Brook Lopez

Central Notes: Jackson, Lopez, Dunn, Casey

The Pistons have been focused on returning to the playoffs after bringing in Dwane Casey as head coach and banking on a clean bill of health for players such as Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin. With Casey, the Pistons are getting a head coach that is focused on ball movement and off-ball actions in hopes of revitalizing the team’s offense, which ranked just 19th in the league last season.

As Keith Langlois writes for the Pistons’ website, such a focus on diversifying the offense may lead to someone other than Jackson leading the team in assists, which Casey is comfortable with. Casey even went further to express his desire for a player such as Griffin to lead the team in assists: “That’ll free Reggie up to get off of the ball, to move without the ball a little bit more. That means other players are cutting, moving, and we’ll be harder to figure out and predict and scout.”

Griffin is one of the better passers in the frontcourt, as he averaged 6.2 APG in his 25 games with the Pistons last season. Jackson has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons, as he has played in a combined 97 games in the past two seasons.

Casey is also focused on implementing a more modern offense in Detroit, with an emphasis on playing at a faster pace and eliminating shots from the mid-range. So far, the result have been promising — 159 of the 173 total Pistons’ shots have either come from beyond the 3-point arc or inside the paint in their first two preseason games. A more modern offense that is heavy on ball movement and diverse playmaking could be the key ingredient for the club to return to the playoffs this season.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • Speaking of Casey, another difference that Pistons players have been getting used to is his calm demeanor on the sidelines. As Vince Ellis writes for the Detroit Free Press, the players have enjoyed Casey’s positive approach and the fact that he doesn’t direct outrage or disappointment on one player. For a team that is returning a large portion of the same roster, the change at coach may prove to make the largest difference this season.
  • Early returns for Brook Lopez‘s fit with the Bucks have been promising, as Jim Hoehn points out for The Associated Press. Lopez will provide a vast majority of his value on the perimeter as a floor-spacer to draw defenders away from the paint as Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to attack the rim. With the Bucks also adding Ersan Ilyasova and coach Mike Budenholzer, they are also looking to modernize their offense and become a true contender in the conference.
  • As he continues to build on a much-improved sophomore campaign in the league, Kris Dunn has impressed the Bulls (and specifically coach Fred Hoiberg) with his leadership. As Joe Cowley writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, Dunn’s solid play on the floor and control of the offense in preseason has been a bright spot for a Bulls team that is dealing with injuries and inconsistent defensive play.

Central Rumors: Cavs Roster, Kennard, Lopez

The Cavaliers plan to leave an open spot on the roster heading into training camp, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Cleveland currently has 12 players on guaranteed deals and has filled both of its two-way slots. The Cavs are holding spots for both restricted free agent Rodney Hood, whose negotiations with the organization have stalled, and free agent guard David Nwaba, who has agreed to a contract but is still working out all the details, according to Vardon. Training-camp invitees will battle for the final spot on the 15-man roster, Vardon adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers will allow the remainder of their trade exception from the Kyrie Irving deal to expire on Wednesday but they still have two more exceptions, Vardon notes in the same piece. It has exceptions of $2.5MM and $1.3MM from the deal that sent Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder to the Hawks last season. Those exceptions expire on October 15th.
  • Pistons swingman Luke Kennard could have an expanded role in his second season, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com. New coach Dwane Casey wants Kennard to handle the ball more often and become a playmaker, Khan continues. He could see action at three positions, though he will primarily back up Reggie Bullock at shooting guard, Khan adds.
  • Free agent acquisitions Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova fit the current NBA model of big men who can stretch the floor, Bucks GM Jon Horst declares in a video clip posted on the team’s Twitter feed“With Brook and Ersan, you have guys that have great size, that can shoot the three. They compete on both ends of the floor and have high basketball IQ,” Horst said.

Central Notes: Pacers, Drummond, Leuer

A number of low profile offseason additions have helped the Pacers take a step forward this summer, so say a number of league experts, as Scott Horner of The Indianapolis Star writes.

The Pacers added significant depth when they brought aboard Tyreke Evans, Kyle O’Quinn and Doug McDermott and will benefit from the addition of first-round pick Aaron Holiday and whatever inevitable improvements Victor Oladipo makes to his game over the course of the offseason.

There was no shortage of journalists willing to praise the Pacers for their summer work and NBA.com’s David Aldridge even went so far as to say that they’re as good a threat as any in the East to challenge the Celtics this season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • There’s no denying that Andre Drummond has been busy working on his perimeter shooting, at least if you’ve followed his Instagram stories this offseason. Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes that the Pistons big man is hoping to use the new weapon to move away from the basket. “Adding that to my game is something I’ve been working on for years but this is the year where I’ve taken it to another level of putting up a lot more shots, and I’m getting more comfortable with it,” Drummond said.
  • Fans may be quick to call the new-look Eastern Conference a three-horse race involving the Celtics, Raptors and Sixers, but Brook Lopez assures Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype that the Bucks are confident they can take the crown. “I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.
  • Injured Pistons forward Jon Leuer had successful surgery yesterday, the team announced in a press conference. The procedure is related to a meniscus injury that occurred in a workout earlier this week. His status will be updated prior to training camp.

And-Ones: Kelly, O’Bryant, Leonard, Booker, Curry

Former Lakers and Hawks forward Ryan Kelly has signed a contract to play for SunRockeres Shibuya of Japan next season, according to a Sportando report. Kelly spent last season with Real Betis in Spain and averaged 13.3 PPG and 4.5 RPG.

Kelly, 27, last appeared in the NBA during the 2016/17 season with Atlanta, when he saw action in 16 games. He spent his first three seasons with the Lakers. The 6’11” power forward has averaged 6.0 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 19.2 MPG in his 163-game NBA career.

In other basketball news domestically and overseas:

  • Maccabi Tel Aviv is close to signing power forward Johnny O’Bryant, according to another Sportando report. O’Bryant, 25, played 36 games last season with the Hornets, averaging 4.6 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 10.5 MPG. O’Bryant, 25, was traded to the Knicks in February and then waived. The 6’9” O’Bryant has also played for the Nuggets and Bucks, who selected him 36th overall in the 2014 draft.
  • Kawhi Leonard, Devin Booker, Victor Oladipo and Ben Simmons are among the dark-horse candidates to win the Most Valuable Player award, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. A healthy Leonard would quickly become a prime MVP candidate, O’Connor opines, while Booker could have a breakout campaign after showing steady progress in his first three seasons.
  • DeMarcus Cousins (Warriors) and Isaiah Thomas (Nuggets) are obvious choices as the best bargains in free agency but as Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated notes, there are several other players who could fall into that category. Ed Davis (Nets), Seth Curry (Trail Blazers) and Brook Lopez (Bucks) should all provide production that far outweigh the deals that they signed, in Mahoney’s view.

Central Notes: Love, Middleton, Perkins, Pistons

Earlier tonight, we heard talk of the Cavaliers sending Kyle Korver to Philadelphia in exchange for Jerryd Bayless. While we wait to see if anything materializes in Cleveland, let’s take a look at some notes from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are not shopping Kevin Love, though he could be on the move if the right offer presents itself, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst mentions on the Lowe Post podcast. The scribe adds that Khris Middleton is in the same boat with the Bucks not deeming him untouchable nor looking to deal him.
  • Cleveland waived Kendrick Perkins to “do right” by the big man and allow him to pursue training camp deals, a source tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers signed Perkins on the final day of the 2017/18 regular season back when LeBron James was still on the roster. The team had hoped to use Perkins’ contract as part of an offseason trade.
  • The Pistons have added Tim Grgurich and Micah Nori as assistant coaches to Dwane Casey‘s staff, Ansar Khan of Mlive.com relays.
  • Alex Boeder of NBA.com examines what Brook Lopez will bring to the Bucks. Lopez should be able to help the team stretch the floor with his three-point shot, as over 40% of his shots from the field last came from behind the arc.
  • FIBA has banned Bucks center Thon Maker for three games in international play for his part in a brawl during a game in the Philippines earlier this month, according to an ESPN report. Maker said he disagreed with the decision in a written statement that was released on his Twitter account.

Bucks Sign Center Brook Lopez

JULY 17, 7:30pm: The signing is official, per team press release.

JULY 8, 2:13pm: The Bucks will sign Lakers free agent center Brook Lopez, Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Lopez will sign a one-year deal for the team’s bi-annual exception, which is worth $3.382MM, Schultz adds in another tweet.

Milwaukee already has three centers on the roster in John Henson, Thon Maker and Tyler Zeller. This will likely end Zeller’s stay with the club, as his $1.93MM salary for next season is not guaranteed.

Lopez’s NBA career began in 2008/09 with the Nets but he’s still just 30 years old. He’s developed a 3-point game in his last two seasons, first with Brooklyn and then with the Lakers. He averaged 13.0 PPG and 4.0 RPG while making 34.5% of his long-range attempts. Lopez, who started 72 of 74 games last season, averaged 20.5 PPG the previous year as a bigger part of the Nets’ attack.

His ability to space the floor should open up more driving lanes for Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Lakers moved on from Lopez by getting a free-agent commitment from JaVale McGee and drafting Michigan big man Moritz Wagner.

Bucks Notes: Ilyasova, Parker, Lopez, Zeller

The Bucks are thrilled to have Ersan Ilyasova back on the squad after three seasons without the former second-round pick.

“Ersan is a high IQ player, he can shoot the ball so he gives Giannis and the rest of the team space,” GM Jon Horst said (via the Behind the Buck Pass’ Twitter feed). “He’s competitive, he’s tough, and he knows our system, he knows our community, he knows our players. He was a guy we focused on in free agency, and we’ll be excited to add him.”

Milwaukee agreed to terms on a three-year, $21MM deal as free agency began last weekend. Here’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Horst discussed the Jabari Parker‘s pending restricted free agency during an appearance on NBATV (h/t Adam McGee of Behind the Buck Pass). “We’ve had great conversations [with Parker and his agent], we’re in contact every day. I think the market will dictate some of it, but we’ll continue to work on it and we’ll see how it turns out,” Horst said.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines why Brook Lopez didn’t fetch a more lucrative deal than the one-year, $3.4MM contract he agreed to with the Bucks. While Lopez will provide Milwaukee with a proven scorer in the paint, his lack of foot speed will make it difficult for him to have a defensive impact. Pelton notes that the big man’s ability to shoot from behind the arc will help the team space the floor on offense.
  • The arrival of Lopez likely means Tyler Zeller‘s time in Milwaukee will come to an end, Pelton speculates in the same piece. Zeller’s $1.9MM salary is non-guaranteed and the Bucks will have to be careful in the margins if they plan on making an offer to Parker without going into the luxury tax. If the Bucks waive both Zeller and Brandon Jennings, whose $2.2MM salary does not become guaranteed until August 1, they’d have approximately $11.5MM of financial wiggle room below the luxury tax line.

Central Notes: Robinson, Pacers’ Plans, Thomas, Bucks Cap

The addition of swingman Glenn Robinson III filled the Pistons’ biggest need this offseason, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. The Pistons didn’t anticipate an early commitment but a phone call from new coach Dwane Casey as the start of free agency helped to seal the deal with the ex-Pacers wing. Robinson received a two-year, $8.3MM contract. “We didn’t expect we would get Glenn that quickly,” senior advisor Ed Stefanski said. “We felt getting the two-year commitment was huge to us. To find a young wing who can make a shot, they’re hard to find in the league. When the opportunity came up that quickly, we felt we had to make a move. If it wasn’t for him, we would still be out there looking for a guy.”

In other news involving Central Division teams:

  • Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard hopes to use a majority of next summer’s cap space on his own free agents, Mark Monteith of Pacers.com reports. Rotation players Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Tyreke Evans could all be free agents next summer, which would free up as much as $57MM in cap space, Monteith notes. But Pritchard would prefer to use most of the money to re-sign some of those players, as he told Monteith. “We have the season like we want to have, our free agents will be the priority,” he said. “I think this team has a chance to grow this year. … We already know these guys. They become our priority in free agency.”
  • Rookie second-round pick Khyri Thomas could get playing time with the Pistons through his defensive prowess, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. The swingman out of Creighton views himself as a defensive specialist. “When I was younger, I didn’t get the ball a lot playing with older people so I just stole the ball to get it,” he told Beard.
  • The addition of center Brook Lopez gives the Bucks 13 guaranteed contracts for next season but they’re still $15MM away from being hard-capped, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Lopez reportedly agreed to a one-year deal on Sunday. Milwaukee still has to deal with restricted free agent Jabari Parker‘s status, as he remains unsigned, but they could gain more flexibility since the contracts for Tyler Zeller and Brandon Jennings are not guaranteed, Marks adds.

Lakers Notes: James, Bosh, Noel

LeBron James‘ 2018 free agency was always a two-horse race between the Lakers and Cavaliers, Brian Windhorst of ESPN said on SportsCenter, noting that the meeting with the Sixers earlier today was a mere courtesy.

The decision to move to Los Angeles had been in the back of James’ mind for a while now, leaving the Lakers in the driver’s seat for the past three weeks with little left to do but not blow it.

In the television interview, Windhorst spoke of the exodus of the King’s staffers, who relocated from Miami to the west coast during James’ second stint with the Cavaliers, and the fact that his wife has been looking at Los Angeles schools for the past year.

With James already in hand, Magic Johnson simply had to close the deal and, as ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne adds, was actually at James’ residence when free agency officially began.

There’s more out of Los Angeles tonight:

  • One name to keep an eye on as a potential Lakers addition is free agent big man Chris Bosh, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. Bosh played alongside James for four years in Miami but has been out of the game since February, 2016 after being diagnosed with life-threatening blood clots. A comeback would require some additional paperwork but a successful return would not impact the Heat’s payroll.
  • There’s a chance that Brook Lopez ends up back in Los Angeles now that much of the team’s available cap space has been tied up in James and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets. Lopez was under contract for $22MM with the Lakers in 2017/18 and averaged 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
  • The Lakers are one of three teams that Nerlens Noel has narrowed his free agency decision down to, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. Noel is represented by Rich Paul, the same agent that represents James and Caldwell-Pope. The Wizards and Thunder are the other two teams on Noel’s short list.

Lakers Rumors: Lopez, Clarkson, Draft Workouts

Brook Lopez‘s ability to space the floor would make him a good match with the Bucks, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Lopez’s 3-point shooting would open up the floor for Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, the Bucks are already over the projected salary-cap limit and would thus only be able to offer the unrestricted free agent their non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Other potential landing spots for Lopez if he doesn’t re-sign with the Lakers include the Trail Blazers, who could lose restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic, and the Nets, his former team.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Jordan Clarkson‘s struggles in the playoffs make it clear that the Lakers got the best of their trade deadline deal with the Cavaliers, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report opines. Clarkson was benched in Game 3 after making only 23.1% percent of his shots attempts in the first two games and he shot just 30.9% in prior playoff games, Pincus notes. Clarkson also hasn’t been a playmaker, doling out just one assist over the last eight games, Pincus continues. The Lakers also gave up forward Larry Nance Jr. while getting back Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a first-round pick. The draft pick, plus Thomas’ expiring contract, sets up the Lakers for a potentially momentous summer, Pincus adds.
  • The Lakers will work out mainly second-round prospects on Saturday, according to a team release. Brian Bowen II, Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Wenyen Gabriel (Kentucky), Tra Holder (Arizona State), Nick King (Middle Tennessee) and Theo Pinson (North Carolina) will pay a visit. Evans is the top-rated prospect in the group, currently ranked No. 29 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
  • What are the team’s biggest offseason questions? Hoops Rumors’ Luke Adams takes a closer look.