Hamidou Diallo

Pistons Notes: Breakout Players, Walker, Casey

Before the Pistons can take a leap in the win column and contend for the postseason, the team will need its young role players to improve in their development. Mike Curtis of The Detroit News identifies power forward Marvin Bagley III — the former No. 2 lottery pick in 2018 — athletic wing Hamidou Diallo, and center Isaiah Stewart as three such role players capable of growing their games in 2022/23.

Curtis thinks that Bagley could become a reliable option in the post if he can stay healthy next year. Curtis also opines that Diallo could see his standing in the Detroit hierarchy improve if he grows as a long-range shooter. Stewart’s three-point output has been limited in the last two seasons. He has connected on 33% of his 0.8 attempts thus far in his NBA career. Curtis writes that the 6’8″ big man showed off an increased willingness to let fly from outside during two Summer League contests with Detroit in Las Vegas this year. Overall, Stewart shot 5-of-9 from outside.

There’s more out of the Motor City:

  • The Pistons may still be holding out hope that they can use the expiring $9.2MM remaining on veteran point guard Kemba Walker‘s current contract in a trade. Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes in a new mailbag that, if such a deal does not materialize in time for the start of NBA training camps later this month, Detroit could move to buy him out of his deal. Elsewhere in the mailbag, Langlois says he considers Isaiah Livers the most likely new addition to the Pistons’ starting lineup this season, and thinks star point guard Cade Cunningham, the top draft pick in 2021, could be in line for All-Star consideration this season if he continues to develop.
  • In an interview with Johnny Kane of Bally Sports Detroit (Twitter video link), Pistons head coach Dwane Casey expressed enthusiasm about the team’s ability to grow next season. Casey hailed Cade Cunningham and 2022 No. 5 overall pick Jaden Ivey as “stars to be.” Casey anticipates that the team will at the very least improve from its 23-59 record in 2021/22. “You expect growth,” Casey said (hat tip to Mike Curtis of The Detroit News for the transcription). “The internal growth is very important. One thing [GM] Troy Weaver has done is brought a bunch of young, hard-working, character guys in that have been working all summer. I can see the improvement. The game has slowed down for a guy like Saddiq Bey. You mentioned Cade Cunningham. You mention Isaiah Stewart — all those guys, the game has slowed down for them.”
  • The Pistons recently agreed to sign free agent big man Micah Potter to a training camp deal. Get the full details here.

Pistons Exercise Diallo’s Option, Likely To Decline Jackson’s

JUNE 28, 9:03am: The Pistons have officially exercised Diallo’s option in advance of today’s deadline, tweets Smith.


JUNE 27, 8:48am: The Pistons will likely pick up their team option on wing Hamidou Diallo for the 2022/23 season, sources tell James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). Exercising that option would lock in Diallo’s $5.2MM salary for ’22/23.

After spending the first two-and-a-half seasons of his career in Oklahoma City, Diallo has emerged as a regular part of the Pistons’ rotation since being traded to Detroit at the 2021 deadline. In 2021/22, he averaged 11.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.2 SPG on .496/.247/.650 shooting in 58 games (21.9 MPG).

While turning down Diallo’s option would help the Pistons maximize their cap room, the team likes his athleticism and versatility, and his $5.2MM option salary isn’t exorbitant. Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link) estimates Detroit would still have over $40MM in cap space even with Diallo on the books.

While Diallo’s option looks like a good bet to be exercised, the Pistons are unlikely to pick up Frank Jackson‘s team option, according to Edwards and Will Guillory of The Athletic. That option would pay Jackson a $3.15MM salary for 2022/23.

[RELATED: NBA Team Option Decisions For 2022/23]

A 2017 second-round pick who is still just 24 years old, Jackson appeared in 53 games for Detroit this past season, averaging a career-high 10.6 points in 22.0 minutes per contest. However, his efficiency numbers (.402 FG%, .308 3PT%) left something to be desired.

Jackson would become an unrestricted free agent if the Pistons decline his option.

The Pistons must officially finalize decisions on Diallo’s and Jackson’s options, as well as Luka Garza‘s team option, by Tuesday. The deadline for Carsen Edwards‘ team option is Wednesday.

Pistons’ Hamidou Diallo Out For Season

Pistons swingman Hamidou Diallo will miss the remainder of the 2021/22 season with a left index finger avulsion fracture, the team announced. He suffered the injury against Chicago on March 9.

The high-flying Diallo was the 45th pick of the 2018 draft after a single collegiate season with Kentucky. He spent his first two-plus seasons with Oklahoma City prior to being traded to Detroit last March.

He had a breakout third season in 2020/21, averaging 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists on .477/.341/.644 shooting in 52 games (23.6 minutes) with the Thunder and Pistons. Diallo was a restricted free agent last summer and re-signed with the Pistons on a two-year, $10.4MM contract.

In 58 games this season, including 29 starts, Diallo continued to be a valuable contributor. He averaged 11 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals on .496/.247/.650 shooting. The 23-year-old struggles on threes and free throws, but he’s extremely athletic, a great finisher, and plays solid defense.

The Pistons hold a $5.2MM team option on Diallo for next season, so he could technically become an unrestricted free agent in 2022 if the Pistons decline the option, but I think that’s pretty unlikely since it’s an affordable salary for a solid young player.

Pistons Notes: Bagley, Livers, Cunningham, Blaha

Marvin Bagley III is headed to free agency but he seems intent on remaining with the Pistons, as he told James Edwards III of The Athletic.

Bagley has enjoyed his experience with Detroit since he was dealt by the Kings last month. He’s also been productive, averaging 14.1 PPG and 7.1 RPG in 27 MPG during his first 10 games with the Pistons.

“We’ve got some amazing talent here. Now, it’s about figuring out how to work together, gel together to do something bigger,” he said. “I’m definitely excited about it. I can’t wait to be around the guys even more, figure them out even more and make runs in the playoffs … even get some championships here. I’m excited about it.”

Bagley didn’t receive a rookie scale extension with Sacramento. His qualifying offer, which would make him a restricted free agent, will be $7.3MM since he won’t meet the starter criteria.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Due to injuries and illness, rookie wing Isaiah Livers received extensive playing time against Miami on Tuesday. He responded with 16 points in 31 minutes but his bigger focus was defense, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Livers, a second-round pick, spent the bulk of the season rehabbing from a foot injury. “Being out, definitely I was locked in, especially to my team,” Livers said. “I was seeing where we need that push and that shove. What I saw was defensive energy right away off the bench. That was my key right away to minutes off the bench.” Livers’ contract is guaranteed through next season with a team option in 2023/24.
  • Rookie of the Year candidate Cade Cunningham missed Tuesday’s game due to a non-COVID illness, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News“He started feeling bad (Monday) night and came to shootaround looking like death, eating crackers. So, he’s in pretty bad shape,” coach Dwane Casey said prior to the game. Hamidou Diallo (finger) and Frank Jackson (back) also missed the game and Rodney McGruder aggravated a hamstring injury during it.
  • Longtime broadcaster George Blaha underwent a heart bypass procedure on Tuesday, the team’s PR department tweets. Blaha is expected to return as the play-by-play announcer next season.

Central Notes: Diallo, McGruder, Bagley, LeVert, Brown

The Pistons won in Boston just before the All-Star break but they’ll be shorthanded when they visit for the second time on Friday. The team has ruled out starting center Isaiah Stewart and key reserves Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Rodney McGruder and Frank Jackson due to an assortment of injuries, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Diallo (finger sprain) and McGruder (hamstring strain) were injured during the loss to the Bulls on Wednesday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Marvin Bagley III‘s athleticism has given the Pistons a new dimension, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Bagley, who will enter either restricted or unrestricted free agency this summer, provides a major lob threat that the team was sorely lacking. “We’re really happy with the way he’s playing, the way he’s fitting in, and he’s creating a lot of options offensively, and defensively, he’s giving us another rebounder,” coach Dwane Casey said.
  • Caris LeVert won’t play against Miami on Friday but he’s making some progress from the right foot sprain he suffered last month. He went through a portion of the Cavaliers’ practice in Miami on Thursday and took some shots on the court afterward, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.
  • Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes Moses Brown can help the team with his interior presence, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. Brown was signed to a 10-day contract on Thursday. “He’s long. He’s rangy. He has good athleticism,” Bickerstaff said. “He knows how to patrol the paint at both ends of the floor. Really good rim roller and lob threat, so he’s a similar build to what we have and what we value.”

Hamidou Diallo Fined $20K By NBA

The NBA has fined Pistons guard Hamidou Diallo $20K, the league’s PR team announced in a press release (Twitter link).

Diallo is being penalized for shoving a referee with 6:29 left in the first half of yesterday’s 113-104 defeat to the Celtics, per the NBA’s statement. With the loss, the Pistons’ record fell to 14-46 on the season.

The 23-year-old swingman, drafted with the No. 45 pick out of Kentucky in 2018, was assessed a technical foul and ejected at the time of the incident, ultimately appearing in just 10:41 of the contest. He has been having a solid season for a rebuilding Pistons team during his first full year in Detroit.

Diallo is averaging 11.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.2 APG and 1.2 SPG across 22.3 MPG. The 6’5″ wing is connecting on 49.8% of his field goal looks in 53 games, including 29 starts.

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.”

Central Notes: Allen, Markkanen, Love, Diallo, Carlisle

The Cavaliers are hopeful they’ll be closer to full strength by Monday, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Jarrett Allen missed the team’s game against the Lakers on Thursday with an illness. Lamar Stevens is rehabbing from a right ankle sprain and Lauri Markkanen is reconditioning after a bout with COVID-19, but there’s a belief that all three players could return early next week.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love didn’t require hospitalization but his bout with COVID-19 was a rough one, according to Fedor“I went through it,” Love said. “The first four or five days were pretty tough. All the usual symptoms that I think people might get. Crazy muscle aches, sensitive skin, can’t smell, taste, muscle spasms, fatigue. Then just chest and head got hit pretty tough as well.” Love had 11 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes while playing for the first time this month on Wednesday.
  • Pistons wings Hamidou Diallo and Josh Jackson have been fighting for minutes on the second unit. Diallo had five DNPs this month but played 14 minutes in the team’s win over Indiana while Jackson was benched. Diallo made a layup on the only shot he attempted and had two rebounds but coach Dwane Casey thought he was way better than the stat sheet indicated. “He played within himself, got the rebound, got it to the point guard and defensively, he was solid,” Casey said. “He did a great job in our traps, even forced (Indiana) to call a timeout.” Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and Diallo could return to free agency as well if the club declines its option on his 2022/23 contract.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle felt his team simply didn’t play hard enough in an eight-point loss at Detroit on Wednesday, James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star relays. “This isn’t a ball movement issue. This is a hard play issue,” Carlisle said. “(Detroit) played harder. They took us out of the majority of things that we were trying to do offensively in the first half, and we’ve just got to play harder and with more force at both ends.”

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 Pistons.com. “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 Notes: David, Diallo, Pickett, Schedule

George David has reached an agreement with the Pistons to become an assistant general manager, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. It will be a second stint in the organization for David, who spent 19 seasons in Detroit’s front office before joining Wasserman Media Group in 2015. David, who spent the bulk of his previous time in the organization in scouting and player evaluation, has strong ties with GM Troy Weaver, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • The two-year contract signed by Hamidou Diallo is worth a flat $5.2MM in each season, Keith Smith tweets. The second year, as previously noted, is a team option. Diallo entered the month as a restricted free agent.
  • Jamorko Pickett, who signed an Exhibit 10 contract, has an uphill climb to make the opening-day roster, but he has no doubt he’s good enough to play in the NBA, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. Pickett, who played four seasons at Georgetown, averaged 9.8 PPG and 3.8 RPG in the Las Vegas summer league. “I was given opportunities and I took the most of them,” he said. “I know I belong here. It’s always having that mindset – knowing I belong, knowing I should start. That’s what pushed me when I did have the opportunity to excel.”
  • Cade Cunningham will make his regular season debut at home against Chicago on Oct. 20, Langlois notes while breaking down the regular-season slate. The NBA released team schedules on Friday. The Pistons’ schedule can be accessed here.