Pistons Rumors

Pistons Add Gianluca Pascucci To Front Office

Gianluca Pascucci has joined the Pistons front office, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Pascucci spent last season as a Bulls scout after a stint as assistant GM with the Timberwolves. He left Minnesota in May 2022 after the organization decided not to pick up its option on his contract.

Pistons first-year president of basketball operations Trajan Langdon previously worked with Pascucci in the Nets’ front office.

Pascucci joins several other hires this summer in Detroit’s revamped front office. Former Mavericks executive Dennis Lindsey was brought in to be their senior VP of basketball operations and former Pelicans executive Michael Blackstone was added as an executive VP of basketball operations.

They also hired former Nets director of player personnel J.R. Holden in an executive role.

Holland, Klintman Show Promise

Central Notes: Trent, LaVine, Donovan, Harris, Holland

Gary Trent Jr. had multiyear offers worth approximately the taxpayer portion of the mid-level exception ($5.2MM) on the table in free agency, league sources tell Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. However, the 25-year-old swingman ultimately decided to accept a one-year, minimum-salary offer from the Bucks in order to reunite with former teammate Damian Lillard and contend for a title in Milwaukee.

Bucks head coach Doc Rivers, who had a preexisting relationship with Trent through his father (Gary Trent Sr.), flew to Miami earlier this month to help recruit the free agent wing to Milwaukee, according to Jamal Collier of ESPN.com.

While Trent’s three-point numbers last season (2.5 per game on 39.3% shooting) fell a little shy of Malik Beasley‘s marks (2.8 makes on 41.3% shooting), Eric Nehm of The Athletic believes there’s reason to believe the newcomer can boost those stats even further when sharing the floor with stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lillard.

As Nehm writes, Trent also isn’t just a catch-and-shoot player — he has the ability to put the ball on the floor a little and attack closeouts on offense. And while he’s not the most consistent defender, Trent has had his moments on that end of the floor and should benefit from having Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez protecting the rim behind him.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • A source who spoke to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times referred to DeMar DeRozan as someone who has acted as a “buffer” between Bulls head coach Billy Donovan and star guard Zach LaVine for the past three seasons. According to that source, with DeRozan no longer around, the team would risk a “dysfunctional” locker room next season if it brings back LaVine.
  • After signing a two-year, $52MM contract with the Pistons earlier this month, veteran forward Tobias Harris said his biggest goal for the coming season is to “be the best leader I can be for this group” and trying to help his younger teammates reach their full potential, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “I’m going into year 14,” Harris said on Tuesday’s Summer League broadcast on NBA TV. “I’ve had a lot of experience in this league and one of the most satisfying things is seeing the young guys come up for us to figure out how good we can be as a group and have the best type of team chemistry and flow for us.”
  • Speaking to Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Pistons rookie Ron Holland discussed his Summer League experience, his goals for his rookie season, and the NBA players he wants to model his game after (including Mikal Bridges and Jaylen Brown). Meanwhile, Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press takes a look at what Holland has shown in his Summer League games so far, noting that the 19-year-old’s impressive tools and his room for growth have both been on display.

Central Notes: Bulls, LaVine, Pistons, Mathurin, Morris

Speaking to reporters on Sunday in Las Vegas, Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas explained why the front office waited until this summer to shake up a roster that finished below .500 in each of the past two regular seasons.

“I think three years ago when we came up with our plan, our formula, that worked for a short period of time until we got into injuries. The reactions, the second year and then obviously, we waited a third year to see where we at,” Karnisovas said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “Now, we’re kind of making these changes. You could argue it’s too late or early. But that’s where we are right now. We felt that we owed to that group to give them a chance to figure it out. And when we cannot figure it out, that’s when it’s up to us to have direction of the team and make changes. And that’s what happened.”

Those changes have included trading Alex Caruso for fourth-year guard Josh Giddey and letting DeMar DeRozan leave for Sacramento in a sign-and-trade deal. As Johnson relays, Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley both raved about DeRozan’s three years in Chicago, referring to him as a player who represented the team’s values and who was an “extension of (head coach) Billy (Donovan) on the court and off the court.”

While a trade involving Zach LaVine remains possible before the 2024/25 season begins, the Bulls’ top executives suggested on Sunday that they don’t want to make a bad deal to just get LaVine – who has three years left on his maximum-salary contract – off their books. Karnisovas spoke as if the team is preparing for the two-time All-Star to remain on the roster this fall, and Johnson says management believes injuries contributed to LaVine’s slow start last season.

“We expect Zach being fully healthy. And he is healthy. I think he can help this group next year. He’s been professional,” Karnisovas said. “Again, he’s healthy. We expect him to be with us at the start of training camp.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Pistons‘ roster isn’t necessarily a finished product, but with 14 players on guaranteed standard contracts, it’s getting pretty close, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. With that in mind, Edwards explores what the team’s depth chart for 2024/25 might look like, explaining why he’s penciling in Ausar Thompson over Simone Fontecchio as a starter at small forward.
  • Bennedict Mathurin, whose 2023/24 season came to an early end due to shoulder surgery, has “almost been cleared for contact,” according to Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle (Twitter link via Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files). The expectation is that Mathurin will be ready to go for training camp this fall.
  • The Pacers announced on Saturday that Jim Morris, the vice chairman of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, has died at the age of 81. “There are no words that would do justice to how consequential Jim’s life truly was,” Pacers governor Herb Simon said as part of a longer statement. In a statement of his own (Twitter link), NBA commissioner Adam Silver referred to Morris as “Indiana royalty.”

Central Notes: Beauchamp, Pistons, Burleson, Holland, Bulls

Former first-round pick MarJon Beauchamp has appeared in 100 games across his first two seasons with the Bucks, but he has yet to establish himself as an indispensable part of the rotation, having averaged a modest 13.1 minutes per night since entering the NBA. Beauchamp will be suiting up for Milwaukee’s Summer League team for a third consecutive year and wants to show in Las Vegas that he’s capable of taking on a larger role this fall, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic details.

“I asked (Bucks head coach Doc Rivers) and he said he wanted me to play two games, and it’s up to me after that,” Beauchamp told Nehm. “But really, I just want to do whatever’s going to help me get on the court next year. So, I’m sacrificing, and I feel like I just need to go out there and be me, of course, and just show that I can guard and make open shots and just be able to play.”

While Beauchamp’s two years of NBA experience will give him a leg up on most of the other players in Vegas, the Bucks don’t just want him just looking to rack up big scoring numbers, Nehm writes. The club’s summer league coach, Pete Dominguez, said the 23-year-old wing has been asked to focus on making the right plays when he gets the basketball.

“Doc has been consistent with him,” Dominguez said. “Quick decisions. Don’t hold it. Shoot it, drive it, pass it. Quick decisions. That’s what we’ve been drilling with him all summer long. I think that’s what he’s getting ready to really showcase in Las Vegas.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Pistons are hiring Kevin Burleson as an assistant coach under J.B. Bickerstaff, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Burleson, who has also served as an assistant in Memphis and Minnesota, has been the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston’s G League affiliate) for the past two seasons. He was previously part of Bickerstaff’s coaching staff for one season in Memphis (2018/19).
  • Following his first Summer League practice in Las Vegas, No. 5 overall pick Ron Holland spoke to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic about his first few weeks as a member of the Pistons, expressing his appreciation that the team drafted him without having hosted him for a pre-draft workout. “I did nine or 10 workouts and they weren’t one of them,” Holland said. “In talking to (the Pistons) and talking to my agent, I learned that they watched a lot of film and did a lot of background research on me. For them to still do all that, and not be able to get me for a workout, it does mean a lot. It shows that they have a lot of confidence in me and believe in my passion for the game. They see me as someone who can come here and help turn the program around, and that’s a huge blessing to me.”
  • The Bulls have officially announced that Wes Unseld Jr. and Dan Craig are joining Billy Donovan‘s coaching staff, as was reported earlier in the offseason. The team’s announcement also included confirmation that assistant coach John Bryant has been promoted to the front of the bench, Henry Domercant is transitioning from his role as head coach of the Windy City Bulls to become a second-row assistant in Chicago, and Billy Donovan III is the new head coach in Windy City.

Pistons Sign Bobi Klintman To Four-Year Deal

12:52pm: Klintman’s deal is official, according to the NBA’s transaction log.

11:39am: The Pistons are signing Bobi Klintman to a four-year contract worth just under $8MM, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link). The first two seasons are fully guaranteed, Charania adds.

Detroit selected Klintman, 21, with the 37th overall pick in last month’s draft. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype first reported that the Pistons were hoping to sign the Swedish forward to a multiyear standard contract.

Scotto confirms Klintman’s salary will be worth more than the minimum in 2023/24 (Twitter link) — a four-year, minimum-salary deal for a rookie would work out to $7,895,796, so it sounds like Klintman will earn an extra $100K or so next season. The Pistons will almost certainly use the second-round exception to sign the 6’9″ combo forward.

After spending his freshman season at Wake Forest in 2022/23, Klintman decided to play in Australia last season as part of the NBL’s Next Stars program. He appeared in 23 games for the Cairns Taipans in ’23/24, averaging 9.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 0.8 SPG on .443/.357/.793 shooting (21.3 MPG).

Pistons Hiring Luke Walton As Assistant Coach

The Pistons are hiring Luke Walton to join J.B. Bickerstaff‘s coaching staff as the lead assistant, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter link). As noted by Charania, Walton has spent the last two seasons serving as an assistant coach in Cleveland under Bickerstaff.

Walton played in the NBA for the Lakers from 2003-12 and then spent the 2012/13 season with the Cavs before retiring. He then enjoyed brief stints as an assistant for the University of Memphis and the now-South Bay Lakers of the G League.

Walton got his first NBA coaching job in 2014 as an assistant for the Warriors for two seasons. He helped the organization win a title in ’14/15 and earn an all-time best 73-9 record in ’15/16. Filling in as Golden State’s interim head coach at the start of the ’15/16 season while Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery, Walton led the Warriors to a 24-game winning streak and a 39-4 overall record. He was hired by the Lakers the following season as a first-time head coach.

The Lakers went 98-148 in three years under Walton. After leaving the Lakers, Walton was hired as the head coach in Sacramento, where he won 68 games in a little more than two seasons. In all, Walton owns a 166-241 record as a head coach.

Groups Revealed For 2024 NBA Cup

The NBA has announced the five-team groups for this year’s in-season tournament, now renamed the Emirates NBA Cup, the league announced in a release on Friday (Twitter link).

Like last year, there are six groups — three each from the Western Conference and Eastern Conference — and each conference was split into five groups based on last year’s standings. One team was selected at random from each group to determine the group round matchups.

The results are:

  • West Group A: Timberwolves, Clippers, Kings, Rockets and Trail Blazers
  • West Group B: Thunder, Suns, Lakers, Jazz and Spurs
  • West Group C: Nuggets, Mavericks, Pelicans, Warriors and Grizzlies
  • East Group A: Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Nets and Hornets
  • East Group B: Bucks, Pacers, Heat, Raptors and Pistons
  • East Group C: Celtics, Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks and Wizards

The NBA Cup begins with group play, which runs from Nov. 12 to Dec. 3. Each team plays one game against each of the four opponents in its group. The NBA released a matchup matrix to help fans follow along (Twitter link).

Just like last season, the winner of each group advances to a knockout round alongside the team with the best record in each conference that didn’t win a group. The semifinals and finals will again be played in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Last year, the Lakers won the inaugural in-season tournament over the Pacers. LeBron James was named the tournament MVP after dropping 24 points in the title game.

The full game and broadcast schedule for group play will be announced next month.

Pistons Re-Sign Simone Fontecchio To Two-Year Deal

JULY 12: The Pistons have officially re-signed Fontecchio, according to the NBA’s transaction log.

JULY 6: The Pistons and free agent wing Simone Fontecchio are in agreement on a two-year, $16MM contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Fontecchio, 28, played professionally in Europe from 2012-22 before signing with the Jazz two summers ago. He spent a season-and-a-half in Utah, then was traded to Detroit at this year’s trade deadline.

In 66 total games (43 starts) for the Jazz and Pistons in 2023/24, the Italian wing averaged 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 24.9 minutes per game, with a strong shooting line of .460/.401/.818.

Because he only has two years of NBA experience under his belt, Fontecchio was eligible for restricted free agency, and the Pistons issued him a $5.2MM qualifying offer to ensure that he wouldn’t be able to sign with another team without Detroit getting a chance to match.

It didn’t come to that, however, as the Pistons and Fontecchio have worked out a new deal directly, less than a week after the free agent period officially opened.

Fontecchio will provide additional shooting on a team that is prioritizing spacing the floor around rising star guard Cade Cunningham. Detroit has also agreed to sign Malik Beasley and Tobias Harris while acquiring Tim Hardaway Jr. in a trade with Dallas.

Fontecchio’s new deal won’t affect the Pistons’ cap room, since his $5.2MM cap hold has already been accounted for in the team’s cap projections. Detroit will be able to go over the cap to officially re-sign him using his Early Bird rights.

Scotto’s Latest: Jones, Kennard, Martin, Okogie, Knicks, Shamet, Klintman

The Clippers are showing interest in free agent guard Tyus Jones in sign-and-trade scenarios, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports in his latest around-the-league notebook.

While this is just speculation on Scotto’s part, the Clippers could look to use some combination of the expiring contracts of P.J. Tucker and Russell Westbrook or draft compensation and Bones Hyland in sign-and-trade scenarios for the Wizards guard.

Jones, our No. 15-ranked free agent, averaged 12.0 points and 7.3 assists per game last season while shooting 48.9% from the field and 41.4% from beyond the arc.

We have more from Scotto:

  • The leaguewide expectation is that Luke Kennard will return to the Grizzlies after the organization declined his team option before free agency, Scotto writes. Kennard averaged 11.0 PPG on 45.0% shooting from deep last season.
  • As we noted earlier Friday, it’s likely the Sixers look to use newly signed KJ Martin‘s contract as a trade chip when he becomes eligible to be moved on Jan. 15. The Sixers could trade for a player making $14MM if they packaged Martin alongside three minimum-salary players in a trade.
  • The Suns gave Josh Okogie a similar deal to what Martin got and could also look to utilize his salary as a trade chip, Scotto reports. However, unlike Martin, Okogie’s deal can’t be aggregated with other players on Phoenix’s roster due to the team’s position relative to the second tax apron.
  • The Knicks are trying to add both size and shooting to their roster this offseason, Scotto writes. Davis Bertans has previously been mentioned as an option for the Knicks, and they’re also expressing interest in free agent guard Landry Shamet. As reported, New York has shown interest in Walker Kessler but Utah’s asking price remains high. Meanwhile, Precious Achiuwa remains open to a return to New York.
  • Outside of the Knicks, Scotto reports that Shamet has drawn “exploratory interest” from the Bucks, Heat and Timberwolves. A return to the Wizards isn’t out of the question either.
  • The Pistons are attempting to finalize a contract with their No. 37 overall pick Bobi Klintman. Klintman is expected to end up on the 15-man roster on a multiyear contract, according to Scotto. The Pistons were intrigued by his size and shooting ability and are hoping to have him on a standard deal.