Killian Hayes

Central Notes: Portis, Hill, Hayes, Brogdon

Bobby Portis and Grayson Allen helped the Bucks survive the absence of Khris Middleton in a Game 3 rout of the Bulls, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Portis took Middleton’s spot in the starting lineup and posted 18 points and 16 rebounds as Milwaukee pulled away early. Allen hit five three-pointers on his way to a career playoff high of 22 points.

It was a timely performance for Portis, who will have to decide on a $4.565MM player option that was included in the two-year deal he signed last offseason. Portis was in demand last summer before opting to return to the team that he helped win a championship.

“I just take the shots that are given to me,” Portis said. “I’m a guy that, I don’t really try to go get the game, I let the game come to me. If somebody doubles Giannis (Antetokounmpo) or they build a wall and I’m open, then that’s the shot that you have to shoot for the possession. It’s possession-for-possession in the playoffs, half-court setting, and obviously, teams’ defenses are always going to be built around trying to stop ’34,’ so the guys around him have to be able to open the floor up and knock down shots and space the floor, so just let the game come to us.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard George Hill may miss extended time with an abdominal strain, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Hill hasn’t played since being hurt on April 8, and coach Mike Budenholzer said his condition shouldn’t be considered “day to day.”
  • The Pistons believe second-year guard Killian Hayes could benefit from a summer of pick-up basketball, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. They saw improvement in Hayes’ mental approach to the game this season and want him to experience a setting where he has to win to keep playing. “You guys play pick-up. How hard do you have to play to stay on the court,” coach Dwane Casey asked reporters. “If not, you wait until next, waiting three more games. He’s never had to go through that, and that’s not a knock on him. It’s just something a young man, 18, 19-year-old had to go through. He played on club teams in Europe that practiced three times a day, structured. He hasn’t had a chance to go out and spread his wings and do some of the things he can do.”
  • Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was shut down for the season on March 18 because of back pain, is looking forward to more time playing alongside new backcourt partner Tyrese Haliburton next season, per Wheat Hotchkiss of NBA.com“He’s a great young talent, great young point guard,” Brogdon said. “Super unselfish. He’s the guy you want to play with. He’s the guy that’s going to help you win. I think the fit is great for me, for the organization. I’m excited to play with him.”

Pistons Notes: Grant, Bagley, Hayes, Brunson, Robinson, Ayton, Draft

Jerami Grant‘s name was prominently mentioned in trade rumors prior to last month’s deadline. More recently, a report from The Athletic claims that the Trail Blazers will make a strong push for the Pistons forward in trade talks this summer.

On that subject, HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto and The Athletic’s James Edwards III opined on a HoopsHype podcast that the deal will happen this summer. Grant, who will be entering the final season of his three-year contract, would plug a major hole at power forward for the Blazers. A first-rounder would likely be required in Portland’s package for the Pistons to make such a move, though Scotto isn’t convinced it would necessarily be a high lottery pick this season.

Edwards speculates that where the Pistons land in the lottery will impact their decision on Grant. If they’re able to select Paolo BancheroJabari SmithKeegan Murray, or Chet Holmgren, they’d be more inclined to deal him.

Scotto and Edwards also discussed a number of other Pistons-related issues:

  • The acquisition of Marvin Bagley III from Sacramento has gone well thus far and Edwards believes both parties are interested in a multi-year deal. Bagley will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Pistons view him as a second-unit standout due to his defensive shortcomings, Edwards adds.
  • Detroit isn’ ready to give up on point guard Killian Hayes, their 2020 lottery pick, says Edwards. Settling in as a reserve, Hayes has shown progress as a defender and his passing skills are superior.
  • The Pistons will likely make a push for free agents Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson this summer, according to Scotto. He and Edwards agree that Detroit is less likely to go after top RFAs like Deandre Ayton or Miles Bridges.
  • Holmgren would probably top the Pistons’ draft wish list with Smith next in line, per Edwards.

Central Notes: Williams, Caruso, Pistons Offseason, Hayes

After being sidelined with a wrist injury since October, Bulls power forward Patrick Williams seems happy to be back on the floor for Chicago in any capacity. Though Williams was a starter in his five games pre-injury this season, head coach Billy Donovan has opted to play him off the bench during his first two games back this week. Williams does not mind the switch, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I’m fine with it, as long as I can contribute to the team,” Williams said ahead of his first game back with the Bulls, an eventual 113-99 win over the Raptors on Monday. “I plan on being in this league for a long time. Sitting out for five months, I may not be able to show everything. But just help the team win in any way (I can)… I think winning takes care of everything. If we win, everybody’s happy. No matter how many points you scored, no matter how many minutes you played, everybody’s happy. If you get a ring, everybody gets a ring.”

Williams proved a key contributor even in limited minutes during that victory against the Raptors, and reiterated his excitement about returning to the floor in his postgame comments, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“It was amazing,” Williams said. “Just having something taken from you for so long, something that you love and finally being able to get it back and enjoy the game, there’s really nothing like it.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Donovan has opted to make a change in his starting rotation with Bulls starting point guard Lonzo Ball still shelved and reserve guard Alex Caruso back healthy. Though a good defender, rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu has been demoted to the bench in favor of the more experienced Caruso, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I just felt like since Alex had his legs under him a little bit, starting off with that group defensively could give us a little bit better energy,” Donovan explained. “AC is extremely smart and brings so much with IQ and defense and spacing the floor and shot making,’’ All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine said regarding the change. “With him moving into the [starting] lineup and Ayo going back [a reserve role], I think it’s going to be a switch up.”
  • The Pistons, the No. 15 seed in the East, have plenty of intriguing decisions facing them in the 2022 offseason. In a new mailbag, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic examines several key summer storylines. Edwards anticipates team president Troy Weaver possibly targeting a player with a handle in the draft or free agency to pair with rookie guard Cade Cunningham. Edwards also discusses his expectations for the future of forward Jerami Grant, as well as that of power forward Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft and a restricted free agent this summer.
  • Second-year Pistons guard Killian Hayes has struggled to develop this season amid injuries, per Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Since being shifted to a bench role, Hayes has at least been able to expect a certain amount of guaranteed run when he is available. “I’ve gotten used to coming off the bench at the five- or six-minute mark but starting and just getting back to that rhythm, it’s right into the game,” Hayes said. “You don’t have time to go back to the locker room and see how the game goes, so just be ready. I think I’m ready for both (starting and reserve roles).”

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Future, Grant, Hayes

Cade Cunningham is putting up the kind of numbers the Pistons expected when they made him the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, but it may not be enough to capture Rookie of the Year honors, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Cunningham is the top scorer among rookies at 16.9 points per game and ranks second in his class in assists and fourth in rebounds. He has also been Detroit’s main option on offense for most of the season.

However, Cunningham was part of an unusually talented draft, and some of his competitors, such as Cleveland’s Evan Mobley and Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, have the advantage of playing for contending teams. Mobley, who is considered the favorite for the award, faced Cunningham Saturday night for the final time this season and both players posted double-doubles.

“I think this class is gonna go down when we look back 10, 15 years from now, as a top-three, top-four draft class of all time,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “You look at the group of guys, obviously you guys get to see Cade every night, we get to see Evan every night, but there’s so many guys that can play at such a high level. Their skill set, their size, and their ability to impact winning, which is the most important thing that we should value. Scottie Barnes rolling in Toronto. You see all these young guys, and they play the game more maturely than their age, as they should, and then they have immense talent to go with it.” 

There’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons may be in position to rise up the standings next year the same way the Cavs have done this season, suggests Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Detroit is likely to add another high lottery pick to its young core and could have more cap room than anyone heading into free agency. “We’ve got to make smart decisions as an organization,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We’ve got to make the right decisions to add the right pieces that fit this group. (General manager Troy Weaver) has done a great job of putting this core together. Now we’ve got to add the right pieces.”
  • The Pistons’ decision to keep Jerami Grant at the trade deadline looks like the right move, observes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Grant delivered one of his best games of the season Saturday with 40 points in the loss at Cleveland. “I definitely was feeling it, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to get the win,” he said. “It really doesn’t mean anything unless we win.”
  • Killian Hayes continues to excel in a reserve role and has developed some on-court chemistry with newly-acquired big man Marvin Bagley III, Beard adds in a separate story“Killian is a great lob passer, so that’s you’re seeing some of his lobs to Marvin going to the rim,” Casey said. “Marvin gives us a different element that we didn’t have before — he’s a lob threat, and he has ability to protect the rim.”

Central Notes: Diallo, McGruder, Bagley, LeVert, Brown

The Pistons won in Boston just before the All-Star break but they’ll be shorthanded when they visit for the second time on Friday. The team has ruled out starting center Isaiah Stewart and key reserves Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Rodney McGruder and Frank Jackson due to an assortment of injuries, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Diallo (finger sprain) and McGruder (hamstring strain) were injured during the loss to the Bulls on Wednesday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Marvin Bagley III‘s athleticism has given the Pistons a new dimension, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Bagley, who will enter either restricted or unrestricted free agency this summer, provides a major lob threat that the team was sorely lacking. “We’re really happy with the way he’s playing, the way he’s fitting in, and he’s creating a lot of options offensively, and defensively, he’s giving us another rebounder,” coach Dwane Casey said.
  • Caris LeVert won’t play against Miami on Friday but he’s making some progress from the right foot sprain he suffered last month. He went through a portion of the Cavaliers’ practice in Miami on Thursday and took some shots on the court afterward, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.
  • Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes Moses Brown can help the team with his interior presence, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. Brown was signed to a 10-day contract on Thursday. “He’s long. He’s rangy. He has good athleticism,” Bickerstaff said. “He knows how to patrol the paint at both ends of the floor. Really good rim roller and lob threat, so he’s a similar build to what we have and what we value.”

Pistons Notes: Hayes, Livers, Casey, Grant

Coach Dwane Casey‘s experiment of moving Killian Hayes to the bench is working exactly as expected, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. The second-year point guard is a natural ball-handler, but he often wound up in a secondary role when the Pistons started him alongside Cade Cunningham.

Casey made the move on January 23 and Hayes’ all-around game has benefited, Sankofa observes. He’s running the offense with the second unit and is getting to the basket more often. He has been on the court at the end of games lately, and Casey is happy with the way he has responded.

“Him going to the bench was never anything about mistrust,” Casey said after Tuesday’s game vs. Washington. “It was about him fitting in with the second unit. He’s still going to be a part of our core. I think his decisions were good tonight. His defense was decent. Keeping (Wizards guard) Ish Smith in front of him is not easy. This is what this is about for him, growing.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • The opportunity that Isaiah Livers has been waiting all season for has finally arrived, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The 2021 second-round pick had foot surgery last April and was sidelined through the preseason. He made his NBA debut on December 16, but only played five minutes before the foot started hurting again. He and the Pistons agreed that more rehab was necessary, but now he says he’s fully healthy and ready to contribute. Casey was hoping to see him in action before the season ended and believes he has a bright future. “I think Isaiah’s going to be a player,” Casey said. “He’s a shooter, and you can’t get enough of those guys to stretch the floor. He has size, he’s smart. He’s the full package.”
  • Casey deserves credit for keeping his team focused and competitive even though wins have been rare, several players tell Edwards in a separate story. The coach has respect from his players for all that he has accomplished in his NBA career, and he gives them the freedom to talk openly about issues that affect the team.
  • Finally having a healthy roster is giving the Pistons a chance to enjoy a little late-season success, notes Lauren Williams of MLive. Detroit has won three of its last six games and was competitive in the three losses. “I think it just shows our progression as a team,” said Jerami Grant, who missed significant time with a thumb injury. “Earlier in the season we (would) win a game and then we lose a game by 20 or something like that. But I think it’s showing how much better we got it the team. Right now, we just got to pull out these wins and just keep moving forward.”

Central Notes: Hayes, Pistons, Cavaliers, Holiday

Second-year Pistons guard Killian Hayes, a former lottery pick, has improved as a contributor since being demoted to Detroit’s bench three games ago, writes Steve Kornacki of The Detroit News. Head coach Dwayne Casey opted to start veteran point guard Cory Joseph over Hayes, thinking Joseph could be a better fit alongside score-first No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.

“Killian’s only played (23) more games than Cade… and made the transition coming in from Europe,” Casey said. “So, there’s a lot going on for the young man. But we’re patient and will continue to work with him. He’s big, he’s strong, and his shooting is going to come. I have all the confidence in the world it’s going to come.”

Hayes, still just 20, has struggled to find his footing in the NBA. A labral tear limited him to just 26 contests during the 2020/21 NBA season. Across 33 games as a starter next to Cunningham this year, Hayes had been averaging 6.2 PPG, 3.6 APG and 1.5 turnovers a night while connecting on 34.3% of his field goals. During his three contests off the bench, he’s posting averages of 8.3 PPG on 38.1% shooting, plus 6.3 APG and a turnover.

“I’m going to have the ball in my hands a bit more with the second unit,” Hayes said of his new role with the 11-37 Pistons. “Just trying to bring more energy and be more vocal with the second unit coming in, and then also, whenever I play with Cade, just give him help as the point guard.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have plenty of trade chips ahead of the February 10 deadline. Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press takes a look at the players who are most and least likely to be moved this year. Second-year GM Troy Weaver has big decisions to make on veteran forward Jerami Grant, veteran center Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph, and others.
  • The upstart 30-19 Cavaliers have emerged as a true force in the Eastern Conference, despite missing two of their best guards in Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio, both most likely done for the season. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com assesses potential roster upgrades available to Cleveland. The play of guard Darius Garland, center Jarrett Allen, and rookie power forward Evan Mobley has proven especially galvanizing for the team. Fedor weigh in on whether the team should be willing to move on from young players like Sexton or wing Isaac Okoro in pursuit of a win-now veteran.
  • After being named to his first All-Star team at age 22 while with the Sixers, now-31-year-old Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday has not been sweating the chatter surrounding his very possible second-ever All-Star berth this year, writes Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Holiday enjoyed an eventful 2021, earning his first NBA title with Milwaukee and nabbing a gold medal with the U.S. Men’s Olympic team.

Central Notes: Young, Wigginton, Hayes, LaVine

Former Bulls forward Thaddeus Young discussed a variety of subjects with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, including his time with the team and how he found out that he was being traded to San Antonio.

Young has only played in 25 games with the Spurs, a team clearly focused on building for the future. He remains grateful for his time with the Bulls, where he averaged an impressive 12.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game last season.

“Just the moments that I had with my teammates,” Young said when asked about what stands out from his Bulls tenure. “Those are all great guys. We all know I love Zach (LaVine) to death. And he feels the same way. Getting a chance to help groom Pat (Williams) and Coby (White) a little bit. And then the staff was great. I loved having conversations with everyone on staff and making sure the guys were good.”

San Antonio could trade Young before the February 10 deadline, or the team could reach a buyout agreement with the 33-year-old. Chicago has a need at power forward, but is ineligible to reacquire Young unless he’s traded to another team and then waived. The Bulls could also pursue a veteran like Paul Millsap, who reportedly isn’t expected to play another game with Brooklyn.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

Seven Pistons Exit Protocols, Nuggets’ Monte Morris Enters

Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Cory Joseph, Saben Lee, Trey Lyles, and Rodney McGruder have all exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the Pistons, James Edwards III of The Athletic relays (via Twitter).

All seven players are listed as out for Saturday’s contest against San Antonio due to reconditioning. The Pistons’ next game after Saturday will be Monday against the Bucks, when several of the players could return to action. Second-year big man Isaiah Stewart is now the lone player still in the protocols for Detroit.

In other COVID-related news, Nuggets point guard Monte Morris has become the fourth Denver player to enter the protocols in the past two days, joining Jeff Green, Bones Hyland, and Zeke Nnaji, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Morris has started all 32 of his games this season (30 MPG), averaging 12.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 4.3 APG on a .479/.380/.783 shooting line.

The Nuggets signed Davon Reed to his third 10-day hardship contract Thursday, and reportedly plan to sign Rayjon Tucker to a deal as well.

Four Pistons, Including Stewart, Enter Protocols

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart and guards Killian Hayes and Saben Lee have entered the league’s health and safety protocols ahead of the team’s game against Miami Thursday evening, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Reserve swingman Rodney McGruder has also entered the protocols, The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III tweets.

Top pick Cade Cunningham entered the protocols on Wednesday. The Pistons, who have lost 15 of their last 16 contests, will obviously be severely shorthanded for the game.

Those players will be sidelined for at least 10 days, unless they can register two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart during that span.

Stewart is averaging 7.9 PPG and 8.4 RPG. Hayes has started regularly as well, though he’s averaging just 6.4 PPG and 3.7 APG. Lee has come off the bench in 15 games and scored 16 points against the Knicks on Tuesday. McGruder has appeared in 14 games.

With Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk unavailable due to long-term injuries, the Pistons’ frontcourt is severely depleted with Trey Lyles and rookie Luka Garza the main options.