Pistons Rumors

Pistons Bench Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson

The Pistons made a pair of significant lineup changes before their 118-112 loss to the Knicks on Thursday night, benching Jaden Ivey and rookie Ausar Thompson and moving Killian Hayes and Isaiah Livers into their starting lineup. With their 16th straight loss, they became the first team to go winless for an entire month since the 2015 Sixers.

Coach Monty Williams making the decision to bench both Ivey and Thompson is significant. Ivey was a key starter for Detroit last season after being selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 draft, averaging 16.3 points in 73 starts last year.

However, his role has been much more suppressed this year under Williams. His efficiency is up (50.8% from the floor this year entering Thursday compared to 41.6% last season), but he’s only started in five of his 15 appearances and was down to 23.4 minutes per night (from 31.1) entering Thursday.

Ivey didn’t begin the year as a starter, with Hayes taking on that role before relenting it to Ivey over the past five games. Hayes, the No. 7 overall pick in 2020, was averaging 8.5 points and 4.4 assists per game entering Thursday but recorded 23 points on 76.9% shooting against New York.

According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link), Williams said the decision to start Hayes over Ivey came down to him liking Hayes’ ability to allow Cade Cunningham to play off the ball more and he likes how the fourth-year guard can get the team organized.

As for Thompson, he was a full-time starter before his benching Thursday. This year’s No. 5 overall pick has been one of the most impressive rookies this season, averaging 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks. Livers started in his place, recording six points and four rebounds.

Neither Thompson or Ivey played major roles off the bench on Thursday, with both logging just 13 minutes of game time, though Thompson had five fouls. That marks Ivey’s second-lowest minute total this season and Thompson’s lowest in his young career. Marcus Sasser finished with the most minutes off the bench, recording 17 points.

While losing their 16th straight game is obviously disappointing, the Pistons kept it close with the Knicks and seemed to find something with how they utilized Cunningham, tweets Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press. Cunningham finished with 31 points and eight assists. Mike Curtis of The Detroit News observes that the Pistons’ three-guard lineup of Cunningham, Ivey and Hayes helped kick-start a 13-0 run and when Ivey was subbed out, the Knicks hit back.

We’ll be watching Detroit to see what happens with the team’s young pieces moving forward. So far, their young core hasn’t meshed well and moves could be on the way if their losing ways continue. In the short term, Bojan Bogdanovic is expected back soon, which should help with the Pistons’ spacing issues (they ranked 29th in made threes entering Thursday).

Pelicans’ Murphy, Pistons’ Bogdanovic Nearing Season Debuts

The Pelicans are optimistic that third-year forward Trey Murphy will make his 2023/24 season debut on Friday against San Antonio, sources tell Shams Charania and Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Murphy, who underwent surgery in September to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee, is fully recovered from the injury, according to Charania.

Murphy’s imminent return is certainly welcome news for New Orleans, which has dealt with numerous injuries to rotation players early on this season. The Pelicans just got CJ McCollum back yesterday, and Murphy will further bolster the team’s outside shooting.

The 17th overall pick in the 2021 draft, Murphy emerged as a full-time starter for New Orleans in ’22/23. He averaged 14.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 31.0 minutes per night across 79 appearances (65 starts), posting an impressive shooting line of .484/.406/.905.

Another sharpshooting forward could make his season debut this week as well, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that Pistons veteran Bojan Bogdanovic might suit up on Saturday vs. Cleveland.

Bogdanovic, who is questionable for Thursday’s matchup against New York on Thursday (Twitter link via James L. Edwards III of The Athletic), has been sidelined with a right calf strain. Edwards first reported that the 34-year-old could suit up this week.

Now in his 10th NBA season, Bogdanovic averaged a career-high 21.6 points on an excellent .488/.411/.884 shooting line last season for Detroit, which has lost a team-record 15 consecutive games and has the worst record in the league at 2-16. Bogdanovic should provide a boost to the Pistons’ 27th-ranked offense.

Central Notes: Jerome, Pistons, J. Smith, Connaughton, Bulls

Frustrated by his slow recovery from a severe right ankle sprain, Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome has adjusted his treatment plan in the hopes of accelerating his return to the court, reports Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscriber link).

As Fedor details, Jerome recently had the ankle immobilized within a cast, which he’ll wear for about a week. The hope is that he’ll be able to resume individual workouts after having the cast removed.

“He is recovering,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said on Tuesday. “They’re doing different steps with him and trying some new things, different things in order to help him. He’s doing another treatment now and I’ll let the medical staff talk about timeline when they put all that together. He’s trying something different than just the normal rehab.”

Jerome has long been a favorite of Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman, according to Fedor. When he signed a two-year deal with the team this past summer, the plan was for him to be mentored by veteran point guard Ricky Rubio.

Instead, due to Rubio’s absence, Jerome was thrust into the backup point guard role to open the season, then suffered the ankle injury in just his second game as a Cavalier. While it hasn’t been an ideal start to his time in Cleveland, Jerome is trying to look at the bright side, telling Fedor, “Guess it’s better to be injured early rather than late.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Following a team-record 15th consecutive loss on Wednesday, Pistons head coach Monty Williams suggested that “this group struggles with adversity,” which is one reason why the slump has only gotten worse, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic expects lineup changes to be around the corner, with Bojan Bogdanovic likely to start when he makes his season debut — that could happen as soon as this Thursday or Saturday, says Edwards.
  • Pacers center Jalen Smith‘s leg injury isn’t as serious as the team initially feared, but he has been diagnosed with a left knee bone bruise and a left heel contusion and will miss at least the next two games, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Isaiah Jackson is the leading candidate to take Smith’s spot in the rotation, while two-way player Oscar Tshiebwe is being called up from the G League to provide depth, Dopirak adds.
  • In an in-depth story for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jim Owczarski takes a look at the journey Pat Connaughton has taken to secure his place in the NBA as a reliable role player for the Bucks, as well as the work he has done in Milwaukee off the court.
  • While it’s one thing to be beaten by more talented teams, the slumping Bulls have also had more “low-effort moments” during their recent losing streak, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Central Rumors: Pistons, Bulls, Hield, Cavaliers

Veteran forward Bojan Bogdanovic is expected to be the Pistons trade candidate who generates the most interest from rival teams this season, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears from league sources that the club turned down two first-round picks from a contender in an offer for Bogdanovic last season.

It’s unclear what sort of protections those first-rounders might’ve had, but head coach Monty Williams “loves” Bogdanovic, per Scotto, so Detroit may set a high asking price for him again at the 2024 deadline.

Alec Burks, Monte Morris, and Killian Hayes are among the other Pistons players who figure to draw trade interest this winter, Scotto writes. League sources tell HoopsHype that Detroit had exploratory talks earlier this year with the Rockets about a trade that would have sent Burks to Houston in exchange for several second-round picks and Kevin Porter Jr. (who would’ve been waived).

Here are a few more of Scotto’s trade-related rumors and notes from around the Central:

  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso would be a hot commodity on the trade market if he’s available, but rival executives who spoke to Scotto say Chicago still hasn’t shown a willingness to move him. Multiple execs believe the Bulls could get a first-round pick and a rotation player for Caruso, Scotto notes.
  • How much might the Bulls get in exchange for Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan? “I think Zach LaVine can get a first back, maybe another first-round pick if it’s in this draft since it’s so weak,” one executive told Scotto. “DeMar DeRozan is worth a first in this draft in the 20s since it’s a weak draft, and he’s unrestricted at the end of the season. He can be a third scorer on a winning team.” Scotto says the Bulls are currently valuing players who could help them win immediately, rather than looking to tear down the roster and stockpile future draft picks.
  • Although Buddy Hield was identified in September as a potential trade candidate, the Pacers have set a high asking price for the veteran sharpshooter and don’t appear particularly eager to move him, according to Scotto. Five NBA executives who spoke to HoopsHype suggested it would take a first-round pick and a rotation player to pry Hield away from Indiana. Rival teams are also monitoring veteran Pacers guard, T.J. McConnell, Scotto adds.
  • Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert had their names pop up in trade speculation last season, but the Cavaliers want to keep both players through the 2024 deadline, barring a deal that moves the club closer to title contention, per Scotto.

Schedule For NBA Tournament Non-Qualifiers Set

The NBA in-season tournament will reach the quarterfinal stage next week and the eight qualifiers and their seeds were finalized on Tuesday. The 22 teams that failed to advance had two holes in their schedules that needed to be filled.

Those matchups were determined late Tuesday evening, with each team receiving a home and away contest, NBA Communications tweets. The newly-scheduled games will take place next Wednesday (December 6) and Friday (Dec. 8).

The Cavaliers and Magic, who missed the quarterfinals despite their 3-1 tournament records, will face each other in Cleveland on Wednesday. Cleveland will then visit the Heat (2-2 tournament) on Friday.

The Nets, who also had a 3-1 tournament record, wound up with a road game against the Hawks (1-3) and home game against the Wizards (0-4)

The Sixers, who finished 2-2 in the tournament, drew a road game against the Wizards and a home game against the Hawks.

In the West, the Timberwolves were the only 3-1 tournament team that didn’t reach the quarterfinals. They’ll host the Spurs (0-4) and visit the Grizzlies (0-4).

The defending champion Nuggets will visit Los Angeles to face the Clippers (1-3), then head home to take on the Rockets (2-2). The Warriors, who were knocked out of contention by Sacramento on Tuesday, drew a home game against the Trail Blazers (1-3) and a road contest against the Thunder (1-3).

Here’s the full schedule for next Wednesday and Friday:

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  • Orlando at Cleveland
  • Memphis at Detroit
  • Miami at Toronto
  • Philadelphia at Washington
  • Brooklyn at Atlanta
  • San Antonio at Minnesota
  • Charlotte at Chicago
  • Oklahoma City at Houston
  • Utah at Dallas
  • Portland at Golden State
  • Denver at LA Clippers

Friday, Dec. 8

  • Toronto at Charlotte
  • Detroit at Orlando
  • Atlanta at Philadelphia
  • Washington at Brooklyn
  • Cleveland at Miami
  • Minnesota at Memphis
  • Golden State at Oklahoma City
  • Chicago at San Antonio
  • Houston at Denver
  • LA Clippers at Utah
  • Dallas at Portland

Two more regular season games will be added to the NBA’s schedule after the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament are complete, since the four teams that lose those matchups will require an 82nd game on their respective schedules.

Monty Williams: Pistons Lacked “Fight” In 14th Straight Loss

The Pistons‘ season hit a new low point on Monday.

After winning two of their first three games, they’ve lost 14 in a row, and Monday’s defeat was a 19-point blowout at home to a Washington team that entered the night riding a nine-game losing streak of its own.

Pistons head coach Monty Williams expressed his displeasure after the game in a post-game press conference that was his “angriest and shortest” of the season, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required). Williams initially referred to it as a “very” disappointing night before launching into a more in-depth assessment.

“It’s just a level of growing up on this team, maturity, understanding what game plan discipline is,” Williams said. “All the stuff we talk about all the time. Enough talking.

“That wasn’t fight on the floor. That wasn’t Pistons basketball by any stretch of the imagination. That’s what this is. We have to have people that honor the organization and the jersey by competing at a high level every night. Not talking about execution. Just competing. That wasn’t it. And that’s on me.”

Williams told reporters prior to the game that the Pistons had a players-only meeting following their 13th consecutive loss on Friday. However, whatever was discussed in that meeting clearly didn’t translate on the court on Monday, Sankofa observes.

Big man Isaiah Stewart acknowledged after Monday’s loss that the vibe in the locker room isn’t “the best,” but stressed that no one is pointing fingers at one another.

“We’re still a family, we’re still together,” Stewart said. “We know we’re going through a test right now. Me personally, I think it’s a test. I know we will get over this hump. It looks bad, the record looks bad. It’s just stuff that we can fix ourselves. We all know that. Everybody in the locker room is frustrated because we all want to win. We’re not happy or smiling. As a whole, we’re all just trying to find … we know the answers. We know what we gotta do. We gotta go do it. That’s all.”

This was supposed to be the year that the Pistons, who haven’t won more than 23 games in a season since 2018/19, took a step forward and entered the play-in conversation, but that looks more and more like a long shot. While the team is hoping to get Bojan Bogdanovic back from a calf injury soon, it would be unrealistic to expect the veteran forward to turn things around on his own.

James L. Edwards III of The Athletic suggests that management should be worried about the losing habits Detroit is developing, noting that the lack of hope around the club right now is a sign of a rebuild heading in the wrong direction.

Edwards adds that a “shake-up of sorts” seems inevitable, given that it’s only November and the Pistons can’t throw the towel in on the season yet. It’s unclear what that sort of shake-up might look like, but it’s safe to assume it won’t involve Williams, who signed a record-setting six-year contract with the organization earlier this year.

Williams Confirms Team Meeting After 13th Loss

  • Pistons coach Monty Williams confirmed a team meeting was held after the team’s 13th straight loss, which occurred against the Pacers on Friday night, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News tweets. He suggested that individuals took their share of the blame during that discussion. “There’s certain levels to those meetings. (It) was important because it was a level of team accountability,” Williams said. “There wasn’t any finger-pointing. When I got word of it, it wasn’t like anybody was saying ‘You, you, you.’ It’s like, ‘I have to do better.’”

Pistons Notes: Ivey, Williams, Burke, Potential Trades

The Pistons‘ offseason coaching change and Cade Cunningham‘s return from injury have resulted in a new role for second-year guard Jaden Ivey, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Ivey was used as a starter as a rookie and was given the freedom to handle the ball and create plays. He’s started just three of the 12 games he’s played under new coach Monty Williams and he’s being asked to adjust to playing off the ball.

“Every day is a new opportunity,” Ivey said. “Just be the best version of yourself. Nothing that I want in life is going to be easy. I’m going to have to work for everything. That’s the mindset I want to carry every single day is that I’m going to work hard for all the things I want in life. Let God take of everything. Just continue to work, put my head down. Nothing is easy in this league.”

The Pistons targeted Ivey to be an important part of their future when they selected him with the fifth pick in the 2022 draft, and Williams stressed that the organization’s view of him hasn’t changed. Ivey’s athleticism combined with an ability to finish at the basket and an effective three-point shot make him difficult to defend. Williams is urging him to be patient and is impressed by how he’s adjusting to the new role.

“He’s a developing player with a lot of talent,” Williams said. “He’s got his head in there every day, learning and growing in a new system. It’s Year 2, second coach, that can be a lot on anybody. I’ve enjoyed his spirit. He hasn’t run from all the stuff (that) has been new and sometimes overwhelming.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons will tie a franchise record with 14 straight losses if they can’t beat Washington tonight, per Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. Williams said he wasn’t aware that the team is danger of reaching the record, as he’s been more concerned with player development and trying to eliminate the mistakes that are causing the team to lose.
  • Williams provided an update on assistant coach Dan Burke, who has been away from the team since October 30, Curtis adds. Williams said he couldn’t provide any details because it’s a “personal situation,” but he confirmed that Burke is still part of the coaching staff.
  • The Pistons aren’t in the market for a “panic trade,” league and team sources tell James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, but he talked to a few of his colleagues about the kind of deals the front office might pursue if things don’t change. He considers potential trades with the Warriors involving Andrew Wiggins, the Raptors involving OG Anunoby and the Knicks to get back their first-round draft pick, which is top-18 protected in 2024.

And-Ones: Petrusev, 2024 Draft, Trade Candidates, More

After being cut by the Kings on Friday, big man Filip Petrusev should officially clear waivers later today. Nebojsa Covic, the president of Crvena Zvezda, Petrusev’s former team in Serbia, indicated on Saturday that he would be open to bringing back the 23-year-old.

“I heard about it and that Olympiacos made a very decent offer,” Covic said, per Mozzart (hat tip to Eurohoops). “The door of Red Star is open for Petrusev now, but it’s his and his agent’s decision. We’ll let them decide. There won’t be any hard feelings, regardless of this decision.”

Any interest the Serbian club may have in Petrusev appears to be moot. As Covic alluded to, reporting on Friday suggested the NBA rookie is set to join Greek team Olympiacos once he clears waivers, and that deal remains on track to be completed.

Aris Barkas of Eurohoops reports that Petrusev is expected to sign a three-year contract with Olympiacos that includes a third-year team option. The agreement will also include NBA outs in the event that Petrusev is offered another opportunity stateside, according to Barkas.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has updated his mock draft for 2024, making major changes to rounds one and two. Two of the biggest risers are Pittsburgh’s Carlton Carrington and Virginia’s Ryan Dunn, who weren’t on Wasserman’s previous board but are now projected as lottery picks at No. 10 and No. 14, respectively.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype takes a look at a few players who are currently injured or out of their team’s rotation, identifying them as possible in-season trade candidates. A pair of PistonsMonte Morris and James Wiseman – and Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski are among the players singled out by Gozlan.
  • Which players are the NBA’s biggest overachievers and underachievers through the first month of the regular season? Mark Medina names three for each category in a story for Bovada Sportsbook, with 10-time All-Star James Harden and five-time All-Star Klay Thompson showing up in his list of underachievers.

Eastern Notes: J. Johnson, Thompson, Niang, Bagley

Hawks forward Jalen Johnson will undergo further testing on his left wrist, which he injured during Saturday’s win in Washington, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Johnson left the game about two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter after taking a hard hit from Kyle Kuzma as he attempted to complete a fast-break dunk (video link). Johnson fell into the stanchion and landed on his left hand, which he immediately grabbed in obvious pain. After taking his free throws, he exited to the locker room and didn’t return.

The Hawks haven’t provided any updates on the injury since ruling out Johnson for the rest of Saturday’s game. He’ll be further evaluated in the coming days, a source tells Williams.

If he’s forced to miss time, it would be a blow to the Hawks, who have benefited from a breakout year from Johnson so far in 2023/24. Entering Saturday’s contest, the 21-year-old had averaged 14.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 31.4 minutes per night (14 games), with a .590/.421/.774 shooting line.

[UPDATE: Johnson Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks]

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Only two players in NBA history who are 6’6″ or shorter have ever averaged at least 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.0 steal per game over the course of a season (Charles Barkley and Gar Heard). Pistons guard Ausar Thompson is flirting with that feat through 16 games (9.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 1.1 SPG), which makes him something of a unicorn, according to James L. Edwards of The Athletic, who says the rookie likes the label. “I’m a unicorn, even if it doesn’t appear that way because of how people see ‘unicorns’ in their head, physically,” Thompson said. “What I’m out there doing, as you pointed out, only two people have done it before.”
  • Now a member of the Cavaliers, forward Georges Niang faced his former team this week and spoke about how much he enjoyed his time with the Sixers, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It felt like home while I was here,” Niang said during his return to Philadelphia. “It’s a place that I’ll always enjoy coming back to. … It jolted me into the next part of my career. So I’m super thankful for the organization, the fans, the people, staff. It was an amazing place to be.” Niang also praised former teammate Tyrese Maxey and suggested the experience the 76ers gained from going through the Ben Simmons saga in 2021/22 helped them navigate James Harden‘s trade request this year.
  • Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III is playing some of the best basketball of his career this season, making a career-high 58.6% of his shots from the floor, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press details. Bagley credits a newfound focus on his mental health as one important reason for his strong start, noting that he has given up social media and is meditating when he can.