Joe Johnson

BIG3 Aims To Hold Quarantined Tournament In April

The BIG3 is working on plans to launch a “quarantined, reality show-style” three-on-three tournament in April, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz – the league’s founders – have had discussions with TV networks about possibility broadcasting the preseason tournament, which they hope would help fill a void in the sporting world.

As Haynes explains, the idea would be to have approximately 16 to 22 players who test negative for COVID-19 be quarantined together in a large home in Los Angeles. A basketball facility would be built on site, and any player who breaks quarantine at any time during the tournament would be disqualified and removed.

The format would involve seven rounds of games, with teams being reshuffled throughout the tournament and players being eliminated when they accumulate three losses. In addition to the games, the players’ daily lives would also be filmed and broadcast “for added drama and storylines,” per Haynes.

“As long as we can protect the players, which we will do through proper testing and quarantine, Ice Cube and I feel we can give fans some safe, entertaining brand of basketball to get everyone through this pandemic,” Kwatinetz told Haynes.

Even if the BIG3 is able to move forward with its tournament as planned, it’s not yet known which players would participate, but Haynes says that former NBA players like Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, and Greg Oden are among the possible candidates.

Joe Johnson Returning To BIG3

Seven-time All-Star swingman Joe Johnson will be returning to the BIG3 this summer for a second season with Ice Cube‘s 3-on-3 veteran league, Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reports (Twitter link).

Johnson, 38, is the reigning BIG3 league MVP. His team, the Triplets, won the BIG3 championship last summer, thanks in large part to Johnson’s sharpshooting heroics.

The 6’7″ wing out of Arkansas last saw some NBA heat this fall, where he was signed to the Pistons’ training camp roster after his stellar BIG3 performance. However, power forward Christian Wood beat him out for the team’s 15th and final roster spot heading into the season. Detroit waived Johnson in October.

In his 17 NBA seasons, Iso Joe played for solid playoff squads on the Celtics, Suns, Hawks, Nets, Heat, Jazz and Rockets. He holds a career slash line of 16.0 PPG/4.0 RPG/3.9 APG. He has converted 44.1% of his shots from the field, 37.1% of his 4.2 three-point attempts a night, and 80.2% from the charity stripe.

Pistons Notes: Rose, Wood, Morris, Jackson

Derrick Rose has gotten off to a strong start with the Pistons but he’ll remain on a minutes limitation, James Edwards III of The Athletic relays. Rose, who signed a two-year, $15MM contract as a free agent this summer, averaged 25.3 PPG and 5.0 APG in his first three games despite playing 26.3 MPG.

“I got to watch his minutes,” coach Dwane Casey said. “I try to keep his minutes around 27, 28. That limits us to what we can do with him. … If it’s tight or close, we may fudge the numbers a little bit, but for the most part, we’re going to keep it around that number each and every night.”

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Center Christian Wood beat out Joe Johnson for the final roster and made his first meaningful contribution against the Sixers on Saturday night, Rod Beard of the Detroit News notes. Wood, who was claimed off waivers, had 11 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes as Blake Griffin remains sidelined with hamstring and knee injuries. “I was able to show that I want to be in the rotation,” Wood said.
  • Forward Markieff Morris, who is starting while Griffin mends, was fined $35K by the league for directing inappropriate and offensive language toward a game official, according to a league press release. Morris, who joined Detroit on a two-year, $6.56MM contract, made those remarks during the loss to the Sixers.
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson underwent tests on his sore lower back, Keith Langlois of the team’s website tweets. Jackson, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, missed his second consecutive game on Monday. “The doctor’s going to read the results and see what it is,” Casey said.

Pistons Waive Joe Johnson

4:31pm: The Pistons have officially waived Johnson, per a press release from the team. A source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) that Iso Joe isn’t giving up on his NBA comeback and plans to pursue other opportunities.

2:27pm: The Pistons are waiving veteran forward Joe Johnson, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The move should pave the way for Detroit to finalize its regular season roster, with Christian Wood claiming the final spot on the 15-man squad.

Johnson, who didn’t play in the NBA during the 2018/19 season, turned heads with his performance in Ice Cube‘s 3-on-3 league earlier this year. The 17-year NBA veteran showed he still had something left in the tank during his BIG3 run, ranking atop the league in scoring, winning the MVP award, and leading his team to a championship.

That performance helped earn Johnson a partially guaranteed deal in Detroit. However, the team still had 14 players on guaranteed contracts and Wood – who had a non-guaranteed salary – made a strong case to be part of the regular season roster. The Pistons reportedly explored trade options to open another roster spot, with Langston Galloway and Khyri Thomas among the candidates to be moved, but ultimately decided to release Johnson.

An injury may have also been a factor in the Pistons’ decision, as Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports (via Twitter) that Johnson was experiencing swelling in his Achilles. According to Haynes, tests came back clean and Johnson was responding well to treatment. Still, for a 38-year-old who hasn’t played in the NBA in over a year, any health issues should be approached with caution.

With Johnson headed to the waiver wire, the Pistons will be on the hook for his $220K partial guarantee, assuming he goes unclaimed. Detroit’s team salary is now just $4K below the luxury tax line, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pistons Exploring Trades, May Keep Wood, Johnson

The Pistons are seeking a trade that would allow them to keep both big man Christian Wood and veteran forward Joe Johnson, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes.

That duo came into training camp vying for the final roster spot but circumstances may change.

Langston Galloway or Khyri Thomas are the most likely players to be moved in order to free up a roster spot, according to Ellis. The Pistons have 14 players, including Galloway and Thomas, with fully guaranteed contracts.

Wood’s contract guarantees at $822,679 if he makes the opening night roster, while Johnson would receive a $1.37MM guarantee if he’s still with the team coming out of training camp. Wood’s $1.65MM contract and Johnson’s $2.56MM deal become fully guaranteed if they’re still on the roster beyond January 10.

Wood was claimed off waivers from the Bucks and has put up impressive numbers in a couple of preseason appearances. Coach Dwane Casey has been impressed by the way Wood has conducted himself beyond the court. Wood would battle Thon Maker for backup duties at center if he sticks.

“Christian’s thing is just maturity,” Casey told Ellis and other reporters. “He’s done a great job of being on time, being where he’s supposed to be, doing what he’s supposed to do, being disciplined, because if he (had done it before), he wouldn’t be here. He’d still be with Milwaukee or somebody.”

Johnson, the MVP of the BIG3 league this summer, could provide depth at both forward spots. Detroit’s final two preseason games this week will help determine whether the Pistons keep both Wood and Johnson, according to the Detroit News’ Rod Beard, who also confirms the front office has been exploring the trade market.

Galloway has an expiring $7.33MM contract, which would hold some appeal. Thomas, a second-year player, is making $1.42MM. Galloway is considered a rotation player by Casey but the Pistons have numerous options at the wing positions and will also pair up point guards Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose at times.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Galloway, Johnson, Practice Facility

Pistons owner Tom Gores said on Monday that retaining center Andre Drummond is his “top priority,” Jeff Riger of 97.1 The Ticket tweets. Drummond could become an unrestricted free agent if he opts out of the final year of his contract after the season.

“You guys know, many years in a row, how committed I am to Andre,” Gores said. “So it is [the] top priority.”

Drummond and his reps have reportedly requested extension talks. Prior to opening night, Drummond can opt in for the 2020/21 season at $28.75MM and add up to three additional years to the contract. The first year of the extension can be any amount up to 120% of his 2020/21 salary (a max of $34.5MM). After that, he can opt out and sign an extension until June 30, but the starting salary can’t be below $28.75MM or exceed $34.5MM.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Langston Galloway is one of many options at the wing and coach Dwane Casey says Galloway will have a role, Keith Langlois of the team’s website relays. “He’s like that old blanket,” Casey said. “It’s not fair, but he’s just a steady, steady pro. He’s a lot of our glue. So, no, I haven’t forgotten Langston. He’s going to be a huge part of what we do.” Galloway is in the final year of a three-year, $21MM contract that he signed with the previous front office regime. His $7.33MM salary is the second highest expiring deal on the team behind Reggie Jackson‘s $18.1MM salary.
  • Joe Johnson‘s year off from basketball allowed him to spent time with his dying mother, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Johnson’s mother Diane died of cancer in February. “I don’t know if you guys understand what multiple myeloma is and what it does to the body,” Johnson said “It basically breaks muscles and bones down to a point where you just become limp and you can’t do nothing on your own. Then it comes to a point where you can’t even talk.” Johnson has a partial guarantee in his contract and is looking to secure the final spot on the opening-night roster.
  • The franchise officially opened its new $90MM training facility and corporate headquarters on Monday, according to a team press release. The facility is touted as being the largest in the league. It’s located in downtown Detroit, a short distance from Little Caesars Arena. Their previous practice facility was located in Auburn Hills behind their previous arena, The Palace.

And-Ones: India, Johnson, Robinson, Ball

Commissioner Adam Silver would like to start a professional basketball league in India, perhaps in the next five years, Marc Spears of ESPN reports. India would have to build state-of-the-art arenas to make that happen. The NBA had to make numerous additions — including seats, big video screens and lights — to stage a preseason game there between the Kings and Pacers on Friday.

“I think it’s inevitable that there will be state-of-the-art arenas in major cities in India, in part because these are multi-use facilities and live entertainment is increasingly important here as well. … We do need to see those arenas over time in order to play more games,” Silver said.

There’s growing interest in the league in India and its youngsters are harboring NBA dreams, Reid Forgrave of the New York Times reports.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Joe Johnson is fighting for a roster spot with the Pistons and the veteran forward hopes other players can use the BIG3 as a springboard to relaunch their careers, Eric Woodyard of ESPN writes. “That was another reason why I thought it was very important for me to take this opportunity, because those guys in the BIG3, a lot of them anyway, have hopes to at some point to be able to get back in the league,” said Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed contract with Detroit. “So I just wanted to let everyone know that it’s possible just to get to this point.” Johnson was the BIG3 MVP this year.
  • Former NBA forward Thomas Robinson has drawn major interest from two Chinese teams, Zhejiang Guangsha and Liaoning, according to a report from Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. The 2012 lottery pick last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in 48 games with the Lakers.
  • Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster has countersued Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and his father, LaVar Ball, for alleged fraudulent concealment and breach of contract, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Foster alleges that LaVar Ball embezzled more than $2.6MM from Big Baller Brand and other companies associated with the family to fund an extravagant lifestyle. The Balls sued Foster in April for more than $2MM for alleged embezzlement.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Griffin, Johnson, Olympics

Pistons center Andre Drummond and senior advisor Ed Stefanski brushed aside specific questions about a potential extension during the team’s Media Day on Monday. Drummond said he’s happy in Detroit and wishes to remain there.

“I love being here. I love playing in Detroit,” he said. “I’m looking forward to continuing my time here.”

Stefanski refused to talk about any potential negotiations. Drummond, who could be the top free agent on the market next summer if he opts out of the final year of his contract, has requested extension talks, according to Vince Ellis of the Free Press. Prior to opening night, Drummond can opt in for the 2020/21 season and add up to three additional years.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Coach Dwane Casey hopes to give Blake Griffin more nights off this season to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Griffin was hobbled by a knee injury late last season and underwent arthroscopic surgery after the season. “We rode him like a cheap horse last year,” Casey said. “If we didn’t, I don’t think we would have made the playoffs because he was that special to us.” Griffin won’t resist any load management strategies. “For me personally, I’m going to let our staff and front office lead the way on that,” he said. “It’s not going to be me going to them asking for games (off), it’s not going to be them fighting with me. I’m going to listen to them.”
  • Veteran swingman Joe Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed contract, is essentially competing with big man Christian Wood, who was claimed off waivers, for the last roster spot unless a player with a fully guaranteed contract is traded or waived. “There’s no added pressure on me,” Johnson said. “This opportunity came about and I’m thankful for it but it wasn’t my purpose. I still do love the game, I keep myself in great shape, so to be able to get a chance to compete with these guys, it will be fun.” Johnson, who also worked out for the Sixers, cancelled four scheduled workouts to sign with Detroit.
  • Drummond expressed his desire to play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He withdrew from playing with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer in order to focus on the upcoming season. “I would love to play in the Olympics,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to play in the Olympics? It would be a big-time thing to be a part of. To play for that gold medal is huge, so I would be very honored to play for them.” Griffin was non-committal about his interest in playing for Team USA in the Olympics next season. “It’s just so far away,” he said. “I’ll definitely address that at the proper time.”

Eastern Notes: Leonard, Fultz, LaVine, Johnson

New Heat center Meyers Leonard is ready for the new opportunity that awaits him in Miami, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

 “I know that I can impact the game every night… And I’m vastly improved compared to when I was younger and earlier in my career. The easiest way to put it is I feel really good about where I’m at. And I’m just excited for this new opportunity. The Heat saw something in me and I really appreciate it.”

Leonard, who becomes an intriguing stretch option in the frontcourt for head coach Erik Spoelstra, is confident in his ability to hit open threes and expand his game even further.

“I’m going to do what’s asked of me… If I’m open, I’m going to shoot it. That’s one thing I feel that, particularly last year, I started to do a better job of is take more contested shots…. I (also) feel that I’ve really expanded my game. I can get my shot off quicker. I feel good, even extended beyond the 3-point line. I really, really feel that I’ll be able to provide a very unique skill-set and the ability to roll all the way to the rim, to half roll and play-make or to pick and pop to three. So it’s something I’ve worked very, very hard on.”

 There’s more news from the Eastern Conference:
  • Magic guard and former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has joined Roc Nation Sports, the 21-year-old announced on his own Twitter account.
  • The best-case scenario for Bulls guard Zach LaVine? He’s got All-Star potential, and should be an All-Star this season, writes Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. But, on the flip side, if he isn’t able to mesh better with Lauri Markkanen and improve on the defensive side of the ball, it may be another long season in Chicago.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News reports that Pistons guard Joe Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed deal earlier this month, has impressed head coach Dwane Casey with his conditioning. “My main concern was Joe getting up and down and he showed that he can still run the floor and still be athletic,” Casey said. “He has it, even at (38).”

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Kennard, J. Johnson, Final Roster Spot

With possible free agency looming next summer, Pistons center Andre Drummond has put a priority on conditioning, relays Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Coach Dwane Casey said Drummond has spent the offseason working out with assistants Tim Grgurich and Sean Sweeney two or three times a day in Las Vegas and is “in the best shape since I’ve been around him.”

After this season ends, Drummond will have a decision to make on a $28,751,774 player option for 2020/21. He recently came under fire from fans for talking about how excited he is for a shot at free agency and had to clarify his remarks on Instagram. Casey decided in the second half of last season to shelve the experiment of having Drummond shoot more 3-pointers, but he still believes his center can be effective as a decision-maker in the offense.

There’s more today from Detroit:

  • One of Casey’s training camp decisions will be whether to use Bruce Brown or Luke Kennard in the starting lineup, the coach tells Langlois in a separate story. “The issue with Luke in the first unit – it’s not an issue, it’s a good thing – but it’s just you kind of take away one of his strengths as far as his pick-and-roll game, his ball-handling game,” Casey said. “There’s only so many pick-and-roll games with that first unit. You’ve got Blake (Griffin) in the pick and roll, Reggie (Jackson) in the pick and roll, you’ve got Bruce running pick and roll some and now you’ve got Andre bringing the ball down the floor.”
  • Joe Johnson‘s new contract comes with a $220K guarantee and more incentives the longer he stays on the roster, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Johnson’s guaranteed money will increase to $1.37MM if he earns a roster spot for opening night and $2.56MM if he remains on the team through January 7.
  • The Pistons have several options for the final spot on their roster heading into camp, observes Duncan Smith of Forbes. Detroit has 14 guaranteed contracts, leaving Johnson and Christian Wood as the most likely candidates outside of that group to make the team, according to Smith. He adds that the front office could consider opening another spot by moving on from Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk or Khyri Thomas, who have minimum contracts, or Langston Galloway. who has an expiring deal worth $7.3MM.