Blake Griffin

Central Notes: Griffin, Rose, Garland, Warren

Pistons forward Blake Griffin will make his season debut Monday against the Timberwolves, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Griffin missed the first 10 games while rehabilitating a sore knee and hamstring that have bothered him since the preseason. He had a surgical procedure on his left knee after last season ended.

Griffin has gone through several practices without experiencing pain, which convinced the team he is ready to starting playing. Markieff Morris, who had been starting in Griffin’s absence, will likely move to the bench. After several seasons shortened by injuries, Griffin played 75 games last year and earned third-team All-NBA honors with a 24.5/7.5/5.4 line.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Derrick Rose has missed four straight games with a hamstring issue, but he tells Ben Stinar of The Big Lead that Pistons fans don’t need to be concerned about his health. “I feel good,” Rose said after Friday’s game. “I feel like I could play, but the organization, trainers, feel like I’ll need a little bit more time.” He also said he’s happy with his decision to come to Detroit in free agency after reviving his career in Minnesota last season. Rose has averaged 20.8 points and 6.3 assists off the bench in the six games he has played since joining the Pistons. “I feel like it’s home,” he said. “The franchise, the organization, the staff. We’re transparent about everything, they communicate to me, I communicate to them. It’s open dialogue about anything.”
  • Darius Garland‘s NBA career has gotten off to a rough start, but the Cavaliers aren’t panicking about their top draft pick, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Cleveland was attracted to Garland because of his shooting, but through seven games he is averaging just 7.6 PPG while hitting 29.2% from the field and 25.9% from beyond the arc. “This is his 11th real game in the last 12 months,” an unidentified member of the organization told Fedor. “Of course, he’s going to struggle early on with NBA competition. We believe in this kid.”
  • The Pacers knew they were getting a scorer when they picked up T.J. Warren from the Suns, but he’s contributing on defense as well, observes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. “It’s hard to play defense when you’re 12-62 and the best player isn’t even trying to play defense or passing the ball,” said Trevor West, who serves as Warren’s trainer. “What people are seeing now is who T.J. actually is — a person who gets buckets on one end and locks people down at the other end. It’s personal for him. He doesn’t like getting scored on.”

Blake Griffin Cleared For All Basketball Activities

Blake Griffin, who has yet to play this season due to hamstring and knee soreness, has been cleared by the Pistons‘ medical staff to participate in all basketball-related activities, the team announced today in a press release.

It’s not yet clear if Griffin will make his season debut on Friday in Indiana. According to the Pistons’ announcement, the star forward has “begun a return to game action progression” and is being considered day-to-day for now.

The Pistons have held their own despite being hit hard by injuries to start the season, posting a 4-5 record to date. That mark has been good for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference and has been accomplished with Reggie Jackson missing seven games and Derrick Rose missing three, in addition to Griffin’s season-long absence.

Here’s more on the Pistons as they prepare for the return of their All-NBA forward:

  • Rose (hamstring) and Tim Frazier (shoulder) are continuing their treatment and rehab programs and are still considered day-to-day, according to the press release issued today by the Pistons.
  • With Griffin on the shelf, Christian Wood has gotten the opportunity to play regular minutes and has taken advantage of that opportunity, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. While Wood is subject to occasional defensive lapses, he has averaged 8.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG in just 15.1 minutes per contest. He’s looking to show the Pistons he deserves to have his 2019/20 salary fully guaranteed in January.
  • In case you missed it, Pistons forward Markieff Morris joined his brother Marcus Morris in signing with Roc Nation Sports for representation. Sam Permut will be their agent, tweets Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal. The Morris twins were previously represented by Rich Paul and Klutch Sports.

Blake Griffin Optimistic He’ll Return Soon

Blake Griffin is expected to be re-evaluated on Wednesday and appears close to returning, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

The Pistons’ All-Star forward has been sidelined since late in the preseason with hamstring and knee injuries. He underwent surgery after last season to repair torn meniscus in the left knee.

“I’m close, very close,” Griffin said. “The training staff tells me it’s one day at a time. They tell me what I’m doing the next day, and that’s it, because they know I’d go crazy if I have a timetable. The team has a plan and I trust our training staff. They know what they’re doing so I’m going to listen to them.”

The Pistons are off to a 3-5 start after losing at Washington on Monday night. They’ll host the Knicks on Wednesday.

Griffin’s absence has been magnified by backcourt injuries. Starting point guard Reggie Jackson will miss at least the next four weeks after being diagnosed with a stress reaction in his lower back. Backups Derrick Rose (hamstring) and Tim Frazier (shoulder) have missed the last two games.

Markieff Morris, signed as a free agent this offseason, has been starting in Griffin’s place.

Griffin has already missed more regular-season games than he did all of last season, when he appeared in 75 contests. He received three nights off last season for load management but played all others until the knee injury cropped up in the closing weeks. He also missed two playoff games.

Executives around the NBA will be on alert to see if the Pistons go into sell mode and put Griffin and Andre Drummond on the block, Charania adds. Drummond can become an unrestricted free agent after the season if he opts out. Griffin is in the third year of the five-year, $171.2MM contract he signed with the Clippers before he was traded midway through the first year of the deal. He can opt out after the 2020/21 season.

However, Griffin is optimistic the Pistons will retain him and Drummond and return to the postseason.

“I’m excited because I like this team a lot,” Griffin told The Athletic. “We’re tough and we fight. There’s a grit to this team. … I’m excited about this team and the prospects of coming back and leading this group.”

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Jackson, Drummond, Doumbouya

The absence of Blake Griffin has led to offensive struggles for the Pistons’ starting unit during their first two games, Keith Langlois of the team’s website notes.

With Griffin sidelined for at least five games by hamstring and knee injuries, Markieff Morris has taken his spot in the lineup and Detroit got off to slow starts both times. The situation has become even more complicated due to Reggie Jackson‘s lower back tightness, which forced him to depart the 117-100 home loss to Atlanta early on Thursday.

Casey would prefer to limit the minutes of backup point guard Derrick Rose, who has averaged 23 points in his first two games with Detroit. If Jackson needs to miss games, Rose might have to start instead of the other point option, Tim Frazier, because the offense would have even further limitations without Rose’s playmaking.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Center Andre Drummond can opt of his contract after the season and enter unrestricted free agency. His opening-night performance showed that he’s going all out in his walk year, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. After he racked up 32 points and 23 rebounds in a season-opening victory at Indiana, Drummond responded to a question regarding Twitter #ContractYearDre by saying, “You know it.”
  • The fact that Griffin, who has a long injury history, started the season in street clothes could eventually lead the front office to hit the reset button, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press opines. Dealing Griffin is doubtful given those injury woes and that his max deal takes him through the 2021/22 season. But trade speculation has increased recently due to the possibility of the season going sour quickly, Ellis adds.
  • First-round pick Sekou Doumbouya isn’t expected to have much of an impact in his rookie season, senior adviser Ed Stefanski told Beard during a Q&A session. The 18-year-old was inactive during the first two games due to a concussion. “When we drafted him, we said early publicly that he’s going to take time to come around and we didn’t put any timetable on it,” Stefanski said. “We made a point that this year, early in the season, we didn’t expect him to be in that rotation. If he keeps playing well when February and March roll around, who knows? We’re not going to throw him to the wolves.”

Pistons’ Blake Griffin To Miss Start Of Season

All-NBA forward Blake Griffin won’t travel with the Pistons to Indiana for Wednesday’s season opener, the team announced today in a press release.

According to the Pistons, Griffin is continuing to undergo treatment and conditioning for his left hamstring and posterior knee soreness. The club expects to re-evaluate him during the first week of November in the hopes that he’ll be able to return at that point.

It’s an ominous start to the season for Griffin and the Pistons, who barely sneaked into the postseason last spring and are viewed as a borderline playoff contender once again this year. The veteran forward was healthier than usual in his first full season as a Piston, appearing in 75 regular season contests — in each of the previous four years, he missed at least 15 games due to injuries.

The Pistons went 2-5 with Griffin on the shelf during the 2018/19 regular season and it sounds like they’ll be without him for at least five games to open the ’19/20 campaign. Detroit is scheduled to face the Pacers (twice), Hawks, Sixers, and Raptors in October, with games against the Bulls and Nets on tap for November 1 and 2.

Pistons Rumors: Galloway, Griffin, Ntilikina

The Pistons are “very open” to the idea of trading Langston Galloway, two league sources tell Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Ellis had recently identified Galloway as one of the most likely players to be dealt if Detroit attempts to keep both Christian Wood and Joe Johnson on its 15-man regular season roster.

According to Ellis, the Pistons have engaged potential trade partners on Galloway for months, but have been unable to find a suitable deal. Although he’s on an expiring contract, the veteran guard’s $7.33MM salary is somewhat exorbitant, making him tricky to move.

As we wait to see if the Pistons can find a taker on Galloway, here are a couple more rumors out of Detroit from Ellis:

  • If things go south for the Pistons in 2019/20 and Blake Griffin remains healthy, the star forward could represent an opportunity for a “franchise reset” via the trade market, says Ellis. According to Ellis, there’s a belief around the NBA that going in that direction is a real possibility for Detroit if the team falls out of the playoff hunt. A league source tells the Free Press that the Pistons could reasonably expect a first-round pick and another asset back for a healthy Griffin. However, I expect that would be a last resort for the club.
  • Having previously reported that the Pistons may have some interest in Frank Ntilikina, Ellis cites sources who say that Detroit has made inquiries on the Knicks’ guard. It appears as though those inquiries have failed to gain traction though, Ellis adds.
  • Within that same article, Ellis notes that the Pistons also explored the possibility of trading for young point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Markelle Fultz before last season’s trade deadline. Smith and Fultz were ultimately sent to the Knicks and Magic, respectively, leaving Detroit on the lookout for young prospects at the point guard spot. The team may give Bruce Brown some minutes at the position to gauge his potential there.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Griffin, Johnson, Olympics

Pistons center Andre Drummond and senior advisor Ed Stefanski brushed aside specific questions about a potential extension during the team’s Media Day on Monday. Drummond said he’s happy in Detroit and wishes to remain there.

“I love being here. I love playing in Detroit,” he said. “I’m looking forward to continuing my time here.”

Stefanski refused to talk about any potential negotiations. Drummond, who could be the top free agent on the market next summer if he opts out of the final year of his contract, has requested extension talks, according to Vince Ellis of the Free Press. Prior to opening night, Drummond can opt in for the 2020/21 season and add up to three additional years.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Coach Dwane Casey hopes to give Blake Griffin more nights off this season to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Griffin was hobbled by a knee injury late last season and underwent arthroscopic surgery after the season. “We rode him like a cheap horse last year,” Casey said. “If we didn’t, I don’t think we would have made the playoffs because he was that special to us.” Griffin won’t resist any load management strategies. “For me personally, I’m going to let our staff and front office lead the way on that,” he said. “It’s not going to be me going to them asking for games (off), it’s not going to be them fighting with me. I’m going to listen to them.”
  • Veteran swingman Joe Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed contract, is essentially competing with big man Christian Wood, who was claimed off waivers, for the last roster spot unless a player with a fully guaranteed contract is traded or waived. “There’s no added pressure on me,” Johnson said. “This opportunity came about and I’m thankful for it but it wasn’t my purpose. I still do love the game, I keep myself in great shape, so to be able to get a chance to compete with these guys, it will be fun.” Johnson, who also worked out for the Sixers, cancelled four scheduled workouts to sign with Detroit.
  • Drummond expressed his desire to play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He withdrew from playing with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer in order to focus on the upcoming season. “I would love to play in the Olympics,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to play in the Olympics? It would be a big-time thing to be a part of. To play for that gold medal is huge, so I would be very honored to play for them.” Griffin was non-committal about his interest in playing for Team USA in the Olympics next season. “It’s just so far away,” he said. “I’ll definitely address that at the proper time.”

Pistons Notes: Snell, Wood, Doumbouya, Griffin

The Pistons want to put up plenty of three-point shots in 2019/20, but the club lost one of its top outside shooters in the offseason when Wayne Ellington headed to New York in free agency. As such, new forward Tony Snell – who is a career 38.2% three-point shooter but has never attempted more than 4.4 3PG in a season – will be asked to let it fly more than ever this season, head coach Dwane Casey tells Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

“With Wayne Ellington with 10 attempts (per 36 minutes) going out the door and we want to be a three-point shooting team, you’ve got to bring those guys in and I think we did that in Tony,” Casey said. “He lit up like a Christmas tree when I said, ‘You’ve got a green light. We need your three-point shooting.’ We need to make up those 10 threes. Maybe not him getting them all up, but he’s going to get a big bulk of those shots coming in.”

With Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, and Reggie Jackson locked in as starters, the Pistons will have a couple spots in their starting five to fill out, and one of those spots will likely be Snell’s to lose, according to Casey, who praised the former Buck’s size and defensive versatility.

Here’s more on the Pistons, including a handful of additional comments from Casey on his new-look roster:

  • Speaking to Langlois, Casey pointed to Markieff Morris and Christian Wood as two players who could play center in smaller lineups. The Pistons’ head coach added that the team is looking for consistency and discipline out of Wood, who is on a non-guaranteed contract and isn’t a lock to make the 15-man roster. “There’s never been a question about Christian’s talent,” Casey said. “With Christian, it’s temperament, being a pro, doing the right things all the time and doing what you’re supposed to do all the time.”
  • Pistons first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya will still be 18 years old when his rookie season begins, and the team will bring him along at the right pace, per Casey. Still, Detroit’s head coach is bullish on Doumbouya’s chances to develop into an impact player, calling him a “keeper for our program” and suggesting the young forward could have a role sooner rather than later if he proves he can handle it. “I’m not one of these guys that just because a guy is young, not going to play,” Casey said to Langlois. “If he can help us win games, he’s going to be out there.”
  • The Pistons expect Blake Griffin, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of last season, to be 100% and “back to full speed” when the season gets underway, Casey tells Langlois. The club also hopes to limit the wear and tear on the All-Star forward in 2019/20 by surrounding him with a few more guys who can “handle the ball and make plays.”
  • In a mailbag, Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a look at the upcoming battle between Wood and Joe Johnson for the 15th roster spot and explores whether the Pistons might consider a trade that would clear the way for both players to make the team to start the season.

Pistons Notes: Jackson, Rose, Frazier, Griffin

The Pistons are suddenly very deep at point guard, as Keith Langlois of the team’s website notes. Their lack of depth at that spot was exposed in recent seasons by injuries to Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith.

Though Smith signed with the Wizards this offseason, the Pistons have plenty of options beyond Jackson during the upcoming season. They signed free agents Derrick Rose and Tim Frazier and drafted Jordan Bone, who was signed to a two-way contract, in the second round. Bruce Brown and Langston Galloway can also run the offense.

It’s the best combination of players they’ve had at that spot since Chauncey Billups was a perennial All-Star and Lindsey Hunter backed him up, Langlois opines.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Jackson seriously considered retirement due to knee and ankle injuries prior to last season, when he played in every game, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. “I was just getting injured too much and I had hit basketball depression and it was a point in time that I really didn’t want to deal with the game anymore,” Jackson told Beard. “It was more the injuries that started to have that (retirement) thought creep in my head.” Arnie Kander, the team’s former strength and conditioning coach who was hired as a consultant prior to last season, devised a plan that helped Jackson overcome his issues.
  • Jackson has no doubt that he can mesh his skills with Rose when they play together, Beard writes in the same story. “I’ll have more of a chance to play with Derrick on the ball and off. I’m better at catch-and-shoot,” Jackson said. “The layout of the team is complementary to each other. All the pieces work really well and it’s ideal for my game, how we mesh.”
  • The additions of Frazier and power forward Markieff Morris give coach Dwane Casey a greater opportunity to rest Blake Griffin and Rose, Langlois writes in a separate story. Griffin only sat out three games for rest purposes last season as the Pistons relied heavily on the All-Star to make the playoffs. But with 13 back-to-backs this year, the Pistons will likely limit both Griffin and the oft-injured Rose to fewer than 70 games apiece, Langlois adds.

Central Notes: Horst, Pistons, Kornet, Holidays

Eric Nehm of The Athletic recently sat down with the Bucks’ award-winning GM Jon Horst to discuss the team’s free agency this summer. Here are a few noteworthy passages from Horst’s interview.

Regarding the team’s ability to bring back Khris Middleton on a five-year deal:

“Khris was always a focus… He’s our second superstar, our second star. He’s an All-Star. He’s been one of our best players for a long period of time here… Khris was a target obviously and he got a contract that represents that and we think it’s a great contract because we got our second All-Star locked up for the next five years.”

Regarding the team’s trade of Tony Snell and a first-round pick for Jon Leuer in order to create the requisite cap space needed to re-sign Brook Lopez:

“When we got Brook last offseason, we understood, at some level, how important he was going to be to us… (and) we also understood if he’s as good as we think he’s going to be, it’s going to present a lot of challenges.”

“So, we spent the entire year trying to prepare for that… Just different things we did throughout the year were in preparation to position ourselves to either be prepared to keep Brook, be in a position to keep Brook or be prepared to react if we couldn’t… I don’t know if a lot of people saw it coming, maybe after the Tony Snell deal. Then, maybe they were like, ‘Okay, this is how they’re going to try to do it.’ But before that, I don’t think people saw the moves we lined up to position ourselves to hopefully keep Brook and I’m very thankful we were able to.”

Regarding the decision to trade RFA Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana and whether the luxury tax was a factor in that decision:

“I think there’s a lot that goes into restricted free agency. It’s a monster. Malcolm is very, very important and we knew how important he was to our team. It will be hard to replace him. I think we’ve done the best that we can and we’ll continue to work in ways to be creative and fill that gap.”

“I would say the luxury tax was only part of the consideration for not matching or not being willing to pay Malcolm the market that he was able to get from Indiana. Whether or not he had that market from anywhere else besides Indiana, I don’t know. The decision on Malcolm was much more about our internal evaluations, the roster fit, the ability to be flexible and have options going forward and just building a team that, as I always say, can sustain success over a long period.”

There’s more from the Central Division this afternoon:
  • Horst confirmed in the above interview that the Bucks were not able to create a traded player exception when they traded Brogdon to Indiana, as the signing of George Hill with cap space occurred after the trade, and teams lose their exceptions (other than the Room MLE) when they go under the cap.
  • Taking a look at what each player’s role may be for the Pistons’ during the 2019/20 season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com opines that there are five guys locked in to being sure-fire rotation pieces – Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Derrick Rose, and three who will almost certainly join that group – Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, and Bruce Brown.
  • The Bulls are hoping that the three-point shooting ability of free-agent addition, big man Luke Kornet, will be a nice complement next to starter Wendell Carter Jr. and fellow reserve, rookie Daniel Gafford, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com.
  • Pacers’ new addition Justin Holiday is excited about the prospect of playing with his baby brother, reserve point guard Aaron Holiday, reports Scott Agness of The Athletic. “It was the best situation I had at this time,” Justin said. “(T)he Pacers obviously being a contender every year and going to the playoffs, and then also them having my brother was something that was very, very enticing for me. To be able to be a part of that culture and play with my brother, I think it made it pretty simple where I needed to go.”