Jaden Ivey

Central Notes: Bulls, Giannis, Ivey, Pistons

After making only minor roster moves for a second straight summer, the middling Bulls might be best served by fully embracing a tank, opines Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Cowley writes that team president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley need to concede that their momentous roster reconstruction in 2021 ultimately did not succeed, and the club must now pivot to offloading big veterans in exchange for future draft equity. Cowley believes Chicago’s top priority should be finding a young point guard it can build around.

With star wings DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine leading the charge, the Bulls have gone a cumulative 86-78 over the past two regular seasons, with just a single playoff game win to their credit.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Though Bucks All-NBA power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is now eligible to ink a three-year, $169MM contract extension, he has indicated he intends to wait until next summer to make a decision. At that point, he could agree to a four-year deal worth a projected $234MM (or potentially more, depending on where the NBA’s salary cap lands). He has a $51.9MM player option for the 2025/26 season. Should Antetokounmpo eventually ask for a trade, he would entice the entire league, Adrian Wojnarowski said on Friday on ESPN’s NBA Today (YouTube video link). “Listen, the possibility of a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo becoming available, it creates a frenzy around the league behind closed doors,” Woj said.
  • Second-year Pistons shooting guard Jaden Ivey is hoping to take a step up defensively in 2023/24, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. The 6’4″ guard showed improvement as a shooter and passer throughout his rookie season last year, and is now looking to develop on the other side of the ball. “Being able to just play better defense, I think that’s what I tried to lock into more [over the summer],” Sankofa opines. “Using my speed to get through ball screens and not giving up on ball screen reads. Always staying on the play, always staying involved defensively. I feel like I got better in that aspect.”
  • In a new reader mailbag, Sankofa addresses a variety of Pistons topics, including whether he thinks Detroit could try to trade for Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield, whether or not combo forward Isaiah Livers will earn rotation minutes amidst a deeper frontcourt, and more.

Pistons Notes: Duren, Stewart, Hayes, Thompson

Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart appear to be the favorites to start at center and power forward for the Pistons heading into training camp, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes in a mailbag column. Langlois sees them as having a clear edge over James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III. He cites Duren’s impressive showing at Summer League, which he followed up with a strong performance as part of the Select Team that scrimmaged against Team USA’s World Cup squad.

The bigger concern for Wiseman and Bagley, according to Langlois, is whether new head coach Monty Williams is willing to give regular playing time to four big men. They could be battling for one rotation role, not only in camp but throughout the season.

Langlois also raises the possibility that Williams won’t want to start two traditional big men. That could lead to Bojan Bogdanovic getting the starting nod as a stretch four, with Isaiah Livers possibly claiming the other forward spot.

There’s more on the Pistons:

  • Killian Hayes needs to establish himself as an NBA player as he enters the final year of his rookie contract, but his path to playing time appears to be blocked, Langlois adds. Cade Cunningham‘s return will consume a lot of the backcourt minutes, and Hayes will have to compete with Jaden Ivey, Alec Burks, newcomer Monte Morris and rookie Marcus Sasser as well. Langlois suggests that Hayes might be included in a multi-player trade at some point to help balance salaries.
  • Overtime Elite trainer Luke Cooper believes Ausar Thompson has the drive to become a star, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Cooper said Thompson’s obsession to excel at every part of the game led to some late-night phone calls during their two years of working together. “I’ll get a text or call saying, ‘I mastered it,’ and I’d have no idea what he was talking about,” Cooper said. “It would be some little move that we worked on earlier that day that bothered him so much because he didn’t feel comfortable with it, so he went to his room and worked on it, in his room, until he felt comfortable with it.”
  • In a separate story, Edwards examines potential lineup combinations for the upcoming season, looking at which five-man units might work best in different situations.

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Harris, Morris, 2024 Cap Room

The Pistons made a few roster upgrades this summer, but the biggest reason for optimism is the return of Cade Cunningham, who was limited to 12 games last season before deciding to have shin surgery. Anthony L. Schulte of The Detroit Free Press takes a look at how Cunningham’s presence will affect the rest of Detroit’s backcourt.

The biggest influence may involve second-year guard Jaden Ivey, who became one of the team’s top play-makers with Cunningham out of action. They will likely be the starting backcourt, and Schulte expects Ivey to adopt more of a scoring mentality with Cunningham running the offense.

Schulte adds that Cunningham’s return may cause the Pistons to move on from Killian Hayes, who flourished somewhat last season but still faces an uncertain future in Detroit. The Pistons reportedly talked to the Mavericks about a Hayes trade this summer, but weren’t able to make much progress.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons may have trouble finding minutes for Joe Harris, who was acquired in a trade with the Nets, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press states in an overview of the roster. Even though there’s a need for more shooting, Bojan Bogdanovic appears locked in as the starting small forward and the team invested a high lottery pick on Ausar Thompson, who was impressive during Summer League.
  • There will also be a competition for playing time in the backcourt, where newly acquired Monte Morris will benefit from his ability to handle either guard position, Sankofa adds. Morris used to play alongside Nikola Jokic in Denver, so he has plenty of experience in moving without the ball. “I ain’t gotta be on the ball all the time, so I’ll be able to play off the ball alongside Cade, kinda like the Jamal Murray role when me and him was in the backcourt together,” Morris said. “Whatever situation they want me to play, I’ve seen it all. I’ve played third, fourth option, second option, all that. I’m just a hooper, bro. I don’t really care.”
  • Instead of signing free agents, the Pistons used most of this year’s cap money to trade for Harris and Morris, who both have expiring contracts, notes Marlowe Alter of The Detroit Free Press. Detroit is projected to have more than $50MM in cap space next summer, and the 2024/25 season will be the final year before Cunningham’s expected extension kicks in.

Central Notes: Williams, Pistons, Haliburton, Toppin, Mitchell

The inclusion of young Pistons guards Cade Cunningham and Jalen Duren on USA Basketball’s Select Team ahead of the August FIBA World Cup is a positive sign for Detroit, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

As Langlois explains, even being named to the group against which Team USA will scrimmage should be seen as a big honor, and being able to rub shoulders with some of the elite young players in the game should help clue the two young Pistons into just what it takes to thrive as a pro.

According to Langlois, Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, actually received an invitation to join Team USA’s World Cup roster, but opted for a “more measured approach” as he continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired shin.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • New Pistons head coach Monty Williams will have numerous options as he susses out Detroit’s rotation, writes Langlois in a separate piece. Langlois notes that, while the starting roles of Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and power forward Bojan Bogdanovic are secure, it will be up to Williams to configure the rest of the club’s rotation.
  • Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton and newly acquired power forward Obi Toppin gave fans a tantalizing look at their on-court fit during Kyle Guy‘s Dizzy Runs Pro Am in Noblesville, Indiana, per The Indianapolis Star (subscriber-only link). Toppin discussed his offseason program. “It’s been mostly making shots and working on some of the actions that are different than New York’s,” Toppin said. “It’s just learning the new lingo and the offense that they run. I’ve been working with Ty with that and he’s been teaching me a little bit.”
  • The Cavaliers’ priority is holding onto All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell long-term with a team that he enjoys, not trading him, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Mitchell has a player option for 2025/26, meaning he could reach free agency in just two seasons. “They’re doing their best to reconfigure things around him and just keep rolling out the red carpet, making sure he knows he is taking care of, all of that,” a source told Deveney. “No one is hitting the eject button on this… Make him happy, make him comfortable, that is the job.”

Pistons Notes: Thompson, Duren, Ivey, Sasser

Lottery pick Ausar Thompson didn’t score much in his Summer League debut but his all-around contributions showed why the Pistons were thrilled he was available with the fifth pick, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes.

Thompson had seven points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots, three assists and a steal against Orlando on Saturday.

“At the core of him, he makes winning plays,” Summer League coach Jarrett Jack said. “Fifty-fifty balls, trench rebounds, cutting, pushing the basketball, making the extra pass, sacrificing himself in some instances to cut so somebody can get the extra pass on the back side – that’s something you can’t teach. I’m excited for his growth.”

His athleticism impresses even some of the most athletic members of the team.

“He just … floats,” guard Jaden Ivey said. “A layup, you could just tell. It’s something different about him that I’ve never seen before. It’s like he floats in the air when he jumps. A lot of my teammates have seen it and noticed it.”

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Second-year center Jalen Duren showed a new dimension in the same game, as he attempted two 3-pointers and made one, Rod Beard of the Detroit News notes. He was also very aggressive around the rim, which led to 10 free throw attempts. Duren finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds.
  • Ivey admits the amount of games and the pile of losses the team endured last season weighed on him, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic. He’s hopeful that his second season will be much different. “This past season was hard. I’d never been through a season where you lose so many games and play so many games. We, obviously, only ended up winning 17 games. I think about that a lot because it’s really embarrassing to win just 17 games. … The ups and downs individually, all of the losses, I think that’ll all help me for Year 2. … I’m really excited to get started with Monty (Williams) here, to learn from him and all the coaches, which I have been. I’ve been training, really, in Detroit all summer.”
  • Kelvin Sampson, Marcus Sasser‘s coach at the University of Houston, said the late first-round pick will provide the Pistons with an offensive spark. “He can score at all three levels,” Sampson told Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press. “He’s obviously an outstanding 3-point shooter but he also has a really good float game, outstanding free throw shooter. He’s a good defensive player but he’s a better offensive player than defensive player. Detroit didn’t draft him because he’s a good defender. They drafted him because he can score.”

Pistons Notes: Sasser, Burks, Hayes, Thompson, Summer League

After they selected Ausar Thompson with the No. 5 pick in Thursday’s draft, the Pistons started making phone calls in hopes of landing Marcus Sasser, writes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. General manager Troy Weaver had been hearing rave reviews from his scouts all season about the Houston guard, whose combination of shooting, defense and self-confidence made him a target late in the first round or early in the second round.

Detroit found a willing trade partner in the Celtics, who agreed to swap their newly acquired pick at No. 25 in exchange for the 31st selection and two future second-rounders. While it could be viewed as a high price to move up six spots, Weaver wanted to be sure he was in position to grab Sasser.

“You can talk about his shooting, defense, but he’s a rock … steady,” Weaver said. “He brings it every game. You never have to worry where he’s going to be, what he’s going to do. He’s rock solid. We wanted to add this stabilizing player and personality to the restoration. We pushed our chips in and went and got him.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • If Sasser is going to have an immediate role, it will create a logjam in the backcourt for a team that used first-round picks on Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey over the past three years, Edwards adds. The Pistons hold a $10.4MM option on veteran guard Alec Burks that Edwards expects them to exercise, so a battle for playing time is shaping up. Edwards suggests that Weaver may look to trade either Burks or Hayes, who is eligible for a rookie-scale extension this offseason.
  • Thompson spent a few days in Detroit when he and his brother traveled there for a workout and he got a strong indication that the Pistons were going to draft him, Edwards adds in a separate story. “They told me I fit where the modern NBA was going — having multiple facilitators on the court, being able to come off screens, play defense.” Thompson said Thursday shortly after hearing his name announced. “That was one of the main things. I just felt the chemistry while being there. I was excited being there. I left there impressed. I thought this would be a place that I’d be very happy ending up. Now look at me.”
  • Ivey, Jalen Duren, James Wiseman and Isaiah Livers are all expected to play at least one game in the Summer League, Edwards tweets.

Southeast Notes: Wallace, Smith Jr., Hornets, Herro, Donaldson

Potential lottery picks and point guards Cason Wallace and Nick Smith Jr. worked out for the Wizards on Monday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets.

Kentucky’s Wallace is ranked No. 14 overall on ESPN’s latest Best Available list, one slot under Arkansas’ Smith. Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, UCLA’s Tyger Campbell, Texas’ Marcus Carr and Iowa State’s Osun Osunniyi also participated in the Wizards’ workout.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • From all indications, the Hornets’ selection with the No. 2 pick will come down to guard Scoot Henderson or forward Brandon Miller, according to Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. Henderson worked out for the Trail Blazers, who hold the No. 3 pick, on Saturday. Charlotte is expected to get a visit from Henderson sometime before the draft. When he does come in to see the Hornets’ staff, he’s expected to go solo. “For sure, that’s what I’ve been doing all summer, working out by myself,” Henderson said. Miller hasn’t worked out for Charlotte yet, though did speak with the Hornets at the combine.
  • Should the Heat even bother to play Tyler Herro at this point? South Florida Sun Sentinel beat writer Ira Winderman tackles that question in his latest mailbag. Herro has ramped up his workouts after undergoing hand surgery and could be in uniform for Game 3 on Wednesday. However, Miami’s rotation has been so effective without him, Herro may not have a spot to claim. Perhaps he could take Kyle Lowry or Duncan Robinson‘s minutes but both have produced in key moments, particularly Robinson. It may be a moot point, since Herro is still feeling soreness in the hand.
  • The Hawks have added former Pistons and Raptors assistant Brittni Donaldson to Quin Snyder’s coaching staff, Jeff Schultz of The Athletic tweets. She is the first female coach in franchise history and her job will focus on analytics as well as player development. She worked frequently with Detroit rookie guard Jaden Ivey at his request this past season, Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.

Central Notes: Ivey, Wings, Mad Ants, Bucks

Pistons rookie shooting guard Jaden Ivey seems to be on the precipice of an exciting pro career in Detroit, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

Langlois notes that Ivey’s diligent work ethic and multifaceted growth as a passer and defender should be encouraging developments for Pistons fans. As a rookie, he posted promising stats of 16.3 PPG, 5.2 APG and 3.9 RPG across 74 contests.

“The guy really works,” Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said. “He got better in all aspects. He’s got a big-time upside but what makes that so attractive is he works. That’s what sold us during the process. The kid’s a big-time worker and he’ll be in and improve. Whatever his weaknesses are, he’ll work through them. Whatever he’s supposed to be as a player, he’ll become because he’ll put the work in.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Having missed out on the draft’s top prize, do-everything big man Victor Wembanyama, the Pistons now seem to be prioritizing a pick that will fit the rest of their roster, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscription required). Curtis notes that several potential Detroit draft targets, including Villanova forward Cam Whitmore and Overtime Elite swingmen Ausar and Amen Thompson, should possess the athletic skill set that would allow them to complement incumbent perimeter players Bojan Bogdanovic and Isaiah Livers.
  • The Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the G League affiliate of the Pacers, are departing their home arena, Fort Wayne’s Memorial Coliseum, after 16 years. The Mad Ants will be relocating to Indianapolis temporarily, before settling in a Noblesville arena, still under construction at present, for the 2024/25 season. Dylan Sinn and Devan Filchak of The Journal Gazette detail the impact of the departure on the community.
  • The Bucks are reportedly moving to the next stage in their search for their next head coach this weekend. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Milwaukee is in the process of selecting candidates for the second stage of its interview process.

NBA Announces All-Rookie Teams

Rookie of the Year winner Paolo Banchero was a unanimous choice for the 2022/23 All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

Players receive two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote, and Banchero received the maximum possible 200 points.

Here’s the full five-man squad, listed in order of their total points received via voters:

The All-Rookie Second Team was announced as well, with a couple of teammates headlining the group (Twitter link).

In my opinion, the most surprising omission from the All-Rookie Second Team was Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard, who received 46 points. Nembhard was actually listed on one more ballot than Eason, but Eason received two First Team votes versus Nembhard’s zero, giving him a narrow edge.

That’s not to say Eason (or anyone else) was undeserving — he had a strong season as a tenacious offensive rebounder and defender. I just thought Nembhard should have been honored because he started the majority of the season for a competitive Indiana team and was frequently tasked with guarding the opposing teams’ best player, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes (via Twitter).

According to the NBA (Twitter link), others receiving votes included Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe (36), Hawks wing AJ Griffin (26), Nuggets forward Christian Braun, Thunder center Jaylin Williams (seven), Mavericks guard Jaden Hardy (four), Spurs guard Malaki Branham (three), Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (two), Hornets center Mark Williams (two) and Bucks wing MarJon Beauchamp (one).

In case you missed it, more NBA awards will be coming later this week. The All-Defensive teams will be announced on Tuesday, followed by All-NBA on Wednesday and the Teammate of the Year award on Thursday.

Central Notes: Vucevic, Cunningham, Pistons, Bickerstaff

Nikola Vucevic said the Bulls didn’t try to move him at this year’s trade deadline even though he has an expiring contract, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Whether or not that means Vucevic’s long-term future is in Chicago will be determined in free agency this summer.

Vucevic, who has stated several times that he hopes to remain with the Bulls, acknowledges that the organization paid a hefty price to acquire him from the Magic in 2021. He has gotten past the feeling that he needs to prove himself, allowing him to take a calmer approach this season and find a comfortable fit with his current team.

“Last year, I was just trying to make everything happen so quickly,’’ Vucevic said. “I wanted to be able to be the best version of myself right away, and when that didn’t happen, I started forcing things, overthinking things. I wasn’t letting my natural instincts come into play, and it took me some time to figure it out. It took me time to find my place with my new teammates, new system.

“Not everyone realizes that as a big man, it takes more time. You don’t have the ball in your hand. I feel like late last season and into the playoffs, I found my place and how I can be my best. I came into this year feeling much more comfortable with my teammates. Plus, the new offense helped me, as well. I’m not overthinking, not second-guessing myself. I feel like I’m a better version of myself than I was.’’

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is expecting a huge comeback from Cade Cunningham, per James L. Edwards of The Athletic. After a promising rookie year, Cunningham was only able to play 12 games this season before opting for shin surgery. “I think (next) year he’ll probably really turn his career,” Weaver said. “He’s learned process. He is such a great competitor and mental giant, but the young players that learn process, that’s how you step into your greatness. He understands process now after having to go through this injury.”
  • The Pistons‘ 17-55 record was disappointing, but the team added two long-term foundation pieces in Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, Edwards adds in a separate story. Given a chance to play regular minutes, both lottery picks showed they could contribute right away. “Jaden and Jalen … I’ve seen a huge improvement in them as far as their comfort level and poise,” Cunningham said. “They continued to get better throughout the year. I’m definitely excited about them.”
  • After an NBA odyssey that dates back to his childhood, J.B. Bickerstaff arrived in Cleveland, where he has turned out to be the perfect coach for a young Cavaliers team, states Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.