Ish Smith

Central Notes: Jackson, Arcidiacono, Frazier, Bucks Arena

Pistons coach Dwane Casey plans to play his point guards Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith together on a regular basis this season, as he told the Free Press and other media outlets. Casey paired them up during stretches of the second and fourth quarters during the team’s 103-100 season-opening win over Brooklyn. “I really liked it,” Casey said. “I think Ish and Reggie together gives us a different pick-and-roll look, an opportunity to have multiple pick-and-rolls and two attackers. … It really gives us some energy, juice, speed, quickness and attackers.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Guards Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis could receive extensive playing time as the Bulls search for answers behind starting point guard Kris Dunn and at the off-guard position, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Arcidiacono, whose $1,349,383 salary doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January 10th, collected eight points and eight assists in 28 minutes during the team’s opener. Ulis, who received a two-way contract this week after being claimed off waivers, could spark the second unit. “He’s ready. He’s done a good job in practice,” coach Fred Hoiberg said of Ulis.
  • The Bucks saved a little money — $18,321 to be exact — when guard Tim Frazier was claimed off waivers by the Pelicans, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. New Orleans inherited Frazier’s $1.5MM non-guaranteed contract. He was Milwaukee’s final roster cut prior to opening night.
  • The Bucks franchise would have relocated if the new Fiserv Forum hadn’t been built, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Milwaukee played its first regular-season game there on Friday. “We were going to do everything we could to stay in Milwaukee,” Bucks co-owner Mark Lasry said. “That was ultimately something that was outside our control in that the NBA wanted a new arena, and if we couldn’t get one, they would have forced us to move.” When the current ownership group bought the Bucks for $550MM in 2014, the purchase agreement included a clause allowing the league to buy back the team for potential relocation if the new owners didn’t get a formal arena construction plan in place, Zillgitt adds.

Pistons Rumors: Kennard, Ellenson, Smith, Projection

The Pistons have big plans for second-year guard Luke Kennard and he rates as a breakout candidate for the upcoming season, Ben Nadeau of Basketball Insiders writes. Kennard averaged 11.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 2.5 APG during the last 19 games of his rookie season and his role will expand under new coach Dwane Casey, Nadeau continues. Kennard has the ability to play three positions and he has the potential to become one of the league’s premier 3-point shooters, Nadeau adds.

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  • Power forward Henry Ellenson has been selected for the USA National Team qualifying for the World Championships, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Ellenson has played sparingly in his first two NBA seasons after being chosen in the first round of the 2016 draft but his role is expected to expand during the upcoming season under Casey.
  • Point guard Ish Smith could be traded during the season, Ansar Khan of MLive.com opines. Smith is entering the final year of his contract and the Pistons also have Jose Calderon and Kennard available for that role, Khan continues. Otherwise, Smith will be the primary backup to Reggie Jackson. He improved his 3-point shooting toward the end of last season and is well-suited for the second unit due his energy, speed and ability to attack the basket, Khan adds.
  • The big man combination of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond should be enough for the Pistons to secure the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype predicts. Sierra sees Detroit finishing third in the Central Division and eighth in the conference despite a lack of talent beyond the frontcourt duo.

Central Notes: LaVine, Pacers, Cavaliers, Calderon

Fresh off the Bulls officially matching the Kings’ fully guaranteed, four-year $78MM offer sheet to Zach LaVine, the 23-year-old combo guard says he is ready to prove all of the doubters wrong who wonder whether he is worth the nearly $80MM in guaranteed money that he will earn from the Bulls, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I’m my hardest critic,” LaVine said Sunday during the Bulls’ summer league game against the Lakers in Las Vegas. “There’s nothing that any of you guys can say to me that I [don’t] take harder upon myself. I go back and critique my game every year. I’m used to people sleeping on me, and I’m also used to waking them up as well. I’m happy that I have this contract, and I’m happy that I have a little extra motivation to go out there and prove it to some people that don’t believe in me.”

“At the end of the day, I believe in myself, I believe in my work, and I’m going to show the city of Chicago it’s a good choice and I’m here to stay. I’m going to be their guy, and I’m ready to do whatever to help this team get back to that spot.”

And despite saying publicly that he was disappointed the Bulls hadn’t done more to lock him in as a restricted free agent when the free-agency period opened, LaVine backtracked from those comments after the deal with the Bulls became official, saying that he simply meant he never wanted to sign an offer sheet because he wanted to stay in Chicago so badly.

“I think a lot of that got taken out of context,” LaVine said. “The main thing that I wanted to get my point across was I wanted to just deal with Chicago. I never wanted to get [to] a point of [having to sign] an offer sheet. Regardless of whatever happened, I’m going to put that behind us. I’m happy as hell that I’m going to be able to play for the team that I want to play for.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers found unexpected success this past season and the front office deserves credit for avoiding complacency, Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com opines. Indiana brought in Kyle O’Quinn, Tyreke Evans, and Doug McDermott on mid-sized deals, all moves designed to help them compete in a now-weakened Eastern Conference.
  • The Cavaliers, who are still searching for another assistant coach on head coach Tyronn Lue‘s bench, interviewed Warriors assistant coach Willie Green and Sixers assistant coach John Bryant recently, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Green has since re-upped with Golden State.
  • Because he signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, Jose Calderon likely could have chosen to play wherever he wanted to this upcoming season, opines Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. But he ended up picking the Pistons simply because he believes they can be a good team. And although he’ll likely slot in behind Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith on the depth chart, it’s possible new coach Dwane Casey could play two point guards at the same time, thereby opening up playing time for Calderon.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Pistons Sign Jose Calderon

JULY 7: The signing is official, the Pistons announced on Twitter.

JULY 2: The Pistons have reached an agreement with veteran point guard Jose Calderon, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes (Twitter link). League sources tell Haynes that’s worth $2.4MM, which means it’s a minimum-salary deal.

The agreement will reunite Calderon with new Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, who coached the 36-year-old several seasons ago in Toronto.

A 13-year NBA veteran, Calderon spent the 2017/18 with the Cavaliers. Although he played a modest role with the club, he was solid when called upon, averaging 4.5 PPG and 2.1 APG with a .503/.464/.800 shooting line.

While it’s a low-cost investment for the Pistons, it’s a somewhat curious one. The team was already well-stocked at the point guard spot, with Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith atop the depth chart and Langston Galloway occasionally getting ball-handling duties too. However, it’s possible Detroit has another move in mind. The club is exploring possible trades, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link), who identifies Smith, Galloway, and Jon Leuer as potential chips.

Calderon figures to take Dwight Buycks‘ place on Detroit’s roster. Buycks has a $1.6MM non-guaranteed salary for next season, but waiving him would help give the Pistons a little extra distance below the tax line, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (via Twitter).

Central Rumors: Griffin, Pistons, Giannis, Terry

The Pistons lost five of their last six games entering Monday’s contest against the Raptors but Hornets coach Steve Clifford endorses Detroit’s Blake Griffin gamble, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports. Griffin is the type of player who can make a difference in the postseason, according to Clifford. “The NBA is about winning in the playoffs, right? When you’re a coach, you look at it like this. Tie score in a Game 7, there’s 12 seconds on the clock, Blake Griffin’s one of the … I don’t know, 12 to 15 guys in the league that you can’t guard one on one,” Clifford said. “The guys they gave up are terrific, OK, but they’re not go-to, Game-7-of-a-series guys that are going to dictate a double team. That’s the number one thing you have to have to win big and that’s what they picked up.”

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Pistons’ bench has been outscored by its counterparts by an average of 21.1 points over the last six games. Coach Stan Van Gundy has tried a number of different combinations but nothing has worked. Detroit’s reserve unit has struggled since point guard Ish Smith was forced into the starting lineup after Reggie Jackson suffered a severe ankle sprain in late December.  “The biggest problem is it’s become a lower-energy lineup,” Van Gundy told Hoops Rumors.
  • The Bucks have locked up Giannis Antetokounmpo through the 2020/21 season but he has no desire to go to a big city like Los Angeles anyway, as Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. Antetokounmpo prefers the less hectic pace of a city like Milwaukee. “I love Milwaukee — it’s low-key,” he told Velazquez. “I can walk down the road, down the streets without anybody bugging me — nobody interrupts my conversation or anything. I love how quiet and calm Milwaukee is.”
  • Bucks reserve guard Jason Terry wants to play at least one more year in the league, which would allow him to reach another milestone in his long career, Genaro Armas of the Associated Press writes. “For sure, 100 percent, my goal is to play 20 seasons,” Terry said. “The organization understands that and I think the league is on notice.” Terry, 40, is averaging 2.6 PPG in 11.9 MPG. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Pistons Rotation, Griffin

Victor Oladipo knew a breakout season was possible after speaking with Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard on the team’s private plane prior to his introductory press conference last summer, as Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated divulges in a feature story. Pritchard assured Oladipo that the club truly coveted his services, rather than just matching up salaries to facilitate the Paul George blockbuster with the Thunder. Indiana wanted to play faster this season. “This wasn’t a dump. We targeted you,” Pritchard told Oladipo, according to Jenkins. The All-Star shooting guard is averaging a career-high 24.4 PPG for the surprising Pacers.  “It was the first time in my career I felt like a team really believed in me,” Oladipo told Jenkins. “I was just thinking, Don’t mess this up.”

In other nuggets involving the Central Division:

  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will likely go with a 10-man rotation once Reggie Jackson returns from his Grade 3 ankle sprain, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com.  Jackson would join a starting unit of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock. Ish Smith would return to his usual role as leader of the second unit with center Eric Moreland and forwards Anthony Tolliver and James Ennis getting steady minutes, Khan speculates. Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway would split time as the backup shooting guard, Khan adds.
  • Pistons owner Tom Gores invited Griffin and his business partners over to his California home immediately after the blockbuster deal with the Clippers, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details. Gores wanted to assure Griffin how badly the Pistons wanted him and address any concerns the five-time All-Star power forward might have, Langlois continues. The Pistons are 5-3 since Griffin joined their lineup. “We were very quickly on the same page with the same view of what we want to achieve and the approach to get there,” Gores told Langlois. “He’s definitely hit the ground running. It’s been great to see how his teammates, the whole organization and the fans have embraced him.”

Pistons Notes: Bradley, Leuer, Bullock, Galloway

Avery Bradley‘s role will change now that he’ll be playing alongside Ish Smith instead of Reggie Jackson until after the All-Star break, as he and coach Stan Van Gundy noted to me in a Detroit Free Press story.

The Pistons shooting guard returned to action on Wednesday after a seven-game absence due to a groin injury. While Bradley was on the mend, Jackson suffered a severe ankle sprain. Bradley will have to get used to quicker tempo and he’ll have the ball in his hands a little more. Van Gundy is running the offense more through the wings with Jackson on the sidelines.

“It’s going to change and I just have to make the adjustment,” Bradley said of his role. Bradley usually defended point guards with Jackson on the floor but those switched assignments will occur less often with the smaller Smith.

“The best part of Reggie Jackson’s defense is his post defense, so you could play him on a lot of bigger people,” Van Gundy said. “With Ish, that’s a lot different. So matchups will be a little bit different.”

In other Pistons developments:

  • Forward Jon Leuer, who hasn’t played since October 31st due to an ankle injury, could be headed to surgery if his condition doesn’t improve soon. Leuer received a joint lubrication injection for his sprained left ankle a month ago after suffering a setback. He was put on anti-inflammatory medication recently to aid the healing process. Van Gundy hopes that Leuer will show significant progress by next weekend. “I can’t tell him to play and I can’t tell him to go get surgery,” Van Gundy said. “At that point, if we’ve gone another 12 days and we haven’t had anything change, he’s going to have to make some decisions on what he wants to do.”
  • With Bradley returning to the lineup, Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver will share a starting spot, depending on matchups. Against smaller lineups, Bullock will start. Against taller, more rugged power forwards, Tolliver will get the nod with Tobias Harris moving to small forward.
  • The backup point guard job spot behind Smith is up for grabs. Langston Galloway played most of those minutes the first game Jackson was out. Dwight Buycks, who is on a two-way contract, played 18 minutes at the point the following game.

Pistons Guard Reggie Jackson Out For Extended Period

Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson suffered a Grade 3 right ankle sprain against the Pacers on Tuesday and will be sidelined until after the All-Star break, the team announced on Wednesday. Jackson underwent an MRI on Wednesday, which revealed the extent of the injury. He will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks, according to the press release.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said during his postgame press conference that X-rays were negative. However, Jackson was in severe pain when the injury occurred and couldn’t put any pressure on the leg.

Jackson had eight points and a season-high 13 assists prior to the injury. He missed the first 21 games last season with a knee injury but the club got off to an 11-10 start with Ish Smith running the offense. Smith will move into the lineup as long as Jackson is out. “Ish did a great job of taking over when Reggie went down last year, so we won’t miss a beat,” center Andre Drummond said after the game.

Langston Galloway or Dwight Buycks, who is on a two-way contract, will back up Smith while Jackson mends. Galloway, who inked a three-year, $21MM free agent contract during the summer, has played almost exclusively at shooting guard this season. Buycks appeared in his first NBA game on Tuesday since playing six games with the Lakers during the 2014/15 season.

Another option, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets, is to sign a player to a 10-day contract. Teams can add a player via a 10-day deal beginning on January 5th and Detroit has an open roster spot.

In the short run, the Pistons are without both starting guards. Shooting guard Avery Bradley has missed the last five games with a groin injury but he is progressing. The team is hopeful he can return next week, as Langlois tweets.

Central Notes: Pistons, Maker, Munford

Only two of the Pistons‘ opening day starters are set in stone, the other three have yet to be determined, Keith Langlois of the team’s official website writes. With Avery Bradley at the two and Andre Drummond in the middle, head coach Stan Van Gundy is hard-pressed to figure out who will join them at tip-off.

Everything’s a consideration,” Van Gundy said, before implying that Tobias Harris would probably start for the Pistons but, then, again might not. “I thought he was good off the bench last year. I’m really not locked in to anything.”

As Langlois explains, what Van Gundy decides to do with Harris will impact the other decisions he’ll have to make with the Pistons’ lineup. If the 25-year-old forward plays the three, they’ll look to somebody like Jon Leueur to fill in at the four. If they pencil Harris in at the four, they could turn to someone like Stanley Johnson to man the three.

Another decision that the Pistons will need to come to terms on ahead of opening day is who to start at the point. On one hand the idea of a healthy Reggie Jackson working in tandem with Drummond is tantalizing but there’s no guarantee it plays out that way in the first game of the season.

Langlois writes that Ish Smith could get serious consideration to start for the Pistons. “We found out last year just about anybody’s going to play pretty well with Ish,” Van Gundy said.

There’s more from the Central Division:

Central Notes: Pistons, Pacers, Stephenson

After a disappointing 2016/17 campaign, the Pistons will look to shore up their three-point shooting. So says head coach Stan Van Gundy, at least. Aaron McMann of MLive wrote about Detroit’s goal heading into the offseason.

We’ve got to shoot the ball better, there’s no question about that,” Van  Gundy told the media following his exit interviews with Pistons players.

Not long after, he’d go on to complain about the team’s regression throughout the season, as has become somewhat of a custom for the Pistons bench boss.

We just talked about that with our team. I think a lot of that can be internal development. [The Pistons] had virtually an entire roster that took a step back in that area this year.

There’s more from the Central Division: