Blake Griffin

Central Notes: Pistons, Adams, Cavaliers, Ham

Per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, the Pistons should disregard any positional need with the No. 15 overall selection in this year’s draft and simply pick the player whom the team feels with have the biggest impact during his rookie contract.

Langlois provides examples of teams who have had success employing the same strategy, noting the Spurs in 2011 (traded George Hill for Kawhi Leonard when they had Richard Jefferson) and the Bucks in 2013 (shocked the world by drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo while already having John Henson and Ersan Ilyasovsa on the roster) as ideas for the Pistons to emulate.

One would think that the Pistons should look to upgrade their backcourt to complement both Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, but as Langlois notes, Drummond can opt out of his contract after next season and Griffin is versatile enough to play alongside another power forward.

So who should the Pistons take? For now, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Detroit taking Indiana swingman Romeo Langford, his 11th ranked prospect and the top-ranked player left on the board when the Pistons make their selection.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • In addition to adding Chris Fleming to his staff, Bulls’ head coach Jim Boylen is trying to add one more assistant, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. The top candidate appears to be Texas Tech assistant coach Mark Adams.
  • The Cavaliers were left without an identity for the first time in nearly two decades when homegrown superstar LeBron James left for Los Angeles, but as Ben Golliver of The Washington Post writes, new head coach John Beilein should be able to create a new identity and culture for the franchise.
  • As we relayed yesterday afternoon, Bucks’ assistant coach Darvin Ham has been identified by the Timberwolves as another head coaching candidate under Gersson Rosas and the team’s new front office.

Blake Griffin Undergoes Knee Surgery

Pistons All-Star forward Blake Griffin underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in Los Angeles on Wednesday, according to a team press release.

The procedure addressed the issue that caused soreness in the knee late in the regular season and the playoffs. He is not expected to miss any planned offseason training for next season, the release adds.

Griffin had a banner season, carrying the Pistons to the playoffs for just the second time since the 2008/09 season. He averaged 24.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 5.4 APG during the regular season while staying healthy until the knee issue cropped up. He appeared in 75 games this season after playing 67 or fewer games the previous four seasons.

He was a late scratch against Portland on March 30 and then missed the next two games before scoring 45 points in a loss to Oklahoma City. He played the next two games with diminishing returns and sat out the playoff-clinching win over New York in the regular-season finale.

He missed the first two games of the opening round against Milwaukee, then averaged 24.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 6.0 APG in the last two games of the lopsided series. Griffin has three years and approximately $110MM remaining the contract he signed with the Clippers before getting traded to Detroit during the middle of last season.

As Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer notes, Griffin has dealt with a sprained MCL, broken kneecap, meniscus tear, partially torn quadriceps and bone bruise in the same leg during his career.

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Smith, Griffin, Connaughton

Former Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff is “definitely interested” in the Cavaliers’ head coaching opening, he said in a SiruisXM interview with Mitch Lawrence, Zach Harper and Sarah Kustok (Twitter link). “It would be an honor to have an opportunity to work with that group,” said Bickerstaff, who was fired by Memphis two weeks ago. Bickerstaff is reportedly on Cleveland’s radar screen, though there has been no indication if he’ll be interviewed for the job.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Backup point guard Ish Smith is willing to return to the Pistons but it’s uncertain if there’s mutual interest, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Smith will enter unrestricted free agency this summer. “Obviously, if they call, I’m for sure going to pick up,” Smith said. “This has been home the last three years.” The cap-strapped Pistons could look to re-sign Smith at a lower cost than the $6MM he made this season. Otherwise, they might go with an in-house alternative, such as Luke Kennard or Bruce Brown.
  • Pistons All-Star forward Blake Griffin said he won’t get involved in personnel decisions this offseason unless his opinion is requested, Beard writes in a separate story. “I’m not here to make decisions; it’s the front office. (Senior adviser) Ed (Stefanski) and all those guys do a really good job, in the short time I’ve known them,” Griffin said. “They have plans and an idea and a direction. It might not happen overnight because of the (financial) situation. They have a great grasp on that. If they ask my opinion, I’ll, of course, give my honest opinion. I’ve never been the type of player to go in and make demands, just because sometimes as players and coaches, we’re all about winning right now, which is very important but not at the expense of the next year or however that may be.”
  • Bucks reserve guard Pat Connaughton hasn’t given up his dream to play major league baseball, as he explained to NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner in a Q&A session. Connaughton was a minor-league pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles system five years ago before choosing to pursue his basketball dreams. “Obviously I’ve wanted to be as successful at both sports as possible. You have to shoot for being an All-Star to have a chance to even make it in either, right? But I did think, “If I really went into baseball right now, if I dropped basketball when I was coming out of high school, I fully believe I’d have had the chance to be an All-Star, to be one of the top two pitchers on a championship team.” But something drew me to basketball, something drew me to having success in two sports,” Connaughton said. The Bucks have until July 1 to guarantee his $1.723MM salary for next season.

Central Notes: Sabonis, Middleton, Griffin, Pitino

After giving Myles Turner a four-year, $70MM extension last summer, the Pacers will likely be reluctant to make a similar move this year with Domantas Sabonis, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Both players are primarily centers and it’s difficult to use them together in a league where downsizing is the trend. Sabonis is extension-eligible this summer and will hit free agency next year if the Pacers don’t work out a deal.

Coach Nate McMillan put Turner and Sabonis on the court together occasionally this year to gauge their effectiveness. That strategy worked during the regular season, Bontemps notes, as the Pacers outscored opponents by 3.1 points per 100 possessions, but the Celtics have exploited the pairing in the playoffs.

This offseason will be vital is charting the future in Indiana, where six key players will be unrestricted free agents. Starters Darren CollisonWesley MatthewsBojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young will be joined on the market by rotation members Cory Joseph and Tyreke Evans. Bontemps notes that owner Herb Simon is reluctant to go into the luxury tax, so some difficult decisions will have to be made.

There’s more this morning from the Central Division:

  • Bucks swingman Khris Middleton, who is headed for a major payday in free agency, learned about the business side of the league as a rookie with the Pistons in 2013, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Detroit legend Tayshaun Prince was traded during the season, then Middleton got shipped to Milwaukee over the summer. “You get a reminder of what this league is about, how it’s a business and business decisions are made,” Middleton said. “It’s nothing personal. It’s all about the organization. You see stuff like that, right in front of your face, you always hear about it, but hey, you learn anything can happen in this league. You got to be prepared for it and be ready to move on.”
  • Blake Griffin returned to action last night, but he couldn’t help the Pistons overcome the Bucks, relays Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Griffin, who missed the first two games of the series with swelling and pain in his left knee, wore a heavy brace under a leg sleeve as he scored 27 points in 31 minutes.
  • The Cavaliers are denying a report that they have talked to Rick Pitino in their coaching search, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com“False. We are, respectfully, not interested in him at all,” a source told Fedor. “No conversations with him by (team chairman) Dan (Gilbert) or anyone else.”

Blake Griffin Inactive For Game 2

According to Malika Andrews of ESPNPistons forward Blake Griffin has been listed as inactive for tonight’s Game 2 in Milwaukee.

Griffin was originally reported as likely being out for the entire first-round series against the Bucks after missing Game 1, but head coach Dwane Casey told reporters after Monday’s practice that Griffin’s availability for Game 2 was still up in the air, which it was until roughly an hour before tonight’s tip-off.

Griffin, who evidently doesn’t have any structural damage in his left knee but is dealing with swelling and pain, may still need to have a procedure done this summer, but the team and Griffin will investigate that possibility once the Pistons’ season is over.

The 30-year-old All-Star, who aggravated the injury during warm-ups on April 8 before the team’s penultimate regular season game against the Grizzlies, will now look to be available for Game 3, which could potentially be a must-win game if the Bucks win tonight.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Drummond, Kennard

There’s still plenty of uncertainty regarding Blake Griffin‘s status for the opening round of the playoffs. While Yahoo Sports reported that the Pistons All-Star power forward would likely miss the series against the Bucks, coach Dwane Casey said after practice on Monday that Griffin could play as soon as Game 2 on Wednesday. Griffin sat out Milwaukee’s 121-86 blowout victory on Sunday with a sore left knee.

“We need all hands on deck. He wants to play,” Casey said. “So when his body says he’s ready, whether it’s Wednesday night or Saturday (for Game 3), whenever it is, he’ll be available.”

Griffin, who worked out with the training staff during practice, said after the game that he wanted to play but the medical staff nixed it. Casey confirmed that Griffin is eager to return.

“He’s lobbying. He wants to play,” Casey said. “It’s the medical staff, the doctors are the ones making those decisions. Not me, not Blake.”

We have more on the Pistons:
  • Casey doesn’t think Andre Drummond‘s ejection during the third quarter on Sunday was warranted. Drummond received a Flagrant Two foul for shoving Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo to the court after Antetokounmpo grabbed an offensive rebound. “I’ve seen worse,” Casey said. “What do you expect our defense to do when you’re driving through there 100 miles an hour? Just move out of the way and let you go where you want to go?” Drummond was tight-lipped about the ejection because “I’m not trying to get fined.” There hasn’t been any indication the league will discipline Drummond for the foul.
  • Drummond recorded a minus-45 in the plus/minus category before he was tossed. That was the lowest in playoff history since at least 2001, according to Basketball-Reference. “I was more than ready. Prepared, ready to go,” he said. “I just have to do it a step harder.”
  • Casey felt his team played like it was just happy to be in the postseason while Milwaukee acted as if it had waited all season for the game. “The moment, playoffs, atmosphere, whatever it is, got us out of sync,” he said. The lone bright spot was the play of reserve guard Luke Kennard, who scored a team-high 21 points. “Luke was probably the most aggressive offensively of everybody and he was making the right basketball play,” Casey said.

Blake Griffin May Not Return In First Round

After missing Game 1 of the Pistons‘ series vs. the Bucks, Blake Griffin appears no closer to returning to the court. According to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, Griffin will likely end up missing Detroit’s entire first round series.

Griffin, who was the Pistons’ best player during the regular season, initially missed three games with a sprained knee before returning on April 5 vs. Oklahoma City. After that game, the knee swelled up again, limiting his availability and effectiveness vs. Charlotte and Memphis during the final week of the season. Griffin was sidelined for the team’s must-win regular season finale vs. New York and also sat out Game 1 on Sunday.

According to Goodwill, Griffin is expected to be listed as day-to-day for the remainder of the series, with a source suggesting there’s a “slim chance” he plays on the weekend. Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press notes (via Twitter) that he’s gotten the same vibe from people he has spoken to, adding that the club is “holding out hope” that the star forward will be able to return. Game 2 will take place in Milwaukee on Wednesday, with Game 3 in Detroit scheduled for Saturday.

Although there’s no structural damage, Goodwill writes that Griffin and the Pistons will determine after the season ends whether he requires a procedure on his troublesome knee.

If Griffin is unable to play vs. the Bucks, the Pistons’ season will likely come to an end sooner rather than later. Milwaukee blew out Detroit by 35 points on Sunday, as the Pistons were unable to keep up with MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks’ high-powered attack.

Blake Griffin To Miss Game 1 In Milwaukee

Pistons star Blake Griffin will miss Game 1 of the team’s series against the Bucks on Sunday due to a knee injury, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Griffin will be listed as day-to-day going forward.

“We’ll take this day by day,” Griffin said of his injury last week, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. “I’m not looking forward to a day that’s not right here in front of me.

“I’ll sit with our training staff and whoever else needs to be in on that decision and make that call.”

The Pistons held a 2-5 record during the regular season without Griffin, who tweaked his knee late in the campaign and missed his first game due to the injury on March 30. Head coach Dwane Casey started forward Thon Maker in place of Griffin in most of the games he missed this month.

Detroit will rely heavily on the production of star center Andre Drummond in Griffin’s absence, with the 25-year-old averaging a career-high 17.3 points, 15.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 79 games this past season.

Following Sunday’s Game 1, the Pistons will stay in Milwaukee for Game 2 on Wednesday, then travel home to host Milwaukee for Game 3 on Saturday.

Injury Updates: Mirotic, Griffin, Anunoby, Oladipo

Nikola Mirotic has only played 14 games since the Bucks traded for him in February, but the club expects him to be ready for its playoff opener against the Pistons tomorrow, relays Malika Andrews of ESPN. Mirotic, who has been sidelined for nearly a month with a broken left thumb, was able to participate in a full practice Friday and a non-contact workout today, both times with the thumb lightly taped.

“Not much soreness, as we expected,” he said. “I should be ready to go.”

Mirotic moved into the starting lineup three games before getting hurt, replacing injured guard Malcolm Brogdon. Sterling Brown has been starting in Mirotic’s absence.

“Niko has been traveling with us,” Eric Bledsoe said. “He has been around practice. We have been feeling his energy. Him just being around has been big for us. I think he’s doing pretty good.”

There are more injury updates to pass along:

  • The Pistons aren’t sure if Blake Griffin‘s sore left knee will allow him to be ready for Game 1, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Griffin offered no clues after today’s practice as the team prepared to fly to Milwaukee. “We’re taking this day by day,” he said. “I’m not looking forward to a day that’s not here right now in front of me. I’ll sit with our training staff and whoever else needs to be in on that decision and make that each day.” Griffin sat out four of Detroit’s final seven games as the team was battling for a playoff spot. He was limited to riding an exercise bike during today’s practice.
  • On top of their loss to the Magic today, the Raptors got some bad health news about OG Anunoby, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Originally projected to miss at least two weeks after an emergency appendectomy on Thursday, Anunoby may now be sidelined until the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • There’s no chance he’ll return for the playoffs, but the Pacers are encouraged by the progress Victor Oladipo has made since suffering a ruptured quad tendon in January, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. Oladipo has been in Miami since the injury and is reportedly doing “really well.” He will see a doctor in a few days and hopes to be in Indiana for Games 3 and 4 of the Pacers’ playoff series.

Latest On Embiid, Griffin, George Injuries

With the 2019 postseason around the corner, three potential All-NBA players are battling nagging injuries that may threaten their availability for the start of their respective playoff series.

Sixers center Joel Embiid, who missed 14 of the team’s final 24 games due to left knee soreness, continues to deal with that issue and was only a partial participant in Friday’s practice. The big man called the situation “extremely frustrating,” and he and GM Elton Brand both indicated that there’s no guarantee Embiid will be able to play in Game 1 vs. the Nets on Saturday. His status will be updated soon.

Pistons power forward Blake Griffin, who was forced out of action for the club’s must-win regular-season finale on Wednesday due to his own left knee injury, is still considered day-to-day, head coach Dwane Casey said on Friday (link via The Associated Press). Like Embiid, Griffin isn’t necessarily a lock to play in Game 1. Detroit opens its first-round series vs. the Bucks on Saturday.

The news is a little more promising for Thunder forward Paul George, who is listed as day-to-day with right shoulder soreness. According to Royce Young of ESPN.com, George said on Friday that he intends to play in Game 1 vs. Portland on Sunday, regardless of his pain level.

“It’s playoff time, so it’s more than this, it’s about being out there with my guys,” George said. “As much as I can get it a hundred as possible, or close to it, you can expect me out there Sunday.”