Jalen Duren

Pistons Notes: Bogdanovic, Morris, Livers, Duren

Bojan Bogdanovic‘s high trade value makes him the Pistons player most likely to be dealt this season, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Detroit considered several offers for the veteran swingman last season before opting to hold onto him. The Pistons are hoping to contend for a play-in spot, and they view Bogdanovic as an important part of that effort.

Part of Bogdanovic’s appeal is his team-friendly contract, which pays him $20MM for the upcoming season and carries just a $2MM guarantee on his $19MM salary for 2024/25. The deal won’t become fully guaranteed until late June of next year.

Second on Edwards’ list is Monte Morris, who was acquired from the Wizards during the offseason. Morris has a $9.8MM expiring contract, and he’ll be competing for playing time with young guards Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Marcus Sasser, who are all expected to be part of Detroit’s long-term future.

Rounding out the list, in order, are Alec Burks, Joe Harris and Marvin Bagley, but Edwards cautions that things could change if the Pistons are still in contention for a postseason spot around the trade deadline.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Isaiah Livers will head into training camp with the widest range of outcomes, having a chance to be the starting power forward or out of the rotation entirely, Edwards adds. He says Livers has the skills to be a 3-and-D forward, but his playing time will depend on how reliable he becomes from beyond the arc. He connected on 36.5% of his three-point attempts last season.
  • Coming off a strong rookie season, Jalen Duren is the pre-camp favorite to win the starting center job, according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Duren was the NBA’s youngest player last season, but he managed to lead all rookies in total rebounds, offensive rebounds and dunks. He continued to impress at Summer League and as a member of the Select Team that scrimmaged against Team USA in Las Vegas. “I just feel good. Coming in last year, trying to figure everything out, trying to get to know the new game, the new league, it was a lot,” he said. “Now, going through my first offseason, coming back into my second year in the NBA, a lot more confidence, a lot more understanding of how it works.”
  • Former Pistons great Richard Hamilton, who’s now a CBS Sports analyst, likes the young roster that general manager Troy Weaver has put together, per Tony Paul of The Detroit News.“It’s gonna take time, you know, I don’t want to rush it, but I just feel as thought we got a great core of young guys,” Hamilton said. “And we’re starting to build around young guys. And the young guys are eventually gonna become veterans.”

Central Notes: Haliburton, Cunningham, Duren, Walker, Bucks

A Jan. 30, 2024 matchup with the Celtics is Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton‘s most anticipated game of next season because it marks the first time he’ll be playing a nationally televised game on TNT. In an interview with ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Haliburton talks about how he’s been overlooked in both NBA markets he’s played in so far (Sacramento and Indiana) and how he’s planning on becoming must-see TV next season even if his exposure is limited.

“You have to win to get on TV and that’s what we need to do,” Haliburton said. “It won’t change either. When we win in Indiana, we’ll get three national games.”

Haliburton is in the midst of an eventful summer. Soon after inking a max contract extension that can be worth up to a projected $260MM, the Pacers guard was named to Team USA’s 2023 FIBA World Cup roster.

During his time with Team USA, Haliburton is shooting well and distributing the ball at a high level. He’s also flashing his ability on the defensive end, putting up five steals in three games.

He’s like a quarterback who’s finding five different receivers and then if there’s no pass rush, he’ll just line up his set shot and knock it down,” Team USA head coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s really a unique player and a beautiful player to watch and obviously very effective.

Team USA and Haliburton are advancing to the second round of the group stage in the World Cup and will next play Montenegro on Friday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Former Pistons No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham missed most of last season due to a stress fracture in his left shin. Cunningham has just one full season under his belt, but he’s showed flashes of superstardom, including during his stint with Team USA’s Select Team in Las Vegas prior to the World Cup. In a conversation with The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III, Sam Vecenie discusses how Cunningham’s play is crucial to the Pistons improving on their 17-win season from last year. Jalen Duren‘s growth was also on display during the Select Team scrimmages and Vecenie notes that he’s another key for the Pistons to earn a play-in spot.
  • Pacers No. 8 overall pick Jarace Walker sat down with The Fieldhouse Files’ Scott Agness (YouTube link) to talk about his thoughts on the upcoming season. Walker said that he’s excited to join forces with Obi Toppin at the power forward position. “I feel like we’re going to complement each other a ton,” Walker said. “I love to pass, play-make, get my teammates the ball, and he’s such a versatile player offensively and defensively. I feel like what we can bring to the team and what they need, I feel like we’re two key pieces for the [organization].
  • The Bucks exited from last season’s playoffs in disappointing fashion, falling to the No. 8-seeded Heat in the first round of the playoffs. This offseason, Milwaukee opted to bring back most of its core while fleshing out its depth. Eric Nehm of The Athletic explored answers to a fan survey he released last week. In general, fans feel confident in the team but have lower expectations relative to last season. One interesting tidbit is that 86.9% of fans thought the decision to move on from former coach Mike Budenholzer was the right move.

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.

Central Notes: Toppin, Catlin, Pistons, Bucks

Forward Obi Toppin, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal and is currently eligible for a rookie scale extension, says he’s looking forward to playing for the Pacers in 2023/24 after being acquired from New York in a trade last month. Part of that is Indiana’s “family-type environment,” but he also thinks it’ll be a good fit on the court as well, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

That’s my game,” Toppin said at his camp in Dayton. “Everybody knows my game. In the open floor, I run the floor really hard. We’re gonna play with a fast pace. That what’s the league is. We’re not slowing it down. They’re trying to get a bucket in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. I feel like that’s good for us, getting us as many easy buckets as we can.

“I just feel like Indiana’s vision is going to be playing me to my strengths. I feel like they’re going to allow me to get back to what I do best, which is put pressure on the rim, attack the rim.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Longtime Pacers staffer Vance Catlin, who previously held the title of director of pro scouting, has been promoted to vice president of pro scouting, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Catlin is known as a tireless worker and has been with the organization for 20 years, Agness notes.
  • How do Pistons fans feel about the team’s offseason? Are they confident in Detroit’s direction? James L. Edwards III of The Athletic received over 1,500 votes from subscribers for his annual survey, and fans seem to be cautiously optimistic for the most part, despite the Pistons winning just 17 games last season. Notably, fans are bullish on Cade Cunningham‘s potential and the hiring of new head coach Monty Williams. Fans are less optimistic about Marvin Bagley III and James Wiseman, but Edwards believes the former No. 2 overall picks likely won’t have major roles, as Jalen Duren is firmly entrenched as the center of the future.
  • The Bucks have a new head coach in Adrian Griffin and he will face some tough rotation decisions entering 2023/24, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Starting shooting guard and backup point guard are the two spots that appear the most tenuous at the moment. In fact, Milwaukee doesn’t have a traditional backup point guard on its 15-man roster, which makes Nehm wonder if the team will eventually take the “simplest” route by addressing the position with a trade or free agent addition.

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.”

Herbert Jones, Jalen Duren Invited To USA Select Team

USA Basketball’s Select Team is rounding into form, with Pelicans wing Herbert Jones and Pistons big man Jalen Duren the latest young players invited to join the roster, according to separate reports from Marc Stein (Twitter link) and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The Select Team, which also features Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Keegan Murray, Jalen Williams, Chet Holmgren, Naz Reid, Trey Murphy, Quentin Grimes and Payton Pritchard, is now up to 11 players.

The primary purpose of the Select Team is to practice and scrimmage against the main Team USA roster as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup, which starts at the end of August. Training camp starts next week in Las Vegas.

However, it’s also an opportunity for the Select players to showcase their talent while being considered for future international competitions. It’s possible a player or two on the Select Team could be used as an injury replacement for someone on Team USA as well. For example, Keldon Johnson, who was a Select Team member ahead of the Tokyo Olympics a couple years ago, replaced Bradley Beal when the star guard contracted COVID-19.

Jones, 24, just completed his second season with New Orleans. The defensive standout recently signed a four-year, $54MM contract as a restricted free agent to stay with the Pelicans.

Duren, 19, was a lottery pick last year. He had an impressive rookie season in 2022/23, averaging 9.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG and 0.9 BPG in 67 games for Detroit (24.9 MPG) en route to a berth on the All-Rookie Second Team.

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.

Pistons Rumors: Burks, Grant, Johnson, Bogdanovic, Frontcourt, More

The Pistons are expected to pick up their $10.5MM team option on veteran swingman Alec Burks for the 2023/24 season, Michael Scotto said during the latest episode of The HoopsHype podcast. However, Scotto’s guest James L. Edwards of The Athletic believes Detroit will be in the market for at least one more three-and-D wing in free agency, naming Jerami Grant and Cameron Johnson as potential targets.

If the Trail Blazers hang onto Damian Lillard and continue trying to contend immediately, Grant may simply re-sign in Portland. But if the Blazers pivot to a rebuild, the Pistons should be considered a prime suitor for the veteran forward, according to Edwards, who notes that Grant still has a great relationship with general manager Troy Weaver and loves the city of Detroit.

Should the Pistons strike out on top-tier targets like Grant and Johnson, they could pursue lower-level free agents such as Torrey Craig and Yuta Watanabe, per Edwards.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Scotto has heard that the Pistons still consider Bojan Bogdanovic a core piece, and Edwards agrees that the team seems to want to keep him rather than move him. Still, Edwards notes that if the team makes a big addition at forward (such as Grant or Johnson) and gets a good offer for Bogdanovic, a trade isn’t out of the question.
  • Scotto has spoken to rival executives who think the addition of James Wiseman to a frontcourt that also includes Jalen Duren and Marvin Bagley III could land Isaiah Stewart on the trade block. Edwards is skeptical though, suggesting that the Pistons saw an opportunity to roll the dice on Wiseman and still like the big men they’ve drafted. “As someone who’s on the ground floor, I think the situation has been misinterpreted a little bit,” Edwards told Scotto. “I think it’s far more likely that Duren and Stewart are the frontcourt. I think Wiseman was a guy they had a chance to get that they liked coming into his draft and see if they could unlock some potential as a backup big or starting big. Right now, it’s Duren and Stewart’s frontcourt job.” Stewart is more likely to be extended than traded this summer, Edwards adds.
  • Killian Hayes is open to signing a rookie scale extension with Detroit this offseason, according to Scotto. Edwards expects the Pistons to hold off on a new deal though, suggesting the team will wait another year and then evaluate Hayes’ situation in 2024, when he’s eligible for restricted free agency.
  • Before the Pistons made a last-minute push to hire Monty Williams as their head coach, they were preparing to offer the job to Charles Lee. “His second interview really sealed that home for a lot of people, everyone in the front office, until they sat down as a group, I’m told, and explored and made sure this was what they wanted to do,” Edwards said. “The owner brought up bringing one more run at Monty. They make the run, break the bank, and Monty is the coach.”

And-Ones: Trade Market, Front Offices, Coaches, EuroLeague, More

Tonight’s NBA draft lottery is highly anticipated due to the hype surrounding projected No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. However, some league executives are more focused on the trade implications for the team that lands the top selection, noting that quality centers could be dealt to free up playing time and address other parts of the roster.

I’m as interested in what comes after the lottery as the lottery itself,” one general manager told Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “This could be a tidal wave after it gets decided.”

For example, if the Pistons land the top pick — which they have a 14% chance to do — an Eastern Conference executive speculated that Detroit could get an impressive return for Jalen Duren, who was recently named to the All-Rookie Second Team. However, it’s worth noting that the Pistons have shown no desire to move Duren to this point after trading for him during last June’s draft.

They probably could get a top-10 pick for him this year,” the executive said. “He has a lot of Robert Williams qualities, and he is like Williams because it might take a little time to polish. You can’t really play him and Wemby together, so he’d have to go. It would be crazy to see the market on him, he is still mostly upside.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Twenty-six clubs have been eliminated from title contention, but that doesn’t mean anyone is taking time off. In an interesting article for The Athletic, former league executives Seth Partnow and John Hollinger discuss the busiest time of the year for NBA front offices — the stretch that starts with the draft combine, which is currently ongoing, and runs through the first couple weeks of free agency.
  • Three of the past four championship-winning coaches are no longer with their former teams. The recent spate of dismissals — including Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams and Doc Rivers — has left a negative imprint on some of the longest-tenured coaches, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. “It’s disturbing,” said Erik Spoelstra, who has been the Heat’s head coach since 2008. “Doc’s a Hall of Famer. … There’s only so many teams that can advance. It’s just a really hard thing to do. Yeah, it’s been a tough couple weeks, hearing the news of just some really surprising firings.”
  • The All-EuroLeague First and Second Teams were recently announced (Twitter links), and several former NBA players made the cut. The First Team features Walter Tavares, Mathias Lessort, Lorenzo Brown, Sasha Vezenkov and Dzanan Musa, while Darius Thompson, Kevin Punter, Nikola Mirotic, Wade Baldwin and Mike James comprise the Second Team. A recent rumor indicated that Vezenkov, whose NBA rights are controlled by the Kings, is seriously mulling the possibility of coming stateside and making his debut next season.
  • Leonard Solms at ESPN.com profiles Samkelo Cele, who is hoping to become the second South African-born player to reach the NBA (the first was Steve Nash). Cele is currently competing in the Basketball Africa League.