Bruce Brown

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.

Pistons Notes: Trade Deadline, Brown, Bullock

If the asset-strapped Pistons are going to make a splash at the NBA trade deadline they’ll have to get creative. As The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III writes, Detroit would presumably need to unload some sizable contracts if they brought back a significant package and the players currently making big money on their roster – outside of Blake Griffin – aren’t particularly desirable.

Edwards writes that Pistons senior adviser Ed Stefanski isn’t eager to give up a future first-round pick simply to alleviate the cap burden of its weighty contracts (Reggie Jackson‘s $17MM, Jon Leuer‘s $10MM, for example) but those picks could be in play if a solid star comes along. Edwards includes Bradley Beal as a hypothetical possibility that might warrant such a return.

The Pistons have some players that could be considered modest assets ahead of the deadline, including sophomore Luke Kennard and fourth-year forward Stanley Johnson. Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock, similarly, could draw interest from contending teams looking to shore up their rotations with veteran depth.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • While there are plenty of scenarios that could hypothetically jump-start a Pistons rebuild, Keith Langlois of the team’s official website writes in a weekly mailbag that he’d wager the team stands pat at the deadline. The club may look to shore up its second-unit but lack draft assets to offer in trades.
  • Scrappy first-year guard Bruce Brown has struggled to showcase his elite defensive skills lately, something head coach Dwane Casey‘s believes could be attributable to a famous foe in the basketball world. “I don’t know if it’s a rookie wall or whatever, but just the concentration, the attention to detail,” Casey told Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “Those are mental things that young fellows usually make when they’re mentally fatigued a little bit.
  • In the same blog post, Langlois writes that Reggie Bullock practiced on Wednesday. The 27-year-old sharpshooter and potential trade chip missed Tuesday’s game with a sprained ankle that has plagued him and and off throughout the season. His status is uncertain for Thursday.

Central Notes: Griffin, Thomas, Evans, Rose

Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants to reduce Blake Griffin‘s workload, as he told the Detroit Free Press. Griffin is averaging 35.9 minutes per game, the sixth-most for any player in the league. The former Clipper has missed significant time with injuries over the past four seasons but sat out only one game this season, when Casey decided to give him a night off. “We want to watch his minutes and the key is the first half,” Casey said. “Making sure we keep it at a certain level in the first half, that’s what I’ve done with most high minutes players or high usage players in the past.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Casey inserted rookie second-round pick Bruce Brown Jr. into the lineup against Washington on Wednesday. He would like to get his other rookie wing player, Khyri Thomas, some minutes as well. Thomas who was chosen four picks ahead of Brown and acquired in a draft-day deal with Philadelphia. He has made 43.2% of his 3-point attempts while averaging 19.9 points in seven games with the G League’s Grand Rapids Drive. “It’s up to me to get some growth out of these young guys,” Casey said.
  • Pacers guard Tyreke Evans received PRP injections for his sore right knee and he feels much better, as he told J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star and other media members. Evans had 19 points and five assists in 19 minutes against Atlanta on Wednesday after sitting out the previous two games. That was his highest point since he supplied 23 points against Miami in mid-November. Evans will be a free agent again after signing a one-year, $12MM deal with Indiana over the summer.
  • Derrick Rose could return to the Bulls in free agency, as he hinted to the media this week in comments relayed by Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Rose has enjoyed a bounce-back season with the Timberwolves and will be an unrestricted FA after the season. “This is home for me. I’ll never leave Chicago,” Rose said. “I still have a place here, I’m always going to have a place here. … You never know in the future, you never know.” A Rose reunion would speed up the tempo of the Bulls’ offense and boost their perimeter shooting, Strotman notes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/18/18

Here are Sunday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Magic recalled rookie wing Melvin Frazier from their Lakeland affiliate, according to the team’s PR department (via Twitter). Frazier has only appeared in two games for the Magic so far this season.
  • The Pistons recalled Henry Ellenson, Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown from the Grand Rapids Drive, according to a press release from the team.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/16/18

Here are Friday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Pistons have assigned third-year forward Henry Ellenson and rookie guards Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown to the Grand Rapids Drive, Keith Langlois of the team’s website tweets. That will allow the trio to play in two Drive home games this weekend, Langlois notes. The Pistons are in the midst of a rare four-day layoff and there’s no need for any of them to remain with the NBA club during that stretch.
  • The Celtics have recalled center Rob Williams, forward Guerschon Yabusele and guard Brad Wanamaker from the Maine Red Claws, the team’s PR department tweets. All three started in the Red Claws’ loss to Raptors 905 on Thursday, combining for 52 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
  • The Magic have assigned guards Isaiah Briscoe and Melvin Frazier Jr. to Lakeland, allowing them to get some game action against Greensboro on Friday, the Magic’s PR department tweets. Briscoe, an undrafted point guard, has played five games with Orlando this season. Frazier, a second-round pick in June, has seen action in two NBA games.
  • The Grizzles recalled rookie guard Jevon Carter for the team’s morning shootaround, re-assigned him to the Memphis Hustle for afternoon practice, then recalled him once again in time for the team’s game against the Kings on Friday, the team’s PR department tweets. Carter, an early second-rounder, is still looking to make his NBA debut.

Central Notes: Kennard, Dunn, Asik, Evans

Pistons coach Dwane Casey will use a variety of players to replace reserve guard Luke Kennard, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports. Kennard suffered a separated shoulder against Cleveland on Thursday and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Rookies Bruce Brown, Khyri Thomas and Zach Lofton along with Glenn Robinson III and Jose Calderon will take turns filling up Kennard’s rotation minutes until he returns.

“It’ll be matchup driven,” Casey said of the Pistons’ plans to fill Kennard’s minutes. “Glenn does a good job of chasing guys. Some guys have trouble against length. That will be Glenn. But Bruce, he’s capable of really guarding a lot of different people. Khyri Thomas, too. Luke going down is an opportunity for Khyri, Jose to be ready. … That’s why we have 15 on the roster. We’ll have to make a decision whether we want to bring up (two-way player) Zach Lofton. This is why you stay ready for your opportunity.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls point guard Kris Dunn had no idea how badly he injured his knee until he returned home from Dallas, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Dunn will be out 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain in his left knee. He originally thought it was just a bruise but the pain increased on the flight home on Monday and the knee locked up on him when he returned home. An MRI the next morning revealed the severity of the injury. “I think it’s unlucky. It comes with the game,” Dunn said. “I can either cry about it or try to work my way around it. I’m going to stay positive, be a man about it.”
  • The Bulls decided not to use the stretch provision on the $3MM guarantee for Omer Asik‘s 2019 salary, ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirms (Twitter link). Chicago ate the approximately $11.3MM owed to Asik this season and waived him over the weekend. The team could have chosen to stretch out the $3MM guarantee for next season over a three-year period. However, the $3MM cap hit could be erased entirely if the 32-year-old Asik is deemed medically ineligible to play. Asik is out indefinitely with inflammatory arthritis.
  • Tyreke Evans will sit out Saturday’s game against Cleveland for violating team rules, the Pacers announced in a press release. Evans, who signed a one-year, $12MM contract as a free agent this summer, said that he was late for practice and expressed remorse. “This is the most professional and team-oriented organization I have been with in my career,” he said. “They deserve my best every day and I am disappointed in myself for causing a distraction that prevents me from being able to help my team tomorrow. I will do better.”

Central Notes: Evans, Hood, Cavs, Pistons

An unrestricted free agent over the summer, Tyreke Evans received interest from teams like the Hornets and Lakers, but elected to join the Pacers. As J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star relays, the fact that the Pacers won 48 games and gave the eventual Eastern champs all they could handle in the postseason played a significant role in Evans’ decision.

“I figured out with the run they had, watching how they played and how the chemistry was, I thought I would fit well,” Evans said of the Pacers. “Even though a lot of people think it was a Cinderella run for them, I watch basketball a lot and I could tell the heart they played with in that first round. Throughout the season they played hard every night. I saw the fight in them. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Evans also said that he has no problem playing for a smaller-market team, noting that he could’ve ended up in L.A. but felt like the Pacers were a better fit for him.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

  • Speaking to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Rodney Hood acknowledged that it was tough to watch many of his fellow restricted free agents receive big-money deals this offseason while those lucrative offers didn’t materialize for him. Jabari [Parker] is like a brother to me and I know Marcus [Smart] — we came in the league together,” Hood said. “So I’m happy for them getting money and stuff like that. But I had to understand restricted free agency. At first, it was hard because I really didn’t. And I was thinking, ‘Alright, he got paid and I was supposed to.'” As Hood prepares for the biggest year of his career, the Cavaliers still want him to be part of their future beyond 2019, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.
  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic takes a closer look at the camp invitees vying for a roster spot with the Cavaliers, a group that includes Kobi Simmons, John Holland, Isaiah Taylor, and others.
  • Pistons camp invitee Zach Lofton has impressed the team this fall, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details. Detroit has 15 players on guaranteed salaries and two on two-way deals, but Lofton may be making a case to take over one of those two-way contract slots, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.
  • In a piece for The Free Press, Ellis notes that the Pistons have been giving second-round pick Bruce Brown a look at point guard during the preseason, a move endorsed by Brown’s college coach Jim Larranaga. “The more I observed him and evaluated him, the more I realized his long-term potential is really as a point guard,” Larranaga said of the former Miami Hurricane. “I think he’s going to be a point guard in the NBA.”

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Rookies, Johnson, Bullock

There’s a good chance that Blake Griffin can return to elite status after a healthy summer and a few months of working to develop chemistry with Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Griffin played 25 games for the Pistons after being acquired in a trade with the Clippers, and although his scoring and rebounding numbers declined from where they were in L.A., Griffin averaged a career-best 6.2 assists per game after coming to Detroit.

Beard also states that he doesn’t expect Griffin to be among the first players moved if owner Tom Gores decides to break up the team. Griffin signed a max extension with the Clippers last summer and is owed $141.6MM over the next four years, although the final season is a player option. That type of contract would be difficult to trade, Beard notes, and tough to get anything of value for.

There’s more today out of Detroit:

  • Dwane Casey’s history of giving minutes to young players in Toronto could be good news for Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown, but they’ll still face a challenge in cracking a talented rotation, Beard states in the same piece. The Pistons sent two second-round picks to the Sixers for the 38th pick in this year’s draft, which they used to grab Thomas, a shooting guard who specializes in defense. They took Brown, a wing who can also play the point, four picks later. Both were adequate but not overly impressive during Summer League, and Beard believes there will have to be injuries for either to get regular playing time as rookies.
  • The Pistons brought in Glenn Robinson III as insurance in case Stanley Johnson receives a huge offer sheet as a restricted free agent next summer, Beard adds. Detroit is already near the projected cap for 2019/20 and may not be willing to go into the luxury tax to keep Johnson.
  • Reggie Bullock‘s 3-point shooting prowess should keep him in the starting lineup, even though the Pistons’ coaches are strong believers in Luke Kennard, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Bullock, who shot a sizzling 44.5% from 3-point range last year, will be a free agent next summer.

Pistons: Leuer, Brown, Robinson, Kennard

Injuries have sidetracked Jon Leuer‘s career but the Pistons will likely need him to provide minutes at both frontcourt spots during the upcoming season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes in his latest mailbag. The Pistons have only two true centers and three power forwards on the roster, including Leuer, Langlois notes. He missed most of last season with an ankle injury that required surgery in January, then underwent a knee procedure this summer for a meniscus injury that occurred during a workout. He is expected to be ready by opening night.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Bruce Brown, one of two second-round picks from this June’s draft on the roster, will have a successful season if he proves he can play multiple positions, Langlois writes in a player profile. Brown will likely spend most of the season playing for the G League’s Grand Rapids Drive, where he could develop his skills at both wing positions and point guard. Offensively, he needs to improve his perimeter shooting and become a better finisher in the paint, Langlois adds.
  • Glenn Robinson III will soon have lunch with Dwane Casey to discuss his role at length but the former University of Michigan standout has a pretty good idea what his new coach wants, Langlois reports in a feature story. Robinson signed a tw0-year, $8.35MM contract with Detroit after an ankle injury wrecked his 2017/18 season with the Pacers. “We’ve got a spread offense,” he said. “My ability to shoot and help our big guys, Dre (Andre Drummond) and Blake (Griffin), my ability to defend, those are the main things I’ve been focusing on this summer – really knocking down that shot for us, being able to make plays for others, but also defending.”
  • Robinson and second-year wing Luke Kennard are the team’s most likely breakout candidates, Langlois opines in his mailbag posting. The timing could be just right for Robinson to emerge as an above-average wing, given his skill set. Kennard shot 40% from the 3-point line as a rookie despite his rotation spot being in flux. Casey’s penchant for spacing and ball movement should play to Kennard’s strengths, Langlois adds.

Contract Details: CP3, MCW, Nurkic, Anderson

The Rockets‘ four-year max deal for Chris Paul includes a player option in year four, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). While that added detail on CP3’s new agreement with Houston is interesting, the possibility of an opt-out probably won’t be a factor in 2021 when a decision is due. Paul will be 36 years old when he has to decide on that $44MM+ option, so he seems unlikely to turn it down.

Pincus has several more specific details on recently-signed contracts, so let’s round them up…

  • Michael Carter-Williams‘ one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Rockets isn’t fully guaranteed. The deal, worth $1,757,429 in total, has a $1.2MM partial guarantee for now (Twitter link).
  • The Trail Blazers‘ agreement with Jusuf Nurkic can be worth up to $54MM, but has a base value of $48MM, with $6MM in unlikely incentives. The fourth and final year is also currently only partially guaranteed for $4MM (Twitter link).
  • Kyle Anderson‘s new four-year contract with the Grizzlies features a 15% trade kicker (Twitter link).
  • Bruce Brown (Pistons) and Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) got three-year, minimum-salary deals with two guaranteed seasons from their respective teams (Twitter link).
  • Of the two-way contracts signed so far this offseason, Billy Preston‘s deal with the Cavaliers is the only one confirmed to be for two years rather than just one (Twitter link).