Pistons Rumors

Second Bubble For NBA’s Bottom Eight Teams Now Appears Unlikely

A report one month ago suggested that the NBA appeared likely to create a second campus/bubble environment in Chicago for the league’s bottom eight teams. The idea was for those teams left out of the Orlando restart to spend some time with their players during the offseason, conducting mini-training camps and inter-squad games in a single location.

However, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, there’s a growing belief that a second bubble site won’t happen. The Athletic’s duo reports that there’s also pessimism about those bottom eight teams getting to hold in-market minicamps for group workouts.

“There’s nothing happening,” said one general manager following a Tuesday call with the eight GMs and various league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”

With the NBA focusing on the success of the Orlando restart, discussions about plans for the bottom eight teams – the Warriors, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Hawks, Bulls, Pistons, Knicks, and Hornets – have been inconsistent. As recently as last week, there seemed to be momentum building toward a plan to allow those clubs to hold practices and workouts, but that momentum has apparently stalled.

According to Charania and Amick, the National Basketball Players Association has safety concerns related to the idea of a second bubble amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. There are also financial and logistical complications associated with creating a smaller-scale version of the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus.

Charania and Amick suggest that the NBPA is more open to the idea of creating smaller, in-market bubbles for teams to host individual mini-camps in their respective cities. But it sounds as if that won’t happen by mid-August as initially hoped, if it happens at all.

The eight teams left out of the Orlando restart believe they’re at a potential competitive disadvantage by missing out on the player and culture development that other teams are getting this summer, sources tell The Athletic. Those clubs are expected to continue pushing for some form of offseason team activities to re-engage players and coaches. For now, they’re only permitted to hold 1-on-0 workouts at their practice facilities, with limited coach involvement.

A Look At The Options For The Grand Rapids Drive

Pistons Notes: Wood, Kennard, G League, Mincberg

An agent who spoke to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic speculates that Christian Wood may lose some leverage on the free agent market this offseason as a result of two factors: The impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on the salary cap and the fact that the Pistons have a new general manager in Troy Weaver.

As the agent points out, Weaver has a fresh slate and doesn’t necessarily have an attachment to Wood, so he may be reluctant to commit big money to the breakout big man, since it would hamper his flexibility going forward. And since few teams around the NBA will have cap room available, the Pistons may be able to play hardball to some extent with Wood and avoid making a massive commitment.

“To me, Christian Wood and his reps have a tricky situation because you have that situation with the Pistons’ (new GM), the lack of a rise in cap space and things like that,” the agent told Edwards. “They have to play their hand right, or they could be out there looking for a chair in a game of musical chairs.”

The agent added that he’d feel more comfortable investing long-term in Luke Kennard – who will be extension-eligible this offseason – than in Wood, given the way the wing and big man positions are valued in the modern NBA.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com takes a closer look at the Pistons’ purchase of the Northern Arizona Suns, detailing how it will allow the team to move its G League affiliate to Detroit and why the organization felt the investment will be a worthwhile one.
  • As Langlois details in a separate article at Pistons.com, Weaver and the Pistons’ front office will face a difficult challenge in this year’s draft: Finding a potential franchise cornerstone in a draft class that appears lacking in surefire stars.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News spoke to Bucks general manager Jon Horst about David Mincberg, whom the Pistons recently hired away from Milwaukee as an assistant general manager. “I think that he’s a very creative thinker that has a persistent, tactful way of approaching things,” Horst said of Mincberg. “And that, for me, was incredibly beneficial.”
  • It remains to be seen whether the NBA will actually move forward with a reported plan to create a second “bubble” in Chicago for the league’s bottom eight teams, but Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press explores whether such an arrangement would benefit the Pistons.

Pistons To Purchase G League Team From Suns

The Pistons have reached an agreement to purchase the Northern Arizona G League franchise from the Suns, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Athletic. An announcement was made this morning by the Pistons, the Suns, and the G League.

The team will be given a new name and is expected to play in an arena currently under construction at Wayne State University, starting in the 2021/22 season. Grand Rapids will continue to serve as the Pistons’ G League affiliate next season, while the Suns will operate the Northern Arizona franchise for another year (Twitter link).

The Drive plan to stay in their current location and remain in the G League as an unaffiliated team, a source tells James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Trail Blazers and Nuggets are the only other NBA teams without a direct G League affiliate, so it’s possible they could emerge as eventual options for the Drive, Edwards adds (Twitter link).

“The Drive remain committed to the city of Grand Rapids and we look forward to our continued future here in West Michigan within the NBA G League,” the Drive stated in a press release (Twitter link from Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “We’ve begun discussions about the future of our affiliation; details of which we hope to have in the coming weeks. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, providing the people of West Michigan with a great professional basketball experience.”

The Pistons’ contract with the G League team expires after next season, and Grand Rapids officials had said they weren’t interested in moving the franchise to Detroit, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

Phoenix GM James Jones released a statement on the deal, saying ownership of the Northern Arizona team “does not align with the Phoenix Suns’ strategic plan for player development over the next three-to-five years,” tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Jones said the G League team will play in Phoenix next season at an undetermined venue before being sold to the Pistons.

NBA Nears Agreement On Workouts For Teams Not In Orlando

The NBA is close to finalizing plans for the eight teams not in Orlando to hold practices and group workouts, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Under the proposal, those teams would be allowed a week of practice at their home facilities, beginning the second week of August. They might also conduct two weeks of group workouts and scrimmages at two of those sites.

The plan would have to be approved by the National Basketball Players Association but talks have progressed to point where an announcement could be made next week, according to Bonnell. If those teams do agree to the two-week workout and scrimmage sessions, they would be subject to the same safety protocols as the players at the Orlando campus.

The teams not currently in Orlando are the Hornets, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, Timberwolves, Hawks, Cavaliers and Warriors.

Many of those teams have been pushing for some sort of organized activities, feeling they’re at a competitive disadvantage compared to the teams on the Orlando campus. However, the Knicks were reportedly reluctant to hold scrimmages against other clubs since they have numerous free agents on their roster.

Currently, players on those teams are only allowed to work on individual skills development, Bonnell notes.

Draft Notes: Tilmon, M. Smith, Early Entrants

After Missouri guard Xavier Pinson announced earlier this week that he was pulling out of the 2020 NBA draft to return to school for another year, a pair of his teammates who had been testing the waters have followed suit.

According to Mizzou Hoops (Twitter link), forwards Jeremiah Tilmon and Mitchell Smith are also returning to the Tigers for their senior seasons in 2020/21.

Neither Tilmon nor Smith was a full-time starter at Missouri this past season. Tilmon averaged 8.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 17 games (19.9 MPG), while Smith recorded 5.1 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 30 games (21.9 MPG). They’ll each play one more season in college before becoming automatically draft-eligible in 2021.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • NCAA prospects who are testing the draft waters have until August 3 to decide whether or not to withdraw. As Jeff Goodman of Stadium writes, many players still weighing their decisions would like more time, given the uncertainty surrounding the 2020/21 NCAA season and the lack of an NBA combine so far. “It would definitely help (to extend the withdrawal deadline),” Iowa’s Luka Garza said. “The last week has been very stressful mentally thinking about it all. I don’t know what to do.”
  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype takes a closer look at Garza and several other prospects who are still testing the waters, examining whether or not it makes sense for them to stay in the draft.
  • The Athletic’s beat writers for the Knicks, Hawks, Warriors, Pistons, and Cavaliers conducted a mini-mock draft for the first five picks, based on a Tankathon simulation. The results were interesting, with Mike Vorkunov taking Anthony Edwards for New York at No. 1, Chris Kirschner selecting Deni Avdija for Atlanta at No. 2, and LaMelo Ball slipping to Detroit at No. 4.
  • Bryant guard Benson Lin has decided to forgo his remaining NCAA eligibility and play professionally in China next season, a source tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Lin could technically still enter this year’s draft, since the entry deadline has been pushed back. However, he can go pro without doing so, and Rothstein’s report doesn’t mention the draft.

Doumbouya Participating In Tournament In France

NBA Moves 2020 Draft Lottery To August 20

The NBA has moved up its 2020 draft lottery by five days, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the event, previously tentatively scheduled for August 25, will now take place on Thursday, August 20.

The eight teams with the best odds in this year’s lottery are the same eight teams that weren’t invited to participate in the resumption of the 2019/20 season in Orlando. The Warriors, Cavaliers, and Timberwolves each have a 14.0% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, followed by the Hawks (12.5%), Pistons (10.5%), Knicks (9.0%), Bulls (7.5%), and Hornets (6.0%).

The other six teams that will be part of the 2020 lottery will be determined once this season’s 16 playoff teams have been set, which will happen a few days before August 20. The six clubs in Orlando that don’t make the postseason will occupy the bottom six spots in the lottery standings — their order will be determined by their records as of March 11.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: NBA Draft Lottery]

The tentative 2020 NBA draft lottery odds, assuming the Grizzlies, Magic, and Nets all hang onto their playoff spots, can be found right here. This year’s draft will take place on October 16.

Langston Galloway Becoming Certified As Personal Trainer

Pistons Notes: Wood, VanVleet, Rose, Casey

The Pistons‘ offseason decisions will be heavily influenced by what happens with the NBA’s salary cap, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Originally projected at $116MM, there have been rumors that the cap for next season could remain at $109MM. That would limit the flexibility for Detroit, which has just four players under contract beyond this year.

That number will likely grow when Tony Snell exercises his $12.178MM player option, Edwards notes, and second-year guards Bruce Brown and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk are expected to be brought back for $1.6MM each, along with Khyri Thomas. That would leave the Pistons with a seven-man roster at roughly $76MM, giving the team nearly $30MM in cap room.

The top priority will be re-signing Christian Wood, who blossomed as a star after the trade of Andre Drummond. If a depressed market allows Detroit to keep Wood at a reasonable price — Edwards estimates around $12MM per year — the team could have enough left to make a serious run at Toronto guard Fred VanVleet. The downside, Edwards points out, is that the Pistons would have to fill out the roster with just a $4.8MM mid-level exception and minimum contracts.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Derrick Rose is likely to be moved sometime before next year’s trade deadline, Edwards adds in a mailbag column. It depends on Rose maintaining his health and high level of play after he turns 32 in October, but Edwards notes that the veteran guard is only under contract for one more year and Detroit doesn’t look like a playoff contender next season.
  • There’s little chance the Pistons would consider an early termination of coach Dwane Casey, even though the organization is in a far different position than when he was hired two years ago, observes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Casey seems to have accepted the challenge of a rebuild, just as he did in Toronto. He was also involved in the interview process that led to the hiring of new general manager Troy Weaver. “Dwane Casey is the rock of the organization,” senior advisor Arn Tellem said in a recent radio interview. “We were lucky to get him a couple of years ago when we went through this search. He’s a true leader of this organization.” 
  • Weaver penned a message to Pistons fans on the team’s website, discussing his decision to leave Oklahoma City and his long relationship with Tellem while acknowledging, “We have work to do to make the roster better.”