Dwane Casey

Pistons Notes: Trade Deadline, Brown, Bullock

If the asset-strapped Pistons are going to make a splash at the NBA trade deadline they’ll have to get creative. As The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III writes, Detroit would presumably need to unload some sizable contracts if they brought back a significant package and the players currently making big money on their roster – outside of Blake Griffin – aren’t particularly desirable.

Edwards writes that Pistons senior adviser Ed Stefanski isn’t eager to give up a future first-round pick simply to alleviate the cap burden of its weighty contracts (Reggie Jackson‘s $17MM, Jon Leuer‘s $10MM, for example) but those picks could be in play if a solid star comes along. Edwards includes Bradley Beal as a hypothetical possibility that might warrant such a return.

The Pistons have some players that could be considered modest assets ahead of the deadline, including sophomore Luke Kennard and fourth-year forward Stanley Johnson. Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock, similarly, could draw interest from contending teams looking to shore up their rotations with veteran depth.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • While there are plenty of scenarios that could hypothetically jump-start a Pistons rebuild, Keith Langlois of the team’s official website writes in a weekly mailbag that he’d wager the team stands pat at the deadline. The club may look to shore up its second-unit but lack draft assets to offer in trades.
  • Scrappy first-year guard Bruce Brown has struggled to showcase his elite defensive skills lately, something head coach Dwane Casey‘s believes could be attributable to a famous foe in the basketball world. “I don’t know if it’s a rookie wall or whatever, but just the concentration, the attention to detail,” Casey told Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “Those are mental things that young fellows usually make when they’re mentally fatigued a little bit.
  • In the same blog post, Langlois writes that Reggie Bullock practiced on Wednesday. The 27-year-old sharpshooter and potential trade chip missed Tuesday’s game with a sprained ankle that has plagued him and and off throughout the season. His status is uncertain for Thursday.

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Morris, Wood, Sixers

The Pistons’ top brass is expected to meet in Los Angeles today to discuss ways to improve the team, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Owner Tom Gores, coach Dwane Casey, senior adviser Ed Stefanski and vice chairman Arn Tellem will discuss how to revive the playoff hopes of the floundering team and provide star forward Blake Griffin with a better supporting cast. Detroit got off to a 13-7 start but has lost 16 of its last 20 games.  A point guard and a wing player capable of creating offense top the wish list but the team’s cap situation makes it difficult to swing a deal, Ellis continues. The roster is littered with bad contracts and injury-prone players and the team is just under the luxury tax line, Ellis adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Tempers flared between Celtics players Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown during a second-quarter timeout on Thursday but GM Danny Ainge is downplaying the incident. The duo exchanged words and Morris, who apparently told Brown to play harder, shoved the swingman before Marcus Smart separated them, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Ainge told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe the altercation was no big deal. “It’s two good kids that are competitive,” he said. “They both want the same thing. Emotions happen in games, and I’m not worried about it.”
  • Bucks big man Christian Wood is relieved that the team guaranteed his salary for the remainder of the season, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. His $1,512,601 salary became guaranteed on Thursday. He has a $1,645,357 non-guaranteed salary for next season. The 6’10” Wood has appeared in six games with Milwaukee while biding most of his time in the G League. “It’s real nice,” Wood said. “I talked to (GM) Jon (Horst) before the deadline passed and he said my time is going to come, I’ve just got to keep working, keep staying with the program and keep doing everything I’m supposed to do. He thinks I’m a good fit for this team.”
  • The 76ers named Annelie Schmittel as the team’s VP of player development, according to a team press release. She will be responsible for creating, managing and overseeing the holistic development and implementation of programs that support professional and personal growth of players, staff and families. She spent the last three seasons with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

Central Notes: Bulls, Thompson, Pistons, Carter

As the Bulls continue to navigate their way through the early stages of a rebuild, their core players have struggled most of the time they have been on the floor together. Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes that the core of Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen look confused when sharing the floor together and at this point, still have more questions than answers.

A big reason for this confusion is the injuries that have plagued each player. In fact, Cowley points out that the three players have only played in 15 games together, despite joining together after the Jimmy Butler trade in June 2017.

The Bulls have since added Wendell Carter to the mix and have changed coaches, which will surely continue to create confusion among their growing core. Of course, as the rebuild continues, there will be more faces added to the mix to compliment this core.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson played a key role during Collin Sexton‘s recent stretch of promising play, but has missed the past ten games due to a foot injury. As Chris Fedor points out, Sexton has struggled in recent weeks without his pick-and-roll partner alongside him.
  • After their blowout loss to the Pacers, Rod Beard of The Detroit News reveals that the Pistons held a team meeting last week, with coach Dwane Casey and some of the team’s veterans sharing some positive words about how it went.
  • Wendell Carter has continued to prove he belongs in the league, providing energy and hustle plays on both ends of the floor. Sam Smith of the Bulls team website writes about how Carter is focusing on growing and learning each time he steps on the court.

Atlantic Notes: Casey, Smart, Celtics, Nets

Dwane Casey made his return to Toronto on Wednesday, guiding the Pistons to a 106-104 victory over the Raptors in his first game back since being fired as Toronto’s coach. The Raptors made the surprising decision to let go of Casey after his team was swept by the Cavaliers in the spring.

“Nobody likes getting fired,” Casey told Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “If anybody expects you to like who fired you or be happy with that, that’s not realistic. The fans are some of the best fans in all of sports, whether it’s soccer, baseball or basketball.

“From that standpoint, there are no hard feelings, but you always have a (figurative) two-by-four on your shoulder for the person who fired you when you were doing well.”

Casey’s peers believed he was doing well, voting for him to win the Coach of the Year award around the time he was dismissed from Toronto. Wednesday’s victory could signify a sense of revenge against his former team.

“It is specifically pointing the finger at me — and that’s their prerogative,” Casey said. “They said I was the problem. I know what we did over a seven-year period there and starting from the rebuilding, developing and in the lottery to where they are now.

“They can’t take that away. A lot of people can take credit for all the good and put all the bad on me — and that’s fine.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic division tonight:

  • The Celtics could benefit from starting Marcus Smart, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. “I’d like to see us find some consistency at some point,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “I think that it’s not consistent, whatever our issues are.” The Celtics have started the 2018/19 season with an 8-6 record.
  • Kyrie Irving downplayed his call for the Celtics to sign another veteran, explaining his comments to the media this week. “I wasn’t speaking about anyone specific,” Irving said, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “I just was speaking to like a vet that’s been through a championship run, through championship runs, that’s able to be patient with this team as well as understand what we’re going through of just figuring out the pieces and how they mesh well together.” Celtics general manager Danny Ainge claimed he hasn’t spoken to Irving about his comments.
  • Nets training camp invitee Mitch Creek is continuing to pursue his dream of becoming an NBA player, as relayed by NetsDaily. Creek, 26, called the Nets “an elite program everywhere you go” and praised the coaching staff, performance team and others. He currently plays for the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate.

Central Notes: Jackson, Lopez, Dunn, Casey

The Pistons have been focused on returning to the playoffs after bringing in Dwane Casey as head coach and banking on a clean bill of health for players such as Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin. With Casey, the Pistons are getting a head coach that is focused on ball movement and off-ball actions in hopes of revitalizing the team’s offense, which ranked just 19th in the league last season.

As Keith Langlois writes for the Pistons’ website, such a focus on diversifying the offense may lead to someone other than Jackson leading the team in assists, which Casey is comfortable with. Casey even went further to express his desire for a player such as Griffin to lead the team in assists: “That’ll free Reggie up to get off of the ball, to move without the ball a little bit more. That means other players are cutting, moving, and we’ll be harder to figure out and predict and scout.”

Griffin is one of the better passers in the frontcourt, as he averaged 6.2 APG in his 25 games with the Pistons last season. Jackson has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons, as he has played in a combined 97 games in the past two seasons.

Casey is also focused on implementing a more modern offense in Detroit, with an emphasis on playing at a faster pace and eliminating shots from the mid-range. So far, the result have been promising — 159 of the 173 total Pistons’ shots have either come from beyond the 3-point arc or inside the paint in their first two preseason games. A more modern offense that is heavy on ball movement and diverse playmaking could be the key ingredient for the club to return to the playoffs this season.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • Speaking of Casey, another difference that Pistons players have been getting used to is his calm demeanor on the sidelines. As Vince Ellis writes for the Detroit Free Press, the players have enjoyed Casey’s positive approach and the fact that he doesn’t direct outrage or disappointment on one player. For a team that is returning a large portion of the same roster, the change at coach may prove to make the largest difference this season.
  • Early returns for Brook Lopez‘s fit with the Bucks have been promising, as Jim Hoehn points out for The Associated Press. Lopez will provide a vast majority of his value on the perimeter as a floor-spacer to draw defenders away from the paint as Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to attack the rim. With the Bucks also adding Ersan Ilyasova and coach Mike Budenholzer, they are also looking to modernize their offense and become a true contender in the conference.
  • As he continues to build on a much-improved sophomore campaign in the league, Kris Dunn has impressed the Bulls (and specifically coach Fred Hoiberg) with his leadership. As Joe Cowley writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, Dunn’s solid play on the floor and control of the offense in preseason has been a bright spot for a Bulls team that is dealing with injuries and inconsistent defensive play.

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Griffin, Jackson, Johnson

Pistons center Andre Drummond doesn’t plan to shoot a lot of threes but he’s thrilled that new coach Dwane Casey has given him the green light, as he told the Detroit Free Press. Casey believes if Drummond hits a couple of long range shots every game, it will create more space for everyone offensively. “The 3-point shot is something I’ve added six years ago,” he said. “I just never had a coach that allowed to me to shoot it. It’s something I’ve worked on consistently for a long time, so I guess now is my time to really showcase it.” Frontcourt partner Blake Griffin doesn’t want Drummond to stray from the basket too often.  “We still want to use Dre to his strengths because he’s one of the most dominant centers, one of the best finishers, one of the best rebounders,” Griffin said. “So it would be doing him a disservice to keep him away from the rim and doing the things he does best.”

We have more from the Pistons:

  • Both of Detroit’s top big men believe the team should set lofty goals. Griffin said homecourt advantage in the playoffs, at least for the opening round, should be the team’s regular-season aim. Drummond expects the Pistons to be serious contenders in the East. “The time is now,” he said. “We have everything we need to be great. There’s no reason why we can’t be a top team in the East or a top team in the NBA.”
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson (ankle), power forward Jon Leuer (knee) and shooting guard Luke Kennard (ankle) will be limited for the start of camp but all should be ready to play by opening night, according to senior advisor Ed Stefanski. “Those three are not in basketball shape,” Stefanski said.
  • Stefanski wouldn’t specifically address a question whether the team was interested in trading for Jimmy Butler but he noted the team has payroll limitations. However, he’s not averse to dealing for star players with expiring contracts. “That wouldn’t bother me,” he said. “It depends on what you have to give up.”
  • Small forward Stanley Johnson is eligible for an extension but the franchise is more focused on whether he’ll develop into a consistent performer. Johnson admits he still has a lot to prove. “(Owner) Tom (Gores) said, ‘I’m tired of hearing the word potential,'” Johnson said.

Pistons Rumors: Kennard, Ellenson, Smith, Projection

The Pistons have big plans for second-year guard Luke Kennard and he rates as a breakout candidate for the upcoming season, Ben Nadeau of Basketball Insiders writes. Kennard averaged 11.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 2.5 APG during the last 19 games of his rookie season and his role will expand under new coach Dwane Casey, Nadeau continues. Kennard has the ability to play three positions and he has the potential to become one of the league’s premier 3-point shooters, Nadeau adds.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Power forward Henry Ellenson has been selected for the USA National Team qualifying for the World Championships, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Ellenson has played sparingly in his first two NBA seasons after being chosen in the first round of the 2016 draft but his role is expected to expand during the upcoming season under Casey.
  • Point guard Ish Smith could be traded during the season, Ansar Khan of MLive.com opines. Smith is entering the final year of his contract and the Pistons also have Jose Calderon and Kennard available for that role, Khan continues. Otherwise, Smith will be the primary backup to Reggie Jackson. He improved his 3-point shooting toward the end of last season and is well-suited for the second unit due his energy, speed and ability to attack the basket, Khan adds.
  • The big man combination of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond should be enough for the Pistons to secure the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype predicts. Sierra sees Detroit finishing third in the Central Division and eighth in the conference despite a lack of talent beyond the frontcourt duo.

Eastern Notes: Leonard, Galloway, Johnson, Ntilikina

Hiring Kawhi Leonard‘s close friend Jeremy Castleberry away from the Spurs as a player development coach was a wise move by the Raptors, in the view of Danny Green, as Steven Loung of SportsNet Canada details.

Green was traded along with Leonard to Toronto and the Raptors are hoping to convince Leonard to re-sign with them next summer. The addition of Castleberry should help the cause, according to Green

“It’s good to have (Castleberry) on board. Hopefully, it helps Kawhi feel more comfortable at home and keeps him in the city that they want to keep him here,” Green said. “Obviously (the Raptors) traded for him for a reason. They think they can sell him. … It’s an amazing city in Toronto. So the city sells itself. … And now you have your best friend with you. What else could you ask for?”

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Langston Galloway was a major disappointment in his first season with the Pistons and he’ll have a tough time making the rotation, Ansar Khan of MLive writes. Galloway didn’t fare well when he played the point on occasion and posted career lows in several categories while mostly seeing action at shooting guard, Khan continues. Galloway, who has two years left on his $21MM contract, has plenty of competition at the guard spots in the upcoming season, Khan adds.
  • Pistons small forward Stanley Johnson could blossom in coach Dwane Casey’s first season, Khan writes in another post. Casey has praised Johnson’s work ethic and feels that Johnson has untapped scoring potential, Khan continues. Johnson became more aggressive going to the basket last season but needs to improve his outside shooting, Khan adds.
  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (France) and Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen (Finland) will not play for their national teams in FIBA World Cup qualifiers next month, according to a Sportando report. Both players will focus on preparing for their second season in the NBA, the report adds.

Atlantic Rumors: DeRozan, Casey, Lowry, Fizdale, Bird

The former Raptors’ leading scorer and head coach are mad at team president Masai Ujiri, Josh Lewenberg of TSN reports. DeRozan publicly criticized Ujiri on social media after being traded to the Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard blockbuster, feeling that Ujiri misled him during a summer-league conversation. DeRozan said during USA Basketball minicamp that he’s not interested in reconciling with Ujiri. “No reason to have a relationship,” he said. “I’m done. I’m done. It’s just done for me, from my end.” Dwane Casey, now the Pistons’ head coach after getting fired by the Raptors after the season, also has lingering issues with Ujiri, according to Lewenberg. They haven’t spoken since the firing and Casey still feels plenty of resentment toward Ujiri, Lewenberg adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • DeRozan’s former backcourt partner, Kyle Lowry, doesn’t sound thrilled about the trade, according to Lewenberg. Lowry claims he has no relationship with Leonard and has yet to speak with him. Lowry was evasive when asked specifically about the trade. (Twitter links).
  • New Knicks coach David Fizdale met with star player Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia and appears to be building a strong relationship with the rehabbing power forward, Ian Begley of ESPN writes. Fizdale said he’s trying to keep Porzingis in the loop as he works his way back from knee surgery. “We’ve talked about his rehab. We’ve talked about how we want to play, our style of play,” Fizdale told Begley. “Talked a lot about the culture that we’re building. We want to make sure that he comes back strong and healthy and we don’t want to rush it. … I’ve tried to make sure that he’s – we’ve been in communication on every decision that we’ve made.”
  • The Celtics’ signing of Jabari Bird is an example of how two-way contracts should work, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Bird played for Boston on a two-way contract last season after getting drafted in the second round. The 6’6” swingman showed enough development to earn a spot on the 15-man roster, getting signed to a two-year contract this week.

Central Notes: Robinson, Pacers’ Plans, Thomas, Bucks Cap

The addition of swingman Glenn Robinson III filled the Pistons’ biggest need this offseason, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. The Pistons didn’t anticipate an early commitment but a phone call from new coach Dwane Casey as the start of free agency helped to seal the deal with the ex-Pacers wing. Robinson received a two-year, $8.3MM contract. “We didn’t expect we would get Glenn that quickly,” senior advisor Ed Stefanski said. “We felt getting the two-year commitment was huge to us. To find a young wing who can make a shot, they’re hard to find in the league. When the opportunity came up that quickly, we felt we had to make a move. If it wasn’t for him, we would still be out there looking for a guy.”

In other news involving Central Division teams:

  • Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard hopes to use a majority of next summer’s cap space on his own free agents, Mark Monteith of Pacers.com reports. Rotation players Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Tyreke Evans could all be free agents next summer, which would free up as much as $57MM in cap space, Monteith notes. But Pritchard would prefer to use most of the money to re-sign some of those players, as he told Monteith. “We have the season like we want to have, our free agents will be the priority,” he said. “I think this team has a chance to grow this year. … We already know these guys. They become our priority in free agency.”
  • Rookie second-round pick Khyri Thomas could get playing time with the Pistons through his defensive prowess, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. The swingman out of Creighton views himself as a defensive specialist. “When I was younger, I didn’t get the ball a lot playing with older people so I just stole the ball to get it,” he told Beard.
  • The addition of center Brook Lopez gives the Bucks 13 guaranteed contracts for next season but they’re still $15MM away from being hard-capped, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Lopez reportedly agreed to a one-year deal on Sunday. Milwaukee still has to deal with restricted free agent Jabari Parker‘s status, as he remains unsigned, but they could gain more flexibility since the contracts for Tyler Zeller and Brandon Jennings are not guaranteed, Marks adds.