Boban Marjanovic

Central Notes: Marjanovic, Payne, George

Expect Pistons big man Boban Marjanovic to get more of an opportunity to shine next season. Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes that fans can expect current backup center Aron Baynes to explore free agency by turning down his player option, leaving Marjonvic as the next man up behind Andre Drummond.

In limited action Marjanovic showed flashes of excellence, no surprise considering he did just that with the Spurs in 2015/16. Per 36, his 23.5 points and 16.0 rebounds make him a particularly compelling option for a Pistons team that often has to bench Drummond on account of his poor free-throw shooting.

Unfortunately, as the Pistons struggled and eventually failed to sneak into the postseason, Marjanovic was rarely used in 2016/17.

This is a fault of ours that we really didn’t build anything around him, either offensively or defensively,” Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy said last month. “We have to do some defensive things to help him and we’ve got to get him the ball even more offensively, but he was our third center, so we didn’t build enough around him. Certainly we will, going forward.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls are still very high on Cameron Payne, Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago writes, despite the fact that the guard wasn’t featured as heavily as some thought he would be following the deal in which they acquired him.
  • While they may be exploring their trade options, the Bulls mean no disrespect to starting swingman Jimmy Butler, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes. “Don’t misunderstand: We think the world of him. You can’t say enough good things about how this young man has made himself the player that he is,” team executive vice president John Paxson said.
  • A panel of NBA.com columnists discussed what they would do with Paul George this offseason and how big of a priority retaining him would be if they stepped into the role of incoming Pacers president Kevin Pritchard.
  • The Bucks worked out a handful of NCAA seniors today, with the full list of players available at the team’s official website. Milwaukee will pick No. 17 in this year’s draft.

Central Notes: D-Will, Teague, Pacers, Pistons

After LeBron James called for the Cavaliers to add a playmaker back in January, the team didn’t make a major move for the next several weeks, as the trade deadline came and went without that so-called “playmaker” joining the team. The Cavs lucked out in the buyout market though, landing veteran point guard Deron Williams after he was cut by the Mavericks, and according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, Williams is getting increasingly comfortable in Cleveland and is looking like that playmaker the club sought.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com conveys a similar sentiment in his latest piece, noting that Williams is receiving praise from the players whose assessment of the Cavaliers roster matters most: LeBron. “Every day he’s getting more and more comfortable with what we want to do,” James said of the veteran point guard. “We needed him. We’re happy we got him.”

As LeBron, D-Will, and the Cavs look ahead to the second round of the playoffs, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Central division…

  • Within a piece examining the Pacers‘ upcoming offseason decisions, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders cites league sources who believe that free-agent-to-be Jeff Teague could be in line for a contract worth $15-17MM annually, or even more than that if other top point guards quickly re-sign with their own teams.
  • With the Pacers facing an uncertain future, Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star argues that team president Larry Bird deserves some criticism for a handful of questionable decisions and roster moves.
  • Following a disappointing season for the Pistons, Rod Beard of The Detroit News makes five suggestions for ways the team could potentially improve this summer.
  • Boban Marjanovic didn’t play much for the Pistons in the first season of his three-year deal with the team, but his audition will give Stan Van Gundy plenty to consider as the club weighs how to use Marjanovic going forward, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Boban could become a more crucial piece of Detroit’s rotation in 2017/18 if Aron Baynes departs in free agency.

Central Notes: George, Udrih, The Palace

If Paul George doesn’t get named to an All-NBA team, he “probably” won’t remain with the Pacers, Steven Ruiz of USA Today writes. Ruiz makes the bold claim while describing how the new collective bargaining agreement ties max contract compensation to personal accolades determined by the media.

Should George be named to an All-NBA team, he’ll be eligible to earn about $70MM more with the Pacers than he would with any other franchise. Such is the case with the new designated player exception. With or without the designated player exception, George will be eligible to sign for a longer term with Indiana than with any other squad.

George got off to a slow start with the Pacers this season but has spent much of the past two months demonstrating why he had previously been heralded as a franchise cornerstone. On the season he’s posted 23.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game but in March he ramped those averages up to 25.3 points and 6.9 rebounds.

There’s no shortage of competent competition with which the Pacers star will be in contention for the award but it’s certainly plausible he gets named to an All-NBA team for the fourth time in five season. Expect him to be held in contrast with players like Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Jimmy Butler with the two forward positions on the Third Team up for grabs.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The recovery time for Pistons guard Beno Udrih‘s knee injury is six to eight weeks, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Udrih will be a free agent this summer.
  • As of today, C.J. Miles 2017/18 deal with the Pacers becomes guaranteed at $4.7MM, tweets The Vertical’s Bobby Marks. The veteran guard also holds a player option, however.
  • The silver lining of a disappointing Pistons season is that April has given the team a chance to get a good look at Boban Marjanovic and Henry Ellenson. According to Rod Beard of the Detroit News, head coach Stan Van Gundy has given them favorable reviews.
  • Michigan has said goodbye to two major facilities in two days and David Mayo of MLive considers what the finales of both the Palace of Auburn Hills and Joe Louis Arena mean to the region. The Pistons will join the NHL’s Red Wings in the Little Caesars Arena next season. With the Palace out of the picture, Madison Square Garden serves as the only NBA venue without a corporately sponsored name.

Central Notes: Pistons, Ellenson, Wade, Irving

Charlotte’s loss to the Celtics tonight officially extinguished the Pistons‘ faint playoff hopes, writes Aaron McMann of MLive. Detroit entered the night with the possibility of sneaking into the postseason through a multi-team tiebreaker, but both the Pistons and Hornets had to win all their remaining games for that to happen. Coach Stan Van Gundy has been realistic about the team’s fate for some time now, McMann notes, deciding two weeks ago to shut down point guard Reggie Jackson for the season and giving more time to the team’s younger players. Detroit faces several important decisions this offseason, with the most pressing one involving restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

There’s more news from Detroit and throughout the Central Division:

  • Pistons rookie big man Henry Ellenson posted a double-double Friday night with 15 points and 11 rebounds in his first start of the season, notes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Van Gundy recently said that Ellenson and Boban Marjanovic “can be real contributors next year,” especially with backup center Aron Baynes expected to sign elsewhere in free agency. Friday’s game was just the 16th with the Pistons for Ellenson, who has spent most of the year in the D-League. “He can put it on the floor. He made the one good baseline drive and dish to Boban. He’s got offensive skill,” Van Gundy said. “The guy’s a good player. He’s like a lot of our guys right now. He’s got to shoot the ball more consistently. But he’s a talented offensive guy.”
  • Dwyane Wade gave the Bulls a bit of good news in an otherwise horrible afternoon in Brooklyn, relays Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Chicago dropped a key game in its pursuit of a playoff spot, but Wade was able to get through the contest with no pain in his right elbow. It was his first game since fracturing the elbow March 15th. “Elbow felt cool,” Wade said. “Just my legs, trying to get my legs back. And my wind back. But my elbow felt great.”
  • The Cavaliers should shut down Kyrie Irving for the rest of the regular season after his latest knee flare-up, contends Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon Journal. The star point guard reported pain Thursday in his left knee, which was surgically repaired after a kneecap fracture in the 2015 NBA Finals. Irving sat out a game last month with tightness in the knee, and Ridenour argues that the Cavs shouldn’t risk his health in pursuit of the top seed in the East. “I’m doing everything possible to take care of my body, I’ve got a clear conscience with that,” Irving said. “But also understand that sometimes it’s gonna hurt. And I gotta be able to deal with it.”

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Wizards, Henson, McRoberts

Pistons center Boban Marjanovic and rookie power forward Henry Ellenson will get a long look during the last four games of the season, Aaron McMann of MLive.com reports. Marjanovic, who signed a three-year, $21MM contract as a free agent last summer, has played sparingly behind Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes. Marjanovic could have a bigger role next season if Baynes opts out of the final year of his contract. Ellenson, the team’s first-round selection last June, has spent most of the season with the team’s D-League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich.  “We will still play our main guys, but we’ll get Henry and Boban in there every night,” coach Stan Van Gundy told the team’s beat reporters.

In other developments around the Eastern Conference:

  • Power forward Jason Smith has proven to be a bargain pickup for the Wizards, according to J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Smith, who played for the Magic last season, signed a three-year, $15MM deal as a free agent last summer. He’s averaging 5.6 PPG but is shooting 49.2% from 3-point range and 53.1% overall despite getting dropped from the rotation on occasion, Michael continues. His screening has also been a valuable asset, Michael adds.
  • Bucks big man John Henson will lose $250K in bonus incentives because of his current thumb injury, Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets.  Henson needed to play in 60 games to collect the bonus. Henson signed a four-year extension in October 2015 that kicked in at the start of this season. The contract is worth between $44MM and $48MM, depending upon if Henson reaches certain incentives.
  • Heat forward Josh McRoberts participated in his first contact practice on Tuesday since he was sidelined in late December with a stress fracture in his left foot, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Coach Erik Spoelstra is still uncertain if McRoberts will return this season, Jackson adds. McRoberts holds a $6MM option on his contract for next season.

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.

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