Luke Kennard

Pistons Notes: GM Search, Kennard, Bone

The Pistons will focus on external candidates in their search for a new general manager, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The new GM will work alongside senior advisor Ed Stefanski to chart a course for the future of the franchise, while Malik Rose and Pat Garrity will be retained as assistant GMs.

Edwards identifies several potential candidates for the position: Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, who was considered for the GM job in Chicago, and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver. Edwards also suggests that University of Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller, who had Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem as an agent during his playing career, could be brought in as another assistant GM.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News agrees on Hughes and Weaver and offers a few other candidates who might be in play. Shane Battier grew up in the Detroit area and serves as VP of basketball development and analytics with the Heat, but Beard believes it would be difficult to talk him into leaving Miami. Chauncey Billups is a Pistons hero from his playing days and has been considered for other front office openings. Tayshaun Prince, who teamed with Billups on the 2004 championship team, became VP of basketball operations for the Grizzlies last year. Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren has spent 14 years with the organization and has turned down other opportunities, but Beard believes the Pistons should contact him.
  • Working Luke Kennard back into the rotation would have been a priority if the season had continued, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Kennard, who had been battling tendinitis in both knees since December, was set to return in the Pistons’ next game when the hiatus was imposed. With Kennard about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Detroit will have to decide soon whether to make a long-term commitment or try to trade him, and Langlois sees his shooting skills as an important element for a rebuilding team.
  • The Pistons may have other priorities at point guard that will prevent Jordan Bone from earning a roster spot next season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Derrick Rose has another year on his contract, and Langlois expects the team to find a veteran to complement him. Also, there will also be plenty of opportunity to fill the position in a draft that’s heavy on point guards. Bone saw limited time in 10 NBA games as a two-way player this season, but averaged 19.9 points per 36 minutes and shot 38% from 3-point range in the G League.

Pistons’ Stefanski Talks Offseason, Draft, Rose, Kennard

The Pistons project to enter the 2020 offseason as one of just a handful of teams with cap room, and head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski tells Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press that there are several different ways the club could make use of that flexibility.

While the Pistons likely won’t be pursuing any top-tier free agents, Stefanski suggested that the team will assess its options once those highest-paid players come off the board. According to the Pistons’ senior advisor, the club is open to the idea of using its cap room to sign a player or two, or to accommodate a trade.

Stefanski also didn’t rule out the possibility of holding onto that cap space through the offseason and into the ’20/21 season. At that point, all of the noteworthy free agents would be off the board, but teams could still be looking to shed salary in midseason deals, potentially creating opportunities for the Pistons to acquire assets for taking on an unwanted contract — especially if they’re the only team capable of accommodating such a salary dump.

In his conversation with Sankofa, Stefanski addressed several more topics, including the health of multiple injured Pistons, the team’s draft plans, and more. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but here are a few of the highlights from Stefanski:

On whether the Pistons will target a point guard or big man with their lottery pick after parting with Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond this winter:

“I think where we are, most of the time you’re always going to be going for the best possible player. … If we feel the best player fits one of those positions, that’s even better if you get fortunate that that happens. Right now, that won’t come into play. If the best player is the position where we have more players or have added depth, we’re going to do it. If it happens and we feel the best player on the board fits the position that we need, that’s even better.”

On whether the Pistons will consider moving Derrick Rose in the offseason or at the 2021 trade deadline after keeping him at the 2020 deadline:

“We didn’t move Derrick because we didn’t feel we got enough in return for what he does for us on the court and off the court. He’s very instrumental on these younger guys. Who he is, obviously a former MVP, he’s a great human being. Players like him, so that helps our younger guys since he can nurture the younger guys. Plus he does a terrific job on the court. He was fantastic on the court this year, and we’re going to need that at times to help our younger players perform and gain confidence. We’ll look at everything and if the opportunity arises and makes sense, we’ll pull the trigger.”

On the health of Luke Kennard (out since December 21 with a knee injury):

“Luke has done well. Right before the shutdown because of the virus, he was ready to come back and play. I think he was going to play in Toronto, that next game after Philly. I believe it was then that we were going to give him some minutes. He’s very healthy right now. He’s continued to perform his lifting and is keeping his cardio up. But he feels real good and he worked extremely hard with our performance people on the strength in his knee. So far, all the reports are real positive. He’s healthy right now. If something started up, he’d be ready to go.”

Central Notes: Bulls, P. Connelly, Turner, Kennard

The Bulls have yet to formally announce the hiring of Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas as their new executive VP of basketball operations. That delay is related in part to the fact that there’s still a possibility of other Denver staffers joining Karnisovas in Chicago, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links) that one such candidate who is in serious talks to join the Bulls’ front office is Nuggets director of pro personnel Pat Connelly, the brother of Denver’s president of basketball operations Tim Connelly.

Woj adds that a deal between the Bulls and Pat Connelly could come together quickly, and that an official announcement on Karnisovas’ departure from the Nuggets for Chicago could happen as soon as today.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • No decisions have been made yet on Jim Boylen‘s future as head coach, but there has been “a lot of smoke” today around Adrian Griffin and the Bulls, tweets Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. One executive tells Cowley that the current Raptors assistant is so ready for a head coaching role that he’s “over-qualified” for most jobs.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner revealed during an appearance on CJ McCollum‘s podcast (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports) that his father was hospitalized with COVID-19 for nearly a week before recovering. “He’s not contagious anymore. He’s back on his feet,” Turner said. “It’s a blessing that he was able to make it through, but there’s a lot of people that aren’t. So, I think having something personal happen to you like that, that’s kind of what made it, the perspective, all feel real.”
  • Getting Luke Kennard back on track will be a top priority for the Pistons if the regular season resumes, Keith Langlois of NBA.com writes. The former lottery pick will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension during the offseason.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Pistons Notes: Casey, Future Rosters, Wood, Lottery Odds

Coach Dwane Casey has embraced the idea of rebuilding, even though it’s not the situation he expected when he joined the Pistons two years ago, writes John Niyo of The Detroit News. Casey thought he was taking over a perennial playoff team, but injuries wrecked Detroit’s season and pushed the franchise in a new direction.

Pistons players have missed a combined 246 games this season, the third-highest total in the league. The most significant injury was the knee issue that forced Blake Griffin to have an arthroscopic procedure in January, his second knee surgery in nine months. That led to the decisions to trade center Andre Drummond, buy out Reggie Jackson and start building for the future.

Detroit will be one of a handful of clubs with cap space this summer, and Casey knows the team needs to use it wisely.

“Even though I want to go out and get every top free agent, we have to be smart,” he said. “It’s gotta be with the future in mind, the right decisions. And if the right free agent doesn’t come along, you don’t just go out and overspend because you have cap room. We have smart people upstairs and I understand that.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • James L. Edwards III of The Athletic projects which current players will remain with the Pistons over the next three seasons. He expects the front office to sign promising big man Christian Wood to a long-term contract this summer and sees few significant changes for next year. Edwards predicts Griffin will be traded before the 2021/22 season, which will be the final one for his current contract, while Luke Kennard will probably be shipped to a contender as well. Edwards believes the team will start moving back toward contention by 2022/23.
  • Wood has emerged as a potential star after being waived by the Pelicans last summer and having to win a training camp battle for the final roster spot in Detroit, notes Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. The Drummond trade created an opportunity, and Wood has responded by averaging 22.0 points and 10.2 rebounds in the 12 games since moving into the starting lineup.
  • With just one victory since the All-Star break, the Pistons are increasing their chances for the top pick in the draft, observes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. The three teams with the worst records have equal odds of winning the lottery, and Detroit, which has the league’s fifth-toughest schedule over the rest of the season, is just one game away from joining that group.

Pistons Notes: Jackson, Kennard, Thomas, Wood

With just 25 games left in their season, the Pistons are prioritizing developing and evaluating their young players, which is a key reason why the team was willing to buy out Reggie Jackson, sources tell James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The agreement will save Detroit a little money, but more importantly, it will give the team a chance to get a longer look at how young players like Jordan Bone handle point guard duties, Edwards writes.

Jackson gave back a flat $800K in his buyout agreement with the Pistons, reducing his cap hit for 2019/20 to $17,286,956, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Detroit moves further below the tax line and has part of its mid-level exception available, Marks notes (via Twitter), so the team could use its newly-opened roster spot to sign a prospect to a three- or four-year deal before the end of the regular season.

Promoting Bone from his two-way contract to the 15-man roster would also be an option, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. However, head coach Dwane Casey suggested today that the team may start by using that open roster spot to get a look at some players on 10-day contracts (Twitter link via Langlois).

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Luke Kennard is still “a ways away” from returning, Casey said today, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link). Kennard, who is recovering from a knee injury, has done some contact work, but isn’t yet ready for games.
  • Second-year guard Khyri Thomas, who has been sidelined since late October after undergoing right foot surgery, is expected to head to the G League as part of his rehab process this week. As Beard tweets, Thomas will likely play a couple games for the Grand Rapids Drive before suiting up for the Pistons.
  • James L. Edwards III of The Athletic spoke to a handful of sources to try to get a feel for Christian Wood‘s value on the free agent market this summer. According to Edwards, those sources believe Wood is capable of securing a multiyear deal in the range of $5-10MM per year. Edwards suggests a three-year, $30MM contract might make both the Pistons and Wood happy.
  • Over at Pistons.com, Langlois passes along some more comments from Casey on what to expect from the retooling Pistons for the rest of the 2019/20 season.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Rose, Wood, Kennard, More

After a report on Thursday morning suggested the Pistons would likely hang onto center Andre Drummond, the team ended up making a deal just hours later, sending the longtime Piston to Cleveland for a modest package that included a pair of expiring contracts and a future second-round pick. Drummond, perhaps having expected to remain in Detroit, immediately responded to the trade on Twitter.

If there’s one thing I learned about the NBA, there’s no friends or loyalty,” Drummond tweeted. “I’ve given my heart and soul to the Pistons , and to have this happen with no heads-up makes me realize even more that this is just a business!”

Speaking today to reporters about the deal, head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski said that Drummond and his representatives knew he was being discussed in trade talks, but acknowledged that the Cavs emerged as an option at the 11th hour, pretty close to the deadline.

“The worst thing in the world is have to trade someone who’s been here (for a long time),” Stefanski said, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “This is the only place he’s been in. Emotions are raw. ‘Dre knew he was in trade talks and I was talking to his representatives about different things. Cleveland came in late. I guess you’d have to talk to ‘Dre what exactly he meant. But again, emotions are raw when this stuff happens. I understand that.”

While many NBA observers were surprised at how little the Pistons received for Drummond, Stefanski suggested there weren’t stronger offers out there, pointing out that the center position isn’t valued “like it once was” (Twitter links via James Edwards III of The Athletic).

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Strong offers didn’t really materialize for Derrick Rose, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press, who tweets that potential suitors may have been scared off by Detroit’s high asking price and Rose’s desire to stick with the Pistons.
  • Langston Galloway and Markieff Morris, who are both on expiring contracts, didn’t generate much serious interest around the NBA, sources tell James Edwards III of The Athletic. Stefanski suggested today that Detroit probably couldn’t have gotten more than a draft pick in the 50s for those players, Edwards tweets. The Pistons preferred to finish the year with their veterans.
  • Edwards, who reported on Thursday that the Pistons turned down a Celtics offer for Christian Wood, notes that Wood has interest in re-signing with Detroit this summer.
  • The Pistons started talking in earnest about a rebuild after injuries derailed their playoff chances this season, since the team doesn’t want to be stuck in the middle of the pack anymore, per Stefanski (Twitter links via Edwards). We are looking to rebuild,” Stefanski said. “What the future holds will be interesting. We haven’t had the luxury of having cap space since we’ve been here — do you use it in free agency, collecting assets or making trades? We have to use it wisely.”
  • Stefanski declined to specifically address the rumored Luke Kennard trade talks, but said the young shooting guard is “well-liked by other NBA teams.” The Pistons are happy to keep Kennard and make him part of their rebuild, according to Stefanski, who adds that the 23-year-old may be ready to return from his knee injury after the All-Star break (all Twitter links via Edwards).
  • The Pistons haven’t discussed a potential buyout for Reggie Jackson, according to Stefanski (Twitter link via Beard).

Pistons, Suns Hit Snag On Proposed Luke Kennard Deal

Trade talks between the Pistons and Suns involving Luke Kennard are on hold because the teams haven’t been able to agree on the level of protection for a first-round draft pick, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Phoenix appeared set to send a first-rounder to the Pistons in exchange for the 23-year-old sharpshooter, who is averaging a career-high 15.8 points and 4.1 assists through 28 games and hitting at a 39.9% clip beyond the arc. Young guards Jevon Carter and Elie Okobo were mentioned as possible trade chips heading to Detroit to help match Kennard’s $3.8MM salary.

The terms of the draft pick appear to be the only thing blocking the deal, and the teams have until 3:00 pm Eastern time on Thursday to resolve the issue. However, Detroit has started talking to other teams about Kennard, according to Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

The Suns rank 12th in our current Reverse Standings, but could easily take several steps up or down the draft order.

Trade Rumors: Wolves, Wizards, Kennard, Valentine, Burks, More

Timberwolves forward Robert Covington has been one of the most-discussed trade candidates leading up to this year’s deadline, and looks like one of the likeliest players to be on the move. While star teammate Karl-Anthony Towns will understand if Covington is dealt, he admitted in a conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic and Chris Hine of The Star Tribune that he’s not thrilled by the idea.

“I think it’s very obvious he’s my best friend on the team, so it would be very difficult if something like that was going to happen,” Towns said of Covington. “But like with Zach LaVine (traded from the Timberwolves to Chicago in 2017) , you know this is a business. So like I said, I’m the one who just plays the game. I don’t get paid to make rosters and stuff like that.”

As Amick and Hine note, Towns said it’s not his job to make roster decisions and expressed confidence in Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas to make those calls. Still, given how aggressively the front office has pursued D’Angelo Russell, one of Towns’ best friends, it’ll be interesting to see if the team is willing to part with Covington – another one of KAT’s good friends – if there’s no guarantee that doing so will land D-Lo in Minnesota.

“I don’t get paid to make those decisions,” the Timberwolves’ franchise player said. “Those are tough decisions, but here’s to hoping that I see Cov on Friday, I guess. … He’s a great guy, a great dude. He’s a great player. He’s helped me tremendously and he’s continuing to help me every day. He just gives me such comfort out there.”

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • As first referenced by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Wizards have expressed interest in Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson, confirms Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (via Twitter). If the Wizards were to make a move for Thompson, it would be with an eye toward the future, since they’d hold his Bird rights, Buckner notes.
  • Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press confirms that that the Pistons are open to moving Luke Kennard if the price is right. However, in the wake of rumors that the Suns are discussing a trade for the third-year sharpshooter, Ellis reports that no deal appears imminent and that Detroit isn’t worried about the possible price tag on a Kennard extension if he remains with the Pistons.
  • Two rival executives view the Sixers and Grizzlies as possible landing spots for Bulls trade candidate Denzel Valentine, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • The Mavericks have real interest in Warriors guard Alec Burks, a source tells Chris Crouse of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link). Dallas and Golden State have already made one trade this season, with Willie Cauley-Stein sent to the Mavs last month.
  • ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski takes a look at the trade talks involving the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Hawks, with the Wolves trying to orchestrate a multi-team deal that would send D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer had details earlier on those discussions, with both Woj and O’Connor agreeing that there’s still a gulf between Minnesota and Golden State.

Suns, Pistons Discussing Luke Kennard Trade

The Suns and Pistons are discussing a possible trade that would send Luke Kennard to Phoenix, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that a Suns first-round pick is in play.

Kennard, 23, is a career 40.2% three-point shooter and had taken on an increased role in Detroit this season, averaging a career-best 15.8 PPG and 4.1 APG in 32.9 minutes per contest. The 23-year-old has been limited to 28 games, having been sidelined since December 21 with a knee injury.

A third-year guard who will be extension-eligible during the 2020 offseason, Kennard could be a nice fit on a Suns team that has lacked reliable outside shooting. Phoenix ranks among the NBA’s bottom 10 teams in terms of both three-point attempts and three-point percentage this season, and the club’s most consistent long-distance threat has been a rookie, Cameron Johnson.

It wouldn’t be difficult for Phoenix to match Kennard’s $3.8MM salary — Wojnarowski suggests (via Twitter) that a potential package gaining some traction would feature Jevon Carter, Elie Okobo, and a first-round pick.. If the Suns are willing to part with their 2020 first-rounder, I expect they’d want to add some form of protection, since it currently projects to land at No. 11.

As Gina Mizell of The Athletic tweets, the Suns’ current VP of basketball operations, Jeff Bower, was the Pistons’ general manager when Detroit selected Kennard with the No. 12 pick in the 2017 draft, so he’s very familiar with the former Duke standout. Phoenix envisions Kennard as a floor-spacer who could complement scorers and play-makers like Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre, and Ricky Rubio, per Wojnarowski.

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.