Killian Hayes

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.

Central Notes: Bagley, Knox, Hayes, Pacers, Ball, Pistons

Breakout seasons from Marvin Bagley III, Kevin Knox and Killian Hayes would go a long way toward a much improved season for the Pistons, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. All three lottery picks have yet to fulfill their promise but could become part of the team’s core group if they establish a firm foothold in the NBA this season.

Bagley was re-signed on a three-year, $37MM deal this summer, while Knox received a two-year, $6MM contract after passing through two organizations. Hayes is entering his third year with the Pistons and projects as the second-unit floor leader.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers announced the signing of forwards James Johnson and Bennie Boatwright and guards David Stockton and Gabe York on Friday. Hoops Rumors has learned Johnson was signed to an Exhibit 9 contract while Boatwright, Stockton and York signed Exhibit 10 deals. An Exhibit 9 contract must be for one season and for a minimum salary. Generally speaking, if a player only receives an Exhibit 9 clause and not an Exhibit 10, it signals he won’t be joining the team’s G League affiliate if he’s waived before the season begins. Johnson spent most of last season in Brooklyn, averaging 5.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.1 APG in 62 appearances (19.2 MPG).
  • Lonzo Ball‘s recovery from his persistent knee issues remains fluid, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The reason the Bulls haven’t officially put a timeline on Ball’s return is that they don’t really know when he’ll be back. Some days when Ball works out, everything seems fine. Other times, the knee flares up again. Ball, who hasn’t played since January, is doubtful for the start of the season.
  • The Athletic’s Zach Harper gives the Pistons a B-plus grade for their offseason maneuvers. Adding point guard Jaden Ivey with their lottery pick, then trading for another to snare center Jalen Duren were the highlights of their offseason moves, with only the Knox addition ranking as a head-scratcher, according to Harper.

Central Notes: Hayes, Ball, Bucks, G League Trade

Killian Hayes has to make progress as a scorer to show the Pistons he should be part of their long-term plans, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. After injuries limited him to 26 games as a rookie, Hayes bounced back to play in 66 last season, showing the defensive and passing skills that made him the No. 7 overall pick in 2020.

However, his scoring development remained stagnant as he averaged 6.9 PPG in 25 minutes per night while shooting 38.3% from the field and 26.3% from three-point range. Edwards believes Hayes needs to become more aggressive in getting to the basket, noting that he made 74% of his attempts at the rim last season, but that only accounted for 16% of his shots.

Edwards poses questions involving other Pistons players, asking whether Isaiah Stewart has become a legitimate three-point shooter, whether Saddiq Bey can balance his performance from his first two seasons and whether Saben Lee can find a way to stand out on a roster loaded with guards.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Lonzo Ball tops a list of Bulls players with the most to prove compiled by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Ball may be held out through the start of the regular season because of pain in his surgically repaired left knee. The Bulls insist the knee is structurally sound, but his availability will play a massive role in where the team finishes in the Eastern Conference. Mayberry adds that the team also needs a bounce-back performance from center Nikola Vucevic, who’s heading into a contract year.
  • Unlike most of their competitors in the East, the Bucks didn’t make major changes this offseason and can rely on continuity as they make a run at another NBA title, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Milwaukee still has the defensive foundation to contend for a championship, Gozlan adds, and Giannis Antetokounmpo remains one of the best players in the world. One financial concern that Gozlan points out is that the Bucks appear destined for the repeater tax next season, while Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez will both become unrestricted free agents in July if they don’t receive extensions.
  • In a press release, the Cleveland Charge – The Cavaliers‘ G League affiliate – announced the trade of Norvel Pelle and the Charge’s second-round pick to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (the Pacers‘ affiliate) in exchange for Nate Hinton.

Central Notes: Pistons, Turner, Bitadze

There are many ways Pistons coach Dwane Casey could go with his rotation next season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. In Langlois’ view, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden Ivey are the only rotation locks, with Kelly Olynyk, Marvin Bagley III, Killian Hayes and Alec Burks “good bets” to join them. Beyond that, Casey has numerous choices between youth and experience.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons fans are brimming with optimism, though they’re realistic about next season’s prospects, The Athletic’s James Edwards III revealed in a fan poll. With nearly 2,000 subscribers weighing in, 98 percent professed confidence in the team’s direction and 64 percent said they were very confident in the front office. However, 72.5 percent voted that the team would only win between 26-35 games next season. Second-year forward Isaiah Livers received the most votes for “breakout” player.
  • Myles Turner‘s season could play out similar to the way Victor Oladipo departed from the Pacers organization in 2020, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files opines. Turner could get off to a good start and pump up his trade value. In the same mailbag piece, Agness speculates that Goga Bitadze won’t have a long-term role in the organization due to the team’s current playing style, along with the presence of Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith.
  • Earlier on Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo stated he wouldn’t mind playing for the Bulls later in his career. Get the details here.

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.”