Boban Marjanovic

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Jackson, Johnson

The Pistons have “quietly explored” the trade market for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, two of their roster’s centerpieces, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports in his latest piece, which is a deep dive into the situation in Detroit. According to Lowe, the Pistons came away disappointed with what teams might be willing to offer for Drummond or Jackson, reducing the likelihood of either player being moved in the next eight days.

Still, while a Drummond trade remains an “extreme long shot,” a deal involving Jackson isn’t entirely off the table. Lowe suggests the Timberwolves, Magic, and Pelicans are among the potential suitors for the veteran point guard, if Detroit is willing to settle for a modest return. Per Lowe, Jackson’s value has “cratered,” and a player like Ricky Rubio is one of the few solid starters the Pistons could get in any trade package. Lottery teams seeking a long-term solution at point guard are unwilling to move their first-round picks for Jackson, and Detroit isn’t ready to simply dump him for a collection of expiring contracts.

In his attempt to find a potential trade partner for a Jackson deal, Lowe identifies the Magic and Nuggets, pointing to players like Elfrid Payton and Emmanuel Mudiay as possible trade pieces. However, while Mudiay is believed to be available, Denver doesn’t appear to have interest in Jackson. Lowe notes that Orlando is an “intriguing” possibility, since GM Rob Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the team drafted Jackson.

Here’s more from Lowe on Jackson, along with a few other intriguing Pistons-related tidbits:

  • The Pelicans have kicked the tires on Jackson, but never engaged in serious talks, league sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, several Pistons players criticized Jackson during a December players-only meeting for his apparent lack of effort on defense. Drummond tells Lowe that the criticism “wasn’t cool,” since Jackson was coming off an injury and wasn’t yet 100%. However, both Drummond and Stan Van Gundy acknowledge that the team has struggled to adjust to Jackson’s presence on the court this year after finding a groove early in the season with Ish Smith handling the point.
  • According to Lowe, a fear that top free agents won’t come to Detroit has pushed the Pistons to acquire solid players on good contracts when they become available. Those players aren’t always a fit with Drummond and Van Gundy, which has contributed to some of the team’s roster issues.
  • Multiple teams, including the Spurs, made an effort to nab Stanley Johnson in a trade after Van Gundy publicly called out the second-year forward earlier in the season. Although the Pistons rebuffed those efforts, the team has been frustrated by Devin Booker‘s development in comparison to Johnson’s, since the draft room was “almost deadlocked” between those two players in 2015, says Lowe.
  • The Pistons are unlikely to make a major move until closer to the draft, since they want to make the playoffs and are reluctant to do anything that will adversely impact their odds of earning a postseason spot, says Lowe. The ESPN analyst notes that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency will be an interesting case to follow this offseason, since the Pistons may have to shed a salary – perhaps Tobias Harris‘ or Boban Marjanovic‘s – if they need to match a max offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope.

Pistons Exploring Trade Market For Baynes, Boban

FEBRUARY 2: Asked about Wednesday’s report, Baynes suggested that he hasn’t yet decided to opt out of his contract with the Pistons this summer, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

“I definitely haven’t thought about anything yet,” Baynes said. “It’s not even All-Star break. There’s a long way left in this season. I’m just trying to go out there and make the most of it.”

While Baynes may not be considering his offseason decision, his representatives have likely thought about it, and an opt-out would certainly make sense. Last summer, only three veterans with player options actually exercised them, and none of those three players – Mo Williams, Tim Duncan, and Caron Butler – have appeared in an NBA game this season.

FEBRUARY 1: The Pistons are exploring the trade market for possible deals involving Aron Baynes and Boban Marjanovic, league sources tell Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. It’s not clear what sort of return the team would be seeking for its bigs.

Baynes, 30, joined the Pistons as a free agent in 2015 after spending the first three seasons of his NBA career in San Antonio. The Washington State alum has been a key part of Detroit’s rotation during the last two seasons, averaging 5.6 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 126 games (15.2 MPG). Baynes has a $6.5MM player option on his contract for the 2017/18 season, but league sources tell Scotto that the big man intends to turn that option down and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Marjanovic, meanwhile, also came to the Pistons as a Spurs free agent, inking a three-year, $21MM deal with Detroit last summer. In his first season with the club though, Marjanovic has played sparingly, appearing in just 20 games and averaging only 7.3 MPG. He saw his most extensive playing time in January when Baynes only played 17 minutes in a five-game span.

Baynes’ value on the trade market will likely be limited, since he can become a free agent this summer. Marjanovic is under contract through 2018/19, but has yet to show he can be a consistent and productive rotation player, which may make teams hesitant to pursue him. Neither player figures to produce a significant return for Detroit, but we’ll see if the Pistons end up moving one or the other in the coming weeks.

Central Notes: Marjanovic, Ellenson, Thompson

Boban Marjanovic didn’t play at all in his return to San Antonio Friday, which has been a familiar story in his time with the Pistons, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. The 7’3″ Serbian came to Detroit this summer when the Spurs elected not to match a three-year, $21MM offer sheet. He has gotten off the bench in just four of the team’s first nine games and is averaging 4.5 minutes in those. Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said the team wants to see Marjanovic become more aggressive offensively. “In the preseason, he fit well. He’s a very good offensive player and highly skilled,” Van Gundy said. “He’s unselfish, almost to a fault. There’s times he could use his size and be dominant down there offensively, but he really likes to pass the ball — which promotes good team play — but at the same time, we want him to use his offensive skills.”

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • Van Gundy is closely monitoring the progress of rookies Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije, who were sent to the D-League during the Pistons’ western road trip, Beard notes in the same story. The organization wanted them both to get expanded playing time, at least 30 minutes per night, during their time in Grand Rapids. Ellenson was told to focus on his defensive development. “He knows [defense] is his ticket to getting on the floor [with the Pistons],” Van Gundy said. “He’s very confident, as we are, in his offensive skills.”
  • Tyronn Lue‘s lineup juggling is resulting in fewer fourth quarter minutes for Tristan Thompson, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Lue still recognizes Thompson’s value as a defender, but he wants to have more shooting on the floor at the end of games, so Kevin Love has been playing center alongside Channing Frye.
  • The Pacers’ 4-6 start may be a result of all the roster changers over the offseason, according to Jordan J. Wilson of The Indianapolis Star. Indiana traded for two new starters in Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young and added Al Jefferson, Aaron Brooks and Kevin Seraphin as free agents. The team also hired a new coach in Nate McMillan“We’re trying to figure out how to play with one another,” Paul George said. “We’ve got guys who don’t want to step on guys’ toes. It might call for that at this point. We need guys to step up and be confident.”

Pistons Rumors: Marjanovic, Jackson, Smith

Boban Marjanovic isn’t having second thoughts about signing an offer sheet with the Pistons this summer despite his limited playing time, Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News reports. Marjanovic’s three-year, $21MM contract was structured so that the Spurs would have virtually no chance of matching, since they didn’t have his Early Bird rights or enough cap space. He’s currently the third-string center behind Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes and has appeared sparingly in four games. “You never know what is a good decision, but you have to believe you are making a good decision,” Marjanovic told Orsborn. Marjanovic’s playing time could expand next season if Baynes opts out of the final year of his contract, as expected.
In other news regarding the Pistons:
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson has begun limited basketball activities but is still weeks away from returning, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Jackson received platelet-rich plasma injections more than a month ago to relieve his left knee tendinitis, as well as a right thumb injury. He has been sidelined since the preseason. “It feels like literally I had dead leg for five weeks,” Jackson told Beard and other beat reporters. “I’m just trying to find trust in my leg to be able to cut. It’s not there yet; I did a few things but it’s still iffy.”
  • Jackson’s replacement in the lineup, Ish Smith, has shot 29% from the field over the last five games but that won’t take away his aggression, Aaron McMann of MLive.com writes. Smith signed a three-year, $18MM contract in July to be Jackson’s backup. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to keep shooting because we’re getting good shots,” Smith told McMann and other writers. “Missing easy ones that’s rolling around. Little floaters. Little pull-ups. That’s how it is.”

Popovich Encouraged Boban To Accept Offer Sheet

Only one restricted free agent in the NBA this season technically signed an offer sheet with a rival team that his previous team didn’t match. That player was Boban Marjanovic, who left the Spurs to sign a three-year, $21MM deal with the Pistons. And according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News, it took a push from head coach Gregg Popovich for Marjanovic to accept that offer, since his first choice was to remain with the Spurs.

“He’s such a good kid, at some point I had to work to get him to understand that $21 million was different than $3 million,” Popovich said, per McDonald. “I said, ‘Get your ass out of here. Go. You’ve got to do it.’ But he felt bad.”

“We knew he was gone,” Popovich added. “It happens to every team. You lose a guy because you have to pay people and you can’t pay them all.”

The Spurs used up their cap room this summer when they signed Pau Gasol to a two-year contract, leaving the team unable to match the Pistons’ offer for Marjanovic. San Antonio could have used its room exception to retain the restricted free agent, but as Popovich notes, such a deal would have only paid about $3MM per year, far less than Detroit offered.

In his rookie season with the Spurs, Marjanovic averaged 5.5 PPG and 3.6 RPG, despite appearing in just 9.4 minutes per contest (54 games). Based on the contract he received from Detroit, the 28-year-old figures to have a more significant role with his new team. While he admits that he would have liked to remain a Spur, Marjanovic says he thinks he “made a good decision” to sign with the Pistons, per McDonald.

Central Notes: Lamb, Love, Marjanovic, Leuer

There have been “whispers” that the Bucks are discussing a deal that would send Greg Monroe to the Hornets in exchange for Jeremy Lamb and Spencer Hawes, according to Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box. Milwaukee needs help on the wing with Khris Middleton likely out for the season with a ruptured left hamstring. The Bucks have reportedly been looking for a taker for Monroe all summer, and it appears Charlotte may be interested. Lamb, a 24-year-old swingman, is beginning his second season with the Hornets after averaging 8.8 points per night in 66 games as a reserve a year ago. Lamb is entering the first year of a three-year, $21MM extension he agreed to last November, and he may be expendable after Charlotte added Marco Belinelli over the summer. Woelfel lists Gary Harris, Ben McLemore, Alec Burks, Terrence Ross and Nick Young as other wings the Bucks may target.

There’s more news out of the Central Division:

  • Kevin Love has learned to block out the criticism and trade rumors that have followed him since he joined the Cavaliers two years ago, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Love believes he proved his worth to the team during the championship run and he isn’t concerned with what outsiders think of his performance. He is also secure enough with his place in the organization that trade speculation doesn’t concern him. “Trade rumors, you know, I don’t know,” Love said. “You lose a couple games … No, I don’t know how to answer that. No. I’m here, man. I plan on being here a very long time.”
  • Boban Marjanovic may still be considered a project, but Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy believes the 7’3″ center is “unstoppable” in the low post, relays Aaron McMann of MLive. Detroit is happy with the early returns on the $21MM it gave Marjanovic over the next three seasons. The 290-pounder remains the third-string center on the Pistons’ depth chart, but it sounds like he will be given playing time. “Once he gets established in the half-court, there’s not a good way to play him,” Van Gundy said. “There’s just not. He’s so big and he’s so skilled, that it’s hard.”
  • Another new Piston who has impressed Van Gundy is Jon Leuer, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. And it’s not surprising, as Van Gundy has tried to acquire the 27-year-old power forward before. “Since he came into the league in Milwaukee [in 2011] and I was coaching in Orlando, there have been three or four times over the years wherever I was, where we were making efforts to try to get him,” Van Gundy said. Leuer signed a four-year, $41MM deal with Detroit in July.

Central Notes: Smith, Terry, Novak, Pistons

Money is the only sticking point in negotiations between J.R. Smith and the Cavaliers, writes Sam Amico of Amicohoops.net. Smith wants to stay in Cleveland where he is comfortable with coach Tyronn Lue and was an important contributor to the Cavs’ championship run. The organization is happy with Smith’s clutch shooting and improved defense. However, the two sides appear to be far apart on salary, and it’s not certain that the situation will be resolved before the Cavaliers open training camp September 26th. Smith, who turns 31 next month, made $5MM last season. He has reportedly seen his bargaining power weakened by a lack of interest from other teams.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks are looking for leadership by adding veterans Jason Terry and Steve Novak to the league’s youngest roster, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Terry, 38, confirmed today that he will sign with Milwaukee, and Novak, 33, is expected to re-sign soon after spending the end of last season with the Bucks.
  • The Pistons expect to have about $5MM in cap room next summer, but several decisions could push that number higher or lower, states Aaron McMann of MLive. The $5MM figure assumes that Detroit picks up the options on Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard and that Aron Baynes opts out of the final year of his deal. However, the Pistons still need to find a third point guard and make a decision on whether to re-sign Reggie Bullock, who will be a free agent after next season.
  • The fear of losing Baynes next summer prompted the Pistons to target Boban Marjanovic, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Detroit offered Marjanovic an offer sheet worth $21MM over three years, and the Spurs, who didn’t have his Bird rights, declined to match. Marjanovic has limited NBA experience, and coach/executive Stan Van Gundy credits extensive scouting work for enabling the Pistons to identify him as a worthwhile prospect.

Contract Details: Rondo, Boban, J. Hill, S. Hill

There were conflicting reports on the details of the second year of Rajon Rondo‘s new contract with the Bulls when it was agreed upon and signed earlier this month, but Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders provides some clarity, writing that only $3MM of Rondo’s $13.397MM second-year salary is guaranteed. That second year essentially functions as a team option for the Bulls, who could waive Rondo by June 30 next year if his first year in Chicago goes south.

Here are several more contract and salary cap details from Pincus:

  • As part of the sign-and-trade deal that landed Matthew Dellavedova in Milwaukee, the Cavaliers sent $200K to the Bucks, per Pincus. The move allowed Cleveland to create a trade exception to absorb Mike Dunleavy‘s salary.
  • The Pistons‘ offer sheet for Boban Marjanovic was an Arenas-rule offer, with a modest spike in year three, according to Pincus. The Spurs didn’t have Marjanovic’s Early Bird rights or enough cap space to match, so Detroit got its man and was able to smooth out his cap hit to $7MM annually, as the Arenas rule permits.
  • The second year of Jordan Hill‘s two-year, $8.18MM deal with the Timberwolves is non-guaranteed, tweets Pincus.
  • Solomon Hill‘s four-year, $48MM pact with the Pelicans, which starts at $12.2MM, features $3.9MM in total unlikely incentives, according to Pincus (via Twitter). Meanwhile, the first-year cap hit on E’Twaun Moore‘s four-year, $34MM deal with New Orleans is $8.08MM (Twitter link).

Central Notes: Pacers, Maker, Drummond, Pistons

The Pacers seem ready to re-emerge as an elite team in the Eastern Conference, claims Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. Indiana made several key additions this summer, swapping George Hill for Jeff Teague in a three-team deal, trading the 20th pick in the draft to Brooklyn for Thaddeus Young and signing free agent center Al Jefferson. The Pacers also have the security of a healthy Paul George, who showed during the season that he was fully recovered from a broken leg in 2014. In addition, Hamilton notes, Indiana has the flexibility for another major move or two this summer. The franchise is about $12MM under the cap and may have a $2.8MM room exception available. Looking ahead, the Pacers could have up to $50MM in cap room next summer if Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles opt out.

There’s more from around the Central Division:

  • The BucksThon Maker grabbed attention in the Las Vegas Summer League with Kevin Garnett-like size and Giannis Antetokounmpo-level speed, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. Many observers were surprised when the Bucks drafted Maker 10th overall, but his athleticism may make that gamble pay off. “We thought he wasn’t afraid and had a little toughness to him,” said GM John Hammond. “That was the key to the draft pick — that we enjoyed him so much as a person and had toughness and wasn’t afraid. You don’t know what is going to go from there.”
  • The Pistons are reaping the benefits of Andre Drummond‘s decision to put off his extension until this summer, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Because Drummond waited on his big-money deal, Detroit had the cap room to trade for Tobias Harris during the season and then sign free agents Jon Leuer, Ish Smith and Boban Marjanovic“We either wouldn’t have been able to do Tobias during the year, or if we had done Tobias, we wouldn’t have been able to add the people we added this summer,” said coach/executive Stan Van Gundy. “It goes to Andre’s character, his true commitment to the Detroit Pistons beyond just getting the contract and [owner Tom Gores’] commitment and his relationship with Andre.”
  • Marjanovic’s three-year, $21MM contract will pay him $7MM each season, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. Smith will receive $6MM each year for three seasons (Twitter link), and Leuer’s four-year, $42MM deal starts at $11MM the first season and decreases (Twitter link). He also has $1MM in unlikely incentives.

Pistons Sign Boban Marjanovic

JULY 12: The Pistons have officially signed Marjanovic, the team announced today in a press release. We heard on Sunday that San Antonio wouldn’t be matching Detroit’s offer sheet for the big center.

JULY 7: The Pistons are set to sign Spurs restricted free agent Boban Marjanovic to an offer sheet worth $21MM over three years, league sources tell ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link). Once Marjanovic officially puts pen to paper and the Spurs receive the offer sheet, San Antonio will have three days to match it.Boban Marjanovic vertical

Marjanovic, who turns 28 in August, joined the Spurs a year ago, and saw a little action during his first year as an NBA player. Appearing in 54 game, the 7’3″ center averaged 9.4 minutes per contest, making the most of that playing time by averaging 5.5 PPG and 3.6 RPG to go along with a .603 FG%. The sample size was small, but Marjanovic’s production worked out to 21.0 PPG and 13.7 RPG per 36 minutes.

The Pistons’ reported contract agreements will use up all their salary cap space, but because the team’s deal with Andre Drummond is not yet official, the team still has some room to fit in Marjanovic’s offer sheet. Drummond will earn a maximum salary of $22MM+ in 2016/17, but for now, he’s still on Detroit’s books for cap hold worth just over $8MM.

As for the Spurs, they had to move Boris Diaw just to clear cap room for Pau Gasol‘s new contract, so it seems unlikely that they’ll match the Pistons’ offer sheet for Marjanovic. ESPN’s Marc Stein tweets that San Antonio is resigned to losing the Serbian center. The Spurs appear to have found a replacement already, reportedly agreeing to terms with free agent center Dewayne Dedmon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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