Detroit Pistons

Marcus Thornton Joins Pistons’ G League Team

Veteran NBA guard Marcus Thornton has signed a G League contract and has been acquired from the available player pool by the Pistons’ affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, a league source tells Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). The G League’s official transactions log confirms the move.

This Marcus Thornton should not be confused with the Marcus Thornton who was selected 45th overall in the 2015 draft by the Celtics — that former William & Mary guard, who has not appeared in an NBA regular season game, is currently playing for the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League affiliate.

This Thornton, 30, has played in 483 NBA regular season games since the start of the 2009/10 season, spending time with seven NBA teams over the course of his professional career. Most recently, the LSU alum averaged 6.6 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 33 contests for the Wizards in 2016/17. Although he worked out for the Timberwolves in the offseason, he was unable to land an NBA contract.

Thornton is the second former NBA player acquired by the Drive this week — the team also added swingman K.J. McDaniels. It’s not clear what sort of roles the two veterans will have for the Pistons’ G League affiliate, but both players will look to use the opportunity as a springboard back into the NBA.

Van Gundy Vows Changes To Snap Losing Streak

  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is hoping to shake up the team after a seven-game losing streak has brought Detroit back to the middle of the Eastern Conference, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Van Gundy recently replaced Stanley Johnson with Reggie Bullock in the starting lineup, and he indicated more changes are coming tomorrow, although they may not involve personnel. “It won’t be anything like a new offense, but we will shift our priorities a little bit in terms of play-calling — run some things more, run some things less and not run some things,” he said. “Our offensive approach hasn’t been as good as it could be to help these guys. Nothing different defensively; we just have to play it harder and better.”

K.J. McDaniels Joining Pistons' G League Affiliate

  • Veteran swingman K.J. McDaniels has signed a G League contract and been claimed off waivers by the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons‘ affiliate, tweets Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days. McDaniels, who spent time with the Nets and Rockets in 2016/17 and was in camp this fall with the Raptors, has averaged 5.3 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 148 total NBA games.

Leuer Receives Injection For Injured Ankle

  • Pistons power forward Jon Leuer had a joint lubrication injection to help heal his injured left ankle, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Leuer, who has already missed 15 games, won’t even be reevaluated for another two weeks. “Two to four weeks after the injection is when they would start to ramp him back up, so you’d have some time after that, too,” coach Stan Van Gundy told Beard and other media members. “You’re looking 3-5 or 4-6 [weeks] or something like that.”

Jon Leuer Expected To Miss 2-4 More Weeks

  • Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy said today that forward/center Jon Leuer, who has been out with a sprained ankle, is expected to undergo a non-surgical process that will keep him on the shelf for another two to four weeks, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Van Gundy had indicated last week that Leuer’s recovery wasn’t progressing like the Pistons had hoped.

The Benefits Of Stanley Johnson As A Starter

The Pistons have trotted out Stanley Johnson as a starting small forward and have been pleased with the returns, Rod Beard of the Detroit News. While Johnson has done a fine job chipping in offensively, it’s with his defense that he’s justified the promotion.

Johnson, Beard writes, is learning first-hand the highs and lows of the job. Being in the Pistons starting lineup means that he’ll have less of an obligation to initiate his own offense but will typically line up against opposing teams’ best forwards.

Playing with the first unit, you have better scorers and options,” Johnson said of the adjustment on that side of the ball. “You have Andre Drummond — that’s the biggest difference between any team and [the Pistons] —  and he creates so much attention.

  • The Pistons have been pleased with their production off the bench this season, thanks to a deep roster loaded with multiple skill sets. “We thought going into the season that depth would be one of our strengths because we thought that everybody on our roster had a chance to contribute,” head coach Stan Van Gundy told Ansar Khan of MLive. “We still feel that way and it does allow you to do different things in different situations.

Pistons Notes: Bradley, Drummond, Jackson

Avery Bradley, who was dealt to the Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris over the summer, didn’t want to leave the Celtics, but he understands Boston’s decision to make the move, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press relays.

“I understand what they did. I have no hard feelings at all. I ended up with a great situation and a great organization so I’m happy and they’re playing well,” Bradley said.

The shooting guard added that the team warned him that a trade was a strong possibility prior to making the transaction.

“There were [conversations] that me and [GM] Danny Ainge had, but when it does happen, it still catches you off guard a little bit destination-wise, where you end up,” Bradley said. “I know it’s part of the business so I respect their decision and I know that Danny is going to make the best decision for the Boston Celtics.”

The Celtics own the best record in the league at 18-4, but the Pistons sit just 3.5 games behind them for the Eastern Conference’s top spot after a pulling out a win on Monday in Beantown.

Here’s more from Detroit:

  • Bradley will be a free agent after the season, though it’s “obvious” that both he and Pistons have interest in a long-term deal, Ellis adds in the same piece. “It’s been really good for me so far,” Bradley said. “We have a great group of guys, a great coaching staff that’s pushing us every day and I feel like we are going to continue to grow as a group.”
  • Andre Drummond was seemingly available for the right price at last season’s trade deadline, but after improving his game this offseason, he is no longer on the table in trade talks, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes.
  • Executive/coach Stan Van Gundy believes the improvement is a result of Drummond putting in the necessary work and playing hard on a nightly basis, Beard passes along in the same piece. “There were never any doubts about his ability and he’s always been a good guy; the concern was whether he was going to play hard on a nightly basis,” Van Gundy said. “That was the question in my mind — and so far this year, it’s been a lot better.”
  • If the Pistons are going to remain in the conference’s top tier, they’ll need Reggie Jackson to maintain his level of play, Matt Barresi of NBAMath contends. The point guard is shooting a career-high 38.4% from downtown and he’s averaging nearly one more assist per 36-minutes than he did last season.

Extension Talks Never Got Serious For Jazz, Favors

While not many veteran NBA players qualify for contract extensions, Derrick Favors has been extension-eligible for each of the last two seasons, and came into the 2016/17 campaign hoping to sign a new deal. However, as Favors tells ESPN’s Zach Lowe, he and the Jazz never got close to working out an agreement, despite the fact that Utah had excess cap room to renegotiate his contract.

“They wanted to re-sign Gordon [Hayward], maybe extend George Hill,” Favors said. “And I got hurt. I understand the business part of it. If they had come to me, I’d have been open to it.”

Unrestricted free agency is fast approaching for Favors, who is earning $12MM in 2017/18 on an expiring deal. Considering the Jazz didn’t show much interest in extending Favors’ contract last season when they had plenty of cap flexibility, it’s probably safe to assume the team won’t make an effort to lock him up to an in-season extension this year either, even though he remains eligible. In fact, though he doesn’t cite any sources, Lowe suggests that Utah is more likely to explore the trade market for the 26-year-old.

According to Lowe, it’s not clear if the Jazz could even extract a low first-round pick or an equivalent young player for Favors at this point. Lowe names the Pistons, Pelicans, Bucks, and Nuggets as teams that might be among the potential fits, but cautions that none of those clubs are likely to give up much for a rental.

Favors’ production has been up and down since the start of the 2016/17 season, though he has played well over the last couple weeks with Rudy Gobert sidelined. Having seen more playing time at center during that stretch, Favors has averaged 15.9 PPG and 8.8 RPG in eight games.

Van Gundy Optimistic He Can Re-Sign Bradley

The Pistons acquired shooting guard Avery Bradley from the Celtics over the summer with the hope of signing him to a long-term agreement and that hasn’t changed, coach Stan Van Gundy told the Detroit News’ Rod Beard and other media members. Bradley, who is making $8.8MM this season, becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and Van Gundy is optimistic the Pistons can lock him up. “I’ll take our chances in the offseason,” Van Gundy said during a press conference.

However, there will be no in-season negotiations, Van Gundy added. “He knew right from the time we got him that we made the move thinking it would be a long-term thing but he knows it’s not something we’re going to talk to him at all about during the season,” Van Gundy said (Twitter links). The Celtics dealt Bradley to free up salary-cap room for free agent forward Gordon Hayward. Bradley is the Pistons’ second-leading scorer at 16.8 PPG.

  • Pistons rookie swingman Luke Kennard will need to show steady growth defensively to keep his rotation spot, Beard writes in a separate piece. Kennard was considered arguably the best pure shooter in the June draft but his shooting alone won’t guarantee him a spot on the second unit, Van Gundy told Beard and other media members. “He can’t get comfortable and think that he’s got secured minutes,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve flipped that spot over before — and we will again if he’s not going to do what he has to do.”

Jackson Happy To Win In Oklahoma City

  • Friday’s win at Oklahoma City was important to Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson, who spent the first three-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Thunder before a 2015 trade to Detroit. “It was definitely special because I haven’t won in this building – except for playing here and being on this team, but I hadn’t won in this building with this team,” Jackson told Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. “It’s good to get a team win like that and have these guys’ backs and find a way to get one is special.”
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