresses and Bradley fits before making a decision on capping out the roster.

Here’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons are set to move downtown to a new arena next season, though they may face one last hurdle in their efforts to do so. Christine Ferretti of The Detroit News reports.  A small group filed a lawsuit against the City of Detroit over the $34.5MM in public funding which will go to the new arena.
  • Jon Leuer made several changes this offseason as he prepares for his second season with the Pistons, relays Langlois in a separate story. He focused more than ever on three-point shooting and has decided to continue to vigorously lift weights through the season to counter last year’s decline in productivity after the All-Star break. “I lift really hard in the off-season and preseason and that keeps my weight up and keeps me stronger. Jordan was saying there’s even a testosterone boost when you lift more, so I think that’s something toward the end of the season I’ll be conscious of to hopefully maintain a high level of play,” said Leuer. Van Gundy says that he views Leuer as a starter, but that he will have plenty of choices at power forward.
  • For everything Pistons, check out the team page.

Eastern Notes: Wade, Bradley, LeVert, Pierce

A Dwyane Wade reunion with the Heat would create rotation and chemistry issues, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel explains in his latest mailbag. A buyout agreement between Wade and the rebuilding Bulls is possible, though not close to happening. It’s widely assumed Wade would seriously consider returning to Miami but the Heat already have plenty of options at the guard spots, Winderman notes. Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters, who was re-signed this summer, are the starters and Tyler Johnson is being paid lavishly to be the main backup. Josh RichardsonRodney McGruder and Wayne Ellington are also viable rotation options and if Wade were to close out games, coach Erik Spoelstra would have a tough dilemma deciding which player loses those minutes, Winderman continues. In fact, the Heat brass and coaching staff may privately be wishing they’re not faced with the prospect of Wade getting bought out and looking to re-join them, Winderman adds.

In other items involving Eastern Conference teams:

  • Avery Bradley may be a newcomer to the Pistons’ locker room but coach Stan Van Gundy expects the shooting guard to be quickly embraced as a leader, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports. Bradley was traded by the Celtics in their efforts to clear cap space and sign free agent forward Gordon Hayward. Van Gundy wants Bradley’s toughness and defensive approach to rub off on his other players, Langlois adds. “What Avery’s really embracing is a chance to play a bigger role as a player and as a leader,” Van Gundy told Langlois. “That’s something that excites him.”
  • Nets guard Caris LeVert believes the club can make the playoffs with better health and this summer’s roster changes. “I feel like it’s really realistic,” Levert told Fred Kerber of the New York Post. “Last year, we were like top seven in the East when we had all our players healthy. Just building off that momentum with the pieces we’ve added — obviously we lost a great player in Brook [Lopez] — but I feel with the pieces we’ve added we’ll be in that conversation.”
  • Paul Pierce will have his No. 34 retired by the Celtics, team co-owner Steve Pagliuca informed Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe“It’s going to be fantastic,” Pagliuca said. “For our era, the most recent era, he embodied the Celtics’ leadership, the Celtics’ brand and was the MVP of the championship team.” Pierce’s 34 will be the 22nd number to hang in the rafters at TD Garden.

SVG: Tax Line Won’t Hinder Pistons’ Ability To Re-Sign Bradley

After letting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope walk this summer, the Pistons appear to be more optimistic about the odds of a long-term union with newly-acquired guard Avery Bradley. Bradley will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018, but the Pistons are expected to do all they can to lock him up beyond that, and head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy indicates that cap and tax issues won’t get in the way of a deal, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details.

“The finances will not inhibit our ability to re-sign Avery at whatever it takes,” Van Gundy said. “If we’re in a situation where we want Avery back and Avery wants to be here, we’ll be able to bring him back.”

Allowing Caldwell-Pope to become unrestricted and sign elsewhere last month helped the Pistons to avoid going into tax territory for the 2017/18 season. However, Van Gundy suggests that the franchise – led by owner Tom Gores – is willing to cross that threshold when the time is right.

“In the right situation for the right people, Tom’s more than willing to pay the tax,” Van Gundy said. “I think about half the league’s going to be paying the tax this year. Tom’s not opposed to that.”

Van Gundy’s claim that “half the league” will be paying the tax is a bit of an exaggeration, but as we outlined last week, the number of taxpayers is definitely poised to increase exponentially this season after just two teams were hit with tax penalties in 2016/17.

Currently, the Pistons have about $96MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for the 2018/19 season, per Basketball Insiders. That doesn’t include team options for Stanley Johnson or Henry Ellenson, or non-guaranteed salaries for Reggie Bullock and Eric Moreland. The NBA’s latest cap projections for ’18/19 included a tax line of $123MM, so a lucrative new deal for Bradley next summer could push Detroit across that threshold, depending on what other moves the club makes to fill out its roster.

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