Luke Kennard

Pistons’ Kennard Could Miss Another Month

Pistons swingman Luke Kennard is expected to miss another month due to bilateral knee tendinitis, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com.

Coach Dwane Casey made the announcement prior to the team’s overtime loss to New Orleans on Monday. Kennard, the team’s top perimeter shooter, has missed 11 consecutive games.

“They said somewhere around All-Star break,” Casey said. “He’s working his behind off and (has) tendinitis, or whatever, I don’t even know the medical term for it. We’ve had so many injuries I get this guy’s injuries mixed up with that guy’s injuries. Just hope you have him healthy because he’s a big piece of what we’re trying to do also and this would be a valuable time for him, for us, if he’s able to go.”

The Pistons announced on December 26 that Kennard would miss two weeks due to bilateral knee tendinitis and would be re-evaluated on January 7. This is the first update on his condition since that point.

The Pistons have 16 more games prior to the All-Star break. His extended absence could kill any trade talk regarding the third-year player out of Duke. The Sixers were reportedly interested in him.

Kennard got off to a hot start, including a 30-point game in the season opener against Indiana. His averages dropped as the knee issues set in but he was still averaging career highs in points (15.8 PPG) and assists (4.1 APG) when he was sidelined.

The Pistons are also down two other starters. Their star forward Blake Griffin could miss the remainder of the season after undergoing knee surgery this month. Point guard Reggie Jackson (back) has only played two games this season.

Sixers Express Interest In Galloway, Kennard, Green

The Sixers, reeling from a recent injury to center Joel Embiid and still missing departed 2019 free agent wings Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick, are apparently seeking reinforcements this season.

Philadelphia has “expressed interest” in Pistons wings Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway, plus free agent forward Jeff Green, multiple league sources tell Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Kennard, currently out with a minor knee injury, has blossomed into the sharpshooter the Pistons were dreaming the ex-Dukie could be when they drafted him at No. 12 in 2017 this season. The 6’5″ swingman is averaging 15.8 PPG while shooting 44.2% from the field, 39.9% from deep on 6.5 shots taken per night, and 89.3% from the free-throw line. Kennard is earning $3.8MM this season in the third year of his rookie deal and is owed $5.3MM in 2020/21.

Galloway, in the final year of a three-season, $21MM contract he inked with Detroit in 2017, is converting 39.9% of his 5.2 attempts from three-point range and 87.7% from the charity stripe. Both Pistons players could improve the Sixers’ floor spacing. The 25-14 Sixers are currently seeded fifth in a tough Eastern Conference.

The oft-traveled Green, 33, has played for eight NBA teams across 12 NBA seasons and appeared in 30 games for the Jazz on a $2.6MM veteran’s minimum salary this season before being waived on December 23. He logged 23.8 MPG and was a key defensive cog in the Cavaliers’ most recent trip to the NBA Finals in 2018. The 6’8″ Green is averaging 7.8 PPG and 2.7 RPG and shooting a decent 32.7% from three-point range this season. He could help spell injured Sixers All-Star Embiid in line-ups alongside Al Horford.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, DPE, Jackson, Kennard

After Blake Griffin opted to undergo surgery on his troublesome left knee, head coach Dwane Casey offered some comments on the power forward’s absence, as Rod Beard of the Detroit News relays (Twitter links).

It’s like when Rick Pitino said, ‘Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door.’ … Blake Griffin isn’t walking through that door,” Casey said. “…The 25 points, the leadership, the toughness, the presence of Blake — you’re not going to replace that.”

Griffin had been in and out of the Pistons’ lineup for much of the first half due to his nagging knee issues, appearing in just 18 games. Now that the former No. 1 overall pick is sidelined indefinitely, Casey notes that at least there should be more lineup certainty going forward.

“We know the direction right now,” Casey said. “We know what we’re dealing with — it’s not, ‘Is he playing or is he not playing?'”

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • If the Pistons expect Griffin to miss the rest of the season, it would make sense for them to request a disabled player exception – which would be worth $9.26MM – before next Wednesday’s application deadline. Detroit likely wouldn’t use that exception to sign a free agent, given the team’s proximity to the tax line, but it could come in handy on the trade market. For instance, if the Pistons trade someone like Derrick Rose or Langston Galloway and take back a player on an expiring contract whose salary fits into the DPE, they’d create a trade exception worth $7.3MM, which could be used in the summer or next season.
  • Reggie Jackson saw a specialist in Los Angeles and is making progress as he returns from a back injury, Beard tweets. There remains no timeline for Jackson’s return to the court.
  • There’s also no update on Luke Kennard, Beard adds in another tweet. Two weeks ago, the Pistons indicated that the third-year guard would be re-evaluated on January 7, but it appears he’s still not ready to return from his knee injury.
  • As we noted on Tuesday within our Griffin story, Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) says one source briefed on Detroit’s efforts to move Andre Drummond expressed confidence that a trade will be made by next month’s deadline.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Griffin, Kennard, Dunn

Pistons star Blake Griffin has struggled this season and the big man isn’t happy with his level of play, Rod Beard of The Detroit News relays.

“It’s obviously a disappointing loss with a lot of frustration for a lot of different reasons,” Griffin said. “I’ve got no excuses; I just have to play better. [Not having a rhythm] doesn’t help but I’ve never really been an excuse guy. I’ve just got to be better — that’s the bottom line.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Luke Kennard will miss at least two weeks with bilateral knee tendinitis, the Pistons announced today in a press release. The wing is expected to be sidelined for at least the team’s next six games.
  • Kris Dunn may have created a future for himself with Bulls, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago contends. The former No. 5 overall pick has embraced his role as a defensive wing.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic examines why the Cavaliers agreed to trade away Jordan Clarkson. Cleveland received Dante Exum and a pair of second-rounders in exchange for the guard.

Pistons Notes: Mykhailiuk, Jackson, Doumbouya, Wood

Svi Mykhailiuk is taking advantage of the opportunity that the Pistons‘ early-season injuries have provided, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Mykhailiuk was touted as an elite shooter coming out of Kansas last year, but he didn’t see much playing time as a rookie. He averaged 10.8 minutes in 39 games with the Lakers, then only appeared in three games after a midseason trade to Detroit.

That has changed in the early part of this season, as Mykhailiuk is seeing 17.4 minutes per night and even made his first career start. He is showing signs of his offensive potential, averaging 5.7 PPG and shooting a sizzling .448 from 3-point range.

“He’s in the gym every single day working on his game,” teammate Langston Galloway said. “In there early before everybody gets there. It’s been great to see. He’s working on coming off pick and rolls and knocking down shots. That’s what we need from him. Hope to see that the rest of the year.”

There’s more this morning from Detroit:

  • The eventual return of Reggie Jackson from a stress reaction in his lower back will cause a domino effect for the rotation, Langlois adds in the same story. The Pistons announced Wednesday that Jackson will be sidelined for a few more weeks, but when he does come back the team could be fully healthy for the first time all season. Jackson figures to reclaim the starting point guard role, pushing Bruce Brown into the wing rotation along with Galloway, Tony Snell, Luke Kennard and Mykhailiuk. With coach Dwane Casey using a 10-man rotation, at least one of them should expect a decline in minutes.
  • Casey is taking a typically cautious approach with first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya, observes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Doumbouya has been relegated to the G League for most of the season and is averaging just 2.8 minutes per night in four NBA games. The 18-year-old has played professionally in France and is excelling in Grand Rapids, but Casey wants to give him a gradual adjustment to the NBA. Beard suggests it’s the same approach he took in Toronto with Pascal Siakam and others, though Siakam did start 38 games as a rookie.
  • Christian Wood has been a nice addition to the frontcourt since being claimed off waivers in July, but he was almost in Detroit even sooner, tweets Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press, who states that the Pistons considered signing Wood to a two-way contract in 2018.

Central Notes: Valentine, Kennard, Porter, McConnell

Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic analyzes why Bulls swingman Denzel Valentine, largely hampered by injuries so far in his NBA career, has yet to earn a role in the rotation during the 2019/20 campaign, his fourth season in the league after being taken in the lottery (14th overall) during the 2016 NBA Draft.

Mayberry notes that while Valentine has put up some large numbers in the G League for the Windy City Bulls, his defensive struggles during the preseason are likely keeping him from earning a rotation spot under head coach Jim Boylen, who says a strong showing down in the G League won’t help Valentine earn playing time in the NBA.

With additional insight on Valentine, Eric Woodyard of ESPN notes that when asked why the 25-year-old is out the rotation, the Bulls’ head coach told him, “Because I said so,” while Valentine told ESPN that he “feel(s) like (he) should play.” As such, Valentine’s role and his attitude toward that role will likely remain an interesting storyline to keep an eye on moving forward.

There’s more news out of the Central Division tonight:

  • The bevy of injuries that the Pistons had to deal with to start this season has a silver lining, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, and it’s the way shooting guard Luke Kennard has responded to the team’s reliance on him. And while whether Kennard keeps starting remains to be seen, head coach Dwane Casey says he’s going to remain a focal point of the rotation either way. “He’s still going to get starter minutes… He brings value to the team. Luke’s a very valuable part of what we’re doing.”
  • The Bulls plan to keep Otto Porter Jr. on a minutes restriction whenever he returns from the soft-tissue injury in his left foot, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Scott Agness of The Athletic points to the positive development of the team’s bench, and backup point guard T.J. McConnell in particular, as a key reason for the Pacers‘ turnaround after a disappointing 0-3 start to the season. “I think T.J. is leading that (second unit), and they’ve had a good rhythm,” head coach Nate McMillan said. “They’re starting to learn each other and build a chemistry. They’re coming out and playing hard.”

Pistons Exercise Luke Kennard’s 2020/21 Option

The Pistons have exercised Luke Kennard‘s fourth-year option, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News relays. Kennard is slated to make $5.3MM during the 2020/21 season.

The shooting guard was selected with the No. 12 pick in the 2017 draft. He started 10 games for the Pistons last season.

Kennard is one of just five players on the team with a guaranteed contract for the 2020/21 campaign. Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Sekou Doumbouya, and Khyri Thomas are the four others.

 

Central Notes: Giannis, Kennard, Henson, Hutchison

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, last season’s MVP and one of the best basketball players in the world, still needs to improve his shooting ability after making an abysmal 30.2% of his jump shots last season. And as Eric Woodyard of ESPN writes, The Greek Freak is looking at new teammate Kyle Korver for some guidance.

“It’s really important [that] I always try to talk to him a little bit,” Antetokounmpo said of Korver. “And he’s a great guy. He’s not trying to get in your head or overstep and talk too much to you. Whenever he gives me tips, I always try to listen … one of the best shooters to ever play the game.”

Head coach Mike Budenholzer, who coached Korver in Atlanta, also thinks that Korver is going to be a huge addition to the Bucks’ roster.

“His professionalism, his work ethic and attention to detail is just gonna help all of us, including me as a coach. I always say that about Kyle: He makes me a better coach. Adding him to our group was a huge add this summer.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press advocates for Pistons guard Luke Kennard to be moved to a bench role this season. Head coach Dwane Casey seems to agree: “(Kennard) doesn’t fit well with the first unit, but he is one of our most talented players and so the job we have as a coaching staff is to fit him where he’s going to go.”
  • Coming off an injury-riddled 2018/19 season that saw him traded from Milwaukee to the Cavaliers, big man John Henson is ready to add an element of rim protection to help the Cavs’ defense improve this season. He’s also ready for whatever role the team has in store for him, admitting that he doesn’t yet know exactly where he fits in the rotation, writes Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. Henson is entering the final year of his contract.
  • Bulls head coach Jim Boylen says forward Chandler Hutchison will not return in the next two weeks and that opening night is in jeopardy, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Hutchison is still recovering from a hamstring strain he suffered in September.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Kennard, J. Johnson, Final Roster Spot

With possible free agency looming next summer, Pistons center Andre Drummond has put a priority on conditioning, relays Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Coach Dwane Casey said Drummond has spent the offseason working out with assistants Tim Grgurich and Sean Sweeney two or three times a day in Las Vegas and is “in the best shape since I’ve been around him.”

After this season ends, Drummond will have a decision to make on a $28,751,774 player option for 2020/21. He recently came under fire from fans for talking about how excited he is for a shot at free agency and had to clarify his remarks on Instagram. Casey decided in the second half of last season to shelve the experiment of having Drummond shoot more 3-pointers, but he still believes his center can be effective as a decision-maker in the offense.

There’s more today from Detroit:

  • One of Casey’s training camp decisions will be whether to use Bruce Brown or Luke Kennard in the starting lineup, the coach tells Langlois in a separate story. “The issue with Luke in the first unit – it’s not an issue, it’s a good thing – but it’s just you kind of take away one of his strengths as far as his pick-and-roll game, his ball-handling game,” Casey said. “There’s only so many pick-and-roll games with that first unit. You’ve got Blake (Griffin) in the pick and roll, Reggie (Jackson) in the pick and roll, you’ve got Bruce running pick and roll some and now you’ve got Andre bringing the ball down the floor.”
  • Joe Johnson‘s new contract comes with a $220K guarantee and more incentives the longer he stays on the roster, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Johnson’s guaranteed money will increase to $1.37MM if he earns a roster spot for opening night and $2.56MM if he remains on the team through January 7.
  • The Pistons have several options for the final spot on their roster heading into camp, observes Duncan Smith of Forbes. Detroit has 14 guaranteed contracts, leaving Johnson and Christian Wood as the most likely candidates outside of that group to make the team, according to Smith. He adds that the front office could consider opening another spot by moving on from Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk or Khyri Thomas, who have minimum contracts, or Langston Galloway. who has an expiring deal worth $7.3MM.

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.”