Isaiah Stewart

Central Notes: Cunningham, Duarte, Rubio, Osman

Pistons Rookie of the Year candidate Cade Cunningham played just eight minutes on Friday but he wasn’t injured. Head coach Dwane Casey gave Cunningham a chance to rest in the second game of a back-to-back, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart also only made cameo appearances.

A handful of other rotation players missed the game due to rest or injuries.

“It gave us the opportunity to play the young guys and that’s what we wanted to do,” Casey said. “If we were competing for a playoff position, they could have definitely gone out and played. But we wanted to make sure we didn’t risk anything.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers rookie guard Chris Duarte is unlikely to play the rest of the season, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Duarte has been dealing with a sore left toe since February and last played on March 15.
  • Don’t rule out a possible reunion between the Cavaliers and Ricky Rubio, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Rubio was a key part in their success before he tore his ACL and his expiring contract was traded, Fedor points out. Cleveland targeted Rubio last offseason but a reunion may depend on whether he’ll accept a one-year, prove-it deal after his latest knee injury.
  • Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman received two DNPs, then got a chance to reclaim a rotation spot. He responded with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes on Thursday, Fedor notes. “Cedi’s a good basketball player and we need him to be his best, so we can be our best,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.

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.”

Isaiah Stewart Has Bone Bruise In Knee, Out At Least One Week

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart has been diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right knee, the team announced today (via Twitter). Stewart will begin undergoing treatment for the injury and will be reevaluated in one week, according to the announcement.

It’s relatively good news for Stewart and the Pistons, since the injury initially looked like it could have been more serious. Stewart went down during the second quarter of Monday’s win over Atlanta, when Hawks center Clint Capela fell awkwardly into his legs. The second-year big man appeared to be in a good deal of pain, unable to put weight on his right leg as he left the court.

With less than five weeks remaining before the Pistons’ schedule wraps up, a more serious injury would’ve almost certainly shut down Stewart for the season. Instead, it sounds like we could see him back in action in the coming weeks.

Stewart, 20, has been Detroit’s full-time starting center this season, averaging 8.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 57 games (25.8 MPG).

Stewart is under contract for $3.4MM next season. The Pistons will likely pick up his $5.3MM option for 2023/24 later this year, which would make him extension-eligible during the ’23 offseason.

2021/22 Rising Stars Team Rosters

As we previously relayed, the NBA announced a new format for its Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend, which will take place on Friday, February 18. The event will feature four seven-player teams competing in a three-game tournament (two semifinals and a final).

The player pool is comprised of 12 NBA rookies, 12 sophomores, and four players from the G League Ignite, while the games will be played to a target score: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

The rosters were announced on February 1, but now the four honorary coaches (75th anniversary team members Rick Barry, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton and James Worthy) have selected their seven-man teams, per our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Here are the rosters:

Team Barry:

Team Isiah:

Team Payton:

Team Worthy:

James Ham of ESPN 1320 and The Kings Beat provides (via Twitter) the full draft results.

The top 10, in order, were: Edwards, Mobley, Ball, Anthony, Giddey, Barnes, Cunningham, Bey, Bane, and Wagner. It’s worth noting that Worthy and Anthony both went to the University of North Carolina, so Anthony’s selection at No. 4 is less surprising given that context.

What do you think of the teams? Who do you think will come out on top? Head to the comments section and let us know your thoughts!

NBA Announces 2021/22 Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has revealed the 28 players (12 rookies, 12 sophomores, and four G League Ignite players) who will suit up for the 2022 Clorox Rising Stars Game in Cleveland this year, per its official PR account (Twitter links). There are a few intriguing surprises among the first-year NBA players.

Here are the players who made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

Additionally, four players from the G League Ignite will participate in the Rising Stars Game based on voting from NBA G League head coaches. The NBAGL has announced (Twitter link) that MarJon Beauchamp, Dyson Daniels, Jaden Hardy and Scoot Henderson will partake in the action. Players will be separated into four teams, and each G League player will be drafted to join one of the teams later this week.

Among the rookie NBA players, the additions who would be most surprising ahead of the 2021/22 season would be Dosunmu and Jones, both of whom were second-round draft selections. 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga, Ziaire Williams, James Bouknight, Joshua Primo and Moses Moody were all omitted from inclusion this year.

Among the second-year players, Ball could be appearing on multiple nights during All-Star Weekend this season, as he appears to be a very possible first-time All-Star this year thanks to his outstanding work with the upstart Hornets.

The lottery-bound Magic, Pistons, and Rockets can boast having the most inclusions here, with three players apiece.

As we detailed last week, this year’s Rising Stars event will look a little different, with the four teams taking part in a mini-tournament and playing to a target score in each game: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

Central Notes: Sabonis, Lonzo, Vucevic, Holiday, Stewart

Pacers center Domantas Sabonis returned to action Friday at Oklahoma City, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Sabonis put up 24 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and two blocks in Indiana’s 113-110 overtime victory. Sabonis missed four games with a sprained left ankle suffered Jan. 19 against the Lakers. We noted earlier this week that a weekend return was a possibility.

The two-time All-Star is having another strong season for Indiana, putting up 19.0 points, 11.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists per contest on .577/.327/.744 shooting through 44 games (34.9 minutes).

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Lonzo Ball had successful knee surgery to repair his torn meniscus, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. If he returns within the projected six-to-eight week recovery period, Ball could be back in mid-to-late March.
  • Two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic is having a disappointing individual season for Chicago, and James L. Jackson of FiveThirtyEight writes that the banged-up Bulls need the version of Vucevic they traded for last year. Vucevic is shooting just 33% from deep after shooting 40% last season, and his 49% mark on two-pointers is his lowest since 2016/17.
  • Pacers wing Justin Holiday is unvaccinated against COVID-19 and plans to remain that way, which could limit his appeal on the trade market somewhat because certain NBA cities have vaccine mandates, as James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star relays (via Twitter).
  • Second-year Pistons center Isaiah Stewart is a meticulous student of the game, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Stewart has recorded notes in a binder for every game he’s played in his young career, frequently watching film to monitor his progress. He said not afraid to ask questions to improve his game. “Growing up, I’ve just always asked questions,” Stewart said. “I want to learn more. I know I don’t know it all. If there’s something I don’t see or understand, I’m definitely going to ask instead of acting like I know it all. Bottom line: I want to learn.”

COVID-19 Updates: Raptors, Thunder, Stewart, Freedom, Strus

After briefly having no players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the first time in weeks, the Raptors placed Svi Mykhailiuk and Yuta Watanabe in the protocols today, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (via Twitter), only three players on the Raptors’ roster have avoided entering the protocols in the last month. Two of those players – David Johnson (injury) and Goran Dragic (personal) – have been away from the team, leaving Chris Boucher as the lone active player not to be affected.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates:

  • Thunder guard Tre Mann and big man Darius Bazley have cleared the health and safety protocols, acting head coach Mike Wilks said today (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). That leaves rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl as the only Oklahoma City player still in the protocols.
  • Celtics center Enes Freedom returned to practice today, having exited the COVID-19 protocols, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Aaron Nesmith is the only Celtic who remains in the protocols.
  • Isaiah Stewart has cleared the protocols and met the Pistons in Charlotte, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic. It’s unclear if the big man will be available on Wednesday vs. the Hornets or if he’ll need more time to get back into game condition.
  • Heat guard Max Strus is no longer in the protocols, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Miami now has four players in the protocols, with six hardship additions on 10-day deals, so not all of those players will be able to be active going forward.
  • The full list of players in the COVID-19 protocols can be found right here.

Seven Pistons Exit Protocols, Nuggets’ Monte Morris Enters

Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Cory Joseph, Saben Lee, Trey Lyles, and Rodney McGruder have all exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the Pistons, James Edwards III of The Athletic relays (via Twitter).

All seven players are listed as out for Saturday’s contest against San Antonio due to reconditioning. The Pistons’ next game after Saturday will be Monday against the Bucks, when several of the players could return to action. Second-year big man Isaiah Stewart is now the lone player still in the protocols for Detroit.

In other COVID-related news, Nuggets point guard Monte Morris has become the fourth Denver player to enter the protocols in the past two days, joining Jeff Green, Bones Hyland, and Zeke Nnaji, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Morris has started all 32 of his games this season (30 MPG), averaging 12.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 4.3 APG on a .479/.380/.783 shooting line.

The Nuggets signed Davon Reed to his third 10-day hardship contract Thursday, and reportedly plan to sign Rayjon Tucker to a deal as well.

Four Pistons, Including Stewart, Enter Protocols

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart and guards Killian Hayes and Saben Lee have entered the league’s health and safety protocols ahead of the team’s game against Miami Thursday evening, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Reserve swingman Rodney McGruder has also entered the protocols, The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III tweets.

Top pick Cade Cunningham entered the protocols on Wednesday. The Pistons, who have lost 15 of their last 16 contests, will obviously be severely shorthanded for the game.

Those players will be sidelined for at least 10 days, unless they can register two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart during that span.

Stewart is averaging 7.9 PPG and 8.4 RPG. Hayes has started regularly as well, though he’s averaging just 6.4 PPG and 3.7 APG. Lee has come off the bench in 15 games and scored 16 points against the Knicks on Tuesday. McGruder has appeared in 14 games.

With Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk unavailable due to long-term injuries, the Pistons’ frontcourt is severely depleted with Trey Lyles and rookie Luka Garza the main options.

Los Angeles Notes: James, Westbrook, Anthony, Morris

LeBron James missed the Lakers’ game against the Knicks on Tuesday and felt his one-game suspension was unwarranted, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes. James struck the Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart in the face on Sunday and was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul. The league suspended James on Monday and handed Stewart a two-game ban for repeated “unsportsmanlike acts.” They were battling for position on a free throw attempt.

“When I swung down on his arm, he got off balance and the left side of my hand grazed his face. And I knew right away,” James said. “So, I knew right away I had caught some part of his head. So, I went over to apologize to him, and obviously, you guys saw what happened after that. But definitely accidental.”

We have more on the Los Angeles teams:

  • Lakers guard Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double against the Knicks and a near triple-double against the Pistons. Anthony Davis wants to see Westbrook play with an aggressive style, McMenamin relays in a separate story. “I tell him before every game: ‘Be nobody but yourself. That’s why we brought you here,'” Davis said. “I think a lot of times, he tries to go passive and to start passing the basketball, looking for other guys, which is great, but kind of takes him out of a rhythm. And he can do the same for guys while being aggressive.”
  • Carmelo Anthony is averaging 15 PPG in his new role as the Lakers’ top reserve. Anthony, who is playing for the veteran’s minimum, has proven he can be effective off the bench after being the No. 1 scoring option most of his career, as McMenamin notes at ESPN.com. “I’m still here doing it,” Anthony said. “I think that’s what I’m honestly excited about. I’m here in Year 19 still doing what I’m able to do. Still passionate about the game. Still passionate about coming to work every day and getting better.”
  • Marcus Morris felt good after playing 31 minutes for the Clippers on Tuesday, according to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. Morris had missed a month due to knee soreness. “Take a month off, I think I looked good myself,” he said. “Shots will come, rhythm will come, I’m a veteran, just felt great to be out there.”