Pistons Rumors

Draft Notes: Combine, Langford, Horton-Tucker, Acquaah

The competition to be the No. 4 pick remains unsettled after this week’s draft combine, according to Scott Gleeson of USA Today. Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Duke’s Cam Reddish and North Carolina’s Coby White all improved their standing through measurements and drills, Gleeson states, but Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter may have helped themselves just as much by skipping the combine.

Duke’s Zion Williamson, Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s R.J. Barrett are believed to have the top three spots locked up, leaving a difficult decision at the fourth pick for the Lakers or whomever they deal the selection to.

Gleeson identifies several players who stock either rose or fell at the combine. Among the winners are UCF’s Tacko Fall, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, Tennessee’s Jordan Bone, North Carolina’s Nassir Little, Croatian Luka Samanic and Virginia’s Kyle Guy. Gleeson’s list of players who failed to help themselves includes Oregon’s Bol Bol, Kentucky’s Tyler Herro, former Syracuse signee Darius Bazley and St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated also chimes in with a list of draft risers and fallers based on their performance at the combine. He believes Georgia guard Nicolas Claxton improved his chances of being selected in the first round with an impressive defensive performance, while LSU guard Tremont Waters helped ease worries about his size and Miami’s Dewan Hernandez showed off his athleticism after sitting out the season because of connections to the FBI investigation.
  • Indiana’s Romeo Langford says he has fully recovered from the back problems that bothered him in college, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. Langford met with 13 teams at the combine, including the Pacers, Celtics (Twitter link) and Pistons (Twitter link).
  • Iowa State’s Talen Horton-Tucker is committed to staying in the draft as he hopes to become the Cyclones’ first player taken in the first round since 2012, relays Travis Hines of The Ames Tribune. A top 50 recruit coming out of high school, Horton-Tucker has already interviewed with 14 teams.
  • Milan Acquaah of Cal Baptist has taken his name out of the draft, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium.

Pistons Meet With, Work Out Several Prospects

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.

2019 NBA Draft Picks By Team

While the Sixers and Celtics suffered disappointing losses in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and face uncertain futures, both teams can at least fall back on the fact that they’re still loaded with draft assets. Philadelphia and Boston are two of only three NBA teams – the Hawks are the other – that possess at least four picks in the 2019 NBA draft.

As our full 2019 draft order shows, there are five other teams that more than two selections in this year’s draft. On the other end of the spectrum, nine teams own just one pick in 2018, while two teams – the Nuggets and Rockets – don’t have any selections.

To present a clearer picture of which teams are most – and least – stocked with picks for the 2019 NBA draft, we’ve rounded up all 60 picks by team in the space below. Let’s dive in…

Teams with more than two picks:

  • Atlanta Hawks (5): 8, 10, 35, 41, 44
  • Philadelphia 76ers (5): 24, 33, 34, 42, 54
  • Boston Celtics (4): 14, 20, 22, 51
  • New Orleans Pelicans (3): 1, 39, 57
  • Charlotte Hornets (3): 12, 36, 52
  • Brooklyn Nets (3): 17, 27, 31
  • San Antonio Spurs (3): 19, 29, 49
  • Sacramento Kings (3): 40, 47, 60

Teams with two picks:

  • New York Knicks: 3, 55
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 5, 26
  • Phoenix Suns: 6, 32
  • Chicago Bulls: 7, 38
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 11, 43
  • Detroit Pistons: 15, 45
  • Orlando Magic: 16, 46
  • Indiana Pacers: 18, 50
  • Utah Jazz: 23, 53
  • Golden State Warriors: 28, 58
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 48, 56

Teams with one pick:

  • Memphis Grizzlies: 2
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 4
  • Washington Wizards: 9
  • Miami Heat: 13
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 21
  • Portland Trail Blazers: 25
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 30
  • Dallas Mavericks: 37
  • Toronto Raptors: 59

Teams with no picks:

  • Denver Nuggets
  • Houston Rockets

Stein’s Latest: Beilein, Lakers, Rockets

John Beilein, who recently accepted the Cavaliers‘ coaching position, strongly considered the Pistons‘ job last offseason, Marc Stein of the New York Times writes in his latest newsletter. Beilein passed up on the chance to become an NBA head coach then but couldn’t pass up the opportunity this time around in part due to Dan Gilbert. The Cavs owner has a reputation for his willingness to spend when necessary in order to win on the court.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest piece:

  • The Lakers did not formally offer their coaching job to Monty Williams before Williams signed on with the Suns, Stein hears. Williams ultimately decided to go to Phoenix before the competition between he and Tyronn Lue was complete. Stein also hears that Kurt Rambis and Linda Rambis were the strongest supporters of hiring Williams and the couple was the loudest influence when it came to hiring Frank Vogel.
  • Not offering a five-year deal to Lue—a coach that won a championship with LeBron James—was a major mistake for the franchise, Stein opines. Los Angeles only offered Lue a three-year deal, something that Lue had to see as disrespectful.
  • The Rockets may be limited in what they can spend, but don’t count out GM Daryl Morey when it comes to making major moves, Stein contends. Houston doesn’t have much flexibility with regard to signing free agents, as it has roughly $116MM in guaranteed salary on the books for next season. However, we’ve seen Morey pull of unlikely trades in the past, as he did with Chris Paul.

Pistons Notes: Curry, Free Agency, Drummond

The Pistons have Seth Curry on their list of potential free agent targets for this offseason, league sources tell James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. It’s already the second time this month that we’ve heard Curry linked to Detroit — Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press wrote last week that Stephen Curry‘s brother would likely be of interest to the Pistons.

The younger Curry, of course, won’t cost as much as his two-time-MVP brother, but he still could eat up a good chunk of the Pistons’ available resources this summer if the team goes in that direction, writes Edwards. Having spoken with an NBA agent, Edwards believes Curry will command an annual salary in the $5-8MM range, and it’s possible the Pistons would have a tough time signing him at the lower end of that estimate.

“Especially if his agent is seeing the (Langston) Galloway deal on the books … ‘You’re trying to tell me Seth is worth $2MM per year less?'” an agent told Edwards. “It would be hard for me to see the Pistons be able to get him for $5MM per year.”

Detroit will be over the cap and will only have the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available, which are projected to be worth approximately $9.25MM and $3.62MM, respectively. In other words, if the Pistons seriously pursue Curry, he’d likely end up being their primary free agent addition for 2019.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Having traded away Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson during the season, the Pistons will be in the market for a wing or two this offseason, especially if the team turns down Glenn Robinson‘s team option. Rod Beard of The Detroit News explores some potential targets on the free agent market for the club.
  • After a fairly quiet first offseason with the Pistons in 2018, de facto head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski will have more tools at his disposal in 2019, including the team’s first-round pick, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. While Detroit won’t be contenders for top free agents, the franchise won’t be relegated to the bargain bin either, Langlois contends.
  • Virtually every player on the Pistons’ roster had nothing but praise for the job head coach Dwane Casey did in his first year with the franchise, but Casey’s impact on Andre Drummond may have been his most notable achievement, Ellis writes for The Detroit Free Press. “He’s given me a confidence that I haven’t had in a very long time,” Drummond said. “He’s given me so many different tools to use, parts of my game that I haven’t got to use in so many years. He’s given me the chance to use it and it’s only going to grow from here. It’s been a pleasure playing for him.”

2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Detroit Pistons

The Pistons‘ first full season with Blake Griffin on the roster and Dwane Casey on the sidelines was a relative success, as the team fought its way back into the postseason after a two-year absence. Of course, a No. 8 seed and a first-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks showed that Detroit still has a ways to go to join the upper echelon of the East, and the club will have limited resources to upgrade its roster this summer.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Pistons financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistic cap room projection: $0
  • The Pistons would have to make major cost-cutting moves to create cap room, which is unlikely. The good news is that, taking into account nine players on guaranteed salaries and the cap hold for their first-round pick, they’re still about $16.7MM away from the projected tax line, so using the full mid-level exception is viable.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $2,500,000 (expires 2/6/20)
  • Trade exception: $1,140,682 (expires 2/7/20)
  • Mid-level exception: $9,246,000 3
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,619,000 3

Footnotes

  1. Mykhailiuk’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 5.
  2. Nelson’s cap hold remains on the Pistons’ books because he hasn’t been renounced after going unsigned in 2018/19. He can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  3. These are projected values. If the Pistons are at risk of going into tax territory, they may forfeit the bi-annual exception and have to use the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,711,000) rather than the full mid-level exception.

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pistons To Consider Derrick Rose In Free Agency?

Point guard will be an area of focus for the Pistons in free agency this summer, as backups Ish Smith and Jose Calderon are set to hit the open market. And a source with first-hand knowledge of the team’s thinking tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that Derrick Rose is one potential target who will be “a subject of debate” within the front office.

Rose is unlikely to have to settle for the minimum salary again after enjoying an impressive bounce-back season in Minnesota, averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.3 APG on .482/.370/.856 shooting. However, he was limited to just 51 games due to more injuries, an ongoing issue which will likely keep his price tag in check. That means he could be an option for a team like the Pistons, who won’t have any cap room available this offseason.

Seth Curry is another free-agent-to-be who figures to be of interest to Detroit, according to Ellis, though he notes that there’s a belief head coach Dwane Casey will push for a true point guard. In that case, players like Ricky Rubio and Patrick Beverley may be on the club’s radar. The likes of T.J. McConnell or Isaiah Thomas could also be targets if the club pursues a lower-cost option, Ellis adds.

Of course, re-signing Smith will also be a scenario the Pistons could consider, but there was an “air of finality” to his end-of-season media session, according to Ellis, who writes that the team will explore upgrades at the position.

The 2019/20 mid-level exception is projected to be worth approximately $9.2MM, based on a $109MM cap, while the bi-annual exception would be worth about $3.6MM. Unless the Pistons shed significant salary, those will be the only two exceptions – besides the minimum – available to the team in free agency. Both exceptions can be used on a single player or split up among multiple free agents.

Central Notes: Pacers, Jackson, Pistons

The Pacers haven’t advanced to the second round of the playoffs since the 2013/14 season when Paul George led a defensive-minded team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Owner Herb Simon badly wants that to change and he’s willing to spend to make it happen, Scott Agness of The Athletic writes.

“Herb wants to win. We set a budget. It’s a very high budget,” GM Kevin Pritchard said. The Pacers ranked 25th in payroll last season and they have just over $57.9MM in guaranteed salary on their books for the 2019/20 season.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • Malcolm Brogdon is listed as out for Friday’s Game 3 between the Celtics and Bucks, ESPN relays. Brogdon has been sidelined with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
  • The point guard position will be among the Pistons‘ needs this offseason, as Keith Langlois of NBA.com details. Reggie Jackson only has one year left on his current deal, while Ish Smith and Jose Calderon are each hitting the free agent market.
  • How the Pistons‘ approach and prioritize additions this offseason will depend on how the front office feels about their young prospects, Langlois contends in the same piece. The team will have the mid-level exception at its disposal and could opt to use the projected $9.246MM MLE to sign multiple players instead of spending it all on one acquisition.

Pistons’ Players Give Dwane Casey Rave Review

Despite a sweep at the hands of the NBA-best Bucks, the Pistons’ first season under first-year head coach Dwane Casey was a relative success, as Detroit made the postseason for the first time since the 2015/16 season and posted a 41-41 regular season mark, the franchise’s third-best record in the last 12 seasons.

And according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, Pistons’ players were largely happy with their first season under Casey as well, as he received rave reviews from his roster after his stellar reputation around the league was found to be well-deserved.

“Talking to people (last) summer, you hear the same thing – that’s a really positive thing,” All-Star forward Blake Griffin said. “Consistency. One thing everybody talks about with coach Casey is the type of person he is: great guy, very disciplined and cares about his players. I saw that through the course of the season.”

Casey was also given high marks by his players for being able to hold them accountable for lack of effort and execution while simultaneously refraining from being so intense to the point of pushing guys away, no small task for a head coach in the NBA.

“Coach Case has this calm under pressure that is pretty cool,” reserve point guard Ish Smith said. “He had his moments, like any coach, when the players are not giving you what you expected out of them. But we dealt with a lot of adversity. He never got down, he never was frustrated, he never got mad. The end result was the playoffs and that’s a huge tribute to his personality.”

Coach Casey was also able to cultivate a positive relationship with Griffin, the team’s consensus best player, which is yet another important aspect for any NBA head coach.

“We are very, very lucky to have a coach like him,” said Griffin. “A coach who stands for and represents the things he does. He was great this season. I really enjoyed playing for him.”