Greg Buckner

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Brissett, Turner, Stewart

Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff will miss Wednesday’s game against Chicago due to personal reasons, the team tweets. Assistant Greg Buckner will fill in for Bickerstaff, who is expected to return for the team’s road game against Charlotte on Friday. Cleveland remains on the fringe of the playoff race despite a damaging loss to Detroit on Monday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Oshae Brissett‘s three-year contract with the Pacers is not guaranteed for the final two seasons, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Brissett was signed to a standard contract Wednesday after a pair of 10-day deals expired. The former Raptor has averaged 4.8 PPG on .688/.571/.750 shooting in six games (8.2 MPG) with Indiana.
  • Myles Turner’s toe injury could keep the Pacers big man out of action for six months. Dr. Jan Szatkowski, an orthopedic foot and ankle trauma doctor at Indiana University, told the Indianapolis Star’s Michael McCleary that his injury normally requires surgery and a six-month recovery period. However, it’s worth noting that Szatkowski hasn’t personally examined Turner, who has been ruled out indefinitely due to a partial tear of the plantar plate in the big toe of his right foot.
  • The Pistons acquired the No. 16 pick of last year’s draft from Houston to select one-and-done center Isaiah Stewart. Coach Dwane Casey said GM Troy Weaver was determined to get the high-energy big man, who has averaged 17.3 PPG and 16.3 RPG in his last three games, on the team. “He’s one guy I remember Troy talking about when he first got here, about how important this kid was,” Casey told Pistons.com’s Keith Langlois. “He was as high on this young man as anybody and he’s been spot on with him.”

Central Notes: Markkanen, Oladipo, Antetokounmpo, Buckner, Bulls

Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is eager to get a rookie scale extension done before the December 21 deadline, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Markkanen said on Tuesday he’s pushing his agent, Michael (Boris) Lelchitski, to reach an agreement. “I really want to be here long-term so I’m putting some pressure on (my agent) to get (an extension) done,” he said. De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo are the other members of Markkanen’s draft class who have already reached extension agreements.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has been the subject of trade rumors but he insists he didn’t ask to be dealt, according to Eric Woodyard of ESPN (Twitter link). “I never came out and said that I didn’t want to play for the Pacers or be in this organization,” he said. Oladipo, who said he think he’s much healthier than he was last season, added that he feels pressure to prove that he’s still an All-Star caliber player. “It feels like the world (is) on my back and I’ve got to make sure I hold it up,” he said.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to meet with the Bucks this week, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (video link). The two-time MVP’s decision whether to sign a super-max extension or test the free agent market next offseason looms as the biggest story of the preseason.
  • The Cavaliers have hired Greg Buckner as an assistant coach, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Buckner has a history with head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, as they worked together on the Rockets and Grizzlies coaching staffs.
  • New coach Billy Donovan’s plans for Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr. are among the questions looming over the Bulls as they open training camp, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes.

Southwest Rumors: Potapenko, Cousins, Mavs Draft, Rockets

Vitaly Potapenko and Greg Buckner are among the assistants named to J.B. Bickerstaff’s staff with the Grizzlies, according to a team press release. Potapenko had been the Cavaliers’ assistant director of player development since 2013, while Buckner is a holdover from last season’s staff. As previously announced, Jerry Stackhouse will also be a top assistant for Bickerstaff. Stackhouse, who coached the Raptors’ G League the past two seasons, interviewed for several head coaching jobs. Chad Forcier, an assistant under Frank Vogel with the Magic the last two seasons, has also joined the staff along with Nick Van Exel and Adam Mazarei.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • DeMarcus Cousins will most likely stay put with the Pelicans but there are three other Western Conference teams where the big man would be a good fit, HoopsHype tweets. The Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs are the most likely landing spots for Cousins if he leaves New Orleans, HoopsHype adds.
  • A draft night trade with the Bulls might make sense for the Mavericks, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News speculates. Dallas owns the No. 5 pick with Chicago slotted at No. 7. If Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young go a little higher than anticipated, the Mavs could move down and either Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter or Jaren Jackson would still be on the board, Cowlishaw points out.
  • Rockets fans should lower their expectations of potentially landing LeBron James or Paul George and simply hope GM Daryl Morey can upgrade a  luxury-tax team with precious few young assets, Sean Deveney of Sports Illustrated opines. Giving Chris Paul a max contract will be a tough pill but one they’ll have to swallow to remain a prime contender, Deveney adds.

Southwest Notes: Smith Jr., Green, Bickerstaff

The Mavericks were without rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. tonight and will likely be without him through the weekend, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes.

According to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, the 20-year-old injured his hip after getting tangle up with a baseline camera man. While the injury doesn’t appear to be serious, Dallas has been particularly cautious with Smith Jr.’s health this season.

Through 23 games with the Mavericks this season, Smith Jr. has averaged 14.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He missed two contests already this season back in October.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies don’t have a permanent head coach yet but just hired former NBA player Greg Buckner to serve as an assistant, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal writes. Buckner worked alongside interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff in Houston and played for the Grizz in 2008/09.
  • The Grizzlies don’t need JaMychal Green to be a star but they do need him to establish himself as a plus defender, Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal writes. Green looked particularly impressive on that side of the ball in the team’s streak-busting win over the Timberwolves this week.
  • In the same article for The Commercial Appeal, Chris Herrington writes that the Grizzlies have been slower on offense than before J.B. Bickerstaff took over as head coach. Another difference than under David Fizdale‘s watch is that the Grizz are shooting fewer threes but at a higher clip.