Isaiah Livers

Central Notes: Pacers, R. Lopez, Merrill, Livers, Omoruyi

The Pacers‘ decision to hold Tyrese Haliburton (left knee bruise), Myles Turner (sore lower back), and T.J. McConnell (sore back) out of games on Saturday and Monday signaled that the team isn’t exactly going all-out for a spot in the play-in tournament, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

While Bennedict Mathurin‘s ankle sprain would have sidelined him in any situation, the other Pacers regulars who sat out those two contests in Detroit likely would’ve been active if Indiana was in win-now mode instead of focusing on player development. As Dopirak notes, the absences of the team’s regulars resulted in big minutes for young players like Andrew Nembhard, Aaron Nesmith, Oshae Brissett, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson, and Jordan Nwora.

“It’s just valuable for our young guys to get this kind of experience,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Drew Nembhard needs this kind of work at the point position. He needs to play 35 minutes a game a few games playing the point position. He played 36 (on Monday). He did a lot of good things in both games. There’s a different rhythm to that position, a different flow.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Robin Lopez hasn’t had much of a role this season after signing with the Cavaliers as a free agent last summer, but his nine minutes in Sunday’s win over Charlotte with Jarrett Allen out were the most he has played in a game since January. Just trying to put some size out there,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff explained (Twitter link via Chris Fedor of “With Jarrett being out, we are limited with size. I thought RoLo was good, played hard. Everybody is going to be called upon.”
  • Within his story on the Cavaliers‘ new multiyear deal for Sam Merrill, Fedor notes that the club views the swingman as more than just a “one-dimensional” sharpshooter. “I think he was leading or near the top of the G League in taking charges, so he’s got a willingness to scrap, a willingness to help on the defensive end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “Can create shots and make shots.”
  • After being limited to 19 games as a rookie for health reasons, Pistons forward Isaiah Livers is trying to establish himself as part of the team’s future plans with his play this season. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic takes a look at how those efforts are going and explores the strides Livers is making in his second NBA season.
  • Eugene Omoruyi, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Pistons on Monday, is making a strong case to earn a rest-of-season deal once those 10 days are up, Edwards writes in another story for The Athletic. “I always say, a guy who has his Ph.D. — poor, hungry, driven — they’re going to make it in this league,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s hungry.”

Pistons Rumors: Bogdanovic, Burks, Bey, Noel, Stewart, More

The Pistons‘ stance on Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks, and Saddiq Bey doesn’t appear to have changed much in the last month, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic writes in his latest trade deadline preview.

According to Edwards, while Detroit is open to discussing and moving any of those three players if the price is right, the team is asking for a lot and seems happy to retain them through the deadline, given that all three are under contract at relatively team-friendly prices for next season.

While some league sources have expressed to The Athletic that they’d be surprised if Bey is moved, Edwards gets the sense that the third-year forward may be a more likely trade candidate than Bogdanovic or Burks. The Pistons’ asking price for Bogdanovic is very high, and Edwards believes the club is more likely to extend Burks (in the offseason) than to trade him.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Although the Pistons are high on Isaiah Livers‘ potential to develop into a solid three-and-D player, according to Edwards, they’re also prioritizing three-and-D wings in potential trades. First-round picks (ideally unprotected) and a three-and-D wing are two of the top items on the team’s wish list at the trade deadline, Edwards notes.
  • Edwards adds the Sixers and Celtics to the list of teams that have recently called the Pistons to inquire about center Nerlens Noel. He also mentions Miami, Denver, Dallas, and Sacramento, whose interest in Noel has been previously reported.
  • Of Detroit’s three 2020 first-round picks, Isaiah Stewart is the most likely to be extended during the coming offseason, in Edwards’ view. Bey and Killian Hayes are the other two players in that trio.
  • Edwards says he wouldn’t be surprised if veteran guard Cory Joseph is included in a deadline deal and advises not to rule out the possibility of a reunion between Jerami Grant and the Pistons in the offseason. Although Detroit will have significant cap space and Grant seems to be in no rush to accept a four-year extension offer from the Trail Blazers, the idea that he’d return to the Pistons seems like a long shot to me.

Pistons Notes: Noel, Stewart, Deadline Approach, Livers

Pistons backup center Nerlens Noel has filled in admirably as an emergency starter, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. The 28-year-old had only made nine appearances for a total of 81 minutes leading up to Tuesday, but he started back-to-back games with Isaiah Stewart (shoulder), Jalen Duren (right ankle soreness) and Marvin Bagley III (hand surgery) all sidelined.

Ten years in, it’s a blessing. Nothing to take for granted,” Noel said after Wednesday’s victory over Minnesota. “I saw tonight we were playing against (Rudy) Gobert, so I definitely took it upon myself to try and be at my best as far as rim-protecting goes. This is what I’ve been doing and I’m going to continue to do it, especially with the steals. I know it changes the game. Just gotta stay consistent.”

Long known for his disruptive defense, Noel has averaged 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 2.0 steals in 21.0 minutes over the past two games, Curtis notes. Even though he hasn’t played much this season, Noel says he will be ready when his number is called.

I’ve always been a team guy, through everything,” Noel said, per Curtis. “It’s a great group of guys here, great young guys. With my veteran s–t, I just lend knowledge, whatever they want, let them pick my brain and help them out with experiences I’ve been through. We’ve got a young frontcourt, so I’m never tripping on that. I’m always here for them and when they call my number, I’ll be ready.”

There have been multiple rumors indicating that the Pistons are looking to move Noel — his recent play might help convince rival teams that he’s healthy and can still provide a defensive boost.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Head coach Dwane Casey said that Stewart underwent testing on his sore shoulder, tweets James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Casey added that the team doesn’t think it will be a long-term concern, but are still waiting for results from the exams. The third-year big man has missed the past two games with the injury.
  • Edwards doesn’t expect the Pistons to have a fire sale ahead of the trade deadline, as he writes in a mailbag article for The Athletic. Like Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, he hears Detroit is looking for a first-round pick and a “good young player” for veteran forward Bojan Bogdanovic. He doesn’t think Alec Burks will be dealt, nor Saddiq Bey, though he does believe Bey might be more likely to be moved than the aforementioned veterans. The most likely player to be traded, according to Edwards? That would be Noel, but even he isn’t a lock — his $9.24MM salary might make him more of a buyout candidate.
  • Second-year forward Isaiah Livers made his return to the lineup on Wednesday, Edwards notes (via Twitter). Livers hadn’t played since December 1 due to a right shoulder sprain, missing 20 consecutive games in the process. The Pistons hold a $1.84MM team option on the former second-round pick for 2023/24.

Central Notes: Livers, Bulls, Mitchell, Bucks, Duarte

Pistons forward Isaiah Livers suffered a setback while attempting to return from a shoulder injury, the team announced on Friday in a press release. According to the Pistons, Livers had advanced to the “end stage” of his rehab process, but reaggravated the AC joint in his right shoulder during a workout. Livers will take a step backward in his rehab work and will be reevaluated in approximately two or three weeks by the Pistons’ medical staff, according to the team.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Asked on Friday after the Bulls fell to 11-17 if the front office erred by bringing back nearly the same roster as last season, head coach Billy Donovan said he doesn’t feel that way, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I think the character in that locker room is really, really good,” Donovan said. “I just think that with the adversity that happens in the game, we have to collectively have more resolve.”
  • The Cavaliers will host the Jazz on Monday and then visit Utah in early January, but Donovan Mitchell will likely make another trip to his former team’s city in February for the 2023 All-Star Game, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, who says no Eastern Conference guard has been better than Mitchell this season. “Donovan’s essentially elevated their entire situation here,” Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle said on Friday after Mitchell scored 41 points to help defeat his team.
  • The Bucks will be without Khris Middleton on Saturday vs. Utah due to right knee soreness, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter links). Giannis Antetokounmpo has also been added to the team’s injury report as questionable due to left knee soreness.
  • Pacers wing Chris Duarte, sidelined since November 4 due to ankle sprain, appears to be on the verge of returning to action at the NBA level. Duarte has played two games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the G League as part of his rehab and could be back with the Pacers in time for Sunday’s contest vs. New York, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

Central Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Haliburton, Livers, Duren

Sunday’s loss to the Kings dropped the Bulls to 9-14 on the season, certainly not the start they had hoped for in 2022/23. Zach LaVine, who has struggled to find his All-Star form thus far after offseason knee surgery, scored a season-high 41 points, but he admits the losing has been getting to him, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

I’ve been frustrated for a little bit. Obviously, trying to get myself going. We haven’t been winning a lot. Sometimes that carries over when you care a lot,” LaVine said of his “feisty demeanor” in the 110-101 loss. “I put a lot of work into this. And when things don’t go right on the court and you feel like you’ve been either fouled or it’s a bad play or you miss a shot, sometimes your emotions come out.”

Still, LaVine is confident the Bulls will eventually turn things around, according to Johnson.

I always have personal belief in myself. And I think guys around the locker room have that same characteristic,” he said. “I think that leaks into the team and gives everybody confidence.”

Fellow star DeMar DeRozan said he’s glad that everyone in the locker room is taking the losses hard, because it shows they care — it’s just a matter of figuring out how to bounce back.

That’s the beauty of sports. When you’re down, how do you respond to it? A true competitor is going to pull through,” DeRozan said, per Johnson. “All these guys show frustration, show anger. And that’s a great sign.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton, the NBA’s leader in assists per game (10.9), missed his first game of the 2022/23 season on Sunday with a sore groin. He will also miss Monday’s contest at Golden State with the injury, as Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star relays. The Pacers have dropped four of five on their West Coast road trip and currently hold a 12-11 record.
  • Pistons head coach Dwane Casey recently provided some details on Isaiah Livers‘ right shoulder sprain, which the second-year forward sustained last week when Mavs center Dwight Powell committed an offensive foul, according to Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link). “They cracked him on a screen. He went shoulder-first. …That was something that was unfortunate because Isaiah has quietly become one of our better on-ball defenders. We’ll miss him but now it’s an opportunity for somebody else to step up and take that role,” Casey said. There’s no timetable for Livers’ return.
  • Pistons center Jalen Duren has exceeded external expectations for his rookie season, but not his own, per Keith Langlois of “I expect greatness out of myself,” Duren said. “I work hard every day. For me, it’s all about winning. If me on the floor is going to help us win, then cool. And if me on the bench is going to help us win, then that’s cool, too.” The 13th overall pick of June’s draft, Duren is averaging 6.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 0.9 BPG through 22 games (21.6 MPG).

Central Notes: Middleton, Mitchell, Rubio, Livers

Khris Middleton returned to the court Friday for the first time since the playoffs, and the Bucks responded with a season-high 129 points, writes Jamal Collier of ESPN. Middleton hadn’t played since suffering an MCL sprain to his left knee in the first-round series against Chicago. He also had wrist surgery in July.

“It felt really good to be back out there with the guys competing, playing,” Middleton said. “Just a range of emotions. Been through a lot these last couple months — happy, sad, anxious, nervous. To finally get out there and play and get a lot of those nerves past me, it felt pretty good.”

Milwaukee has the league’s second-best record, but ranked 17th in offensive efficiency without one of its most reliable perimeter scorers. Middleton reminded Bucks fans what they’ve been missing with 17 points and seven assists in 27 minutes Friday night.

“He makes the game look so easy,” Jrue Holiday said. “The way he plays, it’s kind of like nobody is out there, just him. It’s like a drill. It’s definitely good to see him back out there, wish we could’ve got the win for him. But he makes the game look effortless.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Donovan Mitchell feels like his career has been revived after an offseason trade to the Cavaliers, per Brian Dulik of The Associated Press. Mitchell is averaging 28.7 PPG through 21 games while shooting career highs of 49.4% from the field and 43.5% from three-point range. “This is no shot at my guys in Utah, but I’m having fun again and that goes a long way,” he said. “This group has a bunch of guys who want to learn and who want to be great. Sometimes a new beginning is all you need. I’ve fit in here because I’ve filled a void.”
  • Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio was able to play 3-on-3 this week as he recovers from ACL surgery, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “He’s got a doctor’s appointment coming up soon, where we’re looking to see where he’s at,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
  • Pistons forward Isaiah Livers will miss some time with a shoulder sprain he suffered in Thursday’s game, according to James L. Edwards of The Athletic (Twitter link). Coach Dwane Casey didn’t provide a projected timetable for Livers, who has started the team’s last seven games.

Community Shootaround: Detroit Pistons

After going 43-111 over the past two years, tied with the Magic for the second-worst record in the NBA over that span, the Pistons are one of the rebuilding teams hoping to take a step forward in 2022/23. General manager Troy Weaver has completely reshaped the roster since being hired on June 18, 2020, and the trade for Bojan Bogdanovic showed Detroit is serious about improving in both the short and long term.

The starting lineup features several recent first-round picks, including Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart (Bogdanovic is the fifth starter). The reserves include a couple more recent first-rounders in Killian Hayes and Jalen Duren, plus veterans Cory Joseph, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox and Rodney McGruder.

Marvin Bagley III (knee), Alec Burks (wrist) and Nerlens Noel (foot) are currently sidelined with injuries, but second-year forward Isaiah Livers (hip) has been removed from the team’s injury report and could make his debut in Saturday’s game against the Pacers, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Pistons have gotten off to a 1-1 start thus far, with a close victory over Orlando and then a blowout loss to the Knicks. Ivey and Duren, both lottery picks this year (No. 5 and No. 13) have been surprisingly effective for rookies in the early going. Ivey has averaged 18.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 6.5 APG and 1.5 SPG on .519/.375/1.000 shooting (30.5 MPG), while Duren has put up 11.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG and 1.5 BPG in 22 MPG.

There’s definitely talent on the roster, with Cunningham, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, headlining the group. Bogdanovic helps improve the team’s shooting, which has been a major weakness (the Pistons finished 29th in both two-point and three-point percentage last season).

Still, the East is stacked with strong teams, including (in no particular order) the Celtics, Bucks, Sixers, Raptors, Hawks, Cavs, Heat, Nets and Bulls. I liked the Knicks’ free agent additions of Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein, and the Wizards should be better than last season’s 35-win campaign if they’re healthy, so it seems like the Pistons might have a difficult time finishing better than 12th in the standings unless there is major internal development.

In our over/unders last month, 51.6% of our voters predicted the Pistons to finish with more than 28.5 wins (they finished 23-59 in ’21/22).

That brings us to our question of the day. What’s a reasonable goal for the Pistons this season? Do you think they have a shot at the play-in tournament if things go well, or is it a year too early? Would an incremental step forward, like winning 30 or so games, be considered a success?

Head to the comments section and let us know what you think.

Pistons Notes: Gores, Cunningham, Noel, Bagley, Livers

The Pistons have delivered only one winning season since Tom Gores became the majority owner. With the way general manager Troy Weaver has revamped the roster, Gores believes the franchise is ready to take off, Keith Langlois of writes.

“I’ve now owned the team for 11 years, and I’ve never felt this way,” Gores said. “This is a great foundation, it’s a tremendous foundation. Part of the reason I love the players on this team is that you have tremendous skill, but there’s a lot of humility here. With humility, you also reflect and that’s how you improve. I really love this energy. I love it, and I don’t say that often.”

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Cade Cunningham realizes he may have to make some individual sacrifices in order to become a true leader, as he told James Edwards III of The Athletic. “Right now, we’re still trying to figure it out and build our way up to being a winning team,” Cunningham said. “Everything that I’m doing, everything that the team is doing, should be with that in mind. Maybe, right now, I have to sacrifice some things. Maybe I have to sacrifice 50 shots a game to make sure the chemistry is good, we’re flowing, whatever. We need to know how we’re going to play. So, when it gets that time, everyone is confident, everyone is ready to go. That’s how I see things.”
  • Center Nerlens Noel, who has been working his way back from a foot injury since being traded from the Knicks, participated in his first practice on Tuesday, Edwards tweets. It would be surprising if Noel played this week, but he could get some rotation minutes while Marvin Bagley III recovers from a right knee injury, which is expected to sideline him for at least three or four weeks.
  • Along with Bagley, Alec Burks (left navicular fracture) and Isaiah Livers (right hip) are also listed as out for Wednesday’s season opener against Orlando, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News tweets.

Central Notes: Osman, Hill, Pistons Rotation

Cedi Osman has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors, including a potential deal involving Suns forward Jae Crowder. He’s trying to block out those distractions during training camp, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.

“I’ve been hearing those things,” the Cavaliers forward said. “But I’m just focused on my basketball because you cannot control that. That’s why whenever I stepped on a court I was just working on my game and trying to get better. It’s been six years since coming over, six years in Cleveland. I’m happy here and this is my home.”

Those rumors persist and the franchise would like to upgrade at small forward, if possible, though the fact that Cleveland is close to the luxury tax line complicates the issue, Fedor adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • George Hill admits that enduring an injury-plagued season actually encouraged him to keep playing, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The Bucks guard had seriously considered retiring after last season. “I felt like I let the city of Milwaukee down last year not being able to perform the way I normally perform,” he said. “I let my teammates down being injured. And I thought about retiring. … but as a competitor I didn’t want to go out like that. So, had a great offseason for the summer, decided to come back and try to redeem myself and make myself better.” Hill signed a two-year, $8MM contract prior to last season.
  • With the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic, how will the Pistons’ frontcourt rotation shake out? James Edwards III of The Athletic projects the former Jazz forward to start alongside Saddiq Bey, with Isaiah Stewart at center. Edwards projects Marvin Bagley and Isaiah Livers as part of the second unit ahead of Jalen Duren, Nerlens Noel and Kevin Knox.
  • Will the Pistons’ drought without a playoff win extend to 15 seasons? That’s what John Hollinger of The Athletic anticipates. He sees this as a 28-win season in Detroit with the caveat that the team’s fortunes should improve sharply in the near future.

Central Notes: Ball, Clarkson, Bogdanovic, Livers, Vucevic, Caruso

There’s confidence that Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball will return at some point this season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Ball underwent another left knee surgery on Wednesday and doctors are optimistic the issue has been fully addressed. However, he’s going to be out a number of months, Charania adds.

Ball was still unable to “run or jump” entering training camp despite a lengthy rehab from two previous procedures this year.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks showed a lot of interest in trading for the Jazz‘s Jordan Clarkson but the Jazz balked at Milwaukee’s proposal, Tony Jones of The Athletic said on the Bill Riley Show podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype). Utah was uninterested at taking back George Hill‘s contract, which Jones described as a non-starter in trade discussions. One of the league’s top scoring reserves, Clarkson averaged 16 points last season. He has two years left on his four-year, $51.52MM contract. Hill has an expiring $4MM contract, so Milwaukee would have still needed to send out more salary in a potential trade.
  • The Lakers and Suns were among the teams reportedly pursuing Bojan Bogdanovic but he wound up getting traded to the Pistons. The former Jazz forward says he wasn’t concerned where he ended up, according to Keith Langlois of“I didn’t have any preference,” Bogdanovic said. “There’s a lot of rumors. Who knows if that’s true or not? I’m super happy and excited to be part of the Pistons.”
  • Pistons forward Isaiah Livers wound up playing 19 games during his rookie season after recovering from a foot injury. He’s aiming to become a regular part of the rotation this season, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic. “I wanted to build off those last 19, 20 games,” the 2021 second-round pick said. “Coaches and everyone seemed to love the way that I was playing. It was working effectively.”
  • There was heavy speculation that Bulls center Nikola Vucevic would be part of a package to acquire Rudy Gobert during the offseason. Vucevic had serious doubts that would happen and was proven correct when Gobert was dealt to Minnesota, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “Rumors are a part of what we do,’’ said Vucevic, who is on an expiring contract. “Whether they’re true or not, it’s out of my control. I focus on what I can control, and, in the end, I had some fun with [the Jazz rumors]. At no point did I feel it was going to happen.’’
  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso is one of the candidates to replace Ball in the starting lineup as he mends from his latest knee surgery, but that’s not Caruso’s focus, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes. “It won’t be a conversation I’ll have with Billy (Donovan). He might have it with me depending on what we need,” Caruso said. “But I’ve always been team-first trying to win games. If that’s me starting basketball games then that’s what we’ll do. If that’s me coming off the bench, that’s fine too. I’ve always been I’d rather finish games than start games.