Frank Jackson

Central Notes: LaVine, Williams, Jackson, Duarte

Bulls guard Zach LaVine says that playing with a ligament tear in his left thumb is difficult but he’ll make it work, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

“It will be like this for a little bit,” LaVine said. “Knock on wood that nothing happens in the game to where it re-aggravates it. But it has to play its course. They were telling me it’s almost like a Grade 2 ankle sprain but in my thumb. So it’s going to take some time.”

LaVine has shot 20-for-51 from the field over the last three games after exceeding 30 points in his first two outings this season.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams is expected to miss the rest of the regular season after tearing ligaments in his left wrist. In response, the Bulls will likely go with a smaller lineup, Johnson writes in a separate piece. Individually, Williams loses a year of growth and the ability to establish himself as a two-way force. “When you lose a guy like that who can physically guard a lot of different positions and who has the strength and size to deal with post-up players, it definitely hurts,” coach Billy Donovan said.
  • The Pistons are still seeking their first win and reserve guard Frank Jackson has struggled with his shooting this season, but he’s holding onto his rotation spot, James Edwards III of The Athletic notes. Jackson was waived by the Thunder last December and Detroit took a flyer on him. He was re-signed to a two-year, $6.2MM deal this summer with a team option. “What got my attention as much as his shooting last year was his defense,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He pursues, he competes defensively. Very athletic with speed and quickness. Then you add shooting on top of that.”
  • Pacers lottery pick Chris Duarte heard a lot from scouts and executives about his age at the pre-draft camp. The 24-year-old Duarte put a different twist on that concern, Steve Aschburner of writes. Duarte responded, “If you want to win games, get me. If you want to win in four years, go ahead and draft a 19-year-old kid. Then you can develop him and make him a superstar in three, four or five years. But you don’t know if he’s going to be a superstar — you don’t know, who knows? So you know what you’re getting now.” Duarte is averaging 18.7 PPG and 4.5 RPG through six games.

Central Notes: Holiday, LeVert, Martin, Jackson, Gonzalez, Cavs

Justin Holiday injured his left ankle in Friday’s preseason game but the Pacers guard is optimistic he’ll play in the October 20 season opener at Charlotte, David Woods of the Indianapolis Star reports. Holiday will likely miss the remaining preseason games.

Caris LeVert, who has been sidelined by a stress fracture in his back, isn’t participating in scrimmages yet but he’s “doing a little more each week” in practices, according to Pacers coach Rick Carlisle. Kelan Martin, who has twice agreed to push his salary guarantee date back in the hopes of making Indiana’s 15-man squad, is dealing with a hamstring injury.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It’s hard to envision Frank Jackson, who is battling Josh Jackson and Hamidou Diallo for minutes as the Pistons’ backup wings, being out of Dwane Casey’s rotation, Keith Langlois of writes. He provides instant offense off the bench as a penetrator and spot-up 3-point shooter. “His activity on the offensive end is hard to keep up with,” Casey said of the veteran guard. Jackson re-signed with the Pistons as a restricted free agent on a two-year deal with a team option for 2022/23.
  • Former Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez is joining the Pistons as a scout, Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets. His role will focus on college scouting, with the Big East and Atlantic 10 among the conferences he’ll monitor, Adam Zagoria of Forbes tweets.
  • The Cavaliers aren’t well-positioned cap-wise despite their status as a rebuilding team, John Hollinger of The Athletic notes in his season preview. In part due to Kevin Love‘s bloated contract, the team is currently only $3MM below the luxury tax threshold. Their situation improves next season but that could change, depending upon a potential extension for Collin Sexton and the price tag. Hollinger projects Cleveland to finish 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Rotation, Jackson, Pickett

Top pick Cade Cunningham is dealing with an ankle sprain and has missed some practice time, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. The medical staff is being very cautious with the Pistons’ prized rookie so that the injury doesn’t linger.

Cunningham has been doing some light shooting drills, Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets. It appears unlikely that the rookie guard will play in the team’s preseason opener on Wednesday.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Head coach Dwane Casey will serve youth, mainly in the starting lineup, and rely on veterans on the second unit, according to Keith Langlois of “I think we’re going to have probably two different units – one a younger unit that’s going to bring energy and the second unit will probably have more experience,” Casey said. Cunningham will likely be joined by second-year players Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes in the starting unit, as well as possibly Isaiah Stewart. Casey is still mulling whether to go with Stewart or free agent signee Kelly Olynyk as the starting center. Cory Joseph will likely be the second-unit floor leader with Hamidou Diallo, Josh Jackson, Frank Jackson and Trey Lyles fighting for playing time.
  • Frank Jackson, like Cunningham, is dealing with an ankle injury, Sankofa adds in a separate tweet. He was re-signed as a restricted free agent on a two-year, $6.2MM deal that includes a team option next summer.
  • Jamorko Pickett continues to earn the admiration of the coaching staff, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. “I’m really impressed with Jamorko Pickett, as far as his game, approach, maturity and communication,” Casey said. An undrafted forward out of Georgetown, Pickett recently had his non-guaranteed camp deal upgraded to a two-way contract.

Pistons Re-Sign RFA Frank Jackson

AUGUST 10: Jackson has officially re-signed with the Pistons, according to’s transactions log. The two-year deal is worth $6.2MM with a second-year team option, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

AUGUST 9: The Pistons will be bringing back restricted free agent point guard Frank Jackson, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). Jackson is set to return on a two-year contract, per Wojnarowski. The financial terms of the deal have yet to be reported.

Jackson carved out minutes on Detroit during last year’s lottery-bound season. The reserve point guard, 23, had a career-best NBA season during his first year with Detroit. In 40 games, he averaged 9.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 0.9 APG across 18.5 MPG. Jackson sported a shooting line of .457/.407/.813.

Selected with the No. 31 pick in the 2017 draft out of Duke, Jackson missed the entire 2017/18 NBA season following two foot surgeries. He spent his first NBA two healthy seasons, 2018/19 and 2019/20, in New Orleans.

After the Pelicans opted not to issue Jackson a qualifying offer in 2020, Jackson became an unrestricted free agent. Following a dalliance with the Thunder, Jackson then joined the Pistons on a two-way contract for the 2020/21 season.

Pistons Issue QOs To Hamidou Diallo, Frank Jackson

The Pistons have extended qualifying offers to Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson, ensuring that both players will be restricted free agents this summer, reports James Edwards III of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Acquired from the Thunder in March in a deal that sent Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and a second-round pick to Oklahoma City, Diallo averaged 11.2 PPG and 5.4 RPG on .468/.390/.662 shooting in 20 games (23.3 MPG) for Detroit.

The expectation when Diallo was acquired was that the Pistons would make a strong effort to lock him up to a new deal as a restricted free agent. His qualifying offer will be worth about $2.08MM and will give Detroit the right of first refusal in the event that he signs an offer sheet with another team.

As for Jackson, the former 31st overall pick spent the 2020/21 season on a two-way contract with the Pistons, averaging 9.8 PPG and 2.2 RPG on .457/.407/.813 shooting in 40 games (18.5 MPG).

Because he has four years of NBA service under his belt, Jackson is ineligible to sign another two-way contract, so his qualifying offer will be worth the minimum salary. However, it only needs to be partially guaranteed for the equivalent of a two-way salary (likely around $463K).

The Pistons have two more players eligible for restricted free agency this offseason. I’d expect one of those players – Saben Lee – to get a qualifying offer before this weekend’s deadline, but the other – Dennis Smith Jr. – will likely become an unrestricted free agent.

Central Notes: Holiday, LaVine, Hartenstein, Pistons

The Defensive Player of the Year conversation this season has primarily revolved around candidates like Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons, but Bucks guard Jrue Holiday believes he should be in that discussion. In fact, that’s an opinion he holds year in and year out, as he tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“Man, I feel like I’m the Defensive Player of the Year every year,” Holiday said. “I’m not joking about that. And I know this is my opinion, and other people have different opinions and they’ll probably think I’m crazy. But I think what I bring defensively on the court, a lot of people don’t really do, to be completely honest.”

As Holiday points out, it’s rare for a guard to receive serious consideration for Defensive Player of the Year honors. The last time a backcourt player won the award was in 1996, when Gary Payton was named DPOY. But Holiday feels that his own performance and versatility on the defensive end of the court shouldn’t be overlooked.

“I think to be able to guard some of these guards night in and night out, every single night, and be able to move laterally, moving your feet, fighting over screens, fighting under screens, guarding them one-on-one 30 feet away from the basket,” Holiday told Haynes. “And there were a couple of years where I was blocking a lot of shots for a guard. So I even protected the rim myself. And then at that, I’m guarding positions one through four, and sometimes five. Defensively, I’ve pretty much done it all. That’s why I think I should be in the conversation every year.”

Here are a few more items from around the Central:

  • While there has been a belief that Zach LaVine will look to maximize his earnings on his next contract, several sources who spoke to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times believe LaVine could be persuaded to take a slight discount if the Bulls continue adding quality players around him. Still, a standard extension for LaVine could only be worth up to about $105MM over four years, so he seems unlikely to accept such a deal — Chicago could offer him significantly more in a renegotiation or once he reaches free agency.
  • Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein, who holds a minimum-salary player option for 2021/22, said he’d like to remain in Cleveland, but hinted that he’s leaning toward opting out in the hopes of signing a new deal. “So far everything has been good,” Hartenstein said of his time with the Cavs, per Chris Fedor of “Can’t really say what’s going to happen in the future, but I hope we can renegotiate something this summer and I can grow with the young guys. I think that would be a good experience.”
  • In a mailbag for The Detroit News, Rod Beard says that he expects the Pistons to try to re-sign Frank Jackson in free agency, advocates for giving Sekou Doumbouya more time to develop, and addresses a few other Pistons-related topics.

Eastern Notes: Grant, Heat, Jackson, Oladipo, Nunn

Pistons forward Jerami Grant isn’t unfamiliar with lottery finishes, but he feels his current situation is much different from his team’s situation in Philadelphia earlier in his career, writes Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press.

Grant spent just over two seasons with the Sixers from 2014-17, teams that were mostly known for focusing on the future and rebuilding.

“Nah, it’s not the same,” Grant said. “It’s a lot different. It’s not a rebuild, as (general manager) Troy (Weaver) always says. It’s not three or four years into the future. We’re looking forward to doing something big next year. So no, it doesn’t have the same feeling as there.”

The Pistons currently own the league’s third-worst record at 18-43, putting them last in the East. For his part, Grant has averaged 22.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 52 games this season, shooting 43% from the floor and 35% from three-point range.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat could be stumbling toward the play-in tournament barring a final late-season push, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag. Miami has won four of its last five games, but the team still holds just the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference at 32-29. The Heat have upcoming games against the Bulls on Monday, Spurs on Wednesday and Cavaliers on Saturday.
  • James L. Edwards III of The Athletic examines how the Pistons turned two-way player Frank Jackson into a promising sharpshooter. Jackson is averaging 8.4 points per game on 41% from deep — mostly playing off the bench this season. “Being able to play consistently, every time I step on the court I feel I get a little better,” Jackson said. “It’s nice to have teammates who make the nice reads and make the right play. This is my fourth year in the league. I know what it takes to stay ready.”
  • Heat guard Victor Oladipo could have to beat out Kendrick Nunn for playing time should he return this season, Winderman examines in another “Ask Ira” mailbag. Nunn has stepped up his play since re-entering the team’s rotation, averaging 14 points per game on 47% shooting this season.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Central Division:

Frank Jackson, Pistons, 22, SG/PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, two-way ($449K) deal in 2020

An early second-round pick in 2017, Jackson was a rotation player with the Pelicans for two seasons after missing his first year with a foot injury. New Orleans let him walk in the offseason and the Thunder cut him in training camp, but Jackson has revived his career on a two-way contract with the Pistons.

Rather than playing the point, Jackson has thrived in an off-the-ball role under Dwane Casey. He has scored 14 or more points in six of the last eight games, including a go-ahead basket in the final minute against Cleveland on Monday.

It seems a good bet that Jackson, who has dramatically improved his 3-point shooting, will receive a qualifying offer from Detroit’s front office and become a restricted free agent this summer.

Denzel Valentine, Bulls, 27, SF/SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $4.64MM deal in 2020

Valentine is one of those low-turnover, glue guys that coaches feel comfortable putting on the floor but who doesn’t dent the stat sheet. He has been in Billy Donovan’s rotation most of the season but his shooting numbers remain subpar (38.4% overall, 33.0% from deep). Valentine signed his qualifying offer to stay in Chicago after an unspectacular 2019/20 season. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely be looking at offers below the QO he inked in the fall. Chicago’s late lottery pick in 2016 might benefit from a change of scenery.

Doug McDermott, Pacers, 29, SF/PF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $22MM deal in 2018

Dougie McBuckets is one of the cooler nicknames in the league and for much of the season, he’s lived up to it. Currently dealing with an ankle sprain, McDermott is averaging a career-high 12.9 PPG and 3.6 RPG. He’s been more than just a long-range gunner, as 56% of his shot attempts have come from inside the arc. A career 40.7% shooter from deep, McDermott has been a solid rotation player for Indiana since the club signed him to a three-year deal three years ago. He’ll return to unrestricted free agency this summer and could be looking at similar offers.

Bryn Forbes, Bucks, 27, SG, (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $4.79MM deal in 2020

Forbes started the past two seasons in San Antonio but he’s probably best suited in his current role as a second-unit scorer with Milwaukee. Forbes is averaging 9.6 PPG in 19.3 MPG while making a career-best 43.7% of his 3-point attempts. He’ll have an interesting decision this summer, as he holds a $2.45MM option on his contract for next season. If Forbes remains in the rotation and performs well in the postseason, the undrafted guard out of Michigan State will position himself to nix that option in order to pursue multiyear offers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pistons Notes: Doumbouya, Jackson, Hayes, Draft

Pistons second-year forward Sekou Doumbouya has earned more playing time in recent games, serving as a key cog in the team’s rotation this past week.

The 20-year-old saw just over 23 minutes of action on Monday, nine minutes on Tuesday, 13 minutes on Thursday, and nearly 23 minutes on Saturday. He finished with 11 points and three rebounds in Saturday’s contest, also recording two steals and two blocks.

“He’s earning it and he’s playing well,” head coach Dwane Casey said, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). “A lot of it is the seriousness of his approach to the game. He’s put in the extra work, and it’s showing.”

The Pistons drafted Doumbouya with the No. 15 pick back in 2019. His role has fluctuated this season, but it’s one that could be worth keeping an eye on as the campaign moves forward.

Here are some other notes from Detroit today:

  • Point guard Frank Jackson is finding his groove as a scoring option off the bench, Keith Langlois of writes. Jackson scored 17 points in just over 20 minutes on Saturday against Portland, shooting 6-of-9 from the floor. “He’s instant offense off the bench,” Casey said. “He’s one of our best defenders on the ball. That young man is really growing right before us. For me, he’s grown as much as anyone else. Just really impressed with his approach. He stays ready. It’s not easy to come off the bench and score the way he does with ease.”
  • Omari Sankofa II examines a number of Pistons-related topics in his latest mailbag, including the return of rookie Killian Hayes (hip). Hayes has only appeared in 11 games this season, averaging 4.9 points per contest on 32% shooting. He made his return against New York last week after missing nearly three months of action.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News considers which prospect the team should draft if it obtains the No. 2 pick this year. Players such as Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs are all potential options depending on who gets selected with the first pick — which could ultimately wind up with Detroit. The Pistons currently trail the Timberwolves by three games and the Rockets by two games in the NBA’s “reverse standings.”

Central Notes: Holiday, Pistons, Griffin, Pacers

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday hasn’t played since February 6 due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, but he was back on the team’s bench for Sunday’s win over Sacramento, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic details. While Holiday wasn’t able to suit up on Sunday, his presence on the sidelines was a promising sign, since it means he’s out of quarantine and should be cleared soon.

“He’s close. He’s getting very close,” Budenholzer said of the Bucks’ starting guard. “I think I’m just going to make sure to not make a mistake and say he’s progressing through the health and safety protocols.”

Assuming Holiday is returning from a positive COVID-19 test, which is the belief, he requires a two-day ramping-up period and has to pass certain cardiac tests before he’s given the go-ahead to play in a game. Holiday didn’t practice today, per Budenholzer (Twitter link via Nehm), but the hope is that it won’t be much longer before he’s back in the Bucks’ lineup.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • With Killian Hayes already sidelined and Delon Wright now out for at least a couple weeks, the Pistons‘ young point guards will have an opportunity to show what they’re capable of, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes (subscriber-only link). While Dennis Smith Jr. was expected to be the main beneficiary, it was two-way player Saben Lee who played 33 minutes on Sunday after Smith got the start. Frank Jackson should also in the mix, but didn’t log any playing time on Sunday.
  • The days of Blake Griffin being a focal point of a team’s offense are over, but his impending divorce with the Pistons will give him an opportunity to revamp his game and try to adjust to a complementary role, says Rafael Canton of RealGM.
  • Postponed games on Saturday and Monday gave the Pacers an opportunity to hold an impromptu “mini-camp,” as head coach Nate Bjorkgren looks to install new tweaks to his offensive and defensive systems, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Indiana will have a total of six days off between its last game vs. Minnesota on February 17 and its next game vs. Golden State on February 24.