Henry Ellenson

Pistons Pick Up Options On Johnson, Ellenson

The Pistons have picked up their fourth-year option on Stanley Johnson and third-year option on Henry Ellenson for 2018/19, the team announced in a press release Sunday. Detroit faced an Oct. 31 deadline to pick up their options for 2018/19. Johnson will make $3,940,402 next season while Ellenson will pocket $1,857,480.

Johnson, 21, enters his third NBA season. After a solid rookie campaign, Johnson’s scoring production was cut in half last season as he averaged 4.4 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 73 games. The first-round pick from 2015 (eighth overall) is still a young asset with potential and figures to be a key part of the Pistons’ team in 2017/18.

Ellenson, 20, only played in 19 games as a rookie last season, posting a meager 3.2 PPG and 2.2 RPG. However, the Pistons’ first-rounder (18th overall) from last season possesses a strong 6’11” frame and offensive potential that has forced the Pistons to consider him for a starting role.

For all of this year’s decisions on 2018/19 rookie scale options, be sure to check out our tracker.

Central Rumors: Zipser, Markkanen, Ellenson, Nachbar

Bulls swingman Paul Zipser projects as a starter during his second season in the league but he sees himself as more of a role player, as Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders details. Zipser, a second-round pick in 2016, will receive expanded playing time after the franchise moved All-Star Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves this summer. Zipser won’t provide All-Star level production but he’ll help the Bulls at both ends of the floor and deliver 12-15 points per game, according to Brigham. “I don’t need to be the leader of the team or the top scorer of the team or to have the ball in my hands the whole time,” he told Brigham. “That’s not who I am as a person, but I wanted a bigger role and more opportunity to do some leading along with some other guys on the team. And that’s what I think is going to happen.” If Zipser flops, his future with the Bulls beyond this season is uncertain. His $1,544,951 salary for 2018/19 is not guaranteed.

In other developments concerning the Central Division:

  • The Bulls would be wise to leave rookie big man Lauri Markkanen at power forward, Vince Goodwill of NBCSports.com opines. Markkanen looks overmatched at this stage trying to guard the likes of Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins, as he did in a preseason game on Sunday, Goodwill continues. However, since the Bulls have two rotation-worthy centers and power forwards, he’ll have to play both positions to get playing time this season, Goodwill notes.
  • Veteran Anthony Tolliver is likely to nab a rotation spot over second-year player Henry Ellenson, but the young Pistons power forward is making that a tougher call, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com explains. Coach Stan Van Gundy told Langlois and other media members after Ellenson scored 16 points against the Hawks in a preseason game this weekend that Ellenson has made a strong impression in training camp. “He’s probably been the most consistent of anybody,” Van Gundy said. “Every time we play, every time we practice, he really hasn’t had – I don’t remember a bad day since the start of camp. I think his confidence is sky high. He’s really focused on what he has to do. He’s playing very, very well.”
  • The Pistons have added Bostjan Nachbar to their international scouting staff, overseas expert David Pick tweets. Nachbar played for three NBA franchises from 2002-08 after the Rockets made him a mid-first-round selection in 2002.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Ellenson, Johnson, Jackson

Many teams remain interested in trading for Pistons center Andre Drummond, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Ellis talked to several talent evaluators around the league, who say that at age 24, Drummond still has the potential to become a successful big man despite questions about his energy and defense. Teams don’t seem reluctant to take on Drummond’s contract, which will pay him more than $105MM over the next four seasons.

The people Ellis spoke with don’t believe the Pistons are currently shopping Drummond, athough they were over the offseason and before February’s trade deadline. However, he cites two potentially interested parties in Knicks GM Scott Perry, who was an assistant GM in Detroit when Drummond was drafted, and Clippers executive VP Lawrence Frank, who coached the Pistons when Drummond was a rookie.

There’s more this morning out of Detroit:

  • Henry Ellenson‘s impressive preseason could mean more minutes for the second-year big man, Ellis adds in the same piece. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Ellenson is “playing at a high level” after he scored 16 points in 17 minutes Friday. He is competing with Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer and Anthony Tolliver for playing time at power forward.
  • The competition at power forward will keep Stanley Johnson at small forward, which may not be his best position, Ellis writes in a separate story. Many observers believe Johnson would excel as a stretch four, but Van Gundy expects nearly all of Johnson’s minutes this season to come at small forward. “We just don’t really have a need for another [power forward],” Van Gundy said. “There may be some defensive things late in the game where teams go small and we could go small with him, but we’ve got enough stuff we could run without having him to spend a lot of time there. I’m not going to confuse him and have him having to work and know all the sets at [power forward].”
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson is ready to take on a larger leadership role this season, Ellis writes in a another story. Now one of the oldest players on the team at 27, Jackson wants to erase the nightmare of last year when knee problems forced him to miss the start of the season and the team wasn’t able to incorporate him smoothly once he returned. Part of the problem was physical, as assistant coach Tim Hardaway says Jackson never fully recovered. “He’s the catalyst,” Hardaway said. “He wants to come out here and be the man. He can be the man, but first he has to be healthy. Once he’s 100% and shape, everybody’s going to see a different Reggie because last year he was hurt all the time.”

Central Notes: Shumpert, Teodosic, Ellenson

The Cavaliers will be without swingman Iman Shumpert for the next seven-to-10 days, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. The 27-year-old sprained his left foot in a preseason game this week and could be sidelined until the regular season begins.

Shumpert’s absence comes at a critical time for the Cavaliers, who will be hard-pressed to trim down their roster after the addition of Dwyane Wade last week. While Shumpert has been reassured of his role with the club, Cavs fans will be eager to see what the veteran is capable of producing in 2017/18.

Shumpert, owed $11MM in 2017/18, saw his role with the Cavaliers decrease toward the end of last season and averaged just 7.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game for the team on the year.

This year, with considerably more depth in the mix in Cleveland, it will be interesting to see what sort of role the perimeter defender carves out for himself with the Cavaliers. Missing the duration of preseason won’t help him make a solid impression.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • It won’t be easy for Stan Van Gundy to narrow his Pistons rotation down to eight or nine players, especially considering how Henry Ellenson has played of late, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. The head coach will need to find a way of balancing the minutes for Ellenson, Anthony Tolliver, Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer, all of whom can play the four.
  • Expect Justin Holiday to step into a leadership role with the rebuilding Bulls, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. “He’s done a good job of pulling the group together,” head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “If we’re having a stretch in practice where we’re struggling or we’re hitting adversity and we’re not handling it the right way, if we need a shot of energy, Justin is the guy that pulls the group together. And you have to have a guy like that.
  • The Bulls were supposedly close to a deal with Milos Teodosic this summer but it was derailed when the club traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves, effectively shifting their focus to a full-on rebuild. The guard’s agent, Nick Lotsos, spoke of the free agency process to NBA Greece (article translated by Eurohoops).

Central Notes: Johnson, Paxson, Green

There haven’t been any reported indications that the Pistons are pursuing a specific trade, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press notes, but the asset he posits would be most valuable if they were is third-year man Stanley Johnson.

Ellis cites the interest that Johnson drew at the trade deadline as the biggest indication that teams would still be interested in taking a flyer on the intriguing physical specimen. In addition to his impressive 6’7″, 235-pound, NBA-ready frame, the Pistons forward also has a palatable contract that would serve a contending team well.

Involved in a deal or not, however, this season marks Johnson’s best chance to succeed as he’ll break camp as the most natural small forward on the Pistons’ roster.

Ellis suggests that Henry Ellenson and Luke Kennard wouldn’t be quite as valuable considering their lack of NBA success and that the biggest limitation on Andre Drummond‘s trade value would be his hefty contract.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The man calling the shots in Chicago’s front office is John Paxson. The Bulls executive is as powerful as ever, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes. The new perspective – especially new after the arrival of Doug Collins this week – could serve them well as they officially embark on a rebuild.
  • As Jeff Green settles into life with the Cavaliers, he does so with a unique connection to the city of Cleveland. The forward, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes, underwent major heart surgery at the world-famous Cleveland Clinic back in 2012.
  • Expect second-year Pistons forward Henry Ellenson to vie for a larger role in 2017/18. As Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes, the sophomore forward has been focusing specifically on improving his defense and three-ball, two qualities that head coach Stan Van Gundy is known to put great stock in.

Central Notes: Bucks, Williams, Drummond, Pistons

The Bucks have a couple of options beyond making a trade to drop back below the luxury-tax line, as Gery Woelfel of WoelfelPressBox.com points out. Citing sources, Woelfel calculates the current Milwaukee payroll at $120.6MM, which would put it approximately $1.4MM over the tax threshold. The Bucks could shed some payroll by either releasing point guard Gary Payton Jr., who has a non-guaranteed $1.3MM deal, and/or waiving Spencer Hawes $6.5MM contract. By using the stretch provision, the Bucks could reduce Hawes’ 2017/18 cap hit by more than $4MM.

In other items involving the Central Division:

  • Unrestricted free agent forward Derrick Williams could wind up back with the Cavaliers, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net reports. Williams has drawn little interest in the open market but the Cavs could sign him to a one-year, $2.4MM contract once they decide whether to trade Kyrie Irving, Amico adds. Williams averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.3 RPG on 51% shooting in 17.1 MPG over 25 regular-season games with Cleveland but was used sparingly in the playoffs.
  • Andre Drummond has already noticed a significant difference in his breathing and stamina since undergoing sinus surgery this summer to correct a deviated septum, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Playing at a high altitude in the NBA Africa Game in South Africa, the Pistons center said he was breathing much easier on and off the court, as he told Beard. “Just being able to breathe, I can’t even explain how great it feels to sleep easier and breathe easier when I play,” Drummond said. “I’m not worried about gasping for air when I go hard.” Drummond had been breathing mainly through one nostril during his NBA career prior to the surgery.
  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will have difficult decisions on his power forward rotation, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. Tobias Harris could wind up splitting his time between both forward spots and the rest of the power forward minutes will be soaked up by a combination of Jon Leuer, Anthony Tolliver and second-year man Henry Ellenson. Leuer, who signed a four-year contract last summer, could wind up as the starter despite slumping badly after the All-Star break, Langlois continues. Tolliver signed up for his second stint with the franchise this summer and brings the elements of toughness and 3-point shooting, while Ellenson put his shot-making ability on display in summer-league action, Langlois adds.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Combine, Johnson, Dumars

Pistons center Andre Drummond may start wearing a facemask to protect his nose, according to Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Drummond recently underwent surgery to fix a deviated septum, which has limited his breathing for several years. Coach Stan Van Gundy said the procedure could make Drummond more vulnerable to having his nose broken, which is why the mask is being considered. “The only thing is there’s a little bit of a chance that it makes you more susceptible to breaks, which he knew going in, which means he may have to wear a mask, at times,” Van Gundy said. “Or if it gets hit. So we’ll see.” He added that Drummond is ” feeling a thousand times better” since the procedure.

There’s more news out of Detroit:

  • The Pistons asked the prospects they interviewed at this week’s draft combine to break down film clips, Ellis adds in the same story. Gonzaga big man Zach Collins said Detroit was one of the few teams he talked to that asked for film analysis, but Van Gundy is a believer in the technique. “There is no right or wrong answer; I just like to hear them talk about basketball and articulate what they see on the court,” Van Gundy said. “Most of them will go back to their rules in college about defensive rotations. I’m not worried about what it is [they know], but more if guys have a pretty clear understanding of what they think should be done.”
  • Second-year swingman Stanley Johnson expressed a willingness to play in the Orlando Pro Summer League, but the Pistons seem to have decided against it, Ellis relays in another story. Van Gundy says the decision was made in last month’s exit meeting. “I think what we might do with him is – and he talked it about when he left – go down [to Orlando] and practice with us,” Van Gundy said.[Reggie] Bullock did it with us last year. Go down and practice, but not anything else.” He added that rookies Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije will definitely be part of the summer league team.
  • Pistons legend and former executive Joe Dumars is honored to be a candidate to run the Hawks, Vincent adds in a separate piece. Appearing this week on ESPN’s “The Jump,” Dumars addressed rumors that he is being considered for the top job in Atlanta. “There’s only 30 of these jobs in the world,” he said. “If I’m fortunate enough to be with the Hawks or anyone else, I look at it as a great opportunity because these are tough jobs.” Grant Hill, Dumars’ former teammate in Detroit, is a minority owner of the Hawks.

Central Notes: George, Udrih, The Palace

If Paul George doesn’t get named to an All-NBA team, he “probably” won’t remain with the Pacers, Steven Ruiz of USA Today writes. Ruiz makes the bold claim while describing how the new collective bargaining agreement ties max contract compensation to personal accolades determined by the media.

Should George be named to an All-NBA team, he’ll be eligible to earn about $70MM more with the Pacers than he would with any other franchise. Such is the case with the new designated player exception. With or without the designated player exception, George will be eligible to sign for a longer term with Indiana than with any other squad.

George got off to a slow start with the Pacers this season but has spent much of the past two months demonstrating why he had previously been heralded as a franchise cornerstone. On the season he’s posted 23.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game but in March he ramped those averages up to 25.3 points and 6.9 rebounds.

There’s no shortage of competent competition with which the Pacers star will be in contention for the award but it’s certainly plausible he gets named to an All-NBA team for the fourth time in five season. Expect him to be held in contrast with players like Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Jimmy Butler with the two forward positions on the Third Team up for grabs.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The recovery time for Pistons guard Beno Udrih‘s knee injury is six to eight weeks, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Udrih will be a free agent this summer.
  • As of today, C.J. Miles 2017/18 deal with the Pacers becomes guaranteed at $4.7MM, tweets The Vertical’s Bobby Marks. The veteran guard also holds a player option, however.
  • The silver lining of a disappointing Pistons season is that April has given the team a chance to get a good look at Boban Marjanovic and Henry Ellenson. According to Rod Beard of the Detroit News, head coach Stan Van Gundy has given them favorable reviews.
  • Michigan has said goodbye to two major facilities in two days and David Mayo of MLive considers what the finales of both the Palace of Auburn Hills and Joe Louis Arena mean to the region. The Pistons will join the NHL’s Red Wings in the Little Caesars Arena next season. With the Palace out of the picture, Madison Square Garden serves as the only NBA venue without a corporately sponsored name.

Central Notes: Pistons, Ellenson, Wade, Irving

Charlotte’s loss to the Celtics tonight officially extinguished the Pistons‘ faint playoff hopes, writes Aaron McMann of MLive. Detroit entered the night with the possibility of sneaking into the postseason through a multi-team tiebreaker, but both the Pistons and Hornets had to win all their remaining games for that to happen. Coach Stan Van Gundy has been realistic about the team’s fate for some time now, McMann notes, deciding two weeks ago to shut down point guard Reggie Jackson for the season and giving more time to the team’s younger players. Detroit faces several important decisions this offseason, with the most pressing one involving restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

There’s more news from Detroit and throughout the Central Division:

  • Pistons rookie big man Henry Ellenson posted a double-double Friday night with 15 points and 11 rebounds in his first start of the season, notes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Van Gundy recently said that Ellenson and Boban Marjanovic “can be real contributors next year,” especially with backup center Aron Baynes expected to sign elsewhere in free agency. Friday’s game was just the 16th with the Pistons for Ellenson, who has spent most of the year in the D-League. “He can put it on the floor. He made the one good baseline drive and dish to Boban. He’s got offensive skill,” Van Gundy said. “The guy’s a good player. He’s like a lot of our guys right now. He’s got to shoot the ball more consistently. But he’s a talented offensive guy.”
  • Dwyane Wade gave the Bulls a bit of good news in an otherwise horrible afternoon in Brooklyn, relays Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Chicago dropped a key game in its pursuit of a playoff spot, but Wade was able to get through the contest with no pain in his right elbow. It was his first game since fracturing the elbow March 15th. “Elbow felt cool,” Wade said. “Just my legs, trying to get my legs back. And my wind back. But my elbow felt great.”
  • The Cavaliers should shut down Kyrie Irving for the rest of the regular season after his latest knee flare-up, contends Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon Journal. The star point guard reported pain Thursday in his left knee, which was surgically repaired after a kneecap fracture in the 2015 NBA Finals. Irving sat out a game last month with tightness in the knee, and Ridenour argues that the Cavs shouldn’t risk his health in pursuit of the top seed in the East. “I’m doing everything possible to take care of my body, I’ve got a clear conscience with that,” Irving said. “But also understand that sometimes it’s gonna hurt. And I gotta be able to deal with it.”

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Wizards, Henson, McRoberts

Pistons center Boban Marjanovic and rookie power forward Henry Ellenson will get a long look during the last four games of the season, Aaron McMann of MLive.com reports. Marjanovic, who signed a three-year, $21MM contract as a free agent last summer, has played sparingly behind Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes. Marjanovic could have a bigger role next season if Baynes opts out of the final year of his contract. Ellenson, the team’s first-round selection last June, has spent most of the season with the team’s D-League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich.  “We will still play our main guys, but we’ll get Henry and Boban in there every night,” coach Stan Van Gundy told the team’s beat reporters.

In other developments around the Eastern Conference:

  • Power forward Jason Smith has proven to be a bargain pickup for the Wizards, according to J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Smith, who played for the Magic last season, signed a three-year, $15MM deal as a free agent last summer. He’s averaging 5.6 PPG but is shooting 49.2% from 3-point range and 53.1% overall despite getting dropped from the rotation on occasion, Michael continues. His screening has also been a valuable asset, Michael adds.
  • Bucks big man John Henson will lose $250K in bonus incentives because of his current thumb injury, Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets.  Henson needed to play in 60 games to collect the bonus. Henson signed a four-year extension in October 2015 that kicked in at the start of this season. The contract is worth between $44MM and $48MM, depending upon if Henson reaches certain incentives.
  • Heat forward Josh McRoberts participated in his first contact practice on Tuesday since he was sidelined in late December with a stress fracture in his left foot, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Coach Erik Spoelstra is still uncertain if McRoberts will return this season, Jackson adds. McRoberts holds a $6MM option on his contract for next season.
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