Jon Leuer

Central Notes: Horst, Pistons, Kornet, Holidays

Eric Nehm of The Athletic recently sat down with the Bucks’ award-winning GM Jon Horst to discuss the team’s free agency this summer. Here are a few noteworthy passages from Horst’s interview.

Regarding the team’s ability to bring back Khris Middleton on a five-year deal:

“Khris was always a focus… He’s our second superstar, our second star. He’s an All-Star. He’s been one of our best players for a long period of time here… Khris was a target obviously and he got a contract that represents that and we think it’s a great contract because we got our second All-Star locked up for the next five years.”

Regarding the team’s trade of Tony Snell and a first-round pick for Jon Leuer in order to create the requisite cap space needed to re-sign Brook Lopez:

“When we got Brook last offseason, we understood, at some level, how important he was going to be to us… (and) we also understood if he’s as good as we think he’s going to be, it’s going to present a lot of challenges.”

“So, we spent the entire year trying to prepare for that… Just different things we did throughout the year were in preparation to position ourselves to either be prepared to keep Brook, be in a position to keep Brook or be prepared to react if we couldn’t… I don’t know if a lot of people saw it coming, maybe after the Tony Snell deal. Then, maybe they were like, ‘Okay, this is how they’re going to try to do it.’ But before that, I don’t think people saw the moves we lined up to position ourselves to hopefully keep Brook and I’m very thankful we were able to.”

Regarding the decision to trade RFA Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana and whether the luxury tax was a factor in that decision:

“I think there’s a lot that goes into restricted free agency. It’s a monster. Malcolm is very, very important and we knew how important he was to our team. It will be hard to replace him. I think we’ve done the best that we can and we’ll continue to work in ways to be creative and fill that gap.”

“I would say the luxury tax was only part of the consideration for not matching or not being willing to pay Malcolm the market that he was able to get from Indiana. Whether or not he had that market from anywhere else besides Indiana, I don’t know. The decision on Malcolm was much more about our internal evaluations, the roster fit, the ability to be flexible and have options going forward and just building a team that, as I always say, can sustain success over a long period.”

There’s more from the Central Division this afternoon:
  • Horst confirmed in the above interview that the Bucks were not able to create a traded player exception when they traded Brogdon to Indiana, as the signing of George Hill with cap space occurred after the trade, and teams lose their exceptions (other than the Room MLE) when they go under the cap.
  • Taking a look at what each player’s role may be for the Pistons’ during the 2019/20 season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com opines that there are five guys locked in to being sure-fire rotation pieces – Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Derrick Rose, and three who will almost certainly join that group – Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, and Bruce Brown.
  • The Bulls are hoping that the three-point shooting ability of free-agent addition, big man Luke Kornet, will be a nice complement next to starter Wendell Carter Jr. and fellow reserve, rookie Daniel Gafford, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com.
  • Pacers’ new addition Justin Holiday is excited about the prospect of playing with his baby brother, reserve point guard Aaron Holiday, reports Scott Agness of The Athletic. “It was the best situation I had at this time,” Justin said. “(T)he Pacers obviously being a contender every year and going to the playoffs, and then also them having my brother was something that was very, very enticing for me. To be able to be a part of that culture and play with my brother, I think it made it pretty simple where I needed to go.”

Bucks Waive Jon Leuer

As expected, the Bucks have released veteran big man Jon Leuer, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. He’ll clear waivers and become an unrestricted on Thursday.

Leuer, 30, averaged 3.8 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 41 games (9.8 MPG) last season for the Pistons. Detroit sent his expiring contract to Milwaukee last month in exchange for Tony Snell and the No. 30 overall pick in the draft.

Because Leuer is earning less than Snell and only has one year left on his contract instead of two, waiving and stretching his expiring salary ($9,508,043) will be more manageable for the Bucks. That move was necessary in order to create the cap room to re-sign George Hill.

While stretching Leuer’s contract generates additional flexibility this year, the Bucks will have to be wary of the cap charges it creates in future seasons ($3,169,348 annually through 2021/22). Milwaukee’s roster only figures to get more expensive down the road, especially if Giannis Antetokounmpo signs a super-max extension that goes into effect in ’20/21, so Leuer’s dead money could eventually help push team salary into the tax.

Central Notes: Dunn, Leuer, Doumbouya, Bucks, J.R. Smith

Bulls executive VP John Paxson insists that Kris Dunn still has a role despite the addition of North Carolina point guard Coby White with the team’s lottery selection, K.C. Johnson of Chicago Tribune reports. “We still value Kris very much,” Paxson said. “But competition is a part of this business. You have to have that. The goal for us is to be deeper, more talented. You see in our game today, the successful teams have versatile rosters. … And, hey, if he comes in, as we hope, in training camp in great shape and ready to roll, he has every chance to earn any spot he wants — just like any of our guys do.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It’s uncertain whether veteran power forward Jon Leuer will play for the Bucks, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets. Milwaukee traded Tony Snell and its first-round pick to the Pistons for Leuer in an effort to clear cap space. Leuer is in the final year of his contract. GM Jon Horst told Leuer and his agent that he could be included in a future trade, Velazquez adds. Leuer appeared in 41 games last season after injuries limited him to eight games the previous season.
  • The Pistons were stunned that forward Sekou Doumbouya slipped just outside the lottery, allowing them to pick him with the No. 15 selection, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. The Pistons watched him work out in Dallas but were convinced they had no chance to draft him. “He kept dropping and we had Plan A in place and we didn’t expect him to be there. Then Plan B came into place and it was the best plan of all — because we had him ranked very high on the board,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We were there at the workout in Dallas and we thought we were wasting our time because we saw all the teams in front of us.”
  • The Bucks didn’t get any players in the draft but it was for lack of trying, Velazquez reports in another tweet. The Bucks made calls on every second-round pick but didn’t want to give up future picks and discovered that it’s much tougher to simply buy picks now.
  • The Cavaliers were unable to unload J.R. Smith on draft night and it’s likely he’ll be waived before his contract becomes fully guaranteed at the end of the month, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports. Cleveland doesn’t want to go over the luxury-tax line. Acquiring a player on a multi-year contract whose salary pushed them over the line was a deal breaker. Only $3.87MM of Smith’s $15.68MM salary is guaranteed.

Bucks Trade Tony Snell To Pistons

JUNE 20: The trade is now official, according to a press release from the Bucks. The 30th pick was used to select Kevin Porter Jr., but the Pistons are flipping his rights to the Cavaliers.

JUNE 19: The Bucks have reached an agreement to trade Tony Snell to Detroit, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Milwaukee will get Jon Leuer in return and will also send the 30th pick in tomorrow’s draft to the Pistons (Twitter link).

The move is a cost-cutting measure for the Bucks, as Snell is due $11.4MM next season and has a $12.2MM player option for 2020/21. Leuer is entering the final year of his contract and will make $9.5MM.

Milwaukee will save about $2MM next season, along with a $1.9MM cap hold for pick No. 30, notes Matt Velazquez of The Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links). The larger savings come from having Snell off the books in the future.

Milwaukee is entering a crucial summer with Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton and Nikola Mirotic all headed for free agency. Every dollar the team can unload will help with luxury tax concerns. Once the deal with Detroit is complete, the Bucks can create up to $14MM in cap room that could be used to re-sign Lopez, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

Snell, 27, was a rotation player for the Bucks this season, averaging 6.0 points per night in 74 games. Leuer appeared in just 41 games for the Pistons last season and played less than 10 minutes per night.

Central Notes: Lopez, Parker, Love, Carter, Pistons

It’s only a matter of time before Bulls center Robin Lopez and forward Jabari Parker are either traded or bought out, suggests Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The Bulls are in fire sale mode and the Justin Holiday deal with the Grizzlies is just the start, Mayberry continues. Lopez has an expiring contract, while Parker has lost his rotation spot under new coach Jim Boylen. Lopez jokingly referenced in practice Friday how he could be the next shoe to drop with the front office in a seller’s mode, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relays. “There’s kind of been a little shoe-dangling over the past couple years,” Lopez said.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love can progress with “select” basketball activities and continue to advance his therapy and strength and conditioning program, according to a team press release. Love has been targeting a mid-January from the foot surgery he underwent in early November and the latest news suggests the timetable hasn’t changed. There have been conflicting reports recently on whether the rebuilding team is interested in trading the power forward, who signed an extension during the offseason.
  • Bulls rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. has seen wild swings in his playing time but he’s not squawking about it, Mayberry reports in a separate story.  Carter played a season-low 13 minutes against Orlando on Wednesday and has played fewer than 20 minutes in five games since Boylen took charge. Carter blamed himself for his limited minutes against the Magic. “I don’t feel like I brought it,” Carter said. “I couldn’t get into a good groove. So I would have (taken) myself out.”
  • The Pistons’ cap situation will improve marginally this offseason, Rod Beard of the Detroit News notes. Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer and Langston Galloway will also be entering the final year of their contracts and that could open up opportunities for the team to retool, Beard adds.

Pistons Would Move Assets For Impact Player

The Pistons are willing to move assets to become more competitive in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not inclined to make a trade simply to dump a bad contract. That’s what senior advisor Ed Stefanski told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press in a recent Q&A.

Second-year guard Luke Kennard and future first-round picks are the most likely enticements to acquire another impact player, Ellis continues. The Pistons are close to the luxury-tax line and won’t exceed it unless they can get that type of talent.

“(Pistons owner) Tom Gores would go into the luxury tax only — and I agree with this — if it would move the needle for us to be a team that would allow us to compete in the conference,” Stefanski said. “If we’re asked to give up a big asset like a first-round pick to help the growth of the franchise, we would consider it. … If we weren’t sure of that, to make a big commitment with assets, I think could really hurt us. We can’t make a deal to set the franchise back.”

The Pistons have shown a willingness to trade a first-round pick in order to get an All-Star caliber talent. They traded their 2018 first-rounder last winter as part of the Blake Griffin deal.

Here’s more from Ellis’ chat with Stefanski:

  • Using an asset in order to move forward Jon Leuer, who is making approximately $10MM, or guard Langston Galloway ($7MM) — both of whom are signed through next season — wouldn’t make much difference on the Pistons’ cap situation for the 2019/20 season. Stefanski explains they’d be better off retaining their mid-level exception. “We wouldn’t improve substantially (in terms of cap room), so to use assets to get off some of the contracts you may want to get off — I’m not saying we want to — but to do something like that? It still wouldn’t create a lot of room.”
  • Stefanski believes Kennard, who was sidelined by a knee injury in the summer and a shoulder injury early in the season, is ready to make a bigger contribution. “What Kennard can do is make plays for other people. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used now that he’s got his legs back. … We can’t have enough shooters and you need playmaking. I think Kennard provides both to the table.”
  • Reggie Jackson has underperformed in Dwane Casey’s system but Stefanski is optimistic that will change. Jackson spent most of the offseason rehabbing an ankle injury. “Our medical people said he would not be physically there until the end of the year, that he would still need time because when you’re off your feet that long and not playing basketball, it doesn’t just pop back on. This will get better and better.”

Central Notes: Galloway, Ellenson, Nance, Sumner, LaVine

Pistons guard Langston Galloway has reemerged as a rotation player under new coach Dwane Casey. Galloway was a forgotten man entering camp with Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard and free agent signee Glenn Robinson III seemingly ahead of him at the wing positions. But Casey’s emphasis on 3-point shooting has helped Galloway, who averaged 26 MPG during the preseason, gain a rotation spot.  “I’m one of the snipers on the team,” he told me in a Detroit Free Press story. Galloway is coming off a disappointing first year with the Pistons after signing a three-year, $21MM contract in free agency. He only appeared in 58 games under former coach Stan Van Gundy, averaging 6.2 PPG in 14.9 MPG.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Casey will go with a committee approach at the power positions behind his star duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. He’ll use free agent acquisition Zaza Pachulia at times when he goes with a conventional center. Power forward Jon Leuer, who is still working his way back from minor knee surgery, will be the primary backup in some games. When Casey uses smaller lineups, Johnson and Robinson will play some minutes at power forward. One player who is apparently out of the mix is 2016 first-round pick Henry Ellenson, who played just 10 minutes in the last three preseason games.
  • Larry Nance Jr.‘s rookie scale extension descends during the life of the contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Nance signed a four-year, $44.8MM extension with the Cavaliers that kicks in next season. Joe Vardon of The Athletic was the first to report that Nance’s salary would steadily decline (Twitter link). His salary will go from $12.7MM next season to $11.7MM, $10.6MM and $9.6MM. That could help the Cavaliers open significant cap space in 2020, when it’s projected to rise to $116MM, Wojnarowski adds.
  • Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young believes two-way player Edmond Sumner is worthy of a standard contract, as he told Scott Agness of The Athletic (Twitter link). “He’s done very, very well. He has exceeded all expectations,” Young said. Summer appeared in 14 G League games and one with the Pacers last season. The 6’6” combo guard out of Xavier averaged 9.0 PPG in four preseason games but will likely spend the bulk of his second season with Fort Wayne once again.
  • Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine appears to be fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered during the 2016/17 season, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago reports. LaVine averaged 17.8 points on 52% shooting in 22.3 MPG during the preseason. Chicago retained LaVine by matching the Kings’ four-year, $78MM during restricted free agency this summer. LaVine appeared in 24 games last season after being acquired from the Timberwolves. “I think I found a good rhythm and then just keep that going into the regular season. I think last year still, I was trying to catch my rhythm with the games I played,” LaVine said.

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Griffin, Jackson, Johnson

Pistons center Andre Drummond doesn’t plan to shoot a lot of threes but he’s thrilled that new coach Dwane Casey has given him the green light, as he told the Detroit Free Press. Casey believes if Drummond hits a couple of long range shots every game, it will create more space for everyone offensively. “The 3-point shot is something I’ve added six years ago,” he said. “I just never had a coach that allowed to me to shoot it. It’s something I’ve worked on consistently for a long time, so I guess now is my time to really showcase it.” Frontcourt partner Blake Griffin doesn’t want Drummond to stray from the basket too often.  “We still want to use Dre to his strengths because he’s one of the most dominant centers, one of the best finishers, one of the best rebounders,” Griffin said. “So it would be doing him a disservice to keep him away from the rim and doing the things he does best.”

We have more from the Pistons:

  • Both of Detroit’s top big men believe the team should set lofty goals. Griffin said homecourt advantage in the playoffs, at least for the opening round, should be the team’s regular-season aim. Drummond expects the Pistons to be serious contenders in the East. “The time is now,” he said. “We have everything we need to be great. There’s no reason why we can’t be a top team in the East or a top team in the NBA.”
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson (ankle), power forward Jon Leuer (knee) and shooting guard Luke Kennard (ankle) will be limited for the start of camp but all should be ready to play by opening night, according to senior advisor Ed Stefanski. “Those three are not in basketball shape,” Stefanski said.
  • Stefanski wouldn’t specifically address a question whether the team was interested in trading for Jimmy Butler but he noted the team has payroll limitations. However, he’s not averse to dealing for star players with expiring contracts. “That wouldn’t bother me,” he said. “It depends on what you have to give up.”
  • Small forward Stanley Johnson is eligible for an extension but the franchise is more focused on whether he’ll develop into a consistent performer. Johnson admits he still has a lot to prove. “(Owner) Tom (Gores) said, ‘I’m tired of hearing the word potential,'” Johnson said.

Pistons: Leuer, Brown, Robinson, Kennard

Injuries have sidetracked Jon Leuer‘s career but the Pistons will likely need him to provide minutes at both frontcourt spots during the upcoming season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes in his latest mailbag. The Pistons have only two true centers and three power forwards on the roster, including Leuer, Langlois notes. He missed most of last season with an ankle injury that required surgery in January, then underwent a knee procedure this summer for a meniscus injury that occurred during a workout. He is expected to be ready by opening night.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Bruce Brown, one of two second-round picks from this June’s draft on the roster, will have a successful season if he proves he can play multiple positions, Langlois writes in a player profile. Brown will likely spend most of the season playing for the G League’s Grand Rapids Drive, where he could develop his skills at both wing positions and point guard. Offensively, he needs to improve his perimeter shooting and become a better finisher in the paint, Langlois adds.
  • Glenn Robinson III will soon have lunch with Dwane Casey to discuss his role at length but the former University of Michigan standout has a pretty good idea what his new coach wants, Langlois reports in a feature story. Robinson signed a tw0-year, $8.35MM contract with Detroit after an ankle injury wrecked his 2017/18 season with the Pacers. “We’ve got a spread offense,” he said. “My ability to shoot and help our big guys, Dre (Andre Drummond) and Blake (Griffin), my ability to defend, those are the main things I’ve been focusing on this summer – really knocking down that shot for us, being able to make plays for others, but also defending.”
  • Robinson and second-year wing Luke Kennard are the team’s most likely breakout candidates, Langlois opines in his mailbag posting. The timing could be just right for Robinson to emerge as an above-average wing, given his skill set. Kennard shot 40% from the 3-point line as a rookie despite his rotation spot being in flux. Casey’s penchant for spacing and ball movement should play to Kennard’s strengths, Langlois adds.

Central Notes: Hood, Leuer, Cavs

It’s official, Rodney Hood‘s long, humbling summer is over. We wrote earlier today that the restricted free agent was planning to accept his qualifying offer from the Cavaliers and now, per Shams Charania of The Athletic, the paperwork has been submitted.

Hood will land back in Cleveland for one season at $3.4MM but will try his luck again as an unrestricted free agent next summer. While Hood had initially hoped to land an eight-digit offer sheet and put pressure on the Cavaliers to match, such a generous offer never materialized.

As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets, prior to Hood’s decision to sign the qualifying offer both he and the Cavaliers explored sign and trade options. Alas, the 25-year-old didn’t quite command what many – including us here at Hoops Rumors, admittedly – thought he might.

There’s more out of the Central Division this evening:

  • The Pistons need Jon Leuer to earn the $20MM he’s owed over the course of the next two seasons if they’re going to procure the frontcourt depth that they’ll need to compete in the East. Realistically, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site writes, they’ll look for the 29-year-old big man to slot in at both power forward and center and provide solid defense off the bench.
  • The Cavaliers have their work cut out for them building another serious contender in the Eastern Conference, fortunately the club isn’t afraid to take risks. Joe Gabriele of the Cavs’ team site recently broke down the biggest trades in club history.
  • Want to know more about Rodney Hood‘s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad summer? Check out our summary of the initial announcement that he’d accepted the Cavaliers‘ qualifying offer, as well as some reporting about how he was angling for twice as much as recently as yesterday.