Pistons Rumors

Draft Notes: Pistons, Timberwolves, Banton, Hornets

Pittsburgh’s Justin Champagnie, Toledo’s Spencer Littleson, UC Santa Barbara’s Jaquori McLaughlin and Florida State’s M.J. Walker are among the players the Pistons worked out on Friday, Keith Smith tweets. The 6’6” Champagnie is ranked No. 63 among all prospects and 10th among small forwards by ESPN. The G League Ignite’s Daishen Nix also participated in the workout. Nix is ranked by No. 55 by ESPN and 10th among point guard prospects.

We have more draft-related news:

  • McLaughlin, ranked No. 93 by ESPN, also worked out recently for the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. The 6’4” McLaughlin was the Big West’s Conference Player of the Year. Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr. also visited the Timberwolves, Wolfson adds in a separate tweet. Washington is participating in the G League Elite Camp in Chicago this weekend.
  • Nebraska guard Dalano Banton also received an invite to the Elite Camp, Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated tweets. Blanton averaged 9.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 3.9 APG last season.
  • The Hornets hosted several prospects on Thursday, including North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Dayton’s Jalen Crutcher, Winthrop’s Chandler Vaudrin, Tennessee’s Yves Pons and Washington’s Nahziah Carter, according to Matthew Stephens of the Charlotte Observer. Pons, a small forward, is ranked No. 88.

Ball, Edwards, Haliburton Head All-Rookie Team

LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Jae’Sean Tate and Saddiq Bey comprised this year’s All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced on Thursday in a press release.

Ball, who was named Rookie of the Year on Thursday, led first-year NBA players in assists (6.1 APG) and steals (1.59 SPG) and ranked second in scoring (15.7 PPG) and rebounding (5.9 RPG) for the Hornets. Edwards, the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Timberwolves, averaged a rookie-high 19.3 PPG.

The Kings’ Haliburton ranked third among rookies in scoring (13.0 PPG) and second in assists (5.3 APG). Bey, the 19th overall pick, made a rookie-high 175 three-pointers for the Pistons. Tate, who went undrafted in 2018 and played in Australia last season, averaged 11.3 PPG and 5.3 PPG for the Rockets.

Ball and Edwards were the only unanimous First Team selections, receiving 99 of 99 potential First Team votes. Haliburton got 98, while Bey had 63 and Tate received 57.

Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley narrowly missed out on the top five, having earned 51 votes for the First Team.

Here are both All-Rookie teams in full, with their voting point totals notes in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

2020/21 All-Rookie First Team:

2020/21 All-Rookie Second Team:

Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo (42), Magic guard Cole Anthony (40), and Warriors center James Wiseman (24) were among the players who just missed the cut. Nine other players received votes — you can view the full voting results right here.

Draft Notes: Mamukelashvili, Carr, Champagnie, Figueroa, Cockburn, Sims

Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili is scheduled to work out for the Pistons on Thursday, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. The 6’11” Mamukelashvili already worked out for the Jazz, Thunder and Hornets. He’s currently listed as the No. 56 overall prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more news and insights on this year’s draft:

LaMelo Ball Named NBA Rookie Of The Year

6:55pm: Ball’s victory has been confirmed by the NBA in a press release. He received 84 of 99 first-place votes, with the others going to Edwards.

Overall, Ball had 465 points, while Edwards was second with 309. Haliburton was third with 114 points. The Pistons’ Saddiq Bey was the only other player to receive votes, garnering three third-place selections.


1:53pm: Hornets guard LaMelo Ball has won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award for the 2020/21 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, an official announcement from the league is expected soon.

Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards and Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton were the other finalists for the award. I’d expect Edwards to finish second in the voting, with Haliburton coming in third, but we’ll have to wait for the official breakdown from the NBA.

The third overall pick in the 2020 draft, Ball had a breakthrough rookie year in Charlotte, averaging 15.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per games in 51 contests (28.8 MPG). There were questions about the 19-year-old’s jump shot entering his first professional season, but Ball put up a respectable shooting line of .436/.352/.758, emerging as the Hornets’ starting point guard despite the presence of veterans Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham.

A fractured right wrist sidelined Ball for over a month in March and April, but he returned to the court down the stretch to help the Hornets clinch a spot in the play-in tournament. The club was bounced in the first game by Indiana, but Ball’s performance in 2020/21 bodes well for the long-term future in Charlotte.

2021 NBA Offseason Preview: Detroit Pistons

When Troy Weaver took the reins as the Pistons‘ general manager in 2020, fans and observers were a little caught off guard by his initial series of roster moves.

The rebuilding Pistons signed non-star veteran free agents like Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee to multiyear contracts; acquired players like Dewayne Dedmon and Zhaire Smith, only to waive-and-stretch them; and gave up nearly all of their future second-round picks along with Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown in order to land a third first-round pick in the draft.

Weaver’s unorthodox approach to rebuilding – or, as he calls it, “restoring” – didn’t exactly pay immediate dividends, as the Pistons’ 20-52 record was the worst in the Eastern Conference. But the Pistons’ crop of rookies – Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Bey, and Saben Lee – had promising seasons, Grant thrived in an increased role, and Plumlee proved to be a worthwhile investment.

It may still be a couple years before the Pistons are back in the postseason, but there are reasons to be optimistic about the club’s future.


The Pistons’ Offseason Plan:

The 2021 NBA draft is widely considered to have a top tier of five players, and there’s approximately an 80% chance the Pistons will secure a top-five pick, putting the team in position to select Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green, or Jonathan Kuminga.

Drafting any of those players would be a great start to the offseason for Weaver and company. Landing at No. 6 would be a setback, but would still give Detroit a chance to add a promising prospect to its young core.

The dead money that the Blake Griffin buyout left on the Pistons’ books for 2021/22 will hinder the team from opening up a ton of cap room. But as we saw last fall, Weaver won’t hesitate to take some chances and make the most of what little space the team does have.

Still, I wouldn’t expect the Pistons to be quite as active or aggressive as they were a year ago, when they were involved in seven offseason trades and handed out multiple long-term contracts in free agency. Weaver will certainly continue working to reshape the roster to meet his vision, but I’d be surprised if the Pistons’ lottery pick isn’t the team’s most noteworthy roster addition this summer.

Detroit’s figures to focus on finding under-the-radar value and perhaps even using its limited cap room to accommodate a salary-dump trade that helps replenish the team’s collection of second-round picks. Then, the priority will be player development — the organization has already brought in John Beilein and is overhauling Dwane Casey‘s coaching staff with that goal in mind.


Salary Cap Situation

Note: Our salary cap projections are based on a presumed 3% increase, which would result in a $112.4MM cap for 2021/22.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Two-Way Free Agents

Draft Picks

  • First-round pick (cap hold TBD) 5
  • No. 37 overall pick (no cap hold)
  • No. 42 overall pick (no cap hold) 6
  • No. 52 overall pick (no cap hold)

Extension-Eligible Players

  • Cory Joseph (veteran)
  • Rodney McGruder (veteran)

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

The Pistons have $88MM in guaranteed money on their books and will retain Diallo’s $2MM cap hold as they look to work out a new deal with him. That puts the team in position to operate either over or under the cap, depending in large part on whether they want to bring back Joseph. The cap hold for their first-round pick will also be a factor — it could be worth $10MM+ if it’s the No. 1 pick or less than $6MM if it’s No. 6.

My best guess for now is that the Pistons will waive Joseph before his salary becomes fully guaranteed and perhaps stretch his partial guarantee across three years, maximizing their flexibility in 2021. That could leave the team with $15MM+ in potential cap space. But again, if Detroit lands the first overall pick and/or really wants to keep Joseph around, operating over the cap – and having the full mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available – is another viable path for the team.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Room exception: $4,910,000 7

Footnotes

  1. Joseph’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after August 1.
  2. McGruder’s salary becomes fully guaranteed in mid-August (exact date TBD).
  3. Cook’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after August 10.
  4. Because he’ll have four years of NBA service, Jackson is ineligible to sign another two-way contract.
  5. The Pistons’ first-round pick is lottery-dependent. It could end up anywhere between 1-6.
  6. This pick could move up to No. 41 if San Antonio’s first-round pick moves ahead of Charlotte’s in the lottery.
  7. This is a projected value. If the Pistons operate over the cap, they’d have the mid-level exception ($9.5MM), bi-annual exception ($3.7MM), and a trade exception ($2MM) available.

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

Pistons Adding Three Assistants To Dwane Casey’s Staff

The Pistons are finalizing deals to add three new assistant coaches to Dwane Casey‘s staff, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Detroit is expected to hire Jerome Allen, Bill Bayno, and Rex Kalamian.

Allen, who recently interviewed for the Celtics’ head coaching job and has been linked to the Trail Blazers’ vacancy as well, has been an assistant on Brad Stevens‘ staff in Boston since 2015, but appears set for a change of scenery.

Bayno, who previously worked on Casey’s staff in Toronto, was a Pacers assistant from 2016-21 before resigning due to mental health issues earlier this year. Kalamian was also a Raptors assistant under Casey until 2018. He joined the Clippers for two years, then the Kings for the 2020/21 season.

A recent report suggested that Pistons assistant Micah Nori may leave Detroit for a job with the Timberwolves, so it seems safe to assume Casey’s staff will look much different in 2021/22 than it did this past season.

At least one familiar face will be back, however. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Detroit is currently negotiating a new two-year contract with assistant coach Sean Sweeney, who has been on the staff since 2018.

Pistons To Renounce Rights To Jaylen Hands

The Pistons are set to renounce their rights to guard Jaylen Hands, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), who reports that the team and player have agreed to part ways.

Hands, 22, was selected with the No. 56 pick in 2019 out of UCLA by the Clippers, who traded him to the Nets on draft night. A year later, during the 2020 offseason, Brooklyn traded Hands’ rights to the Pistons. Although Detroit has held his NBA rights since then, the 6’3″ guard has yet to sign an NBA contract.

Hands played for Brooklyn’s NBAGL affiliate, the Long Island Nets, during his first professional season in 2019/20, averaging 11.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.9 RPG, and 1.0 SPG across 40 games (including 18 starts). He later signed a two-year deal with Serbian club KK FMP in January 2021.

Once Detroit formally renounces its rights to Hands, he’ll become an NBA free agent. That would allow the former five-star recruit to sign with any NBA team once his contract with FMP expires — or earlier, if that deal has an opt-out clause.

Luke Adams contributed to this report.

Stewart Keeps Tabs On Players Drafted Ahead Of Him

  • The major focus for the Pistons in the short run will be their lottery pick, but what GM Troy Weaver and his inner circle do after the draft will be even more telling, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Detroit won’t be anywhere near as active as it was last offseason, when Weaver did major roster reconstruction. The next major move after the draft, either in free agency or a trade, could be focused on making the roster more whole by improving the team’s 3-point shooting.
  • Pistons center Isaiah Stewart, who was selected No. 16 in last year’s draft, admits he keeps tabs on the players selected ahead of him as a motivation tool, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic“Throughout the entire season, I’ve kept track of my rookie peers and peers at my position, as well, to see what they’re doing and what the media said about them going into the draft, how they were all hyped up. … I don’t let it distract me in the wrong way. It adds fuel to my fire. I just take notes.”

Assistant GM David Mincberg Leaving Pistons

Assistant Pistons GM David Mincberg is leaving Detroit after one season under GM Troy Weaver, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic. Edwards indicates that the split was mutual.

The rebuilding Pistons collected an array of intriguing young players during 2020/21, Mincberg’s lone year with the club. Detroit selected promising rookies Saddiq BeyIsaiah StewartKillian Hayes, and Saben Lee in the 2020 draft. The Pistons also made tactical free agent acquisitions in adding ex-Nuggets Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee last fall, traded for athletic 22-year old swingman Hamidou Diallo during the season, and will be selecting a top lottery pick in the 2021 draft.

Mincberg got his start as in-house legal counsel for the Grizzlies and the MLS club D.C. United. With Memphis, he became active in a variety of front office capacities, including scouting, the draft, trades and free agency. Mincberg was then hired as the Bucks’ director of basketball strategy in 2017, before being promoted to VP of basketball strategy ahead of the 2019/2020 season.

The Pistons have been actively reshaping their leadership group already during the offseason, having added longtime Michigan head coach (and short-term Cavaliers head coach) John Beilein as senior advisor/player development earlier this month.

Timberwolves Targeting Micah Nori?

  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) identifies Micah Nori as a name to watch as a potential addition to Chris Finch‘s Timberwolves coaching staff. Nori has spent the last few years with the Pistons on Dwane Casey‘s staff.