George David

And-Ones: Playoff Format, Billups, Future Power Rankings

Don’t expect LeBron James to be among those lobbying on behalf of a potential play-in tournament for a postseason berth. The NBA has reportedly kicked the idea around in a couple different variations, but James said today that he’s not a fan of the concept, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com details.

“No, no, no,” James said. “That’s wack. That’s wack. Why? You got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That’s corny. That’s corny. That’s wack. To play for what? What are they playing for?”

While there’s a belief in some league circles that a play-in tournament at the end of the regular season to determine the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference would generate some drama, James is a firm believer that the eight teams with the best records in each conference deserve to make the playoffs.

“[Make the playoffs by winning the tournament], even if my record is better than yours? Nah, that’s wack,” James said.

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

  • Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump on Tuesday, Chauncey Billups called a report about the Pistons expressing interest in him for a front office role “100% false,” per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “I haven’t spoken to anybody with the organization about the possibility,” Billups said. Still, this isn’t the first time Billups has been linked to a front office job — if the former NBA guard does land somewhere as an executive, former Pistons assistant GM George David would be a candidate to potentially join him, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.
  • Nine NBA teams have been officially eliminated from the postseason. While the 2017/18 season has been a fairly forgettable one for those clubs, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer highlights some silver linings worth mentioning.
  • Over at ESPN.com (Insider link), Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks have updated their future NBA power rankings, which consider each team’s outlook through the 2020/21 season. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets still top their list, with the Sixers and Raptors jumping into the top five.

Pluto’s Latest: George, Love, Ingram, Butler

The Pacers want to make a Paul George deal while they can still get value, but they aren’t interested in taking back Kevin Love from the Cavaliers, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Indiana is focused on getting young players and draft picks in return for its star forward, who has announced that he will opt out of his contract next offseason and has expressed a desire to return to his hometown of Los Angeles and play for the Lakers.

The Pacers proposed a deal to the Lakers involving Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft. However, Magic Johnson, L.A.’s president of basketball operations, doesn’t want to part with Ingram, who averaged 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 79 games as a rookie.

Pluto passes on several other tidbits in his latest column:

  • The Celtics could have as many as 10 first-rounders over the next three years and seem like a natural facilitator to take on Love and get George to Cleveland in a three-team trade. But an unidentified NBA executive tells Pluto the Celtics also want George and are more likely to deal with the Pacers directly.
  • The Bulls weren’t interested in Love either, which is why the Cavaliers had little chance of trading for Jimmy Butler. Chicago has gotten tired of being mediocre and is looking for young talent to start rebuilding around. However, Pluto says most of the league iwas “stunned” that the Bulls couldn’t get more than Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a swap of first-rounders in return for Butler. The Celtics reportedly offered a better package that included several future draft picks.
  • The Cavaliers are still waiting to hear if Chauncey Billups will accept their GM offer. Sources tell Pluto that Billups has been pursuing a GM job for more than a year, so it’s not clear why there’s a delay. Billups has never worked in an NBA front office, Pluto notes, so he would need to hire an experienced executive as an assistant. A top candidate is George David, a former assistant GM with the Pistons who has a background in scouting.

Central Notes: George, Pistons, Cavs, Bucks

With reports that Paul George intends to explore free agency after next season, with his hometown Lakers as his preferred destination, concerns over possible tampering have surfaced. However, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star writes that the Pacers are unlikely to pursue any tampering charges against the Lakers.

Team president Magic Johnson alluded to George’s situation during a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, and cryptically tweeted “God is so good!” this week shortly after the George’s plans to leave Indiana were reported. However, the Pacers are more concerned with getting value for their All-Star rather than stirring up issues in Los Angeles, according to Taylor.

Taylor adds that new Pacers president Kevin Pritchard hopes to have a trade for George in place ahead of Thursday’s draft.

Below are additional notes from the Central Division:

And-Ones: Cooley, Ford, Upshaw

ESPN.com draft guru Chad Ford (Insider subscription required) opines that two tiers of talent appear to be forming in the lottery portion of the upcoming NBA draft. The upper tier includes Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, all of whom are currently projected as top five selections, Ford notes. The second tier consists of Kevon Looney, Justise Winslow, Willie Cauley-Stein, Myles Turner, Kelly Oubre, Mario Hezonja, Stanley Johnson and D’Angelo Russell, and they will make up the likely No. 5 to No. 12 overall selections, Ford adds.

Here’s more from around the league and the college ranks:

  • Ford has also released his most recent “Big Board,” which has Oubre cracking the top 10, and has Jerian Grant of Notre Dame making a big leap from No. 27 to No. 19.
  • A league source told Gino Pilato of D-League Digest (Twiitter link) that there is a lot of NBA interest in Jack Cooley, and there is a strong possibility that he could be inked to a 10-day contract shortly. Cooley currently plays for the Idaho Stampede, the Jazz‘s D-League affiliate.
  • Former Pistons assistant GM George David was hired as director of basketball operations for Wasserman Media Group, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports (Twitter link).
  • One college player starting to catch the eye of NBA scouts is Washington’s Robert Upshaw, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. “I would agree that he was a sleeper to start this season, maybe,” one league scout told Deveney. “He is not a sleeper anymore.” The 7’0″ center is averaging 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds so far this season, and he is drawing interest as a potential first-rounder, Deveney notes.
  • The Warriors have assigned Ognjen Kuzmic to their D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz, the team announced in a press release. This will be Kuzmic’s fourth trek of the season to the D-League.

Central Notes: ‘Melo, Rose, Pistons, Bucks

Some in the Bulls organization doubted their ability to sign Carmelo Anthony away from the Knicks going into their meeting with the star forward today, according to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, noting that the sentiment didn’t apply to all of the Bulls brass. Indeed, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com hears that Bulls officials were confident as they readied to make their pitch (Twitter link), so evidently there was a split. Friedell heard more optimism in the immediate wake of the meeting (Twitter link), but Anthony still has the Mavs, Rockets and Lakers on this week’s agenda. Here’s more from the Central Division, home to the first two contract agreements of the 2014/15 season:

  • Derrick Rose is loath to recruit, but he showed up at Chicago’s pitch to ‘Melo, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune details. The presence of Taj Gibson, whom Anthony and coach Tom Thibodeau reportedly would insist on keeping if the Bulls were to clear salary to sign ‘Melo, was even more important, Johnson believes (Twitter link).
  • Among the free agents Detroit considered, the only other player in the market for a contract similar to the one the Pistons have agreed to give Jodie Meeks was Trevor Ariza, tweets Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Pistons assistant GM George David resigned today, the team announced in a press release, confirming a report from Ellis (Twitter link). David and director of basketball operations Ken Catanella were jointly in charge of the front office this spring before the team hired Stan Van Gundy to replace Joe Dumars. Catanella will remain with the team, as Ellis reported in May.
  • The Bucks made a splash with their new coach, but they plan a “somewhat conservative” approach in free agency this month, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
  • The Cavaliers had been expected to begin negotiations with draft-and-stash prospect Milan Macvan, as Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reported, but the Croatian power forward instead remains focused on opportunities overseas, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. Sources told Amico that there’s more money on the international market for Macvan than there would be from the Cavs.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Central Rumors: Karl, Brown, Bulls, Pistons

George Karl would like to coach the Cavs and is high on Kyrie Irving, as Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio hears (Twitter link), but a source tells Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer that Kevin Ollie doesn’t envision taking the Cleveland coaching gig. It’s unclear whether the team has interest in either Karl or Ollie. Here’s more from the Central:

  • Former Cavs coach Mike Brown is open to listening to coaching opportunities, but plans to take a year off from coaching, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links).
  • Bulls GM Gar Forman is optimistic Chicago can select two rotation players in the draft, but is open to other possibilities, including trading up or doing a draft-and-stash, he tells K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. “If we want to try to create more cap room, we may look at doing something with one or both of those picks,” Forman said (Twitter links).
  • The Bulls are prioritizing added shooting this offseason, tweets Johnson.
  • Stan Van Gundy will retain Ken Catanella as the Pistons cap specialist, reports Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Van Gundy will meet Friday with Detroit’s assistant GM George David, who has a “solid chance” to stay in the front office, according to Ellis (Twitter links).
  • At today’s introductory press conference, Van Gundy said he is excited about the dual role he will have with the Pistons“I think the position gives us a chance to create the most unified organization in sports,” Keith Langlois of Pistons.com quotes Van Gundy as saying. “That’s what the dual role is all about. I came into the NBA in an organization like that in Miami with Pat Riley running it and I think there are tremendous advantages there.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Central Rumors: Bucks, Pistons, Calipari

The NBA is set to announce approval on Thursday of the $550MM sale of the Bucks from Herb Kohl to Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Lasry, who’ll have to divest his minority share of the Nets, and Edens had prioritized taking control before Tuesday’s lottery, Windhorst writes. Still, opposition groups are lining up against public funding for a new arena in Milwaukee, and the NBA has the right to buy the team for $575MM if a deal for a new building isn’t in place by November 2017. Kohl put that clause in the purchase agreement to keep the new owners from moving the team, Windhorst notes. Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • A league executive told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that Stu Jackson is a possibility to serve as Pistons GM under Stan Van Gundy, noting that Van Gundy worked under Jackson as an assistant at the University of Wisconsin in the 1990s (Twitter link).
  • The fate of John Loyer isn’t immediately clear in the wake of Van Gundy’s hiring, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who notes that Loyer has one season left on his contract. Loyer had been serving as Pistons interim head coach, and it’s possible he’ll return to the role of assistant coach that he occupied before the team fired Maurice Cheeks in February, according to MLive’s David Mayo.
  • It’ll be business as usual at this week’s draft combine for Pistons assistant GM George David and director of basketball operations Ken Catanella, who jointly ran the team’s front office following the end of Joe Dumars‘ tenure, Ellis tweets.
  • John Calipari would love to coach LeBron James someday, as he tells Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer, but he’s committed to Kentucky and won’t be in the mix to replace Mike Brown on the Cavs, who loom as a possible free agent destination for James.

Pistons Rumors: GM Search, Monroe, Loyer

Vincent Ellis of Detroit Free Press looks at the background of the interim team currently running the Pistons front office, led by assistant GM George David and director of basketball operations Ken Catanella. Ellis believes ownership would be comfortable progressing through the draft without making a GM hire, based on the current personnel’s experience. Here’s more out of Detroit:

  • Ellis says that David and Catanella will be considered for the permanent GM role, and that interim coach John Loyer will likewise be a candidate for the permanent head coaching job.
  • Loyer told David Mayo of MLive.com that he is proud of his time at the helm this season, working with a team under-performing and fractured by the firing of Maurice Cheeks“I felt very confident going in that I’d earn their trust. And I feel very confident, going into the last game of the season, that I’ve got their trust,” said Loyer. “I’ll let what I’ve done and what I’ve brought to the table every day speak for itself.”
  • In a separate mailbag post, Mayo opines that Greg Monroe‘s tendency not to make strong statements concerning the team could be influenced by Detroit’s decision to bring in Josh Smith rather than trust Monroe to lead a young frontcourt.
  • Mayo thinks Detroit’s plans for the offseason are a crapshoot at this point, citing the front office turmoil.
  • Mayo doesn’t believe the uncertainty surrounding Detroit’s first round pick in the draft is as significant as the myriad of other issues and decisions the team needs to work through.

Pistons, Joe Dumars Part Ways

The Pistons have officially announced via press release that Joe Dumars “will step aside” from his job as president of basketball operations, effective immediately. That suggests that Dumars tendered his resignation, as he’d reportedly planned to do, though reports Sunday indicated the team had told Dumars they wouldn’t renew his contract, which was set to expire in the offseason. In any case, the move ends Dumars’ nearly 14-year tenure atop the Pistons basketball operations department. He’ll remain with the team as an adviser, as expected. Director of basketball operations Ken Catanella and assistant GM George David will assume the responsibilities that had been Dumars’ while the club searches for a formal replacement.

“Joe Dumars is a great champion who has meant so much to this franchise and this community,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in the team’s statement. “We are turning the page with great respect for what he has accomplished not only as a player and a front office executive, but as a person who has represented this team and the NBA with extraordinary dignity.”

The 50-year-old Dumars was the longest-tenured executive in charge of day-to-day basketball operations in the league, with the possible exception of Pat Riley, who’s split much of his more than 18 years with the Heat between the front office and coaching. Dumars became president of basketball operations in Detroit in June of 2000, and he’s been with the Pistons in some capacity since 1985, when he began his Hall of Fame playing career with the club. His time as an executive included the 2004 championship and six straight conference finals appearances, but also the drafting of Darko Milicic at No. 2 overall in 2003 and an ongoing string of five non-playoff seasons.

“It’s time to turn the page on a wonderful chapter and begin writing a new one,” Dumars said as part of the press release. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great people throughout the last 29 years as both a player and executive, and I’m proud of our accomplishments. Tom Gores and ownership is committed to winning and they will continue to move the franchise forward.”

Dumars will reportedly have the ability to seek GM jobs with other NBA clubs, and he figures to be much sought after. A report earlier today indicated he already has a gig lined up with another team. The Pistons have already begun their search process for a new head of basketball operations as well as a new coach, since John Loyer is filling in only on an interim basis for Maurice Cheeks, whom the team fired in February.

Gores has appointed a pair of executives with Platinum Equity, his investment firm, to oversee the club’s searches. Those execs, Phil Norment and Bob Wentworth, will also supervise Catanella and David, and Norment, in the team release, says the club has developed a preliminary list of candidates to replace Dumars.

Latest On Pistons, Joe Dumars

The parting of Joe Dumars and the Pistons isn’t coming about via a resignation from Dumars, but rather the team’s decision not to renew his contract, reports David Mayo of MLive. Detroit’s longtime president of basketball operations has accepted the team’s offer to remain as an adviser, as we passed along last night from Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News. The Pistons have already begun looking for someone new to lead their basketball operations, Mayo writes, with assistant GM George David set to lead the team in the meantime, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Director of basketball operations Ken Catanella will also play a leading role in the team’s draft and free agency preparations, Goodwill tweets.

Phil Norment and Bob Wentworth of owner Tom Gores’ Platinum Equity investment firm will lead the search for Dumars’ replacement, according to Mayo, who adds that Gores is looking for stability and someone who, like Dumars, will stay atop the team’s basketball operations for many years. It’ll probably be someone with a background in analytics who won’t shy away from the spotlight and will be the public face of the franchise, Mayo writes.

The Pistons are already screening candidates to become the team’s new head coach, Mayo reports, though it’s unclear if the team is considering interim coach John Loyer for the long-term job. The team is likely to deliver a list of finalists to the new head of basketball operations, who’d make a choice from that list, Mayo adds.

Dumars will serve in a capacity similar to Jerry West‘s job with the Warriors, according to Berger, though Mayo contradicts that, writing that he’ll have a “non-basketball role.” Sharp says Dumars will have no say in the daily operations of the team. Berger says the advisory gig won’t preclude Dumars from seeking a GM job with another NBA team, and Berger’s sources expect him to draw interest from clubs around the league. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders hears Dumars might have another such job lined up already, though he seconds a tweet from Matt Dery of Detroit Sports 105.1 and says it’s not with the Cavaliers, who were linked to Dumars in February.

Dumars still has the respect of owner Tom Gores, Berger hears, and source tells him the organization considers it important that his dismissal be carried out in a dignified manner. The Pistons consider the appointment of Dumars as an adviser to be a respectful compromise, but still a condemnation of his oversight of the team during five consecutive non-playoff seasons, Sharp writes.