Luke Kennard

Central Notes: Kennard, Porter Jr., Hutchison, Nwaba

Pistons fans may never forgive the previous regime for passing over Donovan Mitchell and taking Luke Kennard in the 2017 draft, but Kennard is doing his best lately to soften the blow. He has scored in double figures 10 of the last 14 games, helping the Pistons go 12-2 during that stretch. Opposing coaches have taken notice.

“Luke Kennard is really growing up right in front of us,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “The pick-and-roll game, shooting the ball. … You know you have respect when teams come out and double-team you. They were blitzing his pick and rolls. It’s a sign of respect around our league. He’s going to learn how to handle those situations and not let that take his confidence out of his shooting.”

Kennard will make $3.8MM next season and it seems like a mere formality the Pistons will pick up his $5.27MM fourth-year option before the October 31 deadline.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Casey feels the Bulls made a wise decision by acquiring small forward Otto Porter from the Wizards. He’s averaging 18.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.3 APG in his first 11 games with Chicago. “That was a smart move on Chicago’s part to bring him in and kind of set the tone for that team,” the Pistons’ head coach said. “You always want to have a guy that can shoot the ball and defend with his size.”
  • The Bulls’ prior starter at small forward could be done for the season, according to Sam Smith from the team’s website. Chandler Hutchison had a scan earlier this week on the toe injury to his right foot. The rookie first-rounder out of Boise State will be reevaluated in two weeks and a decision will then be made whether to shut him down. Hutchison, who was injured on January 25th, has not been able to work out because of a foot injury, Smith notes.
  • The Cavaliers should take a hard look at retaining guard David Nwaba, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Nwaba will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Cavs extend a qualifying offer of approximately $1.9MM this summer. Given his injury-riddled season and the fact the team was able to sign him to a minimum contract last summer, it’s hard to envision another team prying him away, Fedor notes. But Nwaba has the second-best plus-minus rating on the team behind only Kevin Love, Fedor adds.

Latest On Mike Conley

With three days to go until the trade deadline, the Jazz and Pistons remain the teams most frequently named as potential suitors for Mike Conley. Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Grizzlies are talking to both Utah and Detroit, adding that both clubs have made competitive offers for the veteran point guard (all Twitter links).

As previous reports have suggested, the Jazz’s offer for Conley centers around Ricky Rubio and a first-round draft pick, though at least one more player would need to be added for salary-matching purposes and Memphis may be seeking an additional pick.

According to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press, who confirms that the Pistons have engaged in talks with the Grizzlies, it’s fair to surmise that Detroit has offered Reggie Jackson and a first-rounder for Conley. However, a source tells Ellis that the Grizzlies would “want more.” Ellis wonders if adding Luke Kennard would be enough — and whether it’d be worth it for the Pistons.

Like the Jazz, the Pistons would also have to add at least one more player to their offer in order to match Conley’s salary. Many of Detroit’s most expensive contracts – including Jackson’s – are multiyear deals, while Utah has sizable expiring contracts like Rubio’s and Derrick Favors‘ available. The Grizzlies’ willingness to take on multiyear money is unclear, but those expiring deals would allow for more flexibility.

For their part, Conley and longtime teammate Marc Gasol are eager for answers about which team(s) they’ll be playing for on Friday, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press writes.

“You look forward to that deadline passing,” Conley said. “Either way it goes, you just want to get clarity and understand your situation going forward, and you try to block it out but it’s hard. Everybody who texts you or talks to you in person mentions something about it, so it’s hard to run from it. But you just hope for the week to get through real quick and get back to business, whether it’s here or anywhere else.”

Pistons Notes: Trade Deadline, Brown, Bullock

If the asset-strapped Pistons are going to make a splash at the NBA trade deadline they’ll have to get creative. As The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III writes, Detroit would presumably need to unload some sizable contracts if they brought back a significant package and the players currently making big money on their roster – outside of Blake Griffin – aren’t particularly desirable.

Edwards writes that Pistons senior adviser Ed Stefanski isn’t eager to give up a future first-round pick simply to alleviate the cap burden of its weighty contracts (Reggie Jackson‘s $17MM, Jon Leuer‘s $10MM, for example) but those picks could be in play if a solid star comes along. Edwards includes Bradley Beal as a hypothetical possibility that might warrant such a return.

The Pistons have some players that could be considered modest assets ahead of the deadline, including sophomore Luke Kennard and fourth-year forward Stanley Johnson. Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock, similarly, could draw interest from contending teams looking to shore up their rotations with veteran depth.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • While there are plenty of scenarios that could hypothetically jump-start a Pistons rebuild, Keith Langlois of the team’s official website writes in a weekly mailbag that he’d wager the team stands pat at the deadline. The club may look to shore up its second-unit but lack draft assets to offer in trades.
  • Scrappy first-year guard Bruce Brown has struggled to showcase his elite defensive skills lately, something head coach Dwane Casey‘s believes could be attributable to a famous foe in the basketball world. “I don’t know if it’s a rookie wall or whatever, but just the concentration, the attention to detail,” Casey told Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “Those are mental things that young fellows usually make when they’re mentally fatigued a little bit.
  • In the same blog post, Langlois writes that Reggie Bullock practiced on Wednesday. The 27-year-old sharpshooter and potential trade chip missed Tuesday’s game with a sprained ankle that has plagued him and and off throughout the season. His status is uncertain for Thursday.

Pistons Would Move Assets For Impact Player

The Pistons are willing to move assets to become more competitive in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not inclined to make a trade simply to dump a bad contract. That’s what senior advisor Ed Stefanski told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press in a recent Q&A.

Second-year guard Luke Kennard and future first-round picks are the most likely enticements to acquire another impact player, Ellis continues. The Pistons are close to the luxury-tax line and won’t exceed it unless they can get that type of talent.

“(Pistons owner) Tom Gores would go into the luxury tax only — and I agree with this — if it would move the needle for us to be a team that would allow us to compete in the conference,” Stefanski said. “If we’re asked to give up a big asset like a first-round pick to help the growth of the franchise, we would consider it. … If we weren’t sure of that, to make a big commitment with assets, I think could really hurt us. We can’t make a deal to set the franchise back.”

The Pistons have shown a willingness to trade a first-round pick in order to get an All-Star caliber talent. They traded their 2018 first-rounder last winter as part of the Blake Griffin deal.

Here’s more from Ellis’ chat with Stefanski:

  • Using an asset in order to move forward Jon Leuer, who is making approximately $10MM, or guard Langston Galloway ($7MM) — both of whom are signed through next season — wouldn’t make much difference on the Pistons’ cap situation for the 2019/20 season. Stefanski explains they’d be better off retaining their mid-level exception. “We wouldn’t improve substantially (in terms of cap room), so to use assets to get off some of the contracts you may want to get off — I’m not saying we want to — but to do something like that? It still wouldn’t create a lot of room.”
  • Stefanski believes Kennard, who was sidelined by a knee injury in the summer and a shoulder injury early in the season, is ready to make a bigger contribution. “What Kennard can do is make plays for other people. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used now that he’s got his legs back. … We can’t have enough shooters and you need playmaking. I think Kennard provides both to the table.”
  • Reggie Jackson has underperformed in Dwane Casey’s system but Stefanski is optimistic that will change. Jackson spent most of the offseason rehabbing an ankle injury. “Our medical people said he would not be physically there until the end of the year, that he would still need time because when you’re off your feet that long and not playing basketball, it doesn’t just pop back on. This will get better and better.”

Central Notes: Bucks, Turner, Lopez, Kennard

The Bucks enjoyed a pivotal year in 2018, with a new coach, a new building, a roster upgrade and the emergence of an MVP candidate, writes Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As a result, the franchise finishes the calendar year with the NBA’s best record at 25-10.

“This is not a Bucks team that’s trying to compete for mediocrity,” GM Jon Horst said. “We’re not happy and satisfied with just making it into the playoffs, even though that’s always a great accomplishment in its own right. I hope that they see it’s a team led by a young superstar in Giannis (Antetokounmpo) that has high character and wants to win at the highest level with great people throughout the organization from the top down.”

Mike Budenholzer took over as head coach in May and the team added several shooters over the offseason to fit his philosophy that emphasizes the 3-pointer. The team drafted Donte DiVincenzo and signed free agents Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton.

“It’s amazing,” Antetokounmpo said. “Got a new building, a new facility, a new head coach, a new system, everybody’s having fun, new atmosphere – it’s been amazing. … Moving on to 2019, I hope we can do big things and accomplish big things with this team.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers center Myles Turner suffered a broken nose in today’s game and will be fitted for a mask tomorrow, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. “The hope is that he doesn’t have a concussion,” coach Nate McMillan said. “He can play with a mask.”
  • Bulls center Robin Lopez believes coach Jim Boylen has won over the players after some initial resistance, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago has put together a 5-8 record since he took over for Fred Hoiberg earlier this month. ‘‘I think we kind of are seeing some results,’’ Lopez said. ‘‘I do think we’re making progress. It feels like guys have bought in and are playing together in this system.’’
  • After a DNP last Wednesday, the PistonsLuke Kennard studied some film to help fix his shot, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Kennard has hit 63% from the field and 44% from 3-point range over the last two games and is back in the mix for minutes at small forward.

Central Notes: Kennard, Krauskopf, Evans, Dunn

Luke Kennard may be the latest Pistons wing to play his way out of the starting small forward spot, as I noted in the Detroit Free Press. Kennard has scored just 24 points over the last six games after a 28-point outing in Philadelphia. The second-year swingman out of Duke was benched during the second half of a 98-95 home loss to Atlanta on Sunday. Stanley Johnson and Glenn Robinson III were also ineffective in that role. “There’s nothing maddening about it at all (but) you want that person to step in and produce,” coach Dwane Casey said of finding someone to fill that slot. “Give some production, whether it’s energy defensively, energy offensively, running the floor, cutting, just playing basketball. That’s what you’re searching for in that position.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard said that hiring Kelly Krauskopf as an assistant GM had nothing to do with making history, according to Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star. Krauskopf became the first women to hold that NBA front office position in a modern-day format in that she will be involved in personnel decisions. “It’s going to be made a big deal about (her being a woman) and the truth is she is just the best person for the job, period, end of discussion,” he said. “It doesn’t matter (her) gender, race, anything like that. She was the best person for the job.” Krauskopf spent 17 years as GM of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever.
  • Pacers guard Tyreke Evans has missed the last two games due to knee soreness and will be a game-time decision against Atlanta on Wednesday. Evans explained to Scott Agness of The Athletic that he aggravated an old right knee injury when the Sixers’ Joel Embiid fell on him during a collision. Fluid built up and Evans, who had three operations on that knee in 2016, needed to have the knee drained.
  • Bulls point guard Kris Dunn has taken a bigger offensive role with Zach LaVine sidelined by an ankle injury, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Dunn is averaging 17.8 PPG and 6.0 APG over the last five games with LaVine out of commission. “Whatever gets the win. If I’ve got to be aggressive on the offensive side looking at the rim a little bit more or getting my guys involved,” he said. “I’m a pass-first point guard but it’s the NBA.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/1/18

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Hornets sent forward Dwayne Bacon and guard Devonte’ Graham to the Greensboro Swarm, the team announced on its website. This is the first G League assignment of the season for Bacon, who has appeared in 13 games for Charlotte and is averaging 6.4 points per night. It’s the third time for Graham, who has gotten into eight NBA games.
  • The Spurs assigned Chimezie Metu to their Austin affiliate, according to the team website. He has appeared in 12 games with San Antonio.
  • The Pistons have recalled Luke Kennard from Auburn Hills, the team announced in an email. Kennard is recovering from an AC joint sprain in his right shoulder that has sidelined him for the past 15 games.
  • The Pelicans sent rookie Kenrich Williams to the G League, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. New Orleans doesn’t have a direct affiliate, so Williams has been assigned to the Westchester Knicks.
  • The Knicks called up center Luke Kornet from Westchester and placed him on the active list for tonight’s game, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets recalled guard Brandon Knight from their Rio Grande affiliate, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/29/18

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Pistons assigned guard Luke Kennard to the Grand Rapids Drive as he continues his rehab from a shoulder injury, announcing the news in an email. Kennard will play with the Drive in the team’s game on Friday.
  • The Grizzlies recalled then later assigned Jevon Carter to the Memphis Hustle, according to a tweet from the team. The move was made so Carter could practice with the Grizzlies Thursday morning.
  • The Suns have recalled guard De’Anthony Melton from Northern Arizona, the team announced. Melton is averaging 17 points, 6.6 assists and seven rebounds in five G League games this season.
  • The Timberwolves have assigned Keita Bates-Diop to the Iowa Wolves, the team’s G League affiliate, announcing the news on Twitter. Bates-Diop has seen action in two games with the Timberwolves this season.
  • The Celtics assigned guard Brad Wanamaker to their G League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, according to a tweet from the team. Wanamaker has scored 16 points in five games with Boston on the season.
  • The Knicks recalled Luke Kornet from the Westchester Knicks, the team announced. Kornet has played in four games with the Knicks.

Central Notes: Evans, Thompson, Bulls

Still in the early stages of his first season with the Pacers, Tyreke Evans continues to find his groove and fit on the team. Evans posted his best game of the season in Indiana’s win on Friday, and has said that he is continuing to adjust to the offense and will look to be more assertive moving forward.

Signed this past offseason on a one-year deal, Evans serves as the Pacers’ sixth man, providing capable shooting and ball-handling in bench units. So far this season, Evans is averaging 11.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, while knocking down 40 percent of his 3-pointers and playing 20.3 minutes per game.

The Pacers will continue to need Evans to step up alongside Victor Oladipo as they look to navigate the top of the Eastern Conference and cement themselves as true playoff contenders.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • With the Cavaliers suffering a slow start due to injuries and inconsistent play from many key rotational players, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic writes that amidst a career year, Tristan Thompson has also taken on a new role as a leader of the team, which is something the Cavaliers didn’t have when LeBron James left in 2010.
  • As the Bulls continue to struggle with injuries and inconsistent play, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago points out that the team is exactly where it should be given the injuries to some of its best players and the club’s primary focus on rebuilding and player development.
  • A recent Central Rumors post highlights Robin Lopez receiving more playing time to boost his trade value and provides updates on the injuries to Luke Kennard and John Henson.

Central Rumors: Henson, Lopez, Sexton, Kennard

John Henson‘s wrist injury will cost him more than just a chunk of the season, as Bobby Marks of ESPN explains. The Bucks center will lose $750K in bonus money due to clauses in his contract. He was due $250K for appearing in 60 games and an additional $500K for 75 games. Henson, who is signed through next season, is expected to miss at least 12 weeks due to a torn left wrist ligament. Henson’s cap hit for the 2019/20 campaign will be reduced to $9.7MM after the season once the bonuses are deemed unlikely. That will give Milwaukee a little more financial flexibility next summer.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls center Robin Lopez has seen his playing time increase in recent games and the team may be showcasing him and his expiring contract, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Lopez is making $14.3MM and the team could acquire an asset and move him to a contender, where he could add toughness off the bench without a long-term commitment, Cowley notes. Lopez is downplaying the possibility of getting traded. ‘‘I’ve always found that I kind of play best when I go out there and play unencumbered or unhampered by things like that,’’ he said.
  • Collin Sexton may have taken over the Cavaliers’ starting point guard spot from George Hill, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland’s lottery selection is averaging 18.0 PPG and shooting 48.4% since Hill injured his shoulder earlier this month. “There are just guys who feel more comfortable starting than coming off the bench,” head coach Larry Drew told Fedor and other media members. “I think everybody wants to start, but everybody’s production as a starter is not very good. … Certainly with G-Hill out, Collin has definitely stepped up to the plate and made his presence felt and has made a major impact to what we’ve been doing.”
  • Pistons shooting guard Luke Kennard will be out a few more weeks, according to the team’s latest medical update. Kennard suffered a right shoulder AC joint sprain on October 25th. Kennard’s rehabilitation process will continue for an additional two weeks with a gradual intensification towards basketball activity. That suggests Kennard, a second-year guard, won’t be back until sometime next month.