Killian Hayes

Central Notes: Cunningham, Hayes, DeRozan, Haliburton

Cade Cunningham pondered his choices for a long time before electing to undergo season-ending surgery on his left shin, but he’s convinced that he made the right choice, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Cunningham accompanied the Pistons on their flight to Paris for Thursday’s game, marking his first road trip with his teammates since having the operation last month.

The top pick in the 2021 draft was hesitant to miss so much of his second NBA season, and he did a lot of research to make sure surgery was the best option. Detroit’s front office let Cunningham make the final decision, and he consulted with other players who have been in similar situations, such as Jrue Holiday, Rodney McGruder and Tim Hardaway Jr., before making up his mind.

“It’s tough, man,” Cunningham said. “I’m so young into my career, and, to me, I feel like I still haven’t shown people who I am. I started to get a rhythm, but then my shin kept killing me. It was hard for me to put the entire season to the side, sit down and take care of it. After talking with everyone, I realized it’s a long game, and I have a lot more basketball to play. I just want to be able to play my game and not think about my body and try to overcompensate on different things.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons guard Killian Hayes hopes to represent France in the World Cup tournament, according to a Eurohoops report. Hayes, who played for French teams in international youth tournaments, understands that it won’t be easy to win a spot on the team. “I feel ready and want to be part of this group,” Hayes said in an interview with L’Équipe. “Still, your place is not given. You have to fight for it. I discussed, particularly with Nicolas Batum, my state of mind and the training camp planned for this summer. I want to do it, and I want to train with the France team and try to earn my place.
  • The chance to promote the NBA with a game in Paris means a lot to Bulls players such as DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “To be able to compete and do something in front of a fan base you don’t normally get the chance to do something in front of, I don’t take the opportunity for granted one bit,” DeRozan said. “It’s an experience that lasts a lifetime.”
  • The Pacers are suffering from a lack of a closer while Tyrese Haliburton is sidelined with knee and elbow injuries, notes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Indiana has dropped three straight games without Haliburton and struggled to score in the second half of Monday’s loss at Milwaukee.

NBA Suspends Two Pistons Players, Nine Magic Players For Roles In Fracas

The NBA has suspended two Pistons players and nine Magic players for their roles in an altercation during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game, the league has announced (Twitter link).

Pistons guard Killian Hayes was given the harshest punishment, a three-game suspension without pay. Magic center Moritz Wagner has been suspended for two games, while Detroit guard Hamidou Diallo was also dinged for a one-game suspension. Both Hayes and Diallo will be held out of the team’s road game against the Bulls Friday.

Hayes, Wagner and Diallo were all ejected from the game Wednesday night, which Detroit won 121-101, for their roles in the on-court confrontation that began when Wagner hip-checked Hayes out of bounds into the Pistons’ bench while the two were scrambling for a loose ball. Diallo subsequently shoved Wagner in the back, but Hayes then escalated the conflict when he punched Wagner in the back of the head. Wagner appeared to lose consciousness after the hit. Several Magic players left the bench to support Wagner and all have been penalized for doing so.

The NBA is additionally suspending eight additional Orlando players after they left the bench to support Wagner during the scuffle: guards Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris and Kevon Harris, swingmen Franz Wagner and Admiral Schofield, and big men Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. All eight players will receive one-game bans.

The NBA’s press release indicates that the absences of the Magic players will be staggered to ensure the team has enough available bodies for its ensuing two contests. Anthony, Gary Harris, Hampton, Bamba, and Carter will miss Orlando’s next game on Friday against the Wizards. Wagner will also begin his two-game suspension on Friday. The others will miss the club’s January 4 matchup with the Thunder.

Three Players Ejected In Magic-Pistons Game; Suspensions Likely

Magic big man Moritz Wagner, Pistons guard Killian Hayes, and Pistons wing Hamidou Diallo were all ejected for an incident in Wednesday’s game, tweets Mike Curtis of The Detroit News.

As shown in the video and multiple replays courtesy of Bally Sports Orlando (Twitter video link), Wagner initiated the altercation by hip-checking Hayes into the Pistons’ bench, which obviously riled everyone nearby. Diallo then caught up and shoved Wagner in the back with a forearm, followed by Hayes punching/forearming Wagner in the back of the head, which appeared to cause Wagner to lose consciousness.

Officially, Wagner and Hayes were both given flagrant 2 fouls, while Diallo received two technical fouls.

Hayes is almost certain to face a pretty significant suspension for his part in the altercation, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter). Several Magic players left their bench area to join the fray, and while nothing really transpired beyond a few mild shoves (it looked like most were just trying to get Wagner out), leaving the bench typically draws an automatic suspension by the NBA, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Since so many of Orlando’s players left the bench, it seems probable that the suspensions will be staggered so the Magic will still have eight available players, the minimum required to play a game, Goodwill adds (via Twitter). The suspensions are likely to be handed down sometime on Thursday.

Both teams’ next games are on Friday; the Pistons play in Chicago, while the Magic are home against the Wizards.

Central Notes: Hayes, Stewart, Mathurin, Mitchell, Bulls

After Killian Hayes put up a season-high 25 points on Wednesday, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic says it’s no longer surprising when the Pistons guard has a big night, adding that it’s time to consider him “a good, solid NBA player.”

Hayes had a couple up-and-down seasons after being selected seventh overall in the 2020 draft, but is still just 21 years old and has been playing the best basketball of his NBA career this fall. Since entering the Pistons’ starting lineup on November 12, Hayes has averaged 11.8 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 3.2 RPG on .424/.400/.733 shooting in 17 games (28.6 MPG).

“He’s not growing on anyone else’s watch. He’s going at his pace, his speed,” Pistons head coach Dwane Casey recently said. “That’s what young players do. Everyone wants him to be that 10-year vet, but, what, he’s in year three? That’s why it’s not surprising me. We just have to be patient. Unfortunately, this league isn’t full of patience. It’s about winning games. But he is growing right before our eyes.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Isaiah Stewart‘s willingness to shift from center to power forward has put him in position to be part of the Pistons‘ frontcourt of the future alongside center Jalen Duren, writes Keith Langlois of “They’re going to grow together,” Casey said of the duo on Wednesday. “They’re going to be together for a long time, so they better like each other. If they don’t, they’re going to be in big trouble because they’re going to be with the organization a long time.”
  • Bob Kravitz of The Athletic profiles Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin, who says he feels like he has “no choice but to be great” due to his desire to provide for his family and influence kids in his hometown of Montreal. The No. 6 overall pick is off to a good start in his quest to become a star, having averaged 17.8 points in his first 29 NBA games.
  • After his Cavaliers got a win in Dallas on Wednesday, Donovan Mitchell reflected on the role the Mavericks played in his current circumstances, writes Chris Fedor of (subscription required). The Mavs’ first-round elimination of the Jazz in last season’s postseason taught Mitchell some important lessons and hastened his Utah exit. “At the end of the day, they’re kind of the reason why I’m in Cleveland,” Mitchell said. “They did a great job in the playoff series. So, I’m thankful. I’m here. I’m glad to be here. Last year made me a better player. You take those lessons, you learn, and you implement them.”
  • With Lonzo Ball‘s availability for this season still up in the air, the Bulls should be trying to find a way to add a proven point guard to their roster, argues Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Eastern Notes: Niang, Sixers, Nets, Pistons

Georges Niang was excited to get back on the court for the Sixers on Sunday after missing two games due to right foot soreness, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “I feel a lot better,” he said. “I’m excited to get there and play today. So I’m feeling good.”

Niang, an unrestricted free agent after this season, has been a key piece for the Sixers off the bench. He’s averaging 9.7 points and shooting 43.1% on 3-point attempts.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers beat the Lakers in overtime on Friday after squandering a nine-point lead in the final 34 seconds to snap a three-game losing streak. Pompey breaks down the team’s recent struggles, noting that turnovers have been a major issue. “Sloppy, but good win for us,” Tobias Harris said after the Lakers win. “So we’ll take it. Obviously, we didn’t want it to happen that way, but we’ve got to learn from it and figure it out in those moments. especially when teams are presenting that type of pressure.”
  • The Nets found a way to beat the Pacers without eight rotation players on Saturday. They’ll be close to full strength when they face the Wizards on Monday, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Kyrie Irving, Nic Claxton and T.J. Warren are all expected to be in uniform. Royce O’Neale, who missed the Indiana game for personal reasons, is still not with the team.
  • Cade Cunningham‘s shin injury has dealt the Pistons a major setback through the one-third mark this season but there are silver linings, Keith Langlois of writes. Killian Hayes has begun to blossom in his third NBA season and rookies Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren have shown major talent while jumping right into the rotation.

Central Notes: B. Lopez, LeVert, Hayes, Bulls

Bucks center Brook Lopez is in the final year of his contract, which pays him $13.9MM in 2022/23. He could become a free agent this summer, but don’t expect him to land with a new team anytime soon.

I think there’s a lot of motivation for both sides, both Brook Lopez and the Bucks, either to get an extension done during the season, or to sign a new deal in the offseason,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown (video link). “Milwaukee wants Brook Lopez to finish his career there. He has loved playing there.”

In addition to leading the NBA in blocked shots per game (2.9), Lopez is also averaging 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds with an excellent .502/.402/.800 shooting slash line through 20 games (31.1 minutes per night). He was limited to just 13 regular season games in ’21/22 due to a herniated disc which required surgery, but the 34-year-old certainly looks fully healthy again.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Like Lopez, Cavaliers wing Caris LeVert is also on an expiring contract ($18.8MM). Kelsey Russo of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at LeVert’s role with the Cavs, which has already changed multiple times about a quarter of the way through the season. The 28-year-old says it was his idea to become a reserve after opening the year as the starting small forward, and while it’s been challenging when combined with recovering from an ankle sprain, he says he’s doing it for the betterment of the team. “It’s a little difficult,” LeVert said. “But I’m someone who focuses on winning. I’ve made that the most important thing. It is what it is, especially when you talk about being in the NBA and being on a really good team. It takes sacrifice. I think a lot of people don’t really realize that when you’re talking about being a part of a special group. Everybody has to sacrifice a little bit. For me, that’s just what it is this season.”
  • As the No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Killian Hayes faced high expectations entering the NBA. The Pistons guard has mostly struggled offensively during his first three seasons, but he’s played better of late starting in place of the injured Cade Cunningham, and Detroit’s patience with Hayes appears to be paying off, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Since he entered the starting lineup, Hayes is averaging 11.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.4 steals on .442/.400/.889 shooting in 11 games (29.5 MPG).
  • How can the 9-12 Bulls turn their season around? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic tackles that topic, suggesting that more minutes for rookie first-rounder Dalen Terry would be a good place to start — he has only appeared in 10 games for a total of 33 minutes thus far in ’22/23.

Pistons Notes: Stewart, Bogdanovic, Hayes

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart was briefly assigned to Detroit’s NBA G League affiliate club, the Motor City Cruise, for a Wednesday practice while rehabilitating his sprained right big toe, per Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. Stewart has been unavailable since initially hurting the toe against the Raptors on November 14.

Curtis notes that the 6’8″ big man out of Washington is averaging career-highs of 12.0 PPG and 9.3 RPG in his third NBA season. Detroit has gone 2-3 without him.

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Pistons power forward Bojan Bogdanovic discussed his first game against his former team, the Jazz, ahead of Wednesday’s contest, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter video link). “I was really happy and honored to be part of this organization,” Bogdanovic said. “I saw a lot of guys being traded [over the summer] so I was just waiting to see what was going to happen to me.” In something of a surprise, Detroit won, 125-116.
  • Pistons point guard Killian Hayes, starting in the stead of the indefinitely sidelined Cade Cunningham, left last night’s win with a calf injury in the third quarter and did not return, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • In case you missed it, Cunningham has suffered a possible left shin stress fracture. He may require surgery should the ailment not improve with rest.

Cade Cunningham Out At Least Four Games With Left Shin Issue

Cade Cunningham will miss the next four games due to soreness in his left shin, the Pistons announced in a press release. Cunningham’s condition will be reevaluated in a week.

The second-year guard won’t play in tonight’s game against Boston, Monday’s contest against Toronto, or the first two games of Detroit’s upcoming road trip against the Clippers and Lakers. If the pain subsides, he could be activated for a November 20 game at Sacramento.

The pain in his shin also forced Cunningham to sit out Friday’s loss to the Knicks as the Pistons fell to 3-10, putting them in a tie for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Cory Joseph took Cunningham’s place in the starting lineup against New York, but he got into early foul trouble and played just six total minutes. Killian Hayes and Alec Burks may also see more playing time while Cunningham is sidelined.

Coach Dwane Casey said Cunningham started experiencing the soreness in training camp, tweets James L. Edwards III of The Athletic.

“The medical team is working with it and treating it,” Casey said. “They felt those days off would take away the pain, soreness.”

After finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting last season, Cunningham’s numbers have improved across the board. Through 12 games, he is averaging 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per night.

Central Notes: Turner, Pacers, Hayes, Bogdanovic, Cavs

Pacers center Myles Turner addressed the trade rumors surrounding him, saying he’s “numb” to the chatter, Wilson Moore of the Indianapolis Star writes.

“This is the only time I will be addressing it this year; I want to make sure everyone knows that,” Turner said. “Yeah, elephant in the room. For me, this is my eighth season. I’ve been in trade rumors the past four or five years. It’s something that I know that I’m numb to. It’s something that it’s just whatever comes with this business. There are no hard feelings in this business. You have to take the emotions out of everything, and I’ve learned that at a young age, and I still hold true to that. My job is to come in here and help these young guys now, man.”

Turner’s expiring contract carries a cap hit of $18MM.

We have more info regarding the Central Division:

  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle plans to use his bench extensively this season, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. He’s pondering a rotation of 10 or more players. “We’re going to use our depth as an advantage, we’re going to use it as something to drive our development internally every day,” he said.
  • Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said next offseason will be pivotal during the franchise’s rebuild, he told Evan Sidery of Basketball News. “Look, we have three first-round picks it looks like next year,” he said. “We have close to $30 million in cap space. And we’ll be active to use that cap space to acquire more assets. That’s just natural, but I think it gives us the ability to pivot in a lot of different ways.”
  • Killian Hayes needs to improve his shooting to be in the Pistons’ long-term plans. He spent the offseason altering his shooting motion, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. “I’m confident in my shot,” Hayes said. “I worked with different shooting coaches. We tweaked some things. I’m excited.” The former lottery pick has shot 37.4% from the field and 26.8% from long range during his first two NBA seasons.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic is officially a member of the Pistons and the veteran forward is thrilled with the direction of his new team, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News writes. “I kind of knew that I was going to be traded. I was just waiting to see where I’m going to end up,” Bogdanovic said. “Super excited to be here with this young group of guys and a coach that is really experienced. Everything is great so far.”
  • Cedi Osman, Dean Wade, Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert, Lamar Stevens and Dylan Windler are all vying for the small forward starting job with the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. “We’ve gone back and forth on that, I’ll be honest with you guys,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “But we’re gonna give it an opportunity and see exactly what works best and what is the most troublesome for defenses.”

Pistons Pick Up Options For Cunningham, Hayes, Stewart, Bey

The Pistons have exercised their 2023/24 team options for Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey, the team announced (via Twitter). The moves were expected, as all four players have been productive in different aspects of the game on their rookie contracts.

Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick of last year’s draft, finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in ’21/22 after averaging 17.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.6 APG and 1.2 SPG on .416/.314/.845 shooting in 64 games (32.6 MPG). He put up big counting stats post-All-Star break, averaging 21.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.5 APG and 1.1 SPG, though his three-point percentage dipped (.457/.275/.833 shooting line). ’23/24 will be Cunningham’s third season, and he’ll earn $11,055,360.

Hayes was the only player of the group who might not have been viewed as a lock to have his team option picked up, as he’s dealt with injuries (he’s appeared in 92 of 154 games) and has struggled to score (6.8 PPG on .374/.268/.780 shooting) through two seasons. However, he’s a solid play-maker (6.4 assists per 36 minutes) and an above-average defender for a guard, plus he was the No. 7 overall pick in 2020 and is only 21 years old, so it’s not like the Pistons were in a rush to give up on him. Hayes will earn $7,413,955 in his fourth season.

Stewart, the No. 16 overall pick in 2020, started all 71 of his games last season (25.6 MPG), averaging 8.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 1.1 BPG on .510/.326/.718 shooting. A tenacious offensive rebounder, Stewart will earn $5,266,713 in year four, making him a relative bargain.

Bey, the No. 19 overall pick in 2020, appeared and started in all 82 games (33.0 MPG) for Detroit in ’21/22, averaging 16.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.8 APG on .396/.346/.827 shooting. He had a memorable 51-point outburst in a win over Orlando in March and will make $4,556,983 in the final season of his rookie deal.