Dwane Casey

Central Notes: Casey, Bucks, Holiday, York

The Pistons haven’t won much since Dwane Casey became their head coach, but he has impressed owner Tom Gores with the way he has developed young talent, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Casey was the reigning Coach of the Year when he was brought in to oversee the Pistons’ rebuilding project, and while the on-court success has been limited, Gores is convinced that Casey has the franchise moving in the right direction.

Casey received a contract extension last spring that will run through the 2023/24 season, and Gores indicated Friday that he wants him to serve as head coach for much longer.

“I want to see Dwane more than next year. Dwane has threaded the needle this year, because to lose a lot — and we lost a lot of games — the key is whether can you keep everybody’s spirit alive,” Gores said. “So, he has the ability to keep everybody’s spirit alive. I just think it’s such a talent. … He really understands how to keep these guys engaged while they’re going through a hard time. So, he’s really threaded the needle. He really has this ability to just to keep everybody inspired, and the players love him, and I do too.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • As the Bucks prepare to defend their NBA championship, they have two players on the roster who understand how hard that can be, notes Lori Nickel of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Serge Ibaka was a member of the Raptors when they staged their title defense in Orlando after the league-wide shutdown due to the pandemic, and Wesley Matthews was on the Lakers, who were knocked out in the first round last season.
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday has earned a $306K bonus for playing in 66 games, marking the fifth straight season he has achieved the bonus, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Because the incentive was considered likely, Milwaukee’s luxury tax projection won’t be affected.
  • The Pacers awarded a game ball to Gabe York, who made his NBA debut today at age 28, per James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. York, who signed a two-way contract on Thursday, played 15 minutes and scored seven points. “Gabe is a good player,” said teammate Isaiah Jackson. “I played with him in the G League a couple times, so we’ve always been cool. It was just crazy seeing him out there doing his thing. I was telling him when we was sitting out, ‘I know it’s a lot right now, but just let the game just come to you. Don’t try to force it. … Once you get out there, it’s just natural.'”

Pistons Notes: Hayes, Livers, Casey, Grant

Coach Dwane Casey‘s experiment of moving Killian Hayes to the bench is working exactly as expected, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. The second-year point guard is a natural ball-handler, but he often wound up in a secondary role when the Pistons started him alongside Cade Cunningham.

Casey made the move on January 23 and Hayes’ all-around game has benefited, Sankofa observes. He’s running the offense with the second unit and is getting to the basket more often. He has been on the court at the end of games lately, and Casey is happy with the way he has responded.

“Him going to the bench was never anything about mistrust,” Casey said after Tuesday’s game vs. Washington. “It was about him fitting in with the second unit. He’s still going to be a part of our core. I think his decisions were good tonight. His defense was decent. Keeping (Wizards guard) Ish Smith in front of him is not easy. This is what this is about for him, growing.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • The opportunity that Isaiah Livers has been waiting all season for has finally arrived, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The 2021 second-round pick had foot surgery last April and was sidelined through the preseason. He made his NBA debut on December 16, but only played five minutes before the foot started hurting again. He and the Pistons agreed that more rehab was necessary, but now he says he’s fully healthy and ready to contribute. Casey was hoping to see him in action before the season ended and believes he has a bright future. “I think Isaiah’s going to be a player,” Casey said. “He’s a shooter, and you can’t get enough of those guys to stretch the floor. He has size, he’s smart. He’s the full package.”
  • Casey deserves credit for keeping his team focused and competitive even though wins have been rare, several players tell Edwards in a separate story. The coach has respect from his players for all that he has accomplished in his NBA career, and he gives them the freedom to talk openly about issues that affect the team.
  • Finally having a healthy roster is giving the Pistons a chance to enjoy a little late-season success, notes Lauren Williams of MLive. Detroit has won three of its last six games and was competitive in the three losses. “I think it just shows our progression as a team,” said Jerami Grant, who missed significant time with a thumb injury. “Earlier in the season we (would) win a game and then we lose a game by 20 or something like that. But I think it’s showing how much better we got it the team. Right now, we just got to pull out these wins and just keep moving forward.”

COVID-19 Updates: Grant, McConnell, Doumbouya, More

Pistons coach Dwane Casey said forward Jerami Grant has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and is currently reconditioning, according to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

In 21 games this season (33.2 MPG), Grant is averaging 20.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG and 1.1 BPG. He was cleared for on-court work earlier this month in his recovery from thumb surgery, but then was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols.

At least 10 teams are reportedly interested in dealing for Grant, who’s one of the hottest names on the trade market.

Here are some more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Pacers guard T.J. McConnell has exited the health and safety protocols and is back with the team, but he’s still unable to play as he rehabs from hand surgery, Scott Agness of FieldhouseFiles tweets. McConnell might miss the rest of the season with the injury.
  • Lakers two-way forward Sekou Doumbouya has cleared the protocols and is back with the team’s G League affiliate in South Bay, per the NBA’s injury report.
  • According to the same report, Raptors two-way rookie David Johnson has exited the protocols and is back with the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate. Johnson was the 47th overall pick of the 2021 draft out of Louisville, but has appeared in just two games for the Raptors for a total of two minutes.
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan informed reporters, including K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link) that assistant coaches Maurice Cheeks and John Bryant both tested positive for COVID-19 and have entered the health and safety protocols.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said that assistant coach Chip Engelland has entered the protocols, but assistants Becky Hammon and Darius Songaila have exited. “It’s like a merry-go-round,” Popovich said, as Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News relays (via Twitter). Mike Finger of the Express-News tweets that all of the Spurs’ front-bench assistants and a dozen players have been placed in the protocols this season.

COVID-19 Updates: McMillan, Casey, Dieng, Suns, Holmes, More

Two NBA head coaches have exited the health and safety protocols today. Hawks coach Nate McMillan was back at practice with the team on Tuesday, according to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). McMillan should be ready to return to Atlanta’s bench on Wednesday night when the team hosts Miami.

Additionally, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey is no longer in the protocols after having entered them on Monday. In a press release confirming Casey’s status, the club stated that Casey registered two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests following what was believed to be a false positive. Casey will coach Detroit on Tuesday night against Chicago.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates from around the league:

  • Hawks big man Gorgui Dieng has cleared the health and safety protocols, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta had one of the league’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks this season, with a staggering 13 players in the protocols at one point in late December. However, the team doesn’t have any players left in the protocols now.
  • The Suns got guard Landry Shamet out of the COVID-19 protocols on Monday, but saw two-way forward Ish Wainright enter them, as Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports tweets. Wainright is currently the only Sun affected.
  • Richaun Holmes has cleared the protocols and is headed to the Kings‘ G League affiliate in Stockton for some reconditioning work, says James Ham of ESPN 1320 (Twitter links).
  • The Thunder placed forward Kenrich Williams in the protocols on Monday and ruled him out for Tuesday’s game vs. Washington, tweets Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic.
  • The Grizzlies are once again listing Yves Pons as being in the health and safety protocols (Twitter link). Pons initially entered the protocols on Saturday and exited them on Sunday. It’s unclear whether that status update on Sunday was a mistake or if his test results have been inconsistent in recent days, but Pons is once again listed in our health and safety protocols tracker.

COVID-19 Updates: Oubre, Casey, Satoransky, Garuba, More

Hornets forward Kelly Oubre has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). Oubre will miss the team’s Monday night game vs. Milwaukee and will likely be sidelined longer than that unless he registered a false positive or inconclusive test. There are now two Charlotte players in the protocols, with Oubre joining Vernon Carey.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Pistons head coach Dwane Casey has entered the protocols and will be replaced in the short term by assistant Rex Kalamian, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Half of the NBA’s 30 head coaches have now been placed in the protocols at some point this season.
  • Pelicans guard Tomas Satoransky has cleared the health and safety protocols and was back with the team today, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Rockets rookie Usman Garuba has exited the COVID-19 protocols and is no longer listed on the team’s injury report, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
  • Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe and Heat two-way player Marcus Garrett are among the other players who have cleared the protocols, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, respectively (Twitter links).
  • The Bucks are listing Pat Connaughton as questionable to play on Monday night and he posted an emoji of a plane today on Twitter, strongly signaling that he has exited the protocols and is flying to meet the team in Charlotte, as Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes (via Twitter). Whether or not Connaughton is available tonight, it sounds like he’s no longer in the protocols.

Central Notes: Cavs, Matthews, Kalamian, McKinnie

Appearing on the HoopsHype Podcast alongside Michael Scotto, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com said he believes the Cavaliers will look to be buyers at this season’s trade deadline, and could be open to surrendering their 2022 first-round pick, which may not end up in the lottery as initially anticipated.

Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, and Terrence Ross are among the players who could appeal to the Cavaliers, per Fedor, though some of those players may be more attainable than others. While LeVert and Ross are believed to be available, I’d be surprised if Brooklyn parts with Harris.

Fedor also addressed several more topics during his conversation with Scotto, suggesting that Ricky Rubio has become more likely to be extended than traded and noting that the Cavaliers are comfortable going into restricted free agency with Collin Sexton. Cleveland recognizes that only a handful of teams will have cap room available in 2022 and is skeptical that any of those clubs will make it a top priority to pry away Sexton from the Cavs, Fedor explains.

Here are a few more notes from around the Central:

  • Bucks wing Wesley Matthews is no longer listed in the health and safety protocols, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Milwaukee still has three players in the protocols, including Giannis Antetokounmpo.
  • Rex Kalamian, who has been an NBA assistant coach for 28 years, got a chance to serve as the Pistons‘ acting head coach on two occasions in the past week – including on Tuesday – when Dwane Casey was away from the team for personal reasons. As James L. Edwards III of The Athletic details, Kalamian appreciates the opportunity, but remains happy in his role as an assistant. “As an assistant coach, you do a lot more development with the players than the head coach,” he said. “The head coaches are not nearly as involved with the day-to-day development of players. But as an assistant, that’s something that has always been fun for me and a challenge to step in and get on the court every day with players.”
  • Carving out a role with the Bulls has been a “dream come true” for Alfonzo McKinnie, who is currently on his second 10-day contract with his hometown team. “I’m a West Side kid. I grew up like 10, 15 minutes down the way,” McKinnie said on Monday, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “House was a Bulls house. Watched the Bulls growing up. So just being able to compete on the highest stage in my hometown, on my favorite side of the city, the West Side, it’s been surreal to be honest. Just putting that jersey on has been everything for me.”

Eastern Notes: Portis, Parker, Casey, Oladipo

Forward Bobby Portis is the latest Bucks player to be placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo and Wesley Matthews are already listed out for Friday’s game against the Pelicans for the same reason. Brook Lopez and Semi Ojeleye are injured and Thanasis Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful due to a right soleus strain. That will leave the Bucks with 10 players if there are no more developments.

We have more Eastern Conference news:

  • Celtics forward Jabari Parker has also been placed under health and safety protocols, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets. Parker has only appeared in nine games this season, averaging 4.6 PPG in 9.3 MPG in those outings.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey will miss tonight’s game against Indiana due to personal reasons, Keith Langlois of the team’s website tweets. It’s not due to a COVID-19 issue. Assistant Rex Kalamian will run the show in Casey’s absence. It’s unknown whether Casey will return to coach the team in two home games this weekend.
  • Guard Victor Oladipo is traveling with the Heat during their four-game trip and coach Erik Spoelstra believes that’s a significant development, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “It’s a big step,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not about a step of when he’ll be back. It’s more about just the emotional and mental boost for him. He has been doing all this work behind the scenes, at the arena while we’ve been on the road. And we’ve been on the road virtually the entire season. So he hasn’t been with us for a large part of it.” Oladipo signed a one-year veteran’s minimum deal during the offseason. He had surgery in May to repair a quad tendon in his right knee.

Central Notes: Bulls, Boucek, Pistons, Lee

The Bulls have announced (Twitter link) that their next contest, scheduled to be a Sunday matinee matchup against the Lakers, has been pushed back to a later start time. The game will now tip off at 7 p.m. CT, after originally being scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. CT.

It was announced yesterday that the NBA would postpone Chicago’s two other scheduled games this week – tonight against the Pistons and Thursday night against the Raptors – after it was revealed that as many as 10 Bulls are currently in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets that Coby White, Javonte Green, Derrick Jones Jr., and star wing DeMar DeRozan all have a chance to be cleared by the new tip-off time Sunday. It was reported over the weekend that White had returned to the Bulls’ Advocate Center practice facility for the first time since his diagnosis.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • After missing the Pacers‘ Monday loss to the Warriors, Indiana assistant coach Jenny Boucek is now in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. The first-season assistant will be replaced by Calbert Cheaney on the front of the bench, Agness adds.
  • Pistons head coach Dwane Casey has revealed that the NBA will examine game tape to determine which Nets players came into “close contact” with Detroit players, per James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). Brooklyn players Paul MillsapLaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’ Bembry, Jevon Carter, and James Johnson are currently in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
  • The Pistons are optimistic that the G League play of second-year point guard Saben Lee will translate at the NBA level, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Langlois notes that the early returns have been positive, and could lead to more minutes with Detroit for Lee. “I’m just doing whatever the coaches ask me to do,” Lee said. “Up here, I know there’s a lot of scorers, a lot of shooters. Whatever coach [Casey] asks me to do, I’m going to do that. That’s how I navigate that.” Saben played with Detroit’s NBAGL club, the Motor City Cruise, for his first seven contests this season.

Central Notes: Osman, Vucevic, Grant, Bulls

Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman has settled in to his second unit role and is enjoying a bounce-back season, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Osman has made 43.6% of his 3-point attempts this season and has averaged 20 points over the last three games. He shot 30.6% from deep last year and averaged fewer points while playing more minutes.

“His role is to be a spark off the bench,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Take and make open shots and facilitate when the defense dictates it. We’ve tried our best to simplify his role. He’s bought into the team and he’s trying to do what’s best for the group. He’s become a star in his role.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Center Nikola Vucevic said that being traded to the Bulls last season was a mutual decision between him and the Magic‘s front office, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “It was something that we discussed a lot and it was mutually agreed,” he said. “It wasn’t a situation where they told me I wasn’t going to get traded, and then I get traded. A lot of it came from my communication with them, so it wasn’t a surprise for me. … It wasn’t working the way we wanted it, and I think it worked out for both parties in the end.’’
  • 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.
  • The Bulls’ reliance on small ball is a concern, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Houston ended its 15-game slide against Chicago, which has lost two straight. The Bulls are now at a pivotal point in their season. “There’s got to be an internal drive,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We have shown signs of doing that. But we haven’t shown signs of doing it consistently enough.”

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 is expected to be back, however. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Detroit is currently negotiating a new contract with assistant coach Sean Sweeney, who has been on the staff since 2018.