Pistons Rumors

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Kennard, J. Johnson, Final Roster Spot

With free agency possibly looming next summer, Pistons center Andre Drummond has put a priority on conditioning, relays Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Coach Dwane Casey said Drummond has spent the offseason working out with assistants Tim Grgurich and Sean Sweeney two or three times a day in Las Vegas and is “in the best shape since I’ve been around him.”

After this season ends, Drummond will have a decision to make on a $28,751,774 player option for 2020/21. He recently came under fire from fans for talking about how excited he is for a shot at free agency and had to clarify his remarks on Instagram. Casey decided in the second half of last season to shelve the experiment of having Drummond shoot more 3-pointers, but he still believes his center can be effective as a decision maker in the offense.

There’s more today from Detroit:

  • One of Casey’s training camp decisions will be whether to use Bruce Brown or Luke Kennard in the starting lineup, the coach tells Langlois in a separate story. “The issue with Luke in the first unit – it’s not an issue, it’s a good thing – but it’s just you kind of take away one of his strengths as far as his pick-and-roll game, his ballhandling game,” Casey said. “There’s only so many pick-and-roll games with that first unit. You’ve got Blake (Griffin) in the pick and roll, Reggie (Jackson) in the pick and roll, you’ve got Bruce running pick and roll some and now you’ve got Andre bringing the ball down the floor.”
  • Joe Johnson‘s new contract comes with a $220K guarantee and more incentives the longer he stays on the roster, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Johnson’s guaranteed money will increase to $1.37MM if he earns a roster spot for opening night and $2.56MM if he remains on the team through January 7.
  • The Pistons have several options for the final spot on their roster heading into camp, observes Duncan Smith of Forbes. Detroit has 14 guaranteed contracts, leaving Johnson, Khyri Thomas and Christian Wood as the most likely candidates outside of that group to make the team, according to Smith. He adds that the front office could consider opening another spot by waiving Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who has a minimum contract, or trading Langston Galloway. who has an expiring deal worth $7.3MM.

Pistons Sign Joe Johnson

SEPTEMBER 19: The Pistons have officially signed Johnson, the team announced today in a press release.

SEPTEMBER 12Joe Johnson and the Pistons have reached an agreement a contract, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. League sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that it’s a partially guaranteed one-year deal.

Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link) first reported that the two sides were on the verge of an agreement. A report earlier this week indicated that Detroit was the frontrunner for the free agent forward.

Johnson, 38, has appeared in nearly 1,400 career NBA games, counting the postseason, but didn’t play in the league in 2018/19 after finishing the ’17/18 campaign in Houston. The 17-year NBA veteran showed he still had something left in the tank during his run in Ice Cube‘s BIG3 league this summer, earning MVP honors and leading his 3-on-3 team to a championship.

Following his stint in the BIG3, Johnson drew interest from a handful of NBA teams, reportedly lining up workouts with the Sixers, Bucks, and Nets in addition to the Pistons. However, Detroit emerged as the apparent favorite in part due to Johnson’s connection to Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem, a former agent who used to represent Iso Joe.

Assuming Johnson finalizes a deal with the Pistons, he may have to compete with Christian Wood for the team’s final regular season roster spot. Michael Beasley was also expected to vie for that spot, but Goodman suggests the former No. 2 overall pick will be released to open up room on the 20-man offseason roster for Johnson.

Technically, it doesn’t appear that Beasley actually signed with the Pistons after agreeing to terms on a non-guaranteed contract with the team last month. Now that he’s the odd man out, his deal will likely just never be completed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pistons Notes: Snell, Wood, Doumbouya, Griffin

The Pistons want to put up plenty of three-point shots in 2019/20, but the club lost one of its top outside shooters in the offseason when Wayne Ellington headed to New York in free agency. As such, new forward Tony Snell – who is a career 38.2% three-point shooter but has never attempted more than 4.4 3PG in a season – will be asked to let it fly more than ever this season, head coach Dwane Casey tells Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

“With Wayne Ellington with 10 attempts (per 36 minutes) going out the door and we want to be a three-point shooting team, you’ve got to bring those guys in and I think we did that in Tony,” Casey said. “He lit up like a Christmas tree when I said, ‘You’ve got a green light. We need your three-point shooting.’ We need to make up those 10 threes. Maybe not him getting them all up, but he’s going to get a big bulk of those shots coming in.”

With Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, and Reggie Jackson locked in as starters, the Pistons will have a couple spots in their starting five to fill out, and one of those spots will likely be Snell’s to lose, according to Casey, who praised the former Buck’s size and defensive versatility.

Here’s more on the Pistons, including a handful of additional comments from Casey on his new-look roster:

  • Speaking to Langlois, Casey pointed to Markieff Morris and Christian Wood as two players who could play center in smaller lineups. The Pistons’ head coach added that the team is looking for consistency and discipline out of Wood, who is on a non-guaranteed contract and isn’t a lock to make the 15-man roster. “There’s never been a question about Christian’s talent,” Casey said. “With Christian, it’s temperament, being a pro, doing the right things all the time and doing what you’re supposed to do all the time.”
  • Pistons first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya will still be 18 years old when his rookie season begins, and the team will bring him along at the right pace, per Casey. Still, Detroit’s head coach is bullish on Doumbouya’s chances to develop into an impact player, calling him a “keeper for our program” and suggesting the young forward could have a role sooner rather than later if he proves he can handle it. “I’m not one of these guys that just because a guy is young, not going to play,” Casey said to Langlois. “If he can help us win games, he’s going to be out there.”
  • The Pistons expect Blake Griffin, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of last season, to be 100% and “back to full speed” when the season gets underway, Casey tells Langlois. The club also hopes to limit the wear and tear on the All-Star forward in 2019/20 by surrounding him with a few more guys who can “handle the ball and make plays.”
  • In a mailbag, Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a look at the upcoming battle between Wood and Joe Johnson for the 15th roster spot and explores whether the Pistons might consider a trade that would clear the way for both players to make the team to start the season.

Tyndall Named G League Coach

  • Donnie Tyndall has officially been named head coach of the Pistons’ G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, the NBAGL team tweets. The Pistons’ plan to hire Tyndall was first reported in July. Tyndall has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Raptors 905, helping win a league championship under Jerry Stackhouse in 2017.

Pistons Notes: Beasley, Casey, Wood, Rose

As we noted when Joe Johnson agreed to sign with the Pistons earlier today, no roster move will be required to create room on the 20-man roster for the veteran forward.

Although multiple reports suggested that Michael Beasley would be waived, ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirms (via Twitter) that Beasley and the Pistons never officially finalized their reported agreement, so Johnson will simply take the spot on the roster that Beasley would have.

Of course, preseason rosters are generally fluid, so if the Pistons still want to bring the former second overall pick in for training camp, they could eventually do so — they’d just have to cut another camp invitee. However, a source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) that Beasley is unlikely to be in camp with Detroit.

Beasley still faces a five-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, so if and when he signs with a new NBA team, he’ll have to miss his first five regular season contests for that club.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • A source tells Ellis (Twitter link) that Pistons head coach Dwane Casey was “very instrumental” in selling Johnson on signing with Detroit.
  • Marks provides an update on the guarantee details on Christian Wood‘s contract, tweeting that Wood’s $1.65MM salary will only become partially guaranteed for $822K if he’s not waived by October 23. Wood figures to be Johnson’s primary competition for a regular season roster spot in Detroit.
  • While Derrick Rose‘s goal of winning a championship with the Pistons is admirable, the former MVP’s top priority should be staying healthy, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com lauds the work that head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski has done in the last two offseasons to add young talent to the Pistons’ roster. Five players currently under contract with the team were drafted in the last two years, and that list doesn’t include 2017 lottery pick Luke Kennard, 22-year-old big man Thon Maker, or draft-and-stash prospect Deividas Sirvydis.

Nets’ Interest In Carmelo Anthony May Be Growing

With Joe Johnson possibly headed to Detroit, several Nets veterans are pushing the front office to sign Carmelo Anthony, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Johnson said he was planning to work out for Brooklyn this week, but sources tell Lewis it hasn’t happened yet. He had a session with the Pistons yesterday, and The Athletic’s Frank Isola said on SiriusXMNBA, “From what I’m hearing, Detroit is the favorite to land Joe Johnson.” (Twitter link)

That may leave Anthony for the Nets, who suddenly have a depth issue at forward. In addition to playing without Kevin Durant, who may be sidelined for the entire season, Brooklyn lost Wilson Chandler to a 25-game PED suspension and Rodions Kurucs may be suspended as well over domestic violence allegations.

The Athletic reported that Durant and Kyrie Irving were appealing to management to add Anthony, and GM Sean Marks recently watched him play. Anthony spent much of the summer working out in Los Angeles with a few Nets players.

Taurean Prince tweeted a video of Anthony from those pickup games, along with the following endorsement: “Guarded him for a month straight. Same Melo only thing diff is the narrative ppl throw on his name.”

The Nets are eligible to move a suspended player off their active roster after the fifth game, so talks with Anthony could heat up by early November, if not sooner.

Pistons In Lead For Joe Johnson?

Free agent forward Joe Johnson is in Detroit today to work out for the Pistons, sources tell Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link).

Johnson’s workout with the Pistons had been expected, as a report last week indicated that the NBA veteran, who has already worked out for the Sixers, would also audition for the Pistons, Bucks and Nets. However, Frank Isola of The Athletic provides some new info, suggesting during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio today that he has heard Detroit is the frontrunner to sign Johnson (Twitter link via Noah Coslov).

As Bobby Marks of ESPN observes (via Twitter), there’s a connection between Johnson and Detroit — the 38-year-old used to be represented by former agent Arn Tellem, who is now the Pistons’ vice chairman. Additionally, there could still be a regular season roster up for grabs in Detroit, since the team is carrying just 14 players on guaranteed contracts. Christian Wood and Michael Beasley are currently expected to compete for the 15th and final roster spot.

After not playing in the NBA during the 2018/19 season, Johnson joined Ice Cube‘s BIG3 league this summer and excelled in the 3-on-3 format. He was named the BIG3’s MVP after leading the league in points and assists, capping off a dominant summer-long run by scoring 28 of his team’s 50 points in the championship game.

While the competition in the BIG3 obviously isn’t on the same level as in the NBA, Johnson’s impressive performance in the league has generated interest among a handful of teams who view him as a potential scorer off the bench.

Rose Aiming For Championship

Derrick Rose signed with the Pistons this summer in pursuit a championship, he said in a Sirius XM NBA Radio interview (Twitter link). Rose, who inked a two-year, $15MM contract, feels the Pistons can contend in the Eastern Conference behind the big man duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. “While I’m in the game, I want to win a championship,” he said. “That’s what I really want to do. I’ve got all the accolades I wanted.  Now it’s time for me to get the one I really, really want. I’ve won at every level except for this level.”

12 NBA Salary Guarantees To Watch In October

The majority of the NBA players who are currently on non-guaranteed contracts won’t have their salaries for 2019/20 become fully guaranteed until January 10. That’s the league-wide salary guarantee date and the default deadline that applies to players who haven’t negotiated an earlier salary guarantee date.

Still, some players did negotiate an earlier trigger date, and the majority of those deadlines will arrive in October. At least a dozen players around the NBA are believed to have partial or full guarantees that will go into effect in October.

Now, it’s worth noting that salary guarantee dates are somewhat malleable. If the player’s camp agrees, a team can quietly move that deadline back, giving the club more time to make a decision on whether or not to fully invest in its player for the 2019/20 season. The player doesn’t necessarily have to agree, but he may be on board with postponing that deadline if the alternative is being waived and receiving none of his salary.

Most of our information related to salary guarantee dates is coming from the salary database at Basketball Insiders, and BI hasn’t published all the details on the latest signings from around the NBA yet. In other words, there could be a few more recently-signed players who have October salary guarantee dates.

For now though, these are the 12 players believed to have salary guarantee dates coming up next month:

Full guarantees:

  1. Ivan Rabb (Grizzlies): Partial guarantee of $371,758 increases to full guarantee of $1,618,520 salary if not waived by October 19.
  2. Chris Boucher (Raptors): Partial guarantee of $125,000 increases to full guarantee of $1,588,231 salary if not waived by first day of regular season.
  3. Malcolm Miller (Raptors): Partial guarantee of $150,000 increases to full guarantee of $1,588,231 salary if not waived by first day of regular season.
  4. Duncan Robinson (Heat): Partial guarantee of $1,000,000 increases to full guarantee of $1,416,852 salary if not waived by first day of regular season.
  5. Kenrich Williams (Pelicans): Partial guarantee of $200,000 increases to full guarantee of $1,416,852 salary if not waived by first day of regular season.

Partial guarantees:

  1. Christian Wood (Pistons): $1,645,357 salary becomes partially guaranteed ($822,679) if not waived before first day of regular season.
  2. Trey Burke (Sixers): Partial guarantee of $405,000 increases to $810,000 if not waived by first day of regular season (full salary is $2,028,594).
  3. Jordan McRae (Wizards): Partial guarantee of $400,000 increases to $600,000 if not waived by first day of regular season (full salary is $1,645,357).
  4. Dragan Bender (Bucks): Partial guarantee of $300,000 increases to $600,000 if not waived by first day of regular season (full salary is $1,678,854).
  5. Ben McLemore (Rockets): Partial guarantee of $50,000 increases to $500,000 if not waived by first day of regular season (full salary is $2,028,594).
  6. Kendrick Nunn (Heat): Partial guarantee of $150,000 increases to $450,000 if not waived by first day of regular season (full salary is $1,416,852).
  7. William Howard (Jazz): Partial guarantee of $50,000 increases to $250,000 if not waived by first day of regular season (full salary is $898,310).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Teams With Full 20-Man Rosters

Training camps are still several weeks away from opening, but a number of NBA teams have already reached their 20-player offseason roster limits, either officially or unofficially.

Offseason rosters are fairly fluid. Teams will often sign a player to an Exhibit 10 contract to ensure he’ll receive a bonus if he spends time with their G League affiliate, then waive him days later. So the clubs with full 20-man rosters now won’t necessarily bring those specific 20 players to training camp. Still, it appears that at least a handful of teams may be done making roster moves until camps open.

With the help of our roster count tracker, here’s a breakdown:

Officially full 20-man rosters:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Utah Jazz

While the Cavaliers are carrying 19 players on standard contracts and just one on a two-way deal, the six other teams listed here have an 18/2 split and probably won’t have their camp invitees compete for a two-way slot.

Still, a few roster decisions are likely in store for some teams on this list. The Grizzlies, for instance, are carrying 17 players with full or partial guarantees, and probably won’t still have Andre Iguodala on their roster by the time they set their 15-man regular season roster.

Unofficially full 20-man rosters:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Minnesota Timberwolves

Each of these three teams technically has 19 players under contract, with one roster spot still open. However, Kobi Simmons is expected to fill that final spot for the Hornets, Michael Beasley will do so for the Pistons, and Tyus Battle will be the Timberwolves‘ 20th man.

Very unofficially full 20-man rosters:

  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks

The Pelicans have 18 players under contract, but various post-draft reports in June indicated that they’d sign Jalen Adams, Aubrey Dawkins, and Javon Bess at some point. It’s possible one or more of those reports was erroneous, or the agreements fell apart. For now though, we’re assuming some combination of those players will fill out New Orleans’ 20-man roster.

The Knicks are in a similar boat, with 16 players officially signed and five other contract agreements reported. Deals with Kris Wilkes, V.J. King, and Amir Hinton were reported in June, while July and August reports indicated that New York would also sign Kenny Wooten and Lamar Peters. We’re still waiting to see if the team finalizes all those signings.