Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Central Notes: Deadline Previews, Butler, Williams, Rubio, Caldwell-Pope

The Bulls are at a “real crossroads” at this year’s trade deadline, Mark Strotman of CSN Chicago writes. With a 28-29 record, Chicago enters the All-Star break as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Given the top-heavy conference, Strotman notes, even the most optimistic fan wouldn’t have the Bulls projected to advance past the first round of the playoffs. Taj Gibson will be mentioned in trade rumors, as will Robin Lopez and Doug McDermott. While Jimmy Butler has “peak trade value,” the Bulls have incentives to keep the 27-year-old; particularly on his team-friendly contract.

For what it’s worth, Butler reportedly isn’t interested in being traded. Sources told Seerat Sohi of ESPN that Butler is “grounded in Chicago,” and feels loyalty to the franchise that took a chance on him in the 2011 draft.

More from around the Central…

  • Still on his first 10-day contract, Derrick Williams has made quite an impression on the Cavs. According to Joe Vardon of, the team envisions Williams as their seventh or eighth man against the Warriors in the Finals. The Cavs are going to sign Williams to a minimum contract for the rest of the season, Vardon writes, but the 25-year-old is expected to pursue a bigger payday over the offseason. In order to maintain roster flexibility through the trade deadline, the Cavs will postpone signing Williams to a minimum deal until after his second 10-day contract expires.
  • ESPN’s NBA Insiders discussed the best deadline deals for teams around the Central. Three of ESPN’s four contributors advocated the Cavs stand pat (largely due to cap restrictions), while Jeremias Engelmann suggested the team shop Kyrie Irving. Such a trade would never materialize, Engelmann writes, but the four-time All-Star’s “market value is many times greater than the actual impact he has on the game.” Amin Elhassan cited Ricky Rubio as a natural fit for the Pistons, calling him a “true set-up man” to summon Andre Drummond‘s offensive potential.
  • Bobby Marks of The Vertical profiled the Pistons and Bucks in his deadline preview series; two teams “fighting for the East’s last playoff spot.” The Pistons have limited roster flexibility, and would likely be best off holding onto current and future draft assets, Marks writes. Detroit may shop Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a restricted free agent-to-be, particularly in light of an underwhelming shooting guard market. Marks cited the Bucks’ need to acquire a stopgap for the injured Jabari Parker without selling off assets. As evidenced by Milwaukee’s recent trade with the Hornets, GM John Hammond won’t be afraid to shake up the roster if need be.

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Jackson, Johnson

The Pistons have “quietly explored” the trade market for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, two of their roster’s centerpieces, Zach Lowe of reports in his latest piece, which is a deep dive into the situation in Detroit. According to Lowe, the Pistons came away disappointed with what teams might be willing to offer for Drummond or Jackson, reducing the likelihood of either player being moved in the next eight days.

Still, while a Drummond trade remains an “extreme long shot,” a deal involving Jackson isn’t entirely off the table. Lowe suggests the Timberwolves, Magic, and Pelicans are among the potential suitors for the veteran point guard, if Detroit is willing to settle for a modest return. Per Lowe, Jackson’s value has “cratered,” and a player like Ricky Rubio is one of the few solid starters the Pistons could get in any trade package. Lottery teams seeking a long-term solution at point guard are unwilling to move their first-round picks for Jackson, and Detroit isn’t ready to simply dump him for a collection of expiring contracts.

In his attempt to find a potential trade partner for a Jackson deal, Lowe identifies the Magic and Nuggets, pointing to players like Elfrid Payton and Emmanuel Mudiay as possible trade pieces. However, while Mudiay is believed to be available, Denver doesn’t appear to have interest in Jackson. Lowe notes that Orlando is an “intriguing” possibility, since GM Rob Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the team drafted Jackson.

Here’s more from Lowe on Jackson, along with a few other intriguing Pistons-related tidbits:

  • The Pelicans have kicked the tires on Jackson, but never engaged in serious talks, league sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, several Pistons players criticized Jackson during a December players-only meeting for his apparent lack of effort on defense. Drummond tells Lowe that the criticism “wasn’t cool,” since Jackson was coming off an injury and wasn’t yet 100%. However, both Drummond and Stan Van Gundy acknowledge that the team has struggled to adjust to Jackson’s presence on the court this year after finding a groove early in the season with Ish Smith handling the point.
  • According to Lowe, a fear that top free agents won’t come to Detroit has pushed the Pistons to acquire solid players on good contracts when they become available. Those players aren’t always a fit with Drummond and Van Gundy, which has contributed to some of the team’s roster issues.
  • Multiple teams, including the Spurs, made an effort to nab Stanley Johnson in a trade after Van Gundy publicly called out the second-year forward earlier in the season. Although the Pistons rebuffed those efforts, the team has been frustrated by Devin Booker‘s development in comparison to Johnson’s, since the draft room was “almost deadlocked” between those two players in 2015, says Lowe.
  • The Pistons are unlikely to make a major move until closer to the draft, since they want to make the playoffs and are reluctant to do anything that will adversely impact their odds of earning a postseason spot, says Lowe. The ESPN analyst notes that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency will be an interesting case to follow this offseason, since the Pistons may have to shed a salary – perhaps Tobias Harris‘ or Boban Marjanovic‘s – if they need to match a max offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope.

Central Notes: Ellis, Rondo, Pistons

Monta Ellis‘ role with the Pacers keeps declining, notes Zach Lowe of The 31-year-old shooting guard has been replaced in the starting lineup by Glenn Robinson III and has struggled to contribute off the bench. Ellis is averaging just 8.3 points per game, the lowest since his rookie season, and shoots just 29% from 3-point range. He’s also taking a career-low 9.3 shots per 36 minutes and his free throw and assist rates have both fallen. Ellis is signed for $11.23MM next season and has an $11.7MM player option that Lowe expects him to exercise in 2018/19.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Rajon Rondo said he wasn’t trying to be the “bad guy” when he called out Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relays (Twitter links). “I have a great relationship with the young guys [on the Bulls] and they had some things to say,” Rondo said. “When people express feelings relationships get better.”
  • Coach Fred Hoiberg said there will be no suspensions for any of the Bulls players as a result of the verbal battle between Wade, Butler and Rondo, Nick Friedell of passes along (Twitter link). However, Hoiberg did say there will be fines handed out.
  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy says the idea of a 10-man rotation isn’t workable, even though the team is getting past its injury problems, relays Aaron McMann of MLiveKentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jon Leuer recently returned to the lineup, giving Detroit 10 players who have seen regular playing time this season. But Van Gundy says decision have to be made on what’s best for the team, not to make sure certain players get enough minutes. “I like having all of those guys available,” he said. “It certainly gives us more flexibility, but the idea it’s as simple as, ‘Play 10,’ or ‘Play nine’ … you start charting out the minutes guys should get, and it doesn’t work.”

Chris Crouse contributed to this post

Pistons Notes: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Bullock

Detroit coach/executive Stan Van Gundy sent Reggie Jackson a text relaying that there was no imminent deal involving the Pistons point guard getting shipped anywhere, but stopped short of saying anyone on the roster was untouchable, Aaron McMann of MLive relays. Van Gundy, speaking generally, said no standout player in the league is not asked about and it only makes sense that teams often only call in regards to another team’s top talent, McMann adds. In that vein, Van Gundy said the Pistons have received offers for Jackson, but did not offer specifics.

“I got asked the other day, ‘There’s a report out there that Reggie’s available for the right price,'” Van Gundy said. “Everybody in the league is available for the right price. Just your main guys, the price is a lot steeper and usually doesn’t come around.”

Here’s more out of Detroit:

  • There is a good chance Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returns to action this week after being out with an injury and when he does, Van Gundy will have to make playing time decisions with a fully healthy roster for the first time, Keith Langlois of writes. Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson are likely candidates to see their minutes compromised, Langlois notes, but Bullock is the team’s best 3-point shooter and Johnson has versatility on both ends of the court. Still, this is a problem that Van Gundy likely wants to have, Langlois surmises.
  • Speaking of Bullock, he is playing well this season because he has refocused on fundamentals, including cutting more effectively in an effort to create space and give himself opportunities for more shots, Rod Beard of the Detroit News passes along.

Pistons Notes: Jackson, Van Gundy, Trades

Although the Pistons maintain that Reggie Jackson is not on the trade market, rival teams get a sense that he’s more available than Detroit has let on, Zach Lowe of writes. It was previously reported that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has moved ahead of Jackson on the team’s list of untouchable players. KCP and Andre Drummond are reportedly the only players ahead of the point guard on that list.

The Pistons struggled while Jackson was sidelined with knee tendinitis and when he returned to the court, it didn’t help them improve as much as they anticipated.  The team owns a record of 19-24 and sits two games behind the Bulls for the eighth seed in the conference.

Here’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons aren’t likely to make a major deal before the deadline, David Mayo of MLive writes. Executive/coach Stan Van Gundy believes this year’s trade deadline will be different than it has been in the past. “You’re not going to get the deals, or at least very few of them, where people don’t want to pay people,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve been able to take advantage of that a little bit. With Tobias, [the Magic] wanted to be under the cap to do stuff next summer. We were able to do that with Reggie, same reason, [the Thunder] didn’t want to meet his price. I don’t know that those kinds of deals are going to come up now. They’ll be more straight, basketball-type deals.”
  • In the same piece, Mayo speculates that Beno Udrih and Aron Baynes could be trade candidates. Udrih would be expendable if the Pistons feel Jackson and Ish Smith can remain healthy for the season and Baynes is likely to opt out of his deal in the offseason, so getting value for him now may be a smart move.
  • Van Gundy said the Pistons won’t look to make a trade simply “for the sake of change,” as Rod Beard of the Detroit News relays (Twitter link). “It would have to be a deal that in our mind was a pretty obvious step forward,” Van Gundy said.
  • Van Gundy believes the Pistons need to play harder on defense, Beard passes along in a separate tweet. “It’s not enough to say they’re trying hard. That’s a start, but [that] should be a given. This isn’t the YMCA; it’s the NBA–you got to do both,” Van Gundy exclaimed.

Pistons Owner Has ‘Full Confidence’ In Van Gundy

It has been a rough month for the Pistons, who were off to a 14-13 start this season before dropping 11 of their next 16 games to slip to 19-24. Still, despite the club’s struggles, head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy doesn’t have to worry about his job security, according to team owner Tom Gores. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Gores said he has “full confidence” in Van Gundy, whom he met with on Saturday.

“We are having a hard time and Stan and I are very real about that, but we also know we have a great group of guys,” Gores said, per Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. “We believe they’ll work through this. We’ve hit a bump in the road and that’s what success is about – you gotta work through it.

“I never worry about Stan, because he wants to win,” Gores continued, per ESPN. “He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen in my life. I believe in him as a man and I believe in him as a strong person.”

As Ellis details, Van Gundy also spoke to reporters about Saturday’s meeting with the Pistons owner. Van Gundy explained that he and Gores agreed that the last six weeks shouldn’t outweigh the positive work the franchise has done over the past couple years.

“His thing was to not overreact to six weeks out of what has been over a two-and-a-half-year building process,” Van Gundy said. “We talked through our team and our options and what I thought we had to do to play better this year and what the long-term picture was and everything else.”

One player who could be a key part of that long-term picture for the Pistons is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The fourth-year guard is averaging career-best numbers in several categories, including FG% (.426) and 3PT% (.404). While the Pistons didn’t extend Caldwell-Pope back in the fall when they had the chance, the club remains committed to retaining him when he becomes eligible for restricted free agency this summer.

“I know Kentavious well. He is a hard worker. He is reliable and is improving every day,” Gores said, according to Keith Langlois of “He should be a Piston. That’s just bottom line. He has what it takes to be a Piston. He was a shy kid when I met him and he’s become a leader.”

Central Notes: Ellenson, KCP, Rondo, Shumpert

While the absence of Jon Leuer has hurt a Pistons team desperate to regain its footing in the East, it has opened an opportunity for first-round pick Henry Ellenson to play meaningful minutes for once. This week Ellenson checked into a game in the first half for the first time this season writes editor Keith Langlois.

It felt different, for sure,” the 20-year-old Pistons big man told Langlois of the matchup against the Kings. “It felt good to be out there, to be a part of the rotation. […] For me, personally, it was nice to get some of that action.”

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy reiterated how important it will be to have Ellenson available as the team returns to health in the coming days. Leuer is expected to be sidelined for at least two more games.

We need all hands on deck,” Van Gundy said, before clarifying that while the rookie may be relied upon more than he has been thus far, it’s unlikely he’ll see “great big minutes” for the Pistons.

Elsewhere in the Central Division:

  • The Pistons haven’t played up to a standard that Van Gundy is happy with, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News, but the head coach believes that his team is capable of it. “I thought the early part of the year — probably the second 10 games or so — we got to where we were playing at a high level and we haven’t been able to gain a rhythm since then,” Van Gundy said. “This last 20 games, I haven’t done a good enough job of getting us to play at the level we’re capable of playing at“.
  • The results of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s Friday MRI are in and the shooting guard suffered a Grade 2 left rotator cuff strain. The team’s official press release states that he’ll be doubtful for the Pistons through the weekend, with his status continually reevaluated and updated.
  • Point guard Rajon Rondo called his punitive benching by Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg a “slap in the face,” writes Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago, but the veteran also says that the decision wasn’t unexpected.
  • The Cavaliers will insert Iman Shumpert into the starting lineup in place of DeAndre Liggins, says Sam Amico of NEO Sports Insiders. Liggins and Shumpert have shared time at the position since starter J.R. Smith broke his thumb.

Stein’s Latest: Rockets, Cavaliers, Blazers, Pistons’s Marc Stein takes a swing at picking the All-Star starters from each conference and passes along some trade rumors in his latest column. He lists four teams that could be active with the deadline less than six weeks away:

  • The Rockets‘ hopes of acquiring Mike Dunleavy Jr. fell through this week when the Hawks committed to keeping him, but Houston is still looking for another shooter. GM Daryl Morey tried to get involved when Atlanta was searching for a third team in its deal with Cleveland, and he had interest in acquiring Dunleavy when it looked like he might not report to the Hawks. Sources tell Stein that K.J. McDaniels has surpassed Corey Brewer as the Rocket most likely to be traded. McDaniels has one season left on his current deal at more than $3.3MM, while Brewer is signed for one more more season at $7.6MM.
  • The Cavaliers have $4.4MM left from their Anderson Varejao trade exception, which will expire February 20th. That means a trade for a backup point guard may be just as likely as a veteran free agent signing such as Mario ChalmersJarrett Jack or Norris Cole.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has moved ahead of Reggie Jackson on the list of untouchable Pistons in possible trades. Caldwell-Pope is now atop that list alongside Andre Drummond. Detroit is well below .500 since Jackson returned from tendinitis in his left knee in early December. Jackson, whose 5.5 assists per game are the lowest during his time in Detroit, still has three seasons and more than $51MM left on his current deal.
  • Three Trail Blazers who signed huge offseason deals will become eligible to be traded on Sunday. Keep an eye on whether Portland tries to unload some of the salary it committed to Allen Crabbe, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

Central Notes: Caldwell-Pope, Korver, Wade

The Pistons have known all along that the pending free agency of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be tough to handle, but it would be an easier pill to swallow were they winning at the rate they enjoyed in 2015/16. According to editor Keith Langlois, Caldwell-Pope’s agents could use Allen Crabbe‘s four-year, $72MM deal with the Trail Blazers as a precedent and then ask for considerably more.

In four seasons with Detroit, Caldwell-Pope has established himself as a gritty, lockdown defender who doesn’t take plays off. While his relatively modest 14.4 points per game (14.5 last season) do little to justify his case as a big money player to those who haven’t seen him play, his reputation is what has earned him the trust of head coach Stan Van Gundy.

Caldwell-Pope averaged 36.7 minutes per game last season as the Pistons crept into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Only three players, James Harden, Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler played more for their respective teams.

The Pistons already have four players owed over $10MM next season, including Andre Drummond who will collect $23.8MM, but the team will see Josh Smith‘s $14MM wiped as consolation.

Elsewhere in the Central Division:

Pistons Notes: Bullock, Caldwell-Pope, Drummond

Swingman Reggie Bullock is still mulling his surgical options after tearing meniscus in his left knee, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Bullock will have the knee re-examined this weekend in Detroit before he makes his final decision, Ellis continues. He will either undergo arthroscopic surgery, which would allow him to come back within a month, or undergo more extensive surgery, which could potentially sideline him the rest of the season, Ellis adds. This refutes a report by The Vertical that Bullock had opted for surgery that would keep him out 2-4 months. Bullock, who suffered the injury November 23rd against the Heat, has already received a second opinion. Bullock, who failed to reach a rookie extension with the club prior to the deadline a month ago, said his decision will not be influenced by becoming a restricted free agent (if he receives a qualifying offer) after the season. “My mind-set is pretty much trying to save my career longevity-wise, not really thinking about free agency and all that come this summer,” he told Ellis.

In other Pistons developments:

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has enhanced his value with his recent play, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Coach Stan Van Gundy is running more of his offense through Caldwell-Pope and the shooting guard has responded well. He’s averaging 19.5 points over the last six games and has racked up 21 assists over the last four outings. “It’s all about what he sees and the progress I’m making on offense,” Caldwell-Pope told Beard. Caldwell-Pope and the club also couldn’t agree on a rookie extension this fall, which will make him a restricted free agent in the summer. Some projections have Caldwell-Pope’s value at upwards of $18 million per season, Beard adds, and it’s unclear if the Pistons are willing to go that high.
  • Andre Drummond was fined $15K but averted a suspension for elbowing Hornets center Roy Hibbert in the back of the head on Tuesday, the league announced via press release. Drummond was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and ejected for the incident.
  • Bullock’s injury status has not helped Stanley Johnson regain his rotation spot. Johnson did not play in the team’s 121-114 win over the Celtics on Wednesday, the second time this season he has been benched by Van Gundy. The 2015 lottery pick also missed a game last week when he served a one-game suspension for violating team rules. Darrun Hilliard, the team’s 2015 second-round pick, is currently serving as Caldwell-Pope’s backup.

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