Blake Griffin

Heat Interested In DeMarcus Cousins, Other Frontcourt Players

DeMarcus Cousins, who was released by the Rockets earlier this week, is one of several additions the Heat are considering for their frontcourt, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Cousins is expected to clear waivers at 5 pm Eastern Time on Thursday, making him a free agent.

Jackson’s source identifies four other players Miami is targeting if they become available. That group includes Spurs forward Rudy Gay, Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica and Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, The Heat are also monitoring Pistons forward Blake Griffin, but they wouldn’t take on his contract, which includes a $38.96MM player option for next season, and will only try to sign him if he is released.

Jackson adds that Miami’s front office is doing “due diligence” on all those players and it’s not clear who the preference is.

The most intriguing option may be Cousins, a six-time All-Star who tried to revive his career in Houston after back-to-back Achilles and ACL injuries. He averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 25 games for the Rockets and was most effective as a backup. His lack of mobility became a more pronounced issue when he was moved into the starting lineup after an injury to Christian Wood.

Miami tried to sign Cousins in 2019, Jackson notes, but he opted for the Lakers. Cousins is also expected to consider the Raptors, Celtics and Warriors, according to Jackson.

Jackson believes Gay would be used in the same role as Jae Crowder, who left Miami to sign with the Suns in November. It’s not certain that San Antonio wants to part with Gay, who makes $14.5MM on an expiring contract, but Jackson notes that an offer of Kelly Olynyk would work under the cap, as would the combination of Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard, who is out for the season after shoulder surgery.

Central Notes: Holiday, Pistons, Griffin, Pacers

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday hasn’t played since February 6 due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, but he was back on the team’s bench for Sunday’s win over Sacramento, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic details. While Holiday wasn’t able to suit up on Sunday, his presence on the sidelines was a promising sign, since it means he’s out of quarantine and should be cleared soon.

“He’s close. He’s getting very close,” Budenholzer said of the Bucks’ starting guard. “I think I’m just going to make sure to not make a mistake and say he’s progressing through the health and safety protocols.”

Assuming Holiday is returning from a positive COVID-19 test, which is the belief, he requires a two-day ramping-up period and has to pass certain cardiac tests before he’s given the go-ahead to play in a game. Holiday didn’t practice today, per Budenholzer (Twitter link via Nehm), but the hope is that it won’t be much longer before he’s back in the Bucks’ lineup.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • With Killian Hayes already sidelined and Delon Wright now out for at least a couple weeks, the Pistons‘ young point guards will have an opportunity to show what they’re capable of, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes (subscriber-only link). While Dennis Smith Jr. was expected to be the main beneficiary, it was two-way player Saben Lee who played 33 minutes on Sunday after Smith got the start. Frank Jackson should also in the mix, but didn’t log any playing time on Sunday.
  • The days of Blake Griffin being a focal point of a team’s offense are over, but his impending divorce with the Pistons will give him an opportunity to revamp his game and try to adjust to a complementary role, says Rafael Canton of RealGM.
  • Postponed games on Saturday and Monday gave the Pacers an opportunity to hold an impromptu “mini-camp,” as head coach Nate Bjorkgren looks to install new tweaks to his offensive and defensive systems, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Indiana will have a total of six days off between its last game vs. Minnesota on February 17 and its next game vs. Golden State on February 24.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Youth Movement, Ellington, Wright

It’s hard to imagine a trade scenario for Blake Griffin, according to a number of staff members on The Athletic. Griffin’s max salary and declining play make it nearly impossible to deal him. Griffin, who will reportedly sit until the Pistons can find a trade partner or buy him out, is a shell of his former All-Star self after multiple knee surgeries, as the story points out his inability to dunk and block shots any longer. The Celtics, Trail Blazers, Nets, Warriors, Lakers, Bucks, Kings and Spurs are all mentioned as possible destinations if Griffin is bought out.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • If Griffin is able to pick his next destination, the situation will be a win-win for both him and the Pistons, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press writes. GM Troy Weaver can continue to chart his own course with his multi-year rebuilding plan and the team’s younger players, like Eastern Conference Player of the Week Saddiq Bey, can get extended playing time.
  • Griffin deserves to be remembered fondly by Detroit fans, James Edwards of The Athletic opines. Griffin led the team to the playoffs two seasons ago and continually played through injuries and pain. He showed the city’s trademark grit, diving for loose balls, barking at opponents and taking charges. Griffin gave everything he could to the team until his body betrayed him, Edwards adds.
  • Given his age and early-season production, Wayne Ellington is the most logical player to be traded, Edwards writes in a separate piece. The Pistons might be able to flip the veteran shooting guard for a second-round pick. Delon Wright‘s versatility to play both guard positions could also make him an attractive trade target. The Sixers are one of the teams reportedly interested in Wright.

Community Shootaround: Griffin, Drummond

Just two years ago, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond were the stars on a Pistons team that made the playoffs.

Griffin carried Detroit that season, averaging 24.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 5.4 APG, while his frontcourt partner averaged 17.3 PPG and a league-best 15.6 RPG.

Their careers remain on a parallel course but in a different way – both players have mutually agreed with their teams to sit out until a trade or a buyout can be arranged.

Griffin’s presence on the roster became an awkward situation for the Pistons, who are in full rebuild mode. Ideally, they’ll find a playoff contender willing to take Griffin off their hands. It will be an extremely tough sell, considering Griffin has lost his explosion after multiple knee surgeries and his max contract runs through next season, including a $39MM player option.

Most likely, the Pistons and Griffin will agree to a buyout and allow Griffin to hook onto a team that needs help at power forward.

Detroit practically gave Drummond away to the Cavaliers last season, rather than risk having him opt it and hamstring its rebuilding efforts.

Drummond will be headed to unrestricted free agency this offseason, making him somewhat easier to trade than Griffin.

When Cleveland acquired Jarrett Allen in the James Harden multi-team blockbuster, the four-time rebounding champion became a very expendable part. The key will be matching up salaries comparable to the $28.75MM that Drummond is making this season.

That brings us to our topic of the day: Where do you think Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond will wind up playing the remainder of the season?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in. We look forward to your input.

Blake Griffin Will Sit As Pistons Consider Possible Trade, Buyout

The Pistons will hold power forward Blake Griffin out of their lineup for the foreseeable future as they work with his representatives to resolve his situation, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As Wojnarowski explains, the rebuilding Pistons would like to focus on developing their younger players, while Griffin would prefer to join a contending team, so both sides are interested in figuring out a resolution. Detroit will continue to look into trade scenarios involving Griffin and may eventually enter into buyout talks with agent Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, says Wojnarowski.

“After extensive conversation with Blake’s representatives, it has been determined that we will begin working to facilitate a resolution regarding his future with the team that maximizes the interests of both parties,” general manager Troy Weaver told ESPN. “We respect all the effort Blake has put forth in Detroit and his career and will work to achieve a positive outcome for all involved.”

For his part, Griffin thanked the Pistons for “understanding what I want to accomplish in my career” and for working with him toward a solution.

The Pistons showed last week when they sent Derrick Rose to New York that they’re willing to work with their veterans to get them to more favorable landing spots, but finding a Griffin trade worth making will be a challenge.

Although Griffin has made six All-Star teams and five All-NBA squads over the course of his impressive career, health issues have significantly limited his impact this season, as he has averaged a career-worst 12.3 PPG on 36.5% shooting in 20 games (31.3 MPG).

He also has one of the league’s most onerous contracts, including a $36.8MM cap hit in 2020/21, followed by a $38.96MM player option for ’21/22. It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which the Pistons get off that contract without including a sweetener or two.

Griffin’s negative trade value may result in the two sides ultimately pursuing a buyout. Unless the 31-year-old gives up a substantial amount of money, it’s hard to see how that would be worth Detroit’s while, but the fact that Weaver and the front office have publicly committed to finding a resolution suggests the club is open to the possibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Blake Griffin Talks Pistons, Free Agency, Playoffs

Entering his 11th NBA season, Blake Griffin is not just one of the NBA’s most recognizable names — he is also one of the league’s longest-tenured players. The Pistons forward opened up about his future both on and off the court in a recent interview with The New York Times’ Sopan Deb.

Griffin evolved from a human highlight reel as a younger player to a multi-faceted scoring weapon with a consistent three-point shot. However, despite his strong play, no team that Griffin has been part of has reached an NBA conference final. As a veteran on a young, rebuilding team, Griffin may not be in great position to change that, but he’s staying positive, as he tells Deb.

Check out some of the highlights below:

Griffin on the Pistons’ young group of rookies:

“I’ve also just really enjoyed it, especially this group of rookies that we have now. They’re great players, but great kids. They want to learn. They come. They ask you questions.”

Griffin on his goal of a deep playoff run:

“The individual awards and these things are fine, and I’m appreciative of them, but I just want to win. Not making it to a conference final, yeah, it does gnaw at me. Not to the point where I’m losing sleep over it. But that’s the main goal — I want to win.”

Griffin on the possibility of reaching free agency after the current season (he has a player option for 2021/22):

“It’s not a decision that I have to make in the immediate future. And I know, I’m sorry, I’m just kind of running around that question, but it’s just true. Things can change.”

Central Notes: Doumbouya, Hayes, Bickerstaff, LaVine

Pistons second-year forward Sekou Doumbouya has received limited playing time in the early going, Rod Beard of the Detroit News notes.

The Pistons’ first-round pick in 2019 has not played more than 13 minutes in the team’s first four games. Dwane Casey said that Doumbouya has to deal with the fact he’s backing up Blake Griffin, who missed Friday’s game against Boston with a concussion.

“Blake’s going to get the majority of those minutes and (Doumbouya’s) got to make his minutes count. If Blake’s not going, (Doumbouya’s) minutes will get ratcheted up,” the Pistons head coach said. “It’s that situation, where he’s behind an All-Pro guy, and that’s his challenge right now.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons lottery pick Killian Hayes has struggled thus far as the starting point guard and Casey isn’t surprised, Beard writes in a separate story. The lack of practice time due to the shortened offseason put Hayes in a difficult situation, since the Pistons are intent on giving him experience. “We threw him in the fire — which was really unfair to him, because there’s no Summer League, there’s no August or September (workout time),” Casey said. “You’re going right from working out in Florida to going against NBA players.”
  • The Cavaliers have lost two straight after starting out 3-0 and coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes his young unit is still learning to handle adversity, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer“There was doubt as a unit. There was doubt as a team. And you can’t survive playing against good teams without that belief,” Bickerstaff said. “We have good players. … When they play together, with confidence and a belief, they can be a good basketball team. And that’s what we have to get to. But it takes time.”
  • The Bulls defeated Washington on Thursday despite being shorthanded and Zach LaVine feels the team is showing more resolve, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes. “This team is tired of being labeled losers and underachieving,” LaVine said. “Everything is not going to be perfect. We’re not going to go out and win every game. But our demeanor has been a lot better than it has been the last couple of years.”

Central Notes: Cavs, Pistons, Hayes, Griffin, Hutchison

The Cavaliers received approval from the Ohio Department of Health to increase their crowd capacity for home games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. As Fedor details, the franchise will now be able to host 1,944 fans per game, which is the equivalent of 10% of the arena’s capacity.

Ohio regulations currently limit attendance at indoor sports arena or entertainment venues to 300 people or 15% of the seating capacity, whichever is less. So an exception is being made for the Cavaliers, who will be able to host nearly 2,000 fans.

However, that amount still falls well short of the team’s initial request. According to Fedor, the plan the Cavs originally submitted to government officials asked for an allowance of 4,596 fans, 23.65% of their arena’s capacity.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Pistons, who are off to an 0-4 start this season, are prepared to go through some growing pains as Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes, and their other youngsters get acclimated to the NBA. “This year is about getting those guys ready, developing, teaching – and it’s painful,” head coach Dwane Casey said, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “We’re going through it right now and we’ve just got to learn from those situations and we’ve just got to be ready when they throw it up again.”
  • As Rod Beard of The Detroit News details, both Hayes and Blake Griffin left the Pistons‘ loss on Tuesday due to injuries — Hayes suffered a right ankle sprain, while Griffin entered the concussion protocol after taking an elbow to the jaw. It’s unclear so far whether Hayes and Griffin are being considered day-to-day or whether they may be ruled out for multiple games.
  • Despite being limited to 72 games and making just 29.5% of his three-point attempts in his first two NBA seasons, Chandler Hutchison had his $4MM fourth-year option for 2021/22 picked up by the Bulls. Now healthy, Hutchison is looking to prove he can make an impact off the bench, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com.

Southeast Notes: Heat Free Agency, LaMelo, Collins, Avdija

With Giannis Antetokounmpo now signed to the Bucks on a record $228MM five-year extension, the Heat could pivot their 2021 free agency focus to alternative options, such as star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Blake Griffin, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Leonard can opt out of the contract he signed with the Clippers in the summer of 2019, and has sounded non-committal to L.A. beyond this season in recent interviews, in Winderman’s view. Meanwhile, though injuries limited Griffin to just 20 games last season, the 6’9″ power forward made the All-Star team for the Pistons in 2019.

The 2020 Eastern Conference champions should have significant cap space next summer to add a high-level player, though they will need to address the restricted free agency of sharpshooter Duncan Robinson.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Though rookie Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball has struggled through some growing pains in this early season, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer suggests that the No. 3 overall pick should see more playing time from coach James Borrego. Ball is averaging just 15.5 minutes so far. “It’s tough. There are a number of guys that are capable of handling minutes,” Borrego said. “LaMelo’s got to do his part. It’s my job to do what’s best for this club.
  • Hawks power forward John Collins may have rejected an extension offer in excess of $90MM prior to the season, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his Hoop Collective podcast. The high-scoring big man will become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021, and could command a similar number – or a higher one – on the open market.
  • Rookie Wizards swingman Deni Avdija is getting the first-year treatment from league referees, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Head coach Scott Brooks contends that Avdija is receiving quick whistles from league officials. Early foul trouble limited Avdija to just 15 minutes of action in a loss to the Magic yesterday. “It’s just part of the rookie initiation,” Brooks commented. “I [reviewed the plays] at halftime… I didn’t think two of them were fouls.”

Pistons Notes: Doumbouya, LaVar, Sirvydis, Vet Leadership

Second-year Pistons forward Sekou Doumbouya had a stellar preseason turn in a 99-91 victory against the Knicks Sunday, reminding the Pistons faithful that the 19-year-old could be a key part of Detroit’s future, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details. Now just the third-youngest Pistons player, Doumbouya scored 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, in addition to pulling down five rebounds and logging two dimes, in only 18 minutes.

“I came in and tried to help the team – that’s my job, to come off the bench, lock in and be ready to help the team,” Doumbouya said. He averaged 6.4 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 38 games for the Pistons during the 2019/20 season.

There’s more out of the Motor City:

  • In a Bleacher Report Ask Me Anything conversation yesterday, the outspoken LaVar Ball was true to form, ripping the Pistons for recently waiving middle son LiAngelo Ball. The Pistons had signed LiAngelo to an Exhibit 10 training camp contract. “I love the fans, but the franchise over there is raggedy as hell,” the elder Ball said. “They don’t know a good player. I was giving them a [l]ottery pick for free!” LiAngelo went undrafted out of UCLA in 2018.
  • Pistons rookie swingman Deividas Sirvydis has arrived in Detroit, per Rod Beard of the Detroit News (Twitter link). The 20-year-old will need to clear COVID-19 testing protocol, according to Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, and may be ready to join his teammates in a practice this Thursday or Friday.
  • Two former All-Stars can supply valuable leadership for a young Pistons team in transition, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Savvy veterans Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, who have logged significant playoff minutes, can help inform the Pistons’ future leaders and build the current culture. “They’re great pros, big-time pros,” Casey said. “We’re being sensible about our program and what we’re building. It’s not going to happen overnight – I know that and they know that. It’s not like they’re fighting for star status. They’ve been there.