Blake Griffin

Pistons Made Exploratory Call About Potential Griffin/Wall Trade

The Pistons made an exploratory call to the Wizards in recent weeks to ask about the possibility of a trade involving Blake Griffin and John Wall, sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN.

However, Detroit’s level of interest in that sort of deal is unclear, according to Lowe, who says that conversations didn’t go anywhere.

Lowe speculates that the Pistons likely would’ve wanted extra assets in any swap involving the two former All-Stars, since the team values Griffin. Plus, Wall has an extra year left on his slightly-pricier contract. He’s due about $133MM over the next three years, while Griffin “only” has about $75.8MM left over two years.

While a deal between the two teams would be an interesting one, it doesn’t appear to have any momentum, and the Wizards don’t seem to be actively exploring the market for Wall. A report last week indicated that former No. 1 overall pick had made it clear he wants to be traded out of Washington, but general manager Tommy Sheppard denied on Monday that Wall had asked him for a trade, and said the team has no plans to move its starting point guard.

Fred Katz of The Athletic wonders if the Wizards will take a similar approach to Wall that the Thunder did last year with Chris Paul. Oklahoma City would’ve had a tough time getting any positive value for Paul in 2019, but after he rebuilt his value with a strong ’19/20 performance, teams were more willing to roll the dice on him, particularly with just two years left on his oversized contract. If Wall comes back strong in ’20/21, it may increase the odds of an eventual deal.

For what it’s worth, Wall was asked at a community event on Tuesday if he had requested a trade and replied, “No comment” (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post).

Pistons Rumors: Cap Room, Ball, Draft, Wood, Griffin

The Pistons have “telegraphed” to other teams around the NBA that they’d prefer to use their cap room to accommodate salary dumps and accumulate draft picks rather than spending big in free agency, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Detroit projects to be one of the only teams that will have more than $20MM in cap space this fall.

Speaking today to reporters, new Detroit general manager Troy Weaver said that both options – using that cap room to collect assets or sign free agents – are on the table. As Weaver explained, it’ll be a juggling act for the Pistons, who want to be competitive in the short term but are also building for the future (Twitter links via James Edwards III of The Athletic).

Interestingly, Weaver added that teams haven’t been as desperate to shed salary as might be expected, given the presumed financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic (Twitter link via Edwards). If Weaver and the Pistons don’t feel as if they’re getting good value in potential salary-dump deals, the team might be more inclined to invest in free agents.

Here’s more out of Detroit:

  • According to Weaver, the Pistons intend to use all 10 of their allotted pre-draft visits and LaMelo Ball is expected to be one of the prospects the club meets with in person (Twitter link via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com).
  • The Pistons are “definitely” interested in picking up second-round selections in this year’s draft, Weaver said today (Twitter link via Edwards). Currently, the team only holds the No. 7 overall pick, having previously traded away its second-rounder.
  • Unsurprisingly, Weaver confirmed that the Pistons are very interested in re-signing Christian Wood and will continue talks with his representatives. Asked about a potential price tag, Weaver replied, “Do I have a number in my head? Yeah, I always have a number in my head. Let’s see how it works out” (Twitter link via Edwards).
  • Weaver anticipates Blake Griffin will be healthy and ready to go for the start of the 2020/21 season after missing most of the last year with a knee issue (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press).
  • In an article for The Athletic, James Edwards III considers whether the Pistons should roll the dice on a raw project at No. 7, like they did in the lottery a year ago with Sekou Doumbouya. Speaking today to reporters, Weaver said the Pistons are also open to moving either up or down from No. 7 (Twitter link via Sankofa).

Central Notes: Griffin, Drummond, Oppenheimer, Harrison

The Pistons may be rebuilding, but they don’t expect it to be a long process, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. There’s optimism throughout the organization that Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose will both be healthy when training camp opens, giving the team a veteran foundation to guide its young players.

Griffin underwent knee surgery in January, but there have been “glowing” reports about his progress over the summer, according to Langlois. The veteran forward has regained confidence in his knee and remains in top condition. Langlois adds that Rose has also benefited from the extra long offseason.

Sekou Doumbouya, Luke Kennard, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Bruce Brown were all impressive at the team’s mini-camp, and the Pistons have the chance to add to the mix with $30MM in cap space and the seventh pick in next month’s draft. The hiring of general manager Troy Weaver, who has a track record of identifying young talent, adds to the optimism in Detroit.

There’s more on the Central Division:

  • The Knicks may be the best option for the Cavaliers if they decide to trade Andre Drummond, according to Chris Sheridan of Basketball News. New York has enough cap space to facilitate the deal and could offer role players on expiring contracts – Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson and Elfrid Payton – if Cleveland wants any of them. Sheridan mentions the Hornets, Pistons, Hawks, Heat and Suns as other possibilities.
  • Josh Oppenheimer will return to the Bucks as an assistant coach, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Most recently an assistant at James Madison, Oppenheimer worked for Milwaukee from 2013-16, serving on the staffs of Larry Drew and Jason Kidd. He was also an assistant for the Rockets and the Long Island Nets of the G League. Oppenheimer is known as the “shot doctor” and worked extensively with Giannis Antetokounmpo early in his career, notes Matt Velasquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).
  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago ranks the Bulls who are least likely to return next season. He puts guard Shaquille Harrison at the top of the list, believing the potential restricted free agent would be “redundant” if Chicago makes a qualifying offer to Kris Dunn. Veteran forward Thaddeus Young, who has just a partial guarantee beyond next season, is second, followed by guard Denzel Valentine, another potential restricted free agent who couldn’t get regular playing time under former coach Jim Boylen, but displayed strong leadership skills during mini-camp.

Central Notes: Griffin, Wood, Drummond, Bucks

Coming off a down year in which he was limited to just 18 ineffective games due to a knee injury, Pistons forward Blake Griffin is owed $36.8MM in 2020/21, with a player option worth nearly $39MM for ’21/22. As a result of that onerous contract, he’s not expected to be the most popular player on the trade market this offseason.

Still, on his Lowe Post podcast this week, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said that people around the NBA are keeping an eye on Griffin and asking Lowe what he’s hearing about the six-time All-Star. That doesn’t mean that the Pistons will get positive value in a trade for Griffin – or that they’ll move him at all this fall – but Lowe doesn’t believe that clubs have given up on the 31-year-old.

“I’ve had enough teams ask me about Blake Griffin that I think there’s still interest in what he can do to help you win,” Lowe said (hat tip to RealGM).

With Lowe’s comments in mind, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic put together some trade ideas involving Griffin and had his colleague John Hollinger evaluate each hypothetical proposal. Edwards cautions that he doesn’t think the Pistons are particularly eager to trade Griffin, but puts forth a few scenarios involving Golden State, Sacramento, Brooklyn, and Phoenix.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press considers the three directions the Pistons could go with Christian Wood‘s free agency, weighing the pros and cons of re-signing Wood, letting him walk, or signing-and-trading him to a new team.
  • In a conversation with Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond said his new team “did a really, really good job” of making him feel comfortable after he was acquired from Detroit in February. Although Drummond talked as if he’s preparing to be with the Cavs next season, he was evasive when repeatedly asked by Fedor about his upcoming player option decision and potential free agency, claiming that he’s “not really thinking about it” yet.
  • With the Bucks expected to be aggressive in seeking roster upgrades this offseason, Eric Nehm of The Athletic assesses a series of trade ideas from his readers, determining which team would balk at each hypothetical proposal.

In-Market Bubble Updates: Pistons, Wolves, Cavs

As the NBA’s bottom eight teams gear up to conduct group workouts starting next week, the Pistons have 15 players in attendance for the first phase of their in-market bubble. However, that 15-man group includes five G Leaguers, with a number of notable names from the NBA roster absent.

As Eric Woodyard of ESPN details, head coach Dwane Casey said on Wednesday that Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Christian Wood, and Langston Galloway aren’t participating.

“All of our young guys are here. Derrick Rose and Blake are not here, which is totally understandable,” Casey said. “Both are working out, and it’s nothing physical. They’re both 100 percent. Blake’s working out in LA, and Derrick is in and out of town.”

As for Wood and Galloway, both players are set to reach unrestricted free agency this fall, so Casey said he understood why they’d be reluctant to participate in workouts with the club over the next few weeks.

“We’re not reading anything into that either way,” Casey said, per Woodyard. “So it’s just something I totally get because if I’m a free agent, I wouldn’t attend anyway to the team you’re not under contract with.”

Here’s more on those mini-camps taking part in “bubbles” across the country:

  • The majority of the Timberwolves‘ key players, including Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and restricted free agent Malik Beasley, are participating in their in-market bubble, as are G Leaguers Canyon Barry and Lindell Wigginton (Twitter link via Woodyard). Free-agent-to-be Evan Turner, Omari Spellman, and Juan Hernangomez won’t be in attendance. Hernangomez is an RFA and is currently overseas, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), while Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that Spellman’s camp is hoping to find the big man a new home.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com provides details on the Cavaliers‘ in-market bubble plans for the next two-and-a-half weeks, with group practices set to begin next Wednesday. Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, both eligible for free agency, won’t attend, but G Leaguers Levi Randolph, Marques Bolden and Vince Edwards have been invited to participate.
  • A personal matter will also prevent center Andre Drummond from attending the Cavaliers‘ mini-camp, though he wanted to be there, sources tell Fedor. “He’s been pretty engaged in everything,” one source said of Drummond. “It’s not like he’s gone dark. He wanted to be there. It’s nothing malicious. It’s not a sign or anything like that. It’s not going to cause a rift.”
  • The NBA sent a memo to the league’s bottom eight teams warning them that if they “require or coerce” players to participate in the optional workouts, they’ll be subject to league punishment, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Eastern Notes: Gordon, Heat, Pistons, Knicks

Magic head coach Steve Clifford told reporters on Wednesday that forward Aaron Gordon played 2-on-2 after practice, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Clifford also mentioned that Gordon’s availability for Game 2 against the Bucks will be determined by how his hamstring is feeling on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Gordon missed Game 1 on Tuesday with a left strained hamstring, which he suffered back on August 5. This season, the Magic forward is averaging 14.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3.7 APG.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra answered questions on Wednesday about the benchings of center Meyers Leonard and rookie point guard Kendrick Nunn. Both players received DNP’s for Monday’s Game 1 against the Pacers. “Everybody’s all in on that, the purpose of what we’re trying to get accomplished here,” Spoelstra said (h/t South Florida Sun-Sentinel). “We’ll need everybody. … It’s something that we talked about as a team. And it’s Game 1 … Obviously, Kendrick is a major part of our team. We will need to get into our depth at some point.” Leonard, who was the team’s starting center, fell out of the rotation when the seeding games begin. Nunn, however, started in five games in the bubble. In those contests, he averaged 10.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 2.0 APG.
  • Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said on Wednesday that he does not expect Derrick Rose or Blake Griffin to participate in the team’s voluntary camp next month, though both players could attend if they want to, per James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Casey hopes young players view it as mandatory.
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post writes about the Knicks‘ odds of landing standout point guard LaMelo Ball. According to the Post, Ball’s preference is to go to New York. However, the Knicks only have a 27.6% chance of landing a top-three selection in the 2020 NBA Draft. In fact, New York has a 62.8% chance of getting a pick between 6-10. If that happens, Ball will likely be off the board, and the team could opt to draft former UNC point guard Cole Anthony.

Central Notes: Giannis, Griffin, Pacers, Pistons

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo joins many around the team who have expressed frustration over the team’s play in Orlando to this point. Milwaukee recorded just a 3-5 record in eight seeding games despite going 53-12 before the season was suspended in March.

Antetokounmpo, a perennial MVP candidate, hinted that the team’s effort and ball movement must improve entering the postseason if the club hopes to succeed.

“It wasn’t frustrating because we were losing. Like, losing is part of basketball, losing is part of the game, but, obviously, what was frustrating because at times I think we wasn’t ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said, as relayed by Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “We wasn’t moving the ball as much as I wanted to move the ball or as much as [coach Mike Budenholzer] wants us to move the ball. We wasn’t defending as hard. As I said, there was times that we were ourselves, where we were the No. 1 team in the league on defense, but there were times that we showed that and there was times that we didn’t.

“I think the most frustrating part for me was probably the Memphis game, sitting in the hotel and not being able to be out there to help my teammates compete and win a game and losing a lot of money. But, yeah, this is over. This is in the past,” he continued. “Now it’s playoff time. I definitely don’t believe in the turn-on switch that everybody talks about, like we can turn on the switch and be great, but I do believe that if everybody is on the same page and if everyone is focused and get together and watch clips and be on the same page and we know what our game plan is, I believe we can play way, way better.”

Antetokounmpo was named to the NBA All-Seeding Games Second Team in Orlando, holding per-game averages of 27.8 points and 12.2 rebounds. The Bucks are set to open the playoffs in a first-round matchup against the Magic (33-40) on Tuesday.

Here are some other notes out of the Central Division:

  • Pistons big man Blake Griffin is willing to accept a different role if it helps the team succeed during its rebuild, Woodyard explores in a separate story for ESPN. “I look for our team to be competitive,” Griffin said as part of a larger quote last week. “I know from my conversations with Coach [Dwane Casey] and [GM] Troy [Weaver] and the front office, they want to put a competitive team on the floor. I’ve told them, I’m here to do whatever they ask of me. Whether that’s sort of taking on a different role, taking on more of a role, whatever it might be.”
  • The Pacers’ arena renovations at Bankers Life Fieldhouse are proceeding as regularly scheduled, Akeem Glaspie of the Indianapolis Star writes. The renovations are set to total roughly $362MM and an October 2022 deadline has been set for completion.
  • James Edwards III of The Athletic makes five offseason predictions for the Pistons, a team that’s largely expected to continue its rebuild phase under head coach Dwane Casey. Edwards examines the club’s draft situation, Christian Wood‘s impending free agency, and more.

Pistons Notes: Weaver, Draft, Griffin

Reports during and after the Pistons‘ general manager search suggested that Troy Weaver was the team’s top target throughout the process, with Detroit renewing its pursuit of the former Thunder executive after being rebuffed by him two years ago.

Although Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes and Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson were said to receive serious consideration from the Pistons, a report from Marc Stein of The New York Times confirms that Weaver was always the “runaway” frontrunner. According to Stein, Weaver was the only one of Detroit’s candidates who interviewed with team owner Tom Gores.

Here’s more on the Pistons and their new GM:

  • Asked about his draft philosophy and how it might be affected by the fact that the Pistons will be picking in the top 10, Weaver stressed that a player’s character will be a major factor in his evaluations. “More times than not, high picks who don’t pan out the way people see it, you missed on the person,” he said, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. “If you get the person right, the basketball will take care of itself. Drafting high, getting the person right, is more important to me. If you draft in the 20s, you might want to take a swing on talent or a certain position, but when you’re where we’re drafting, you want to make sure the person is right.”
  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com makes a case for why Blake Griffin‘s presence on the rebuilding Pistons is important and why the team shouldn’t be looking to dump his contract at any cost, with two years still left on that deal.
  • For what it’s worth, Weaver said earlier this week that Griffin is “definitely in our plans going forward,” as Edwards relays.

Weaver Will “Run Basketball Side Of Things” For Pistons

Pistons owner Tom Gores defined new general manager Troy Weaver’s role, saying that the former Oklahoma City executive “will run the basketball side of things” for the rebuilding franchise, Keith Langlois of the team’s website reports.

Senior adviser Ed Stefanski had been running the front office but will take a step back with Weaver in place. Gores also encouraged Weaver to receive input from vice chairman Arn Tellem, and coach Dwane Casey. The club is expected to hire at least one assistant GM.

“We want Troy to lead. He’s going to run the basketball side of things,” Gores said. “We have over 100 years of experience between Arn and Ed and Dwane to leverage. The smartest people in the world leverage whatever resources they have. I wanted to make sure he would leverage it.”

Weaver said he was “blown away” by Gores’ energy and enthusiasm in a video conference and was sold on taking the job “in two minutes.”

Weaver, who had been with the Thunder for more than a decade following a stint with the Jazz, most recently held the title of vice president of basketball operations after previously serving as the team’s VP/assistant GM. He was Sam Presti‘s top lieutenant in Oklahoma City and had been a candidate for other top basketball operations jobs around the NBA in recent years.

The Pistons pursued him for a front office role two years ago after Stefanski was hired. He wasn’t ready to leave OKC at that point. When the Pistons came calling this time, Weaver was more willing to make a career move.

“It’s all about timing. When this opportunity presented itself, I thought the timing was right,” he said. “I thought the fit was right and the loyalty that Mr. Gores and Arn and coach Casey and Ed have building made it attractive. My talents fit with those guys there to be collaborative.”

Though the team is focused on a youth movement, Weaver sees Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose as a big part of Detroit’s plans for next season, according to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard.

“We’re excited to get them healthy and help them move forward,” Weaver said. “We feel like we have a good mixture of young guys with those two staples to be able to start there, but obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do with the draft and free agency.”

Pistons Notes: Weaver Hiring, Wood, Griffin

The Pistons‘ long pursuit of Troy Weaver finally paid off Thursday when he was hired to be the team’s general manager, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. A league source tells Beard that Detroit had strong interest in Weaver when team president/coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Jeff Bower were dismissed two years ago, but the Thunder wouldn’t grant permission for an interview.

Weaver, 52, spent more than a decade in the Oklahoma City front office and was instrumental in building a team that reached the NBA Finals. He was an advocate for drafting Russell Westbrook with the fourth pick in 2008, even though he wasn’t projected that high. Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem previously worked with Wasserman Media Group, which represented Westbrook.

“We’re rebuilding our roster and Troy brings a tremendous amount of experience. He’s one of those guys who has a knack for talent,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said in an NBA-TV interview. “A lot of the growth and building they did in Oklahoma City Thunder, he was a big part of that. … The next couple of years of developing our roster is a key time in our organization.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • In addition to Tellem and Casey, Weaver spoke with senior adviser Ed Stefanski, owner Tom Gores and the Pistons’ assistant general managers during the interview process so the organization could get a “fully rounded view,” according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Weaver will be given free rein to hire more assistant GMs and support staff. Sources tell Edwards that Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes were both impressive in their interviews and received serious consideration for the job.
  • Re-signing Christian Wood should be Weaver’s top priority, states Ansar Khan of MLive. Wood will be an unrestricted free agent after a breakout performance over the last month of the season, but faces a market limited by financial uncertainty and a shortage of teams with cap space. Detroit owns Wood’s early Bird rights and can start his new deal at a little more than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which is expected to be about $9.7MM. The Celtics and Rockets both expressed interest in Wood at the trade deadline, Khan adds.
  • Weaver also faces an important decision on Blake Griffin, who still has two years and approximately $75.6MM left on his contract, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit News. Griffin was limited to 18 games this season because of a knee injury and at age 31, he doesn’t fit the team’s rebuilding timeline. Sankofa notes that Weaver was part of two franchise-altering trades last summer involving Paul George and Westbrook.