Pistons Rumors

And-Ones: Playoff Format, Billups, Future Power Rankings

Don’t expect LeBron James to be among those lobbying on behalf of a potential play-in tournament for a postseason berth. The NBA has reportedly kicked the idea around in a couple different variations, but James said today that he’s not a fan of the concept, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com details.

“No, no, no,” James said. “That’s wack. That’s wack. Why? You got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That’s corny. That’s corny. That’s wack. To play for what? What are they playing for?”

While there’s a belief in some league circles that a play-in tournament at the end of the regular season to determine the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference would generate some drama, James is a firm believer that the eight teams with the best records in each conference deserve to make the playoffs.

“[Make the playoffs by winning the tournament], even if my record is better than yours? Nah, that’s wack,” James said.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump on Tuesday, Chauncey Billups called a report about the Pistons expressing interest in him for a front office role “100% false,” per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “I haven’t spoken to anybody with the organization about the possibility,” Billups said. Still, this isn’t the first time Billups has been linked to a front office job — if the former NBA guard does land somewhere as an executive, former Pistons assistant GM George David would be a candidate to potentially join him, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.
  • Nine NBA teams have been officially eliminated from the postseason. While the 2017/18 season has been a fairly forgettable one for those clubs, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer highlights some silver linings worth mentioning.
  • Over at ESPN.com (Insider link), Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks have updated their future NBA power rankings, which consider each team’s outlook through the 2020/21 season. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets still top their list, with the Sixers and Raptors jumping into the top five.

Latest On Pistons, Billups Rumors

Earlier today, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Pistons have expressed interest in Chauncey Billups for a potential front office role, with an eye on possibly pairing him with Arn Tellem in their basketball operations department. The report quickly drew responses from multiple sides — Billups stated that he would “never push for a job with any NBA franchise that is not open,” while a Pistons ownership spokesman simply called the report “false.”

Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link) also hears from a source that there’s “nothing whatsoever” to the idea of a Billups/Tellem team-up in the Pistons’ front office, but Stein doubled down on the report in his latest newsletter for The New York Times, citing league sources who say that Detroit has “great interest” in hiring Billups. According to Stein, the Pistons believe they have a real shot to convince Billups to leave his TV job for an executive role.

Blake Griffin Discusses Trade, Pistons’ Future, More

Barring a miracle, the 31-39 Pistons won’t make the playoffs this season, but Blake Griffin remains optimistic about the club’s longer-term outlook. In a conversation with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Griffin said that he thinks the team will be “very good” next season.

“This summer we will have a chance to really jell, figure stuff out,” Griffin said. “I think the ceiling of this team is very, very high. We have a lot of different guys who can do a lot of different things who can affect the game in a lot of different ways. Getting Reggie [Jackson] back will be huge.”

[RELATED: Pistons reportedly interested in Chauncey Billups for front office role]

While the Pistons have struggled since acquiring Griffin, getting a full offseason with the new-look roster in place could pay off. Last season, the Pelicans were unable to make a late-season run after trading for DeMarcus Cousins at the deadline, but New Orleans – with and without Cousins – has looked much better this year. The Pistons will be looking to follow that model.

As for Griffin, he discussed a few other aspects of his midseason change of address with Spears, acknowledging that he would have approached free agency a little differently last July if he knew the Clippers would consider trading him just a few months later. Here are a few more of Griffin’s noteworthy comments from the conversation:

On the Clippers’ decision to trade him:

“You always hear guys say that, ‘Basketball is a business,’ and all that. It’s so much different when you have had a relationship with a certain amount of people for so long and been at a place for so long. Someone always promises you this is what we are doing and six months later … It shows people’s true colors. Other than that, at the end of the day, you have to realize it’s a business.”

On why it didn’t take him long to get over being traded:

“If I wasn’t happy with where I was at or excited to be here, it would take a little bit longer. But as soon as I got here to Detroit, the franchise, the way they go about taking care of the players, the way they do everything, is first-class. So, that makes the transition much easier. Stan [Van Gundy] and the whole staff has been awesome. I’m not looking back.

“I haven’t put much thought into it, to be honest. I’ve been so focused on making this transition and [adjusting] to this change that I haven’t put that much thought into it. I never want to be in a place where I’m not wanted. Coming here made me realize what a franchise looks like.”

On what advice he would give to stars entering free agency:

“You have to make the best decision for you, personally. If fans are upset, if one or two people are not super-supportive or aren’t on board with that, you have to live with it. You have to be somewhere where you enjoy it.”

Pistons Have Interest In Billups For Front Office Role?

12:55pm: In the wake of Stein’s report, Billups said he’d “never push for a job with any NBA franchise that is not open,” while Pistons ownership and Platinum Equity spokesman Mark Barnhill simply called the report “false” (Twitter links via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press).

That’s no surprise, since – as Billups notes – those front office jobs aren’t currently open, so the team isn’t about to confirm its interest in other candidates.

12:05pm: The Pistons have expressed interest in hiring former All-Star guard Chauncey Billups for a basketball operations role, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). According to Stein, Detroit is mulling the idea of having Billups work in tandem with Arn Tellem in a “totally revamped” front office.

Currently, Stan Van Gundy serves as both the head coach and the president of basketball operations in Detroit, with Jeff Bower handling day-to-day operations as the Pistons’ general manager. Tellem, a longtime agent, is the team’s vice chairman.

However, with the Pistons almost certain to miss the playoffs despite making a big midseason splash for Blake Griffin, a front office shakeup could be coming this offseason. There have been rumblings about the possibility of Tellem moving from the business side to the basketball side, and Billups would be a logical target to work with him, given his history with the Pistons as a player.

While Billups’ résumé for a top front office job may be somewhat lacking, he’s viewed as a future executive, and a pairing with an industry veteran like Tellem might be a nice fit. Billups nearly landed in Cleveland last summer when the Cavaliers targeted him as David Griffin‘s replacement. He ultimately withdrew from consideration for that GM job, with a below-market offer reportedly playing a part in his decision.

If the Pistons are to shake up their front office, it’s not clear whether Van Gundy would remain with the organization. Last year, Doc Rivers and Mike Budenholzer continued to coach the Clippers and Hawks, respectively, despite having their president of basketball operations titles removed. Theoretically, the Pistons could do the same thing with Van Gundy in the hopes that he could get better results from the club when he’s focused exclusively on coaching. It’s not clear if both sides would be on board with that arrangement though.

Pistons Notes: Jackson, Van Gundy, Buycks

While the injury that has sidelined Reggie Jackson since December was referred to as an ankle sprain, the veteran point guard actually had complete tears of the ligaments in his right ankle, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. When Jackson first went down with the injury, the Pistons announced he’d be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks, and he admits he thought he’d be back on the court around that time.

“I never expected to miss whatever amount of games as I did,” Jackson said. “I really thought it was a four-week thing, even though people said six to eight. I took the news like everybody else. Once we got to that point, realized it said ‘re-evaluation.'”

Even though the Pistons’ chances of making the playoffs are all but dead, Jackson is hoping to return from the stretch run, if only to build up a little momentum for the offseason and for the 2018/19 campaign. As Langlois details, Jackson said this weekend that he hopes he’ll be back “soon,” while head coach Stan Van Gundy suggested his point guard’s return will depend on how his ankle responds to yesterday’s full-court scrimmage.

“We’re hoping maybe this week he’ll play at some point,” Van Gundy said.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Van Gundy received a $15K fine from the NBA for publicly criticizing the officiating in Saturday’s loss to Portland, the league announced in a press release. Van Gundy said after Saturday’s game that the Trail Blazers “got away with fouls all over the place,” adding that the Pistons “got absolutely screwed” and calling it “embarrassing for the league.”
  • Pistons guard Dwight Buycks, who scored a career-high 22 points against Denver last Thursday, is making a case for a roster spot on next year’s team, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Buycks’ contract includes a non-guaranteed $1.6MM salary for 2018/19, which will become guaranteed if he remains under contract through September 1.
  • The Pistons, whose roster underwent major midseason changes, continue to search for the right balance between their starters and reserves, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News details.

Ben Wallace To Be Part-Owner, Chairman Of Pistons' G League Team

Former Pistons big man Ben Wallace is once again involved in the franchise, according to Peter J. Wallner of MLive, who reports that Wallace has reached an agreement to become part-owner and chairman of the Grand Rapids Drive. Wallace, who met with Drive season-tickets holders on Thursday, is expected to be formally introduced by the G League franchise next week.

“It was just the right fit,” Wallace said of his new role with the Pistons’ NBAGL affiliate. “It’s an opportunity for me to get back in basketball. It’s an opportunity for me to learn the business side of basketball, something I’ve wanted to do. And this gives me an opportunity to ease into it and learn as we go.”

Drive president Steve Jbara said he heard through a mutual friend with the Bucks that Wallace was exploring potential business options. As Wallner details, Jbara is looking forward to working with Wallace, who was a four-time All-Star during his career with the Pistons. “I told him, ‘You help me on the basketball side and we’ll make that partnership, and I’ll work with you on the business side and we’ll collaborate on everything,” Jbara said.

Van Gundy Coaches Pistons Or No One Next Year

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy won’t coach anywhere next season if he’s fired at the end of the season. Van Gundy said he’s set financially and would simply take time off, enjoying the summer at his Michigan home and winter at his Florida home. “I have all the security I need,” he said during a press conference. “If I’m not here next year, I’m not chasing jobs anywhere else.” Van Gundy is on the hot seat with the Pistons on the verge of falling out of the playoff chase.

  • Pistons shooting guard Reggie Bullock deserves consideration for the Most Improved Player award, Van Gundy told Hoops Rumors and other media outlets Sunday. In 41 starts this season, he’s averaged 12.6 points on 49.6 percent shooting overall and 45.4 percent from long range. Bullock, who was involved in a minor traffic accident Sunday, started just seven games in his first four seasons and never averaged more than 4.5 points per game. “You’re talking about a guy who never played over 500 minutes,” Van Gundy said. “Now he’s developed into a solid and efficient starter. That’s a hell of a big jump in a year and he should definitely be in the mix for that [award].”

Bullock, Griffin, Van Gundy

Pistons‘ starting swingman Reggie Bullock suffered minor injuries after being involved in a two-car motor vehicle accident this morning on his way to practice, reports Rod Beard of The Detroit News. He wasn’t seriously injured but was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Bullock, who was on his way to the Pistons’ practice facility in Auburn Hills, was also apparently the victim of a hit-and-run, as head coach Stan Van Gundy tells Beard that “the other driver took off” after the collision. Bullock did not practice, but will travel with the team on their upcoming six-game road trip.

Bullock, 26, has had somewhat of a breakthrough season for the underachieving Pistons, averaging 10.7 points per game and shooting 43% from long range in 41 starts.

  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN worries that the Pistons‘ newly-acquired Blake Griffin may be the league’s new version of Carmelo Anthony – a player paid like a superstar but not producing at a level high enough to build a consistently successful team around. And as Pelton points out, paying a player who is not quite a superstar like one of the league’s best players makes it difficult to win because it takes away the financial flexibility necessary to build a team around the overpaid player.
  • In more Pistons‘ news, team owner Tom Gores ambiguously hinted that Van Gundy make not be back next season, reports Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News. Speaking at halftime of Detroit’s win over Chicago on Friday, Gores said, “Stan and I have not discussed (whether he will be the coach next season). I believe in Stan, but he’s a team player, so we’re gonna see. He’ll do exactly the right thing for this franchise. But right now he’s busy coaching this team. We’ll go from there.”

Central Notes: Van Gundy, Turner, Osman

The Pistons have hit a cold spell and now sit five games out of the final seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite the acquisition of Blake Griffin, Detroit has struggled to maintain consistency. This has called into question head coach Stan Van Gundy’s future with the team, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes.

Team owner Tom Gores seemed to give Van Gundy a vote of confidence after the Pistons enjoyed a 99-83 win over the Bulls.

“Stan and I talk every week and we just want to win — that’s it. That’s what we discussed: how we’re going to get this team to win. That’s been really important to us,” Gores said. “We know we’ve disappointed the fans and we haven’t won enough. I can tell you this team works really hard and Stan works hard. He’s been here for four years and has dedicated his whole life.”

While Gores and Van Gundy communicate regularly, a firm decision on the team’s future — and whether or not Van Gundy is part of it — will be discussed after the season, Ansar Khan of MLive.com writes.

“So, at the end of the season, we’ll sit down and talk and then he’s got to make a decision on the best way to go for the organization. I’ve been in this business a long time and I’ve been around this business even longer – my dad (Bill) coached for 40 years,” Van Gundy said. “So probably as much as anyone I know how this works. Tom’s been fantastic. You couldn’t be better as an owner. The way he wants to go about things is perfect, so we’re in 100 percent agreement on the way everything should be handled.”

Check out more Central Division notes below:

  • For the second time in a week, Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman felt a “pop” in his groin. On Friday, it forced him out of an eventual loss to the Clippers and details on the severity of the injury are scarce, Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon writes. However, Osman reportedly told the Cavs trainer that he could not run; the team is calling the injury a strained left hip.
  • In recent games, Myles Turner has been noticeably more aggressive in trying to score closer to the basket. As NBA.com’s Mark Monteith writes, Pacers veteran Al Jefferson has been working with Turner to help him develop a post game. “Last year he wouldn’t have even thought about a post; he would have gone with a turnaround jumper or fadeaway,” Jefferson said. “You’ve got a 6’4″, 6’4″, 6’6″ guard or wing on you and you’re taking those type of shots, that’s when it becomes a problem for me. He understands that. He’s getting his feet in the paint and getting good shots.”

Jackson Still Hoping To Return This Season

Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson hasn’t given up on playing again before the end of the season, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Jackson, who has missed the past 10 weeks with a severely sprained right ankle, was able to perform some quick movements in a workout today and step into his shot without discomfort.