Isaiah Stewart

Injury Notes: Stewart, Butler, Clips, Simmons, Hachimura

Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart will likely return on Tuesday night after missing the last seven games with a sprained toe, tweets James L. Edwards of The Athletic. He’s currently listed as questionable.

Stewart was the starting center for Detroit’s first 15 games and is averaging 12.0 points and 9.3 rebounds. His return is expected to give the Pistons more flexibility to experiment with two big men on the court, since Stewart has shown the ability to stretch the floor a little.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Heat forward Jimmy Butler, who is not yet with the team in Boston, is expected to miss a seventh consecutive game on Wednesday due to right knee soreness, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. According to Chiang, the hope is that Butler will be able to play on Friday in Miami’s second matchup with the Celtics this week.
  • Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring) have been ruled out for Tuesday’s game in Portland, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. According to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link),  Leonard didn’t travel with the team and won’t be in Utah on Wednesday for the second half of a back-to-back either.
  • Nets swingman Ben Simmons left Monday’s win over Orlando early due to left knee soreness, as Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. Simmons, who missed six games earlier in the season due to soreness in that same knee, has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game game vs. Washington, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link). It’s unclear if he might miss more time beyond that.
  • The Wizards announced today in a press release that Rui Hachimura has been diagnosed with a bone bruise in his sore right ankle, which has already cost him the last four games. According to the team, Hachimura will remain sidelined on Wednesday and his status beyond that “will be determined by his clinical evolution.”

Pistons Notes: Stewart, Bogdanovic, Hayes

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart was briefly assigned to Detroit’s NBA G League affiliate club, the Motor City Cruise, for a Wednesday practice while rehabilitating his sprained right big toe, per Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. Stewart has been unavailable since initially hurting the toe against the Raptors on November 14.

Curtis notes that the 6’8″ big man out of Washington is averaging career-highs of 12.0 PPG and 9.3 RPG in his third NBA season. Detroit has gone 2-3 without him.

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Pistons power forward Bojan Bogdanovic discussed his first game against his former team, the Jazz, ahead of Wednesday’s contest, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter video link). “I was really happy and honored to be part of this organization,” Bogdanovic said. “I saw a lot of guys being traded [over the summer] so I was just waiting to see what was going to happen to me.” In something of a surprise, Detroit won, 125-116.
  • Pistons point guard Killian Hayes, starting in the stead of the indefinitely sidelined Cade Cunningham, left last night’s win with a calf injury in the third quarter and did not return, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • In case you missed it, Cunningham has suffered a possible left shin stress fracture. He may require surgery should the ailment not improve with rest.

Central Notes: Osman, LaVine, Middleton, Matthews, Pistons

Cedi Osman has received sporadic playing time and has been the subject of trade rumors but the Cavaliers forward has usually taken advantage of his opportunities, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes.

After playing just seven minutes against Charlotte on Friday, Osman got 37 minutes of court action the next night against Miami and put up 20 points and 12 rebounds. He’s likely to receive plenty of playing time on Monday with Caris LeVert out due to an ankle sprain.

“He’s one of those guys where there’s a spirit and an energy that we depend on, and we know the lift he gives us,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “I think Friday night he didn’t play as much, and I think he wanted to show he was going to take advantage of his minutes.”

Osman’s future beyond 2022/23 is uncertain, as his salary for next season isn’t guaranteed.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Zach LaVine said there’s no ill feelings between him and Bulls coach Billy Donovan, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes. LaVine was upset when he was benched during a loss to Orlando on Friday. “Me and Billy talk all the time,” LaVine said. “It’s a tough decision. Obviously, I’m a competitive guy. I want to play. I just told him I feel like I’ve earned the right to go out there and try to play through a bad game. His decision was to try to do the best thing for the team, which I respect. If we won, obviously I would’ve been ecstatic. We lost, I wasn’t. I had a terrible game.”
  • The Bucks assigned Khris Middleton and Wesley Matthews to the G League’s Wisconsin Herd, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. That allowed the rehabbing players to get some practice time. The Bucks didn’t practice since they’re playing against Portland on Monday.
  • The Pistons played without three injured starters — Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart — at Sacramento on Sunday and lost despite scoring a season-high 129 points. Coach Dwane Casey said the team needs to push through adversity, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “It’s not ‘Woe is me’ right now in the locker room,” Casey said. “We’ve got to stay together, stay connected.”

Pistons Notes: Stewart, Bagley, Bey, Bogdanovic

Isaiah Stewart has spent most of his young career at center. Pistons coach Dwane Casey believes that will eventually change, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes.

“Eventually, he’s going to be a power forward-slash-center – the other way around,” Casey said. “He’s developing into that because he can guard all five positions. So now the last part to come out is his 3-point shooting.”

That process began when Marvin Bagley III, who just returned last week from a knee injury, replaced Saddiq Bey in the lineup on Monday. However, Stewart exited the contest against Toronto with a right big toe sprain, just before the start of a road trip, and will be sidelined for a minimum of two weeks.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Casey wanted to go with a two-big lineup because the team has struggled to rebound and defend due to a lack of size around Stewart, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes. Bagley gives the first unit a true vertical threat for the backcourt of Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham, though Cunningham is currently nursing a shin injury.
  • With Stewart out, Edwards anticipates that Bey will return to the starting five.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic has boosted the offense with his perimeter shooting but may need to pick his spots more judiciously as a creator, Edwards notes in the same piece. He had five turnovers in Monday’s loss, four the previous game and seven in a game against the Bucks last week. Yet he’s averaging just 1.9 assists per night.
  • Bagley was re-signed to a three-year contract this summer and tried to use his time wisely after suffering the knee sprain during the preseason, Langlois writes in a separate story. “I was really focused and locked in,” he said. “My main goal was to stay locked in throughout the whole time – practices, on the bench during games, just being ready. The day (his injury) happened, I didn’t know how long I was going to be out but once I got the timeline I was going to be out, I just mentally prepared for it and now I’m back, ready to play.”

Isaiah Stewart Out At Least Two Weeks With Toe Sprain

The already floundering Pistons got more bad news on Monday as big man Isaiah Stewart has a sprained right big toe and will be out a minimum of two-to-three weeks, according to a team press release.

Stewart suffered the injury in the second quarter of Monday’s game against Toronto. At the time, Stewart’s injury was listed as a right foot sprain. Further testing conducted by team doctors updated the diagnosis.

Stewart is averaging 12.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game this season while starting all 15 games. He made 71 starts last season, averaging 8.3 points and 8.7 rebounds.

Coach Dwane Casey had expressed a desire to go with bigger lineups and play Stewart more often at power forward. That plan will have to be put on hold.

Stewart added a 3-point shot to his skill set this season, knocking down 33.3% of his attempts so far. Without Stewart, the Pistons will use Marvin Bagley III, rookie Jalen Duren, and Nerlens Noel as their primary bigs.

Franchise player Cade Cunningham has missed the last three games due to left shin soreness. The team is now without two starters until Cunningham returns.

Pistons Notes: Ivey, Cunningham, Bogdanovic, Duren, Lineups

The Pistons have lost six of their last seven games but the last two outings have been encouraging. They snapped a five-game losing streak by defeating defending champion Golden State on Sunday and lost on the road to Milwaukee by two points on Monday.

Jaden Ivey, the fifth pick in the draft, has scored in double digits in every game he’s played, including a combined 34 points the last two nights. Backcourt partner Cade Cunningham notched a total of 50 points, 16 rebounds and 16 assists in those two games.

“It’s a confidence builder for a young group, for a kid like Ivey and we keep forgetting Cade’s in year two, for those guys to understand what it takes to beat great teams like we’ve played the last couple nights,” coach Dwane Casey said during Monday’s postgame press conference.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • When Bojan Bogdanovic was acquired from Utah just before training camp, many people speculated he’d be flipped this season for assets. That could still happen but it seems less likely after he signed a two-year extension, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. Having a veteran like Bogdanovic has been a boon to an otherwise green starting group, and his deal looks quite reasonable compared to recent extensions given to other veterans around the league with the salary cap expected to significantly rise.
  • Rookie center Jalen Duren is grateful 21-year-old Isaiah Stewart has taken him under his wing, he told Sam Yip of HoopsHype. “It means a lot, because I came in kind of with the same mentality, just team success,” he said. “However we can do that I’m all for. So, for me coming in, of course, playing the same position as Isaiah and him already being there, you know, just welcoming me with open arms was huge.” Duren missed Monday’s game with a left ankle sprain but could rejoin the team for its next game at Milwaukee on Wednesday, Mike Curtis of Detroit News tweets.
  • Nerlens Noel made his Pistons debut on Monday, though Marvin Bagley III is still sidelined by a knee injury. When all of Detroit’s frontcourt pieces are healthy, Casey may utilize bigger lineups, according to Curtis. Casey has been hesitant to play Duren and Stewart together because he didn’t want either of them to get into foul trouble.

Central Notes: Merrill, Stewart, Duren, Williams, Jones

The Cleveland Charge, the Cavaliers’ affiliate, hold the top pick in the upcoming NBA G League draft and guard Sam Merrill could be the top pick, Marc Stein tweets. Merrill was waived late in training camp by the Kings. He played six games for Memphis last season and 30 for Milwaukee the previous year.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart is only 21, but he’s become a mentor to the youngest player in the league, Jalen Duren, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. It doesn’t bother Stewart that Duren might cut into his playing time. “I know this is a league where you’re fighting for positions and minutes, but that’s not something I’m worried about,” Stewart said. “I know what’s most important is being there for the young fella. I’m there for him, whatever he needs. Sometimes I’ll just start talking to him just because. I know you’re a rook, first year.’ I want him to feel and know that I’m here for him on a positive note.”
  • After missing most of last season due to injury, Bulls forward Patrick Williams is struggling through the early portion of this season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. Williams is trying to determine how he can make the biggest impact for his teammates. “I’ve been talking to them about it and trying to figure it out,” he said. “I’m totally confident we will. Specifically, because of the player I know I am.”
  • The Bulls waived guard Carlik Jones last week but they still want him in the organization. Their G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, acquired his returning player rights in a three-team trade, according to a press release.

Central Notes: Okoro, Bucks, Giannis, Stewart, Knox

The Cavaliers clearly have four of their starting roles set, with All-Star guards Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell sharing the backcourt alongside Evan Mobley and All-Star center Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt. For the small forward gig, it appears that Isaac Okoro is making a case for himself, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

The 6’5″ wing was selected by Cleveland with the fifth pick out of Auburn in 2020. Okoro has started 128 of his 134 career NBA games thus far. Through two seasons, he is averaging a fairly modest 9.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 0.9 SPG, but the Cavaliers will be looking for defense more than offense at the three.

The competition has boiled down to Okoro and Caris LeVert, writes Fedor, noting that LeVert – who has earned praise from head coach J.B. Bickerstaff in camp – has started most of the team’s 2022 preseason games.

“I’m always being myself,” Okoro said. “I know what the coaches want me to do. I’m gonna do that and it’s ultimately up to J.B. to see who starts. I’m fine either way. I’m gonna go in and play my role.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Bucks had a relatively quietly offseason that saw them sign veteran small forward Joe Ingles and draft wing MarJon Beauchamp. They’re betting that continuity on a roster that won a title in 2021 will help the club return to the NBA Finals in 2023. John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a look at how the 2022/23 season could play out for Milwaukee, predicting a 53-29 finish.
  • All-NBA superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is not concerned that the Bucks just wrapped up their preseason with a 0-5 record, though he would like to see more from the team, writes Jamal Collier of ESPN. “It doesn’t worry me,” Antetokounmpo said after a 107-97 defeat Wednesday to the Brooklyn Nets. “What worries me is our habits and building good habits…. Right now, we’re not vocal enough. We’re not urgent enough. We’re not hungry enough. But at the end of the day, it’s the preseason. We have the whole regular season to find ourselves.”
  • Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart has been given the green light to launch three-pointers, and Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes that Stewart has appeared fearless during the team’s preseason. He connected on 4-of-10 shooting from long range during a 126-111 preseason loss Thursday to the Grizzlies. Langlois notes that, should this trend continue into the regular season, it could affect how Dwane Casey opts to use Stewart as a stretch four option in Detroit’s frontcourt. Langlois also discusses new forward Kevin Knox, a Knicks lottery pick in 2018. Langlois thinks Knox’s size and shooting touch could eventually help him crack the team’s rotation.

Central Notes: Nesmith, Pistons Lineup, Middleton, Drummond

Pacers guard Aaron Nesmith is nursing a foot injury and his availability for opening night is in question, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Nesmith is expected to play a second-unit role after being acquired from the Celtics in the Malcolm Brogdon deal. Coach Rick Carlisle said the former first-round pick has “a plantar fascia issue.”

“He’ll miss some time,” he said. “The hope is that there’s a possibility he could be back for the opener, but we don’t know for sure. As the days go on, we’ll have a better feel for that.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons could alter their frontcourt lineup depending on matchups, according to Mike Curtis of the Detroit News. Recently acquired Bojan Bogdanovic will join Saddiq Bey at the forward spots with Isaiah Stewart in the middle against certain teams. When a bigger lineup is desired, Bogdanovic could come off the bench with Marvin Bagley III sliding into the starting five.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Khris Middleton is “making progress” but “he’s still got a ways to go,” Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. The Bucks are hopeful Middleton will return early in the season after undergoing surgery in August to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist.
  • Bulls backup center Andre Drummond is looking to become a 3-point threat, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “It’s something that I spoke to the coaching staff in the summertime when I signed here, that it’s something that I’ve worked on, that I want to be able to stay on the floor, and I want to be able to add different facets to my game to be able to help this team win,” Drummond said. “And if I’m able to make that corner 3 when I’m wide open, it adds another element to our team.”

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.