Luke Kennard

Eastern Notes: Kennard, Maker, Patton, Avdija, Garland

Rookie scale extension candidate Luke Kennard made a strong impression on Pistons coach Dwane Casey during the team’s mini-camp, James Edwards of The Athletic tweets. Kennard missed most of the season due to knee injuries but looked completely healthy during the workouts.

“Luke Kennard came in here in great shape. He accomplished and we accomplished with what we wanted to do with him. No tendinitis,” Casey said. “I think he’s in the best shape since I’ve coached him. He played with intelligence and confidence.”

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Neither Thon Maker nor Justin Patton stood out during that same Detroit mini-camp, Edwards reports. Entering the workouts, it was considered a battle for a frontcourt roster spot. However, it’s unlikely the Pistons will extend Maker a $4.64MM qualifying offer. Thus, Maker would become an unrestricted free agent. Patton, who has a non-guaranteed salary of $1.76MM next season, underwent pinkie surgery two days after group activities began.
  • Israeli forward Deni Avdija could be the Knicks’ target if he slides to the No. 8 pick, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The Knicks plan to interview Avdija, who is praised for his versatility and outside shooting touch. He’s currently ranked No. 4 among the best available prospects by ESPN.
  • Darius Garland stood out in the Cavaliers mini-camp, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Garland had the look of a “very dynamic point guard,” according to one of the team’s assistant coaches. Garland averaged 12.3 PPG, 3.9 APG and 2.6 TPG in 59 starts as a rookie after being selected with No. 5 overall pick.

Central Notes: Markkanen, Achiuwa, Doumbouya, Kennard

Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, is optimistic he’ll take major steps forward under new coach Billy Donovan, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Markkanen has already spoken with Donovan about how he’ll be more involved offensively next season. “It’s really important,” Markkanen said of next season. “I’ve got show people that I can come back from the down year I had. It didn’t put me down at all.” Markkanen’s 14.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG in his third year were lower than the numbers he put up in his first two seasons.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers have already talked remotely to Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa and Stanford’s Tyrell Terry, two of the players who will take part in the virtual combine on Tuesday, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets. Achiuwa, a power forward, is ranked No. 10 overall by ESPN while Terry, a point guard, is rated as a second-round prospect at No. 42.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey is encouraged by what he’s seen from forward Sekou Doumbouya in group workouts, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Doumbouya was the team’s first-round pick last year and appeared in 38 games, including 19 starts. “Sekou has had a good week,” Casey said. “His seriousness of his approach has really improved. His body is in excellent condition. He’s one of the bright spots.”
  • Pistons swingman Luke Kennard has been getting reps at point guard during those same workouts, Langlois notes in a separate story. Kennard, who missed the bulk of the season with knee injuries, is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. “It’s a really big year for me, a really big year for the team,” Kennard said. “I’m one of the older guys and I’ve got to help lead the team this year.”

Pistons Notes: Wood, Kennard, G League, Mincberg

An agent who spoke to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic speculates that Christian Wood may lose some leverage on the free agent market this offseason as a result of two factors: The impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on the salary cap and the fact that the Pistons have a new general manager in Troy Weaver.

As the agent points out, Weaver has a fresh slate and doesn’t necessarily have an attachment to Wood, so he may be reluctant to commit big money to the breakout big man, since it would hamper his flexibility going forward. And since few teams around the NBA will have cap room available, the Pistons may be able to play hardball to some extent with Wood and avoid making a massive commitment.

“To me, Christian Wood and his reps have a tricky situation because you have that situation with the Pistons’ (new GM), the lack of a rise in cap space and things like that,” the agent told Edwards. “They have to play their hand right, or they could be out there looking for a chair in a game of musical chairs.”

The agent added that he’d feel more comfortable investing long-term in Luke Kennard – who will be extension-eligible this offseason – than in Wood, given the way the wing and big man positions are valued in the modern NBA.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com takes a closer look at the Pistons’ purchase of the Northern Arizona Suns, detailing how it will allow the team to move its G League affiliate to Detroit and why the organization felt the investment will be a worthwhile one.
  • As Langlois details in a separate article at Pistons.com, Weaver and the Pistons’ front office will face a difficult challenge in this year’s draft: Finding a potential franchise cornerstone in a draft class that appears lacking in surefire stars.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News spoke to Bucks general manager Jon Horst about David Mincberg, whom the Pistons recently hired away from Milwaukee as an assistant general manager. “I think that he’s a very creative thinker that has a persistent, tactful way of approaching things,” Horst said of Mincberg. “And that, for me, was incredibly beneficial.”
  • It remains to be seen whether the NBA will actually move forward with a reported plan to create a second “bubble” in Chicago for the league’s bottom eight teams, but Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press explores whether such an arrangement would benefit the Pistons.

Central Notes: Holden, Kennard, Holiday, Bulls

As the Pistons close in on a GM, they are also looking at Nets director of player personnel J.R. Holden and Warriors assistant GM Mike Dunleavy as potential front office additions, SNY’s Ian Begley tweets. Presumably, Detroit would consider Holden and Dunleavy as candidates as assistant GMs.

However, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets that the Pistons plan to hire a GM first and allow that person to fill out the staff. Thunder executive Troy Weaver has reportedly emerged as the leading candidate in their GM search, though Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes and Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson are also in the mix.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pistons swingman Luke Kennard is confident the knee tendinitis that cut short his season is no longer an issue, as he told Keith Langlois of the team’s website. Kennard didn’t play after Christmas but was just about to return when the pandemic struck  in March. The Pistons, who are not part of the league’s restart plan, may have to wait until December to play again. “I’m not really nervous about the time off,” Kennard said. “I know what I’m doing right now is going to allow me to stay healthy and get through a full season and be ready to go for all 82 games or whatever they decide.”
  • Pacers guard Aaron Holiday has signed with BDA Sports and will be represented by veteran agent Bill Duffy and Nima Namakian, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. Holiday is signed through at least next season. The Pacers hold an option worth approximately $4MM on his contract for the 2021/22 season.
  • Jim Boylen’s status as the Bulls coach remains up in the air even though front office changes have been made and Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times believes the franchise’s reputation has something to do with it, he said on 670 The Score (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman).(Rick) Carlisle, the Dallas coach, has made it very clear the disdain the Coaches Association and a lot of coaches have for the Bulls and the practices they have toward coaches. … They’re buying time because they have time to buy, but also I think it’s also a perception thing that they’re looking to change.”

Eastern Notes: Kennard, Biyombo, Van Gundy, Tatum

Pistons swingman Luke Kennard has fully healed from the knee tendinitis that sidelined him for nearly three months before the season was suspended, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Kennard will have to wait until December to play again since the lottery-bound Pistons won’t be part of 22-team restart in Orlando. He’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension when this season ends.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hornets’ season is over and that means three of their players are now free agents, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes. Centers Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez and guard Dwayne Bacon will be on the market in October when free agency begins. Guard Malik Monk remains suspended indefinitely for violation of the NBA anti-drug policy, Bonnell adds. Monk was suspended in late February.
  • Tom Thibodeau is considered the front-runner for the Knicks head coaching job and Jeff Van Gundy says Thibodeau is misunderstood, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. The longtime TV analyst and former Knicks coach made his comments during a Sirius XM Radio interview. “Unfortunately for him the perception of him on the sidelines as this gruff, nasty dude is not even close to who is he personally,” Van Gundy said. “Like, he is a great guy. He’s fun to be around. He’s enjoyable to be around, and he loves basketball.” 
  • NBC Sports’ A. Sherrod Blakely takes a close look on what Celtics fans should watch for when the season resumes, including whether Jayson Tatum can continue his breakout season.

Central Notes: Pistons, Satoransky, Markkanen, Cavs

While it may seem that the Pistons wouldn’t benefit from being included in any NBA plan to resume the season, waiting for next season could prove detrimental to the franchise, as the team’s website writer Keith Langlois explains.

Rookie Sekou Doumbouya needs all the time he can get playing and working with the team’s coaches, while Luke Kennard — sidelined by knee injuries much of the season — could prove he’s healthy with rookie scale extension talks looming. An unprecedented, prolonged break prior to next season would disrupt the Pistons’ rebuilding plan as well as the players’ circadian rhythm, Langlois adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky is also concerned about a huge gap between seasons for also-rans, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. In an interview posted on Euro Hoops Instagram Live, Satoransky said it would be very tough for NBA players to deal with that type of layoff. “I think it’s difficult to imagine being without a game until December, this year basically being without games. That kind of changes your perspective also on being able to come back to finish the season,” Satoransky said. “We are competitors and we want to compete against everyone.”
  • There were rumblings during the season that Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen was unhappy, but he declared in a recent podcast he wants to stay with the franchise long-term. “I want to stay in Chicago and sign an extension (with the Bulls), no question. I love this city,” Markkanen said on Finnish podcast Urheilucast (hat tip to On Tap Sports Net). Markkanen is eligible for a rookie scale extension prior to next season.
  • The Cavaliers are another team that could be left out of the NBA’s final plan to resume the season. Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer breaks down the implications for the franchise in each possible scenario.

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.