Cade Cunningham

Central Notes: Haliburton, Rivers, LaVine, Cunningham

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton is locked into a five-year extension that begins next season, but his hamstring strain, which kept him out nearly two weeks until Tuesday’s game against Boston, could prove very costly.

Haliburton’s total salary on that five-year deal could be either $204.5MM or $245.3MM, depending upon whether he’s paid 30% of a team’s salary cap as opposed to 25%. That extra 5% can be earned if he wins the MVP award or Defensive Player of the Year — or is voted onto one of the three All-NBA teams. However, under the new CBA he must appear in 65 regular-season games to qualify for postseason honors. He has already missed 13 games this season.

Haliburton realizes he can’t miss too many more games to get the full amount, Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star writes.

“I’m human like you guys,” he said. “I use the Internet as well. I completely understand it and I understand what’s at stake for me financially as well. But at the end of the day, it’s also that I have to take care of my body to the best of my ability and put myself in the right situation. Yeah, I know I don’t have a ton of games left.”

Haliburton voiced his displeasure regarding the new qualifications.

“I think it’s a stupid rule like many guys in the league,” Haliburton said. “But this is what the owners want, so as players, we have to do our job and play in 65 games if we’re able to. That’s what I gotta do, take care of my body to be able to play in those games.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks coach Doc Rivers said he’s intent on maximizing the potential of the Giannis AntetokounmpoDamian Lillard pairing, Eric Nehm of The Athletic relays. “It’s been effective, but it should be dominant, in my opinion,” Rivers said. “We did a lot of two-man work today. You won’t probably see a lot of it (immediately), but it was clear, I think the whole team pretty much got what we did after 20 minutes of doing the same thing. It’s important for us. And then the three-man game with Khris (Middleton). Throw Khris in there, too. That’s important, as well.”
  • Rivers replaced Adrian Griffin, who lost his job mainly due to the team’s defensive slippage. Even though the Bucks were defeated by Denver in Rivers’ debut, the new coach said the team is quite capable of regaining its defensive prowess, according to Jamal Collier of ESPN. “I told our guys, anyone who told you you couldn’t play defense lied,” Rivers said. “You proved that (Monday). You competed. … Our half-court defense was excellent. I think (Monday) was an offensive loss. I didn’t think we were crisp offensively.”
  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan talks to Zach LaVine on a regular basis, but trade rumors are not a topic for discussion, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times. ‘‘I haven’t talked to him about anything with the rumor piece of it,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I would just guess that with him being in the league for 10 years that these things would kind of happen. My talks with him have been more centered around his frustration with being out.’’ LaVine is currently sidelined by a right foot injury.
  • Pistons guard Cade Cunningham is listed as probable to play against Cleveland on Wednesday, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Cunningham missed eight games with a left knee strain, returned to action against Washington on Saturday, then sat out the second game of a back-to-back on Sunday.

Cade Cunningham Returns Saturday

The Pistons are fully healthy for the first time this season, as Cade Cunningham is making his return to action after missing nearly three weeks due to a knee injury, per The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III (Twitter link). After Monte Morris made his season debut on Wednesday, the Pistons will have their full rotation available on Saturday.

With Cunningham active, the Pistons turned to a starting lineup of Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren, according to Omari Sankofa II of Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). When Cunningham was out, Killian Hayes drew the start in his place, averaging 4.4 points and 7.4 assists per game during that stretch. He’ll head back to the bench with Cunningham healthy.

Getting Cunningham back is undoubtedly a huge boost for a Pistons team whose second unit appears to be clicking more as of late. Morris helped in his return, and Detroit has looked better since acquiring veterans Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala in a trade with the Wizards on Jan. 14. For what it’s worth, the Pistons are 2-3 since that trade, with the ninth-best offensive rating in the league in that stretch. They also haven’t lost a game by double digits since Jan. 10.

In 36 games (all starts) with Detroit this season, Cunningham holds averages of 22.8 points, 7.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds. He leads the team in points and assists.

Pistons Rumors: Core, Murray, LaVine, Bojan, Burks, Morris

The Pistons have already completed one in-season trade and are open to making more deals, but there are a few players on the roster who are considered essentially off-limits in trade discussions, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic.

According to Edwards, those players are Cade Cunningham, Ausar Thompson, Jalen Duren, and Jaden Ivey. There’s a belief that Detroit has no interest in moving any of those four youngsters in the immediate future and views them as the club’s “blue-chip pieces,” says Edwards.

While it’s no surprise that Cunningham, Thompson, and Duren in that group, Ivey’s inclusion was perhaps less of a certainty, given that his role has fluctuated under new head coach Monty Williams. However, the former No. 5 overall pick has received a minutes bump in recent weeks and is averaging 17.7 points and 4.8 assists per game in his last 14 appearances (all starts).

Here’s more on the Pistons and their trade deadline plans:

  • The Hawks initiated talks with the Pistons a few weeks ago about guard Dejounte Murray, according to Edwards, who says Atlanta was interested in Thompson and Ivey, among others. Detroit didn’t have interest in moving forward with those talks, given the Hawks’ asking price, sources tell The Athletic.
  • The Pistons have also spoken to the Bulls about Zach LaVine, but Chicago “appears to be locked in” on a package that would include Bojan Bogdanovic and one of those four young players Detroit doesn’t want to move, Edwards writes. While the Pistons wouldn’t want to make that sort of deal, they might have interest in LaVine if the Bulls lowered their asking price.
  • Although the Pistons aren’t actively shopping Bogdanovic or Alec Burks, they appear more open to moving the two veterans than they were a year ago, says Edwards. Bogdanovic has a $19MM partially guaranteed salary for next season, while Burks is on an expiring contract. According to Edwards, Detroit may end up pushing its decision on Bogdanovic to the summer and feels like it has a chance to re-sign Burks. However, neither player is off the table in the next couple weeks — Edwards believes an offer of at least two “really good” second-round picks would be enough for the Pistons to seriously consider moving Burks.
  • Monte Morris made his season debut for the Pistons on Wednesday and played well, registering seven points, three assists, and three rebounds in 11 minutes. The veteran guard said after the game that he felt good, though he believes he has room to improve (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press). League sources tell Edwards that potential suitors have expressed interest in Morris and will want to see how he performs upon returning from injury. It’s not a given that Detroit will trade the guard at the deadline, Edwards notes.

Central Notes: Griffin, Lillard, Pacers, Cunningham

The tensions that led to the Bucks‘ decision to fire head coach Adrian Griffin on Tuesday stemmed from a loss of their defensive identity, according to Ramona Shelburne and Jamal Collier of ESPN. A source tells the authors there was a “constant” string of internal conversations about why the team was falling short of expectations, even though Milwaukee is tied for the second-best record in the league at 30-13.

Griffin had a reputation as a defensive specialist after building the Raptors’ defense that resulted in a championship in 2019, and he impressed general manager Jon Horst and other team officials during the interview process with his ideas for the Bucks’ defense, according to Shelburne and Collier.

However, the aggressive scheme that Griffin implemented wasn’t popular with players, who couldn’t understand why center Brook Lopez was being taken out of drop coverage after finishing second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season, sources tell the authors. The new approach, which also included attacking ball-handlers far away from the basket, helped Milwaukee rise from 27th to fourth in the league in deflections, but the team ranked last in field goal percentage at the rim after five games before Griffin relented following a meeting with his top players.

Even though the Bucks kept winning, the defense never showed significant improvement, which caused the organization to lose its faith in Griffin. Shelburne and Collier note that former coaches reached out to Griffin to offer advice, including Lionel Hollins and Doc Rivers, who the authors say became a mentor to Griffin before ultimately replacing him in the job.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Fixing the Bucks‘ defense isn’t the only priority for Rivers as he takes over, observes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Damian Lillard is suffering through one of the worst shooting seasons of his career, connecting at just 42.7% from the field and 35.1% from three-point range, which are his lowest figures in nearly a decade. Nehm suggests that creating more pick-and-roll opportunities for Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo might be one of Rivers’ solutions.
  • The Pacers have a lot more options on defense after trading for Pascal Siakam, notes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Coach Rick Carlisle already took steps to improve atrocious defensive numbers early in the season by moving Aaron Nesmith and Jalen Smith into the starting lineup late last month. There has been progress, as Dopirak points out that the team is 19th in points allowed and 17th in defensive rating over its last 15 games.
  • The Pistons considered having Cade Cunningham return tonight, but coach Monty Williams will give him at least one more game off to recover from a left knee strain, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. “We felt like we were in a good place, but decided to make sure he’s in a good place before he’s out there,” Williams said in a pregame meeting with reporters. Cunningham was originally listed as probable before downgraded to questionable and then out.

Pistons’ Cunningham, Morris Probable To Play Wednesday

The Pistons could have their full complement of players for the first time this season when they face the Hornets on Wednesday.

Cade Cunningham and Monte Morris are listed as probable to play, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets.

Cunningham hasn’t played since departing Detroit’s Jan. 7 game at Denver after 11 minutes with a left knee strain. The Pistons’ franchise player, who is extension-eligible after the season, has missed the past seven games. He’s averaging 22.8 points, 7.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per contest this season.

Morris would be making his season – and Pistons – debut if he checks into the game. Morris has been sidelined due to a right quad strain. He was affected during the preseason by lower back soreness, then hurt his quad while rehabbing his back injury.

Morris was acquired from Washington in July and was expected to back up Jaden Ivey and Cunningham. He has an expiring $9.8MM contract, which could come in handy as the four-win Pistons explore trades to build a better future.

Injury Notes: Cunningham, LaVine, Hawks, Spurs, Whitehead

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, who has been out since January 7 due to a left knee strain, has been cleared to resume basketball activities, the team announced today in a press release. According to the Pistons, the plan is for Cunningham to begin ramping up for a return to action, which should happen within the next five-to-seven days.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • After rolling his right ankle in the third quarter of Thursday’s win over Toronto, Bulls guard Zach LaVine headed to the locker room, then returned to the bench and played a couple minutes in the fourth quarter, but he didn’t finish the game and it was “obvious” he wasn’t quite right, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. It’s unclear if the injury – which affected the same foot that cost LaVine 17 games earlier in the season – will force him to miss any additional time.
  • Hawks rookie Mouhamed Gueye (right low back stress fracture) has increased the intensity of his individual work and is now doing full-court activity, per the team (Twitter link). Gueye will be reevaluated in two or three weeks. In other Hawks health news, Trae Young has been ruled out for Friday’s game in Miami due to an illness, according to Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links).
  • Spurs big man Zach Collins is on track to return from his ankle sprain on Friday in Charlotte, says Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). The club has a back-to-back set tonight and tomorrow, so McDonald anticipates Collins will play on Friday and sit on Saturday, while Victor Wembanyama will be out tonight and play tomorrow.
  • The Nets announced on Thursday that rookie Dariq Whitehead has been diagnosed with a left shin stress reaction, adding that possible treatment options are still being considered, according to Ian Begley of (Twitter link).

Central Notes: Morris, Cunningham, Haliburton, Antetokounmpo

With Cade Cunningham sidelined by a left knee strain, the Pistons would love to have guard Monte Morris available. However, Morris has been out all season due to a quad injury.

Morris, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Washington, is making progress but he won’t return to action for at least a couple more weeks, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Morris has started ramping up his basketball activities this week and could make his season debut before the end of the month.

“Monte’s chomping to get back,” coach Monty Williams said. “This is the first time he hasn’t had pain in his leg since he got injured.”

Morris could be a trade chip for the Pistons — he has an expiring $9.8MM contract.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Speaking of Cunningham, Williams doesn’t believe his star guard was injured against Golden State on Friday, as some have speculated, Sankofa adds in another tweet. Cunningham played in the first half against Denver on Sunday. Williams blames himself for the heavy workload he has placed on Cunningham and some other players. “We looked at the film. We don’t think (he was injured against the Warriors). I just think it’s a bit of load,” Williams said. “I’m playing guys way too much in long stretches. It’s something that I have to look at when he comes back to make sure he’s not in this situation again.”
  • The Pacers were 1-9 last season when Tyrese Haliburton was sidelined by an elbow injury, but they feel confident that can hold the fort without him this season, according to Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. Haliburton will miss at least two weeks with a hamstring strain. “I think we have a better mentality moving forward than we did last year without him,” forward Aaron Nesmith said. “We have a really good next-man-up mentality, especially because we’re just so deep. Everyone on this team works hard, deserve to play, and they always showcase what they’re able to do when they get the chance. I think we’ll be alright.”
  • The Jazz shredded the Bucks’ defense on Monday and Milwaukee heard boos from the home fans. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who criticized the team’s defensive effort after Saturday’s loss to Houston, didn’t mince words again when asked about the team’s performance. “At the end of the day, you gotta play hard,” Antetokounmpo said. “I don’t think it’s about making or missing shots. It’s about giving effort out there and when you don’t, I think people feel that. When you wear a Bucks jersey and you don’t play hard — not just Bucks jerseys, any jersey — I think we have great fans. But around the league, if you don’t play hard and don’t give everything for the team, there are times where you might get booed.”

Cade Cunningham Will Be Reevaluated In 7-10 Days

JANUARY 9: The Pistons announced today in a press release that Cunningham has been diagnosed with a left knee strain and will be reevaluated in about seven-to-10 days.

JANUARY 8: The Pistons got some good news regarding Cade Cunningham‘s latest ailment. He avoided a serious injury to his left knee, according to Shams Charania and James Edwards III of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Cunningham didn’t play in the second half of the Pistons’ loss to Denver on Sunday due what the team described as a knee strain. There was no obvious play in which he was injured and there’s been speculation he might have tweaked the knee in the team’s previous game against Golden State.

“Our franchise player. A guy like that can’t play, it has a trickle-down effect across the board,” coach Monty Williams said during the postgame press conference. “We have different guys stepping up in the pecking order, having to handle the ball and make plays and that kind of thing. Pretty clear how important Cade is to our program.”

Cunningham could miss at least a few games, The Athletic duo adds. Detroit has a back-to-back against Sacramento on Tuesday and San Antonio on Wednesday. The Pistons will complete a three-game home stand against Houston on Friday.

Cunningham, the top pick of the 2021 draft, missed most of last season due to shin surgery. He’s averaging 22.8 points, 7.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds in his third season in the league.

Detroit is 3-33, having dropped four straight since snapping its record-breaking 28-game losing streak.

Central Notes: LaVine, Ball, Lillard, Beasley, Cunningham

The Bulls continue to make Zach LaVine available but they’re not looking to ship out multiple veterans and enter into a full-fledged rebuild, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack post.

In fact, the Bulls haven’t ruled out using Lonzo Ball‘s insurance-covered contract as part of a trade package to be buyers on the market. LaVine holds a $21,395,348 player option on his contract for next season. However, 80% of Ball’s contract is covered by league-provided insurance because he’s been sidelined so long. A potential trade partner could lower its payroll by acquiring Ball and inheriting the Bulls’ insurance payments.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Speaking of LaVine, who returned from a foot injury on Friday, he’s now dealing with right shoulder soreness, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. LaVine is available for tonight’s game against Charlotte after being listed as questionable.
  • Damian Lillard will miss the Bucks’ game on Monday for personal reasons, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Lillard, averaging 25.1 points and 6.9 assists in his first season with Milwaukee, has played in 34 of the Bucks’ first 36 games.
  • Malik Beasley wasn’t upset that Bucks coach Adrian Griffin benched him at the beginning of the second half against Houston on Saturday, Nehm adds in another tweet. “It was just coach’s decision. And like I said, I could play better. And on to the next one,” he said.
  • The Pistons are listing Cade Cunningham as out for Tuesday’s game against the Kings due to a left knee strain, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. Cunningham didn’t play in the second half of their loss at Denver on Sunday night

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Hayes, Sasser, Ivey, Thompson

A historically bad season in Detroit has the potential to get much worse. Cade Cunningham, who’s been one of the Pistons‘ few bright spots in this 3-33 campaign, left Sunday’s loss at Denver with a strained left knee midway through the second quarter, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press.

There wasn’t a single play on which Cunningham appeared to get hurt, which raises more concerns about the potential injury. Coach Monty Williams wasn’t able to provide any specifics after the game, and Sankofa states that the team can’t rule out the chance that Cunningham will miss more time.

“He’s important,” Williams said. “Our franchise player. A guy like that can’t play, it has a trickle-down effect across the board. We have different guys stepping up in the pecking order, having to handle the ball and make plays and that kind of thing. Pretty clear how important Cade is to our program.”

Amid the Pistons’ disastrous season, Cunningham has enjoyed a career year, averaging 23.4 points, 7.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds while appearing in all 36 games so far. The top pick in the 2021 draft has been playing his best basketball recently, Sankofa adds, scoring 30 points or more in six of his last nine games. He has also improved as a play-maker while reducing his turnover rate and has shown no lingering effects from the shin surgery that limited him to 12 games last season.

There’s more on the Pistons:

  • Killian Hayes replaced Cunningham in the starting lineup for the second half Sunday and Marcus Sasser was back in the rotation, notes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. They’re likely to have expanded roles if Cunningham is forced to miss games, and Edwards expects Jaden Ivey to be given more play-making duties. Edwards also notes that the Pistons are considered to be buyers rather than sellers as the trade deadline approaches, hoping to add veteran leaders to mentor their young talent, but a prolonged absence for Cunningham could make them reconsider that approach.
  • In an interview with Basket USA, Hayes expressed a desire to continue his career with the Pistons beyond this season. He’s headed toward restricted free agency after not reaching an extension with the team. “Right now, I’m in Detroit and we’re going to do everything we can to finish the season strong and then we’ll have discussions this summer,” Hayes said. “I’ve spent my entire NBA career in Detroit and it would be a pleasure to be able to stay. After all, it’s not just me who decides, but Detroit is my home. It’s been my home for three, four years and I hope to stay.”
  • Williams explained why rookie Ausar Thompson has seen a reduced role after a strong start, Edwards tweets. “Other guys are back and playing and, at the same time, every young player needs to process when they make repetitive mistakes,” Williams said. “There are a number of ways to develop players.”