Isaiah Livers

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Durant, Garza, Livers, Lee, Rotation

Kevin Durant offered high praise for top pick Cade Cunningham after the Nets’ narrow win over the Pistons on Friday, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press relays (Twitter links).

“I love Cade’s game. I think he’s going to be a tough, tough player for a long, long time,” Durant said. “I got to know him when he was in high school so we got to build a little relationship. To play against him in the NBA is sweet.”

Cunningham had a team-high 17 points in the 96-90 loss. He missed the first four games with an ankle sprain.

“We had a lot of conversations about being on this level and what it took,” Durant added. “To see him out here battling through some injuries in the start, but to come out here and play aggressive tonight and hit some big shots, I’m happy for him and looking forward to seeing his career.”

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Cunningham has shot poorly thus far but he’s not hesitant to take big shots and he shrugs off criticism, James Edwards of The Athletic writes. “I know what comes with being the No. 1 pick, the target on your back,” Cunningham said. “People want to see you mess up. I’ve always just been myself. I’ve never changed myself to feel like what people feel I should be like.” Cunningham is shooting 23.2% from the field and 14.3% on 3-point attempts.
  • The team assigned rookies Luka Garza and Isaiah Livers and second-year guard Saben Lee to the Motor City Cruise after Friday’s game, the team’s PR department tweets. The NBA team doesn’t play again until a road game against Houston on Wednesday.
  • Prior to the latest losses, coach Dwane Casey said he didn’t plan on making any major rotation changes in the near future, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News“We will look at things for 20-game increments to see why our young guys are and to see what we have and see how they react,” Casey said. “They’re our future, our foundation, so there’s no use of flipping the lineup or changing lineups trying to (fix things). Their growth is the most important thing and I think I’ve said it a million times.”

Eastern Notes: Cunningham, Livers, Gafford, Strus

Top pick Cade Cunningham made his belated NBA debut on Saturday against Orlando, then sat out Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn. The Pistons’ prized rookie won’t play in back-to-backs in the short term, coach Dwane Casey told The Detroit News’ Rod Beard and other media members (Twitter link). Cunningham missed the first four regular season games due to an ankle sprain. Cunningham is expected to suit up against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Another Pistons rookie, forward Isaiah Livers, has been assigned to the team’s G League team, the Motor City Cruise, the team’s PR department tweets. Livers has been rehabbing from foot surgery, so that’s an indication he’s been medically cleared to at least practice. He was one of three second-round picks made by Detroit. Fellow rookie, center Luka Garza, and second-year guard Saben Lee have also been assigned to the Cruise.
  • Wizards big man Daniel Gafford returned to action on Monday, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. He suffered a right quad contusion against the Celtics on Wednesday. He underwent an MRI to ensure the injury was not more serious. He’s averaging 8.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 2.0 BPG.
  • Heat wing Max Strus has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald reports. An MRI on the knee returned negative results. Strus is expected to miss at least two weeks, but is relieved it wasn’t more serious after tearing his ACL in the same knee in December 2019. “There was a lot of anxiety. It was tough to sleep the night before,” he said. “But the training staff did a great job of getting me in as soon as they could to get the MRI. As soon as I heard those results, it was just a breath of fresh air.”

Central Notes: LaVine, Vaccines, Warren, Garza, Smith, Livers, Pacers

While the Bulls have yet to sign Zach LaVine to an extension, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas promises that the organization is committed to their high-scoring wing, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The one thing we know is that we’re committed to Zach,’’ Karnisovas said. “We want him to be in Chicago for a very long time. I think the trade deadline and free agency moves kind of proved that.’’

That message is resonating with LaVine.

“It means a lot hearing that from them,’’ he said. “I think you guys know I’m a team-first guy, I’m excited with all the moves that were made, and really looking forward to getting into camp and getting to know these guys and getting the season started because we all have a lot to prove.”

LaVine was also asked for his input on offseason moves, Cowley tweets.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Karnisovas said the Bulls are not 100% vaccinated but “pretty close,” K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle hopes T.J. Warren can make a swift recovery from the stress fracture in the navicular bone in his left foot, Akeem Glaspie of the Indianapolis Star reports. “Hopefully, it’ll be weeks and not months, that’s the hope,” Carlisle said. “It’s important for him to keep a very upbeat view of things. The healing process with people is always better and more aggressive when you have a great attitude about it and he has.” Warren has not suffered any setbacks but the location of the injury makes for a tricky rehab, Glaspie adds.
  • The Pistons converted rookie center Luka Garza‘s two-way contract into a two-year standard deal this week. It’s a minimum-salary contract, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets, The first year is guaranteed and Detroit has a team option for 2022/23. If it’s picked up, the second year will also be fully guaranteed.
  • Chris Smith, who suffered a torn ACL in January playing for UCLA, is looking at a couple more months before he’s back, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. The Pistons signed the forward to a two-way contract in August. Another Pistons rookie forward, second-round pick Isaiah Livers, is aiming for clearance to return from his foot injury at the beginning of November, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets.
  • The Pacers’ arena has officially been renamed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, according to a team press release. It’s a multi-year partnership, replacing the former name Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Gainbridge, a Group 1001 company, is a self-managed digital platform providing clients with direct access to financial products to grow their savings.

Central Notes: Pistons Contracts, McConnell, Allen, Bulls

The Pistons‘ three-year deal with Kelly Olynyk has a partial guarantee in year three, with only $3MM of the big man’s $12.2MM salary assured in 2023/24, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Detroit also gave Trey Lyles a two-year, $5.125MM deal that includes a second-year team option, Smith adds (Twitter link).

While those contract details are similar to what was reported earlier in free agency, the specifics on the Pistons’ deals for Saben Lee and second-round pick Isaiah Livers didn’t surface until today.

According to Smith (Twitter link), the Pistons used cap space to give Lee a three-year, minimum-salary contract that includes two fully guaranteed years followed by a third-year team option. As for Livers, his new deal with Detroit is also for three years with a third-year team option, tweets Smith. The No. 42 pick got slightly more than the rookie minimum in his first year, followed by the veteran’s minimum in years two and three.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Pistons Sign Second-Round Pick Isaiah Livers

The Pistons have officially signed former Michigan forward Isaiah Livers, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

While terms of the deal aren’t yet known, Detroit had been operating under the cap, giving the team the ability to offer Livers a three- or four-year deal that starts above the rookie minimum.

The 42nd overall pick in this year’s draft, Livers spent all four years of his college career with the Wolverines, putting up career-best marks in PPG (13.1), RPG (6.0), APG (2.0), and 3PT% (.431) as a senior.

Livers won’t be available for Summer League, as he continues to recover from the right foot surgery that ended his college career. However, as we relayed on Thursday, he’s hopeful that he’ll be fully cleared for basketball activities this fall, around the start of the 2021/22 season. Detroit figures to play it safe with the 6’7″ rookie and may have him spend time in the G League.

The Pistons selected four players in this year’s draft — Livers, Luka Garza, Balsa Koprivica and, of course, No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham.

Eastern Notes: Love, Livers, Heat, D. Robinson, Drummond

After drafting Evan Mobley with the No. 3 overall pick and agreeing to re-sign Jarrett Allen to a five-year, $100MM contract, the Cavaliers appear to have locked up their frontcourt of the future, prompting Jason Lloyd of The Athletic to suggest that if Kevin Love is going to remain in Cleveland, he should be prepared to accept a role off the bench.

According to Lloyd, the Cavaliers have already spoken to Love about his minutes and role moving forward. The first step will be getting the veteran power forward healthy following the calf strain that has nagged him for much of the year, but even if that calf injury is no longer an issue in the fall, Cleveland will have to closely manage Love’s minutes, writes Lloyd.

While a buyout could ultimately be in both sides’ best interests, those discussions have not yet taken place, according to Lloyd, who suggests Love would likely have to be willing to give back at least $12-15MM for the Cavs to consider buying him out. He’s owed just north of $60MM over the next two seasons.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Rookie Pistons forward Isaiah Livers, who was selected 42nd overall in last Thursday’s draft, continues to recover from the right foot surgery that ended his college career, but remains optimistic that he’ll be fully cleared around the start of the 2021/22 season, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “For five-on-five, I expect to be fully cleared, hopefully, at some point in October,” Livers said. As Beard observes, Detroit will likely play it safe with Livers and have him start the season with the Motor City Cruise in the G League.
  • Although the Heat might not get much out of Victor Oladipo in 2021/22, their minimum-salary agreement with the two-time All-Star will put them in good position to re-sign him next summer if he earns a raise, since they’ll hold his full Bird rights, as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald details. Oladipo is recovering from surgery on his quad tendon and the Heat aren’t expecting him to be ready to return until sometime in 2022.
  • After agreeing to a five-year, $90MM deal with the Heat as a restricted free agent, sharpshooter Duncan Robinson said on The Long Shot podcast that he entered the week focused on getting a deal done with the only NBA team he has ever played for. “Miami ultimately, for me, felt like it was going to be the best situation because it was something I was really familiar with,” Robinson said, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I felt like I had built equity with an organization, the coaching staff, the front office, the fans even, the city.”
  • Despite their past squabbles on and off the court, new Sixers center Andre Drummond doesn’t anticipate teaming up with Joel Embiid will be an issue, he told reporters today. For me, there was never any real beef,” Drummond said (Twitter link via Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com). “The way we play, sometimes we talk. I don’t think it goes any further than that. … We’re on the same team now.”

Full List Of 2021 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed via press release its list of 69 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from June 21-17.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft will opt to skip the event – most notably, presumed number one pick Cade Cunningham and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs – there are several high-profile prospects set to attend. Evan Mobley, widely considered a likely choice for the No. 2 pick as well as potential top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green headline the class of participants this year, along with potential lottery picks Moses Moody, Corey Kispert and Scottie Barnes.

According to the press release, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills throughout the week-long event. It’s likely that the more high-profile names will focus more on the interviews than the drills.

The press release also confirms that a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp will be invited to participate in the Combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 69 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts (sophomore)
  2. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas (junior)
  3. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State (freshman)
  4. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (freshman)
  5. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (junior)
  6. Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. James Bouknight, G, UConn (sophomore)
  8. Greg Brown, F, Texas (freshman)
  9. Jared Butler, G, Baylor (junior)
  10. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (sophomore)
  11. Justin Champagnie, G/F, Pittsburgh (sophomore)
  12. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  13. Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn (freshman)
  14. Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois (junior)
  15. David Duke, G, Providence (junior)
  16. Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  17. Luka Garza, C, Iowa (senior)
  18. RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State (junior)
  19. Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Houston (junior)
  21. Sam Hauser, F, Virginia (senior)
  22. Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State (junior)
  23. Ariel Hukporti, C, Lithuania (born 2002)
  24. Matthew Hurt, F, Duke (sophomore)
  25. Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU (sophomore)
  26. Isaiah Jackson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  27. David Johnson, G, Louisville (sophomore)
  28. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (freshman)
  29. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  30. Herb Jones, F, Alabama (senior)
  31. Kai Jones, F, Texas (sophomore)
  32. Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA (sophomore)
  33. Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (senior)
  34. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  35. Scottie Lewis, G, Florida (sophomore)
  36. Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan (senior)
  37. Makur Maker, C, Howard (freshman)
  38. Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall (senior)
  39. Tre Mann, G, Florida (sophomore)
  40. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor (junior)
  41. Miles McBride, G, West Virginia (sophomore)
  42. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (junior)
  43. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC (freshman)
  44. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC (sophomore)
  45. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas (freshman)
  46. Trey Murphy III, G, Virginia (junior)
  47. Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  48. John Petty Jr., G, Alabama (senior)
  49. Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee (senior)
  50. Jason Preston, G, Ohio (junior)
  51. Joshua Primo, G, Alabama (freshman)
  52. Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia (born 2002)
  53. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (junior)
  54. Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma (senior)
  55. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova (sophomore)
  56. Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  57. Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C, North Carolina (freshman)
  58. Jericho Sims, F/C, Texas (senior)
  59. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  60. DJ Steward, G, Duke (freshman)
  61. Cameron Thomas, G, LSU (freshman)
  62. JT Thor, F, Auburn (freshman)
  63. Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  64. Trendon Watford, F, LSU (sophomore)
  65. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  66. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford (freshman)
  67. McKinley Wright IV, G, Colorado (senior)
  68. Moses Wright, F, Georgia Tech (senior)
  69. Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton (junior)

Draft Notes: McBride, Cooper, Livers, Suggs, Duke, Harper, Anderson

West Virginia sophomore point guard Miles McBride will test the draft waters but maintain his college eligibility, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. McBride is currently ranked No. 35 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list and No. 8 among point guard prospects. He averaged 15.8 PPG, 4.9 APG and 1.9 SPG this season. McBride racked up 30 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists against Morehead State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

We have more draft-related news:

  • Confirming a report earlier this week, Auburn freshman guard Sharife Cooper is declaring for the draft and will forego his remaining college eligibility by hiring an agent, Givony writes in a separate story. Cooper is ranked No. 17 by ESPN. “This season was a roller coaster filled with many ups and some downs,” Cooper said. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything, even through the bad times I enjoyed every second at Auburn.” Eligibility issues and an ankle injury limited him to 12 games but he averaged 20.2 PPG and 8.1 APG in those contests.
  • Michigan forward Isaiah Livers underwent surgery on his right foot and will require a minimum of six months to recover, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets. Livers, ranked No. 47 by ESPN, missed the NCAA Tournament due to the injury. He averaged 13.1 PPG and 6.0 RPG for the Big Ten regular-season champions.
  • Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs has risen to No. 2 overall behind Cade Cunningham in the latest rankings by The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie. Vecenie notes that Suggs’ “ability to pair powerful athleticism and downhill driving/transition ability with high-IQ passing and legitimate shot-making potential is everything that NBA teams are looking for out of lead ball-handlers in today’s game.”
  • Providence’s David Duke will sign with an agent and enter the draft, Rothstein tweets. The junior guard averaged 16.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 4.8 APG. He’s listed as the 67th-best prospect by ESPN.
  • Rutgers swingman Ron Harper Jr. will test the waters but maintain his eligibility, Rothstein adds in another tweet. He averaged 14.9 PPG and 5.9 RPG for the Scarlet Knights.
  • Oklahoma State’s Avery Anderson has also declared while keeping his eligibility option open, according to Rothstein (Twitter link). The sophomore guard averaged 12.2 PPG and 4.0 RPG this season.

Draft Notes: Cunningham, Top Shooters, Todd, Nix

With the NBA G League season nearly over and the NCAA tournament around the corner, Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham remains atop experts’ big boards for the 2021 NBA draft. The freshman capped off an impressive regular season by being named the Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, as the conference announced in a press release.

Cunningham averaged 19.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game with a .455/.425/.854 shooting line in 22 contests (35.1 MPG) in his first – and almost certainly only – college season. He’ll get a chance to further cement his claim as 2021’s top prospect in this week’s Big 12 tournament and during March Madness. Oklahoma State was banned from the postseason for a year, but their appeal to overturn that penalty is still pending, making the program eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s more on the 2021 NBA draft:

  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a look at the top shooters in the 2021 draft class, identifying WCC Player of the Year Corey Kispert (Gonzaga) as the No. 1 option. Joe Wieskamp (Iowa), Sam Hauser (Virginia), Isaiah Livers (Michigan), and Trey Murphy (Virginia) round out Vecenie’s top five.
  • The G League Ignite’s season is over, as the NBAGL’s select team – which features projected top-five picks Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga – was knocked out of the single-elimination postseason by the Raptors 905 on Monday. Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) examines what we learned about the Ignite’s prospects in the G League bubble, writing that Isaiah Todd boosted his stock with his play down the stretch, while Daishen Nix struggled a little. Todd is considered a first-round prospect by many NBA teams, but Nix is looking more like a second-rounder than a potential lottery pick, Givony adds.
  • The most recent big boards from Givony and Mike Schmitz at ESPN and from Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report have plenty of similarities in the lottery, but there are a few notable differences. Connecticut’s James Bouknight is No. 6 on Wasserman’s board and just 11th on ESPN’s, while Tennessee’s Jaden Springer is ranked 12th by Wasserman and all the way down at No. 39 by ESPN. Meanwhile, ESPN ranks Auburn’s Sharife Cooper and Kispert as top-10 prospects, while Wasserman has them 17th and 18th, respectively.

Draft Updates: Petrusev, Livers, Verge, Stanley

Gonzaga big man Filip Petrusev won’t return to the Zags for his junior season. As first reported by Nova.rs – and later confirmed by Jeff Goodman of Stadium, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, and Jonathan Givony of ESPN (all Twitter links) – the native of Serbia is returning to his home country, having agreed to a multiyear deal with Mega Bemax.

Petrusev, who averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.9 RPG during a breakout sophomore season at Gonzaga, entered the 2020 NBA draft pool in the spring. For now, his plan is to keep his name in this year’s draft, according to Givony, who had the 20-year-old ranked 70th overall on ESPN’s big board.

Now that his NCAA eligibility is no longer a concern, Petrusev won’t have to finalize that decision by the NCAA’s early entrant withdrawal deadline of August 3. He can instead take until October 6 (the NBA’s withdrawal deadline) to make up his mind.

Here’s more on the 2020 draft:

  • After testing the draft waters, forward Isaiah Livers will head back to Michigan for his senior year, the school announced in a press release. “While it was a limited process due to COVID-19, I want to thank all the NBA teams who took the time to talk to me,” Livers said in a statement. “The information I gathered is going to be invaluable moving forward. But now, we have unfinished business in Ann Arbor.” Livers averaged 12.9 PPG and shot 40.2% from beyond the arc in 21 games (31.5 MPG) as a junior.
  • Arizona State guard Alonzo Verge Jr. is returning to school for his senior season, according to an announcement from the program (video link). Verge, who transferred to the Sun Devils after starting his college career at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri, averaged 14.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.3 APG in 28 games (26.8 MPG) in 2019/20.
  • Veteran player agent Jerome Stanley is joining Independent Sports & Entertainment, where he’ll co-represent his son, Duke prospect Cassius Stanley, per a SportsBusiness Journal report.
  • Arizona forward Zeke Nnaji, a Minneapolis native, is interviewing with his hometown Timberwolves this week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.