- A four-game layoff to rest a sprained left thumb helped Pistons second-year guard Killian Hayes, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press writes. ‘”It was good for him to take it off, he’s feeling much better now,” coach Dwane Casey said of Hayes, who had six points and eight assists in 29 minutes against the Lakers on Sunday. “We’ll see if he can jumpstart it to do it again. He was playing pretty good, especially defensively.”
- Despite the Pistons’ poor record, The Athletic’s James Edwards III doubts the front office will make any significant trades this season. Jerami Grant is the one significant player who could be moved, but Edwards doubts it. The most likely trade candidates are Josh Jackson (unrestricted free agent) and Hamidou Diallo (team option for next season). Coach Dwane Casey has job security after signing an extension this year, Edwards adds.
Former NBA guard Yogi Ferrell has left Greece’s Panathinaikos in order to seek a better opportunity, per Stavros Barbarousis of EuroHoops.net. Ferrell was unhappy with his limited role — he was averaging just eight minutes in five EuroLeague games. The 28-year-old point guard was waived by the Clippers in September after spending the last five years in the NBA.
We have more from around the basketball world:
- Fenway Sports Group wants to buy an NBA team once its acquisition of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins is completed, Axios’ Dan Primack reports. FSG has been buying marquee franchises in different geographic markets. It not only owns the Boston Red Sox, it also has also acquired a NASCAR team and the Liverpool F.C. soccer club. Additionally, it has an investment in Spring Hill Group, a content production firm co-founded by LeBron James.
- Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley tops ESPN’s first rookie power rankings this season. Writer Mike Schmitz ranks the Raptors’ Scottie Barnes and the Pistons’ Cade Cunningham second and third, respectively. Mobley is currently out due to an elbow injury.
- Tony Allen has asked the Grizzlies to postpone his jersey retirement until next season, according to Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Allen is currently dealing with federal charges for his alleged role in a multi-million dollar health insurance fraud scheme. Allen’s jersey retirement was scheduled for January 28.
- Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tries his luck at predicting which teams could be most active in trade talks leading up to the February deadline. Lottery teams like the Kings, Thunder, Magic, and Pistons are among those Pincus views as the best candidates to make moves.
- Pistons veteran Rodney McGruder is still popular in Miami, even as an opponent, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t surprised that Pistons coach Dwane Casey relies on McGruder for veteran leadership. “I don’t find it surprising at all, that Coach Casey has turned to him, because of that experience, because of his grit, toughness,” Spoelstra said. “He screams reliability and that plays well in this league.”
Lakers superstar LeBron James was suspended one game without pay and Pistons center Isaiah Stewart will serve a two-game suspension for their altercation on Sunday, the league announced in a press release.
James was suspended for recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation. Stewart was given a bigger penalty for escalating the incident by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing James in an unsportsmanlike manner.
Stewart had to be restrained numerous times by coaches and players from retaliating after James struck him in the face battling for position as Jerami Grant attempted a free throw. Pistons coach Dwane Casey stated afterward he didn’t feel Stewart deserved an additional penalty besides the in-game ejection.
James, who has never previously been suspended his career, will miss a marquee matchup against the Knicks on Tuesday. Stewart will serve his suspension Tuesday against the Heat and Wednesday against the Bucks.
Second-year guard Killian Hayes is expected to miss at least the next two games as the Pistons‘ medical staff attempts to alleviate the soreness in his sprained left thumb and increase its mobility, the team announced today.
As Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes (via Twitter), the injury has been an ongoing problem for Hayes, who first sat out on November 5 due to the ailment. He had mostly been playing through the injury up until Sunday, but has aggravated it several times, Langlois adds.
Lakers star LeBron James and Pistons youngster Isaiah Stewart were ejected from Sunday’s game in the third quarter following an on-court altercation and could face further punishment from the NBA league office.
James struck Stewart in the face while the two players were battling for position on a Jerami Grant free throw, opening up a large cut near Stewart’s right eye. The Pistons’ center, with blood streaming down his face, tried to go after LeBron and had to be held back by several teammates and coaches (video link). James was ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul and Stewart was tossed for “multiple unsportsmanlike acts,” as our Dana Gauruder writes for The Detroit Free Press.
While it seems likely that James and Stewart will face fines, if not suspensions, for their actions, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said after the game that he didn’t believe Stewart should receive any additional penalties.
“He shouldn’t be facing anything,” Casey said, per Gauruder. “Not getting off the court in time, the league will have to decide on that. The man got eight stitches, or whatever the number of stitches it is, across his forehead. … He was upset, blood running down his face. I don’t see ramifications from the league from that standpoint, except for him just (not) leaving the court, maybe. I thought that’s why he got ejected out of the game. To me, that’s enough punishment.”
The Lakers and Pistons are both off until Tuesday, but if the NBA is going to assess fines and/or suspensions, an announcement will likely come at some point on Monday.
Here’s more on the fracas in Detroit:
- Anthony Davis said after the game that James didn’t elbow Stewart intentionally and that he wanted to apologize to the 20-year-old. “Everyone in the league knows LeBron’s not a dirty guy,” Davis said, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “In fact, when he knew he hit him, as soon as he did it, he looked back at him like, ‘Oh, my bad. I didn’t try to do it.'”
- Lakers guard Russell Westbrook also received a technical foul as part of the skirmish, since referee Scott Foster and his crew believed Westbrook was acting as “an escalator and not a peacemaker.” Westbrook didn’t realize he had been assessed a technical until after the game, writes McMenamin. “Why’d I get a tech? I didn’t know I had a tech. Wow. That’s interesting,” Westbrook said. “Well, you know, that’s just being Russell, I guess. When you’re Russell Westbrook, they just try to do anything, apparently. Well, whatever. … They had to put it on somebody. I’m the easiest person to throw s–t on. Why not me?”
- While there may be an outside perception that Stewart, who also had a minor scuffle with Blake Griffin earlier this season, is a troublemaker, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic contends that couldn’t be further from the truth. Casey agrees with that assessment. “I told him, ‘Don’t let this define who you are. It doesn’t define your game whatsoever. Keep your head (up) and don’t get a reputation afterward,'” Casey said after the game. “I feel for the young man because he’s such a competitor and plays so hard. He’s a great kid. He felt like he got a cheap shot across his brow. On the street, it would be a different story. It’s no reflection on who Isaiah Stewart is whatsoever.”
- The Lakers were down by 17 points following James’ ejection, but battled back without him in the fourth quarter for a victory. Bill Oram of The Athletic wonders if the comeback could be a turning point for a Lakers team that has been up and down so far this season.
The Sixers don’t have any interest in acquiring Pistons forward Jerami Grant in a potential deal for Ben Simmons, a source tells Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Neubeck states that a Friday report that Grant is on a list of about 30 potential Sixers trade targets is outdated and there are no current negotiations involving Grant between the two teams.
Grant is a bad fit for the Sixers for several reasons, Neubeck adds. He’s too similar to Tobias Harris, and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is only willing to overlook concerns about position overlap if he can get a star player in return. Also, Morey doesn’t view Grant’s salary – $20MM this year and $20.9MM next season – as easy to move in a future deal.
Philadelphia doesn’t consider Grant to be talented enough to be the centerpiece of a Simmons deal, according to Neubeck’s source. Morey isn’t panicking about not having a deal for Simmons yet and continues to hope for an elite perimeter player such as Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard or someone else in that class.
The Sixers expect offers for Simmons to increase and improve starting after December 15, when most newly-signed free agents can be dealt, but they don’t feel like they have to get something done by the February 10 trade deadline, Neubeck adds. Many executives around the league believe Morey is willing to let Simmons remain idle all season and see what new trade opportunities are available next summer.
That could give the team a chance to take advantage of sign-and-trade possibilities involving upcoming free agents as well as unhappy stars looking for a change of scenery or new management taking over other franchises and being willing to gamble on Simmons.
- Recent rumors about a possible Ben Simmons trade don’t make sense for the Pistons, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Primarily a ball-handler on offense, Simmons isn’t a good fit for a team that already has Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham, Beard points out. There are also questions about how Simmons would affect the culture of a young team and concerns about taking on his hefty contract.