Mason Plumlee

Central Notes: Lopez, Plumlee, Bjorkgren, Sabonis, Turner

Bucks center Brook Lopez will be facing his former team in the conference semifinals and Nets coach Steve Nash believes he could be a key player in the series, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “He could be one of the wild cards,” Nash said. Lopez, who is signed through the 2022/23 season, averaged 15.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 1.3 BPG during the first-round sweep of the Heat.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons raised a lot of eyebrows when they signed Nuggets reserve center Mason Plumlee to a three-year, $24MM+ contract last fall but Plumlee justified it with a productive season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. Plumlee averaged 10.4 PPG, a career-high 9.3 RPG and 3.6 APG while serving as a post facilitator and setting solid screens. He’ll remain a rotation fixture in his second season with the franchise, Langlois adds.
  • The Pacers’ offseason appears to be on hold until the front office decides what to do with head coach Nate Bjorkgren, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files writes. It’s the biggest decision that team president Kevin Pritchard will make to date and he’s pondering all his options.
  • If the Pacers decide to break up their frontcourt duo of All-Star Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, it’s generally assumed the front office will move Turner. Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel (subscription required) explores a variety of metrics and concludes that it’s not a clear-cut decision.

Central Rumors: Turner, Pistons, Plumlee, Diallo, Bulls

The Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, Hornets, and Pelicans are among the teams to explore whether the Pacers are willing to trade big man Myles Turner, league sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

The Pacers were willing to discuss Turner in trade talks during the 2020 offseason and have lost 17 of their last 26 games after an 8-4 start this season, so it’s no surprise that teams are inquiring on the NBA’s leading shot-blocker.

However, Michael says that if Indiana does look to make a move at the trade deadline, it’s unlikely to involve Turner, who has developed into a crucial part of the team’s success. The Pacers have been better both offensively and defensively when he’s on the court.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Within his look at some hypothetical trades for the Pistons, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic reports that the team is seriously discussing trades involving Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, and Mason Plumlee, adding that there have been some “whispers” about the Nets potentially being interested in Plumlee.
  • Hamidou Diallo‘s Pistons debut will be delayed a little longer due to his groin strain, head coach Dwane Casey said on Monday (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press). Diallo missed his last several games with Oklahoma City as a result of the injury, which he suffered on February 24.
  • The Bulls‘ new-look rotation got off to a good start on Sunday, as the team comfortably defeated Toronto with Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young replacing Coby White and Wendell Carter in the starting lineup. Head coach Billy Donovan cautioned after the game that the new starting five isn’t “set in stone” (Twitter link via Eric Woodyard of ESPN). However, the affected players sounded fully on board with the changes, with Carter stating that he would’ve benched himself too, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores what the lineup changes might say about the Bulls‘ approach to the trade deadline, suggesting that the team seems unlikely to be a seller.

Pistons Notes: Diallo, Mykhailiuk, Smith, Plumlee

The Pistons agreed to a trade with the Thunder on Friday in which they’ll acquire guard Hamidou Diallo in exchange for swingman Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2027 second-round pick. According to James Edwards III of The Athletic, the Pistons have pursued Diallo since Troy Weaver, a longtime Oklahoma City executive, was named GM. They currently can’t extend Diallo’s contract at a reasonable price for six months after acquiring him in a trade, but they intend to re-sign him in restricted free agency.

We have more from the Pistons:

  • Weaver essentially chose to make Diallo a long-term priority over Mykhailiuk — also a restricted free agent after the season — because of Diallo’s superior athleticism and length, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Diallo better fits the mold of players that Weaver has added to the roster, Beard notes.
  • Guard Dennis Smith Jr. won’t play against Brooklyn on Saturday due to the league’s health and safety protocols, Edwards tweets. Smith, an unrestricted free agent after the season unless he receives a $7MM+ qualifying offer, filled in as the starting point guard with Delon Wright sidelined for a few games prior to the All-Star break. He returned to the bench as Wright’s backup in the first game after the break against Charlotte.
  • Many eyebrows were raised when the Pistons signed Mason Plumlee to a three-year, $25MM contract in free agency, despite the fact that he was a backup in Denver. Plumlee has validated Detroit’s decision while averaging 10.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG and 3.8 APG as a starter. Coach Dwane Casey lobbied Weaver to sign Plumlee, as Keith Langlois of the team’s website writes. “Coach Casey, this was his No. 1 guy he really wanted for our ballclub because of the different skills he brings, the experience, the locker-room presence,” Weaver said.

USA Basketball Expands Finalist List for Olympic Roster

Fifteen players have been added to the list of finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. The group will eventually be pared down to 12 players who will participate in the Olympic Games, which are set for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will serve as coach for the U.S. team, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova coach Jay Wright and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce as his assistants.

No tryouts will be held this year. Instead, USA Basketball will choose the final roster by early summer. Training camp is scheduled to being in early July before the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible,” USA Basketball men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that. Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The new names under consideration are:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  2. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  3. Jerami Grant (Pistons)
  4. Blake Griffin (Nets)
  5. Jrue Holiday (Bucks)
  6. DeAndre Jordan (Nets)
  7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)
  8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
  9. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Fred VanVleet (Raptors)
  12. John Wall (Rockets)
  13. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
  14. Christian Wood (Rockets)
  15. Trae Young (Hawks)

Forty-two players remain from the original list, which was announced in February 2020:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Nets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Lakers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Hornets)
  22. Dwight Howard (Sixers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Cavaliers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
  36. Chris Paul (Suns)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Pistons)
  38. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  39. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  40. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  41. Russell Westbrook (Wizards)
  42. Derrick White (Spurs)

Two players removed from that list are Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Smart turned down an invitation because of injury concerns due to having a short offseason and playing late into consecutive seasons (Twitter link).

Pistons GM Weaver Talks Deadline, Casey, Hayes, More

Speaking today to reporters, including James Edwards III of The Athletic and Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said that he plans to remain aggressive at the trade deadline, but doesn’t anticipate it being nearly as eventful as the 2020 offseason, when the front office overhauled nearly Detroit’s entire roster.

“I wouldn’t expect a bunch of fireworks, but we’re going to be aggressive and comb the league and look at things to see if we can get better,” Weaver said. “But I don’t anticipate as much activity as we had in November. It would be kind of hard to top that.”

Weaver addressed a series of other topics during his media session, praising head coach Dwane Casey for the player-development work he has done this season and stating that there will be an update on injured point guard Killian Hayes (hip) next week. The Pistons’ GM added that the team intends to take a “long, long look” at Dennis Smith Jr. and that he likes what he has seen so far.

Here are a few more of the most notable quotes from Weaver’s presser, via Edwards and Langlois:

On whether anyone on the roster is off-limits via trade:

“No. Nobody is untouchable. … I learned, ‘Never say never,’ but there are some guys who are here to stay, so we’ll see. … I’ll say this guy is untouchable and then someone calls and offers four first-round picks. Strange things have happened.”

On whether Mason Plumlee might be traded at the deadline:

“Mason has been tremendous. Coach Casey … this was his No. 1 guy that he really wanted for our ball club because of the different skills he brings, experience and locker room presence, and Casey was dead on. This guy has been tremendous for us. He’s really helped the young guys, really stepped his game up.

“… As far as the trade deadline, I’m not sure what’s going to come our way with Mason. We’re extremely happy with him right now.”

On why Weaver uses the team “restore” rather than the more-common “rebuild”:

“My dad, he used to collect older cars, and he had a 1966 Monte Carlo that he was restoring. Before he passed, I would go out there and talk with him. He said, ‘You can only restore something that is great.’ That stuck with me.

“There’s been greatness in Detroit. Three championships. That’s why I wanted to use it. No slight to what I’m about to say, but the Timberwolves can’t restore. They don’t have three championships. They don’t have the greatness. The Atlanta Hawks can’t restore. The Detroit Pistons can restore. We want to restore greatness back in the franchise.”

Central Notes: D. Smith, LeVert, Wade, Bulls

Pistons guard Dennis Smith Jr., acquired in a trade with the Knicks on February 7, has shown flashes since that deal of the potential that made him a lottery pick in 2017. Smith has averaged 8.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 1.3 SPG for Detroit, and had his best game on Wednesday, putting up a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a win over the Raptors.

Smith and teammate Mason Plumlee were the first Pistons players to put triple-doubles in the same game in 57 years (link via Pistons.com). Before joining his new team, Smith had only played in three games for the Knicks this season and had requested to play in the G League.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Pacers guard Caris LeVert has progressed to doing practice drills, and 1-on-1 training, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. LeVert underwent surgery to remove a previously unknown kidney cancer in January after being traded to the Pacers in the four-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn.
  • Cavaliers second-year forward Dean Wade, who recently had his 2020/21 salary guaranteed, has started in the last five games after no prior starts in his first 35 NBA games. Most recently, he had 17 points and six rebounds against the Pacers on Wednesday. “I never doubted myself,” Wade said, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “Obviously, through the whole journey, every once in a while, you’re going to think, ‘Can I do it?’… “I’ve always believed in myself.”
  • Tension between a head coach and a GM has been a recurring theme for Jerry Reinsdorf‘s franchises over the years, but there doesn’t seem to be any drama between new Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovanwrites Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I think he’s doing a great job,” Karnisovas said of Donovan. “I’ve watched all the media availabilities by him… And I think the one question that’s always coming up is, ‘When do they meet? When do they talk?’ We talk every day. We talk before every practice, we spend time during practices, talk after practices, before games, after games, so the communication is always there. I expected that, and more so, there’s no misunderstandings from my side or his side.” 

Cavaliers, Pistons Among Definite Deadline Sellers

Because there’s now a potential path to the postseason for the top 10 teams in each NBA conference (via the new play-in tournament), it’s taking longer this season for clear sellers to emerge on the trade market, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Most teams are still in the playoff chase, which makes everyone bunched together and the trade market less active,” a high-ranking team official told The Athletic.

However, as Charania reports, at least two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings look like definite sellers, according to rival teams. The 13th-seeded Cavaliers and the 15th-seeded Pistons appear to be open for business.

Cleveland’s most obvious trade candidate is Andre Drummond, who has been pulled from the rotation as the team looks to find a taker for him. According to Charania, there have been some exploratory calls on Drummond, with the Bulls among the teams to express some interest, but there’s still skepticism that the Cavs will find an appealing deal for the big man, who has an unwieldy $28.75MM cap hit.

Drummond isn’t the only Cavalier on the trade block. The club has also been open to discussing JaVale McGee, Cedi Osman, and Taurean Prince, according to Charania, who hears that multiple teams have inquired on the Cavs’ wing players. Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Isaac Okoro are viewed as the club’s core pieces and are presumably off-limits.

Like the Cavs, the Pistons have an expensive big man who is sitting out as the team attempts to move him. However, Blake Griffin, who is making more than Drummond ($36.8MM) and has another guaranteed year left on his contract, will be even harder to trade. Sources tell Charania and James Edwards III of The Athletic that Detroit will likely work toward a buyout with Griffin.

Veteran shooting guard Wayne Ellington is expected to draw interest from contenders on the trade market and should be a far more valuable trade chip than Griffin, given his affordable minimum salary and his strong production in 2020/21 (10.6 PPG, .435 3PT%).

According to Edwards, combo guard Delon Wright and big man Mason Plumlee have also registered interest from rival teams, but both players are under contract beyond this season, so the Pistons won’t necessarily feel compelled to move them. As Edwards explains, while Detroit will be a deadline seller, the sense around the league is that GM Troy Weaver won’t be as aggressive this month as he was during his first offseason on the job, when he remade nearly the entire roster.

Central Notes: Forbes, Holiday, Nwora, Stewart, Plumlee

Shooting guard Bryn Forbes has moved into the Bucks’ starting lineup in place of Jrue Holiday, who has been sidelined by the league’s health and safety protocols, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Holiday will miss his third consecutive game on Friday and it’s unknown how long he’ll be out.

In the Bucks’ first two games without Holiday, Forbes averaged 16 PPG. Forbes holds a $2.45MM option on his contract for next season. Backup point guard D.J. Augustin has remained in that role.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks have recalled rookie Jordan Nwora from the G League’s Salt Lake City Stars, according to a team press release. Nwora appeared in one game with Salt Lake City and scored a game-high 26 points against the Erie BayHawks. The second-round pick has appeared in 10 NBA games, averaging 5.1 PPG and 1.5 RPG in 8.2 MPG.
  • Rookie center Isaiah Stewart made his first start for the Pistons on Thursday in place of injured Mason Plumlee and scored a season-high 17 points. Stewart, one of three first-rounders from the 2020 draft on Detroit’s roster, has to learn the nuances of the game but coach Dwane Casey loves Stewart’s energy, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “I wouldn’t trade his intensity, his disposition, his earnest approach for anything in the world,” Casey said. “That kid, he’s going to be OK.”
  • The Pistons were severely shorthanded up front against the Celtics on Friday, Langlois tweets. Plumlee missed his second straight game with right elbow bursitis and Sekou Doumbouya was sidelined by a concussion. Another backup big man, Jahlil Okafor, is out 6-8 weeks after undergoing knee surgery.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Walsh, Plumlee, LaVine

The Cavaliers are in relatively good shape in relation to the salary cap, but will have some challenging decisions to make later in 2021, as Kelsey Russo and Danny Leroux of The Athletic examine.

Russo and Leroux estimate a price range for newly-acquired center Jarrett Allen ($8-12MM annually), who will enter restricted free agency this summer, and try to assess whether or not Cleveland will bring back reserve center JaVale McGee. They also discuss whether or not Cleveland will extend standout guard Collin Sexton during the offseason.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Former Pacers consultant Donnie Walsh, 79, spoke with Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files about his retirement this season. “I don’t have the same energy, I don’t have the same body, I guess, that I used to have,” Walsh said. “I just thought I’d like to spend the complete time with different members of my family and have the ability to do that. So that was the real reason I did it.”
  • New Pistons free agent addition Mason Plumlee has emerged as Detroit’s “glue guy,” willing to do the team’s glass-cleaning and interior defensive dirty work, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News“Mason is a great facilitator and obviously a great rebounder,” said fellow free agent signing Jerami Grant. “He can finish a lot of plays. We’re still a new team, so he’s getting more comfortable and playing at a high level.”
  • The Bulls may have a decision to make regarding star shooting guard Zach LaVine, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times contends. The athletic sharpshooter, currently earning $19.5MM a year, will be in line for a raise on his next contract and could come at a cost higher than what Chicago should pay for a one-way player. Cowley points to LaVine’s ranking as 113th of 113 shooting guards in defensive real plus-minus as a limiting factor to his efficacy on a contender, and suggests the Bulls should think about moving the guard if they’re not comfortable maxing him out.

Pistons Notes: Jackson, Plumlee, Sirvydis, Grant, Griffin

The Pistons‘ two-year deal with Josh Jackson is worth the full room exception, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). With no options on year two, Jackson is assured of earning about $9.77MM over the course of the deal, including $4.77MM in 2020/21.

Newly-signed big man Mason Plumlee, meanwhile, also has no options on the final season of his new contract with the club. The three-year deal, initially reported as being worth $25MM, technically has an overall value of $24.66MM, but it does feature a 10% trade kicker, per Smith (Twitter link).

Finally, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link) provides the details on Deividas Sirvydisnew contract. The 2019 second-round pick inked a three-year, minimum-salary deal that features full guarantees in years one and two, with a non-guaranteed salary in 2022/23.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • In a conference call with reporters today, Pistons GM Troy Weaver said that Jerami Grant was the team’s top target in free agency and that he believes the forward has All-Defensive potential (Twitter links via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press and Eric Woodyard of ESPN). “The Pistons had two iterations of great teams, and Jerami could have played on both teams,” Weaver said of Grant (Twitter link via James Edwards III of The Athletic).
  • Weaver also said that both Grant and Josh Jackson were players the team wanted to pursue aggressively when free agency opened, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “Both tremendous young men,” Weaver said. “Bring exactly what we needed for this team – long, versatile athletes that can play multiple positions. That’s today’s NBA.”
  • While the Pistons will likely be cautious with Blake Griffin after he missed most of 2019/20 with a knee injury, the former All-NBA forward isn’t interested in minutes restrictions, head coach Dwane Casey said this week (Twitter link via Edwards). “He’s full-go,” Casey said. “… We’re a different team with him.”
  • The Pistons announced today in a press release that their signing of veteran shooting guard Wayne Ellington is now official. His minimum-salary contract is fully guaranteed, tweets Keith Smith.