James Wiseman

Central Notes: Pistons, Sasser, DeRozan, Haliburton

Saturday’s announcement that Bulls guard Zach LaVine will have season-ending foot surgery reduces the chances that the Pistons will make a major trade before Thursday’s deadline, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Detroit had seemingly emerged as the frontrunner to acquire LaVine, but a source told Sankofa that the front office was split on the move because of the guard’s injury history and expensive contract. The Pistons weren’t willing to give up any significant assets in a potential deal, Sankofa adds.

With a LaVine trade presumably off the table, Sankofa expects Detroit to wait for the offseason to pursue a major deal. He considers the team likely to be active at the deadline, but with smaller moves that will put the franchise in better position for next season and won’t compromise its cap room for this summer.

Killian Hayes, the seventh pick in the 2020 draft, is likely near the end of his time with the Pistons, Sankofa adds. He has been a healthy scratch in the past two games and is headed toward free agency after not reaching a rookie-scale extension last fall. Sankofa also anticipates a move involving James Wiseman, who has fallen out of the rotation since Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari were acquired from Washington last month.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Marcus Sasser has brought some efficiency to the Pistons‘ offense and has a chance to be the first rookie ever in the 50-40-90 club, notes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Detroit appears to have found a long-term rotation piece in Sasser after trading into the first round to grab him with the 25th pick in last year’s draft. “The more and more I play … I’m starting to feel comfortable,” he said. “I’m learning when to take my shots, learn to look for my teammates and create.”
  • DeMar DeRozan refused to speculate on whether LaVine’s injury will make the Bulls more likely to trade him before the deadline, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. DeRozan will be a free agent this summer if he and the team can’t agree on an extension. “I really live my life day-by-day,” he told reporters. “If I get caught up in having future thoughts on things, I’m going to drive myself crazy. And I’d rather not be that way. I take it day-by-day and be prepared for whatever happens. That’s my approach for life.”
  • Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton is trying to find the most efficient way to use his restricted minutes since returning from a hamstring injury, per James Boyd of The Athletic. Haliburton sat out the first quarter Friday against Sacramento so he could be available later on, but he had one of his worst games of the season as Indiana dropped its third straight. “I think anybody who’s dealt with a hamstring before understands that it’s not just nothing,” he said. “Even when you’re fully good a little bit after, you still feel it a little bit. Nothing structurally (is wrong). I think there is some pain, but I can play through that.”

Central Notes: Ivey, Muscala, Gallinari, Giannis, White

It took nearly half a season, but Jaden Ivey is back to being a central part of the Pistons‘ offense, writes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. Ivey appeared headed for stardom after earning All-Rookie honors last year, but new head coach Monty Williams started the season with a clean slate and forced everyone to earn their playing time. Edwards observes that Williams seemed to have little patience with mistakes from Ivey, who rarely played more than 25 minutes in a game during the season’s first two months.

That changed with a recent injury to Cade Cunningham and an organizational meeting that resulted in a larger role for Ivey, Edwards adds. Over the last nine days, Ivey has the highest usage rate on the team at 31.8% and he tied a career high with 32 points Wednesday night.

“Like I said, I’m trying to learn,” Ivey said. “Each and every day is a learning opportunity for me. Like (Williams) is still trying to figure out everyone and the system, I’m still trying to figure out as much as I can. We’re growing as a team. Sometimes you find growth in the losses.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Williams expects newly acquired Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari to be part of the Pistons‘ rotation, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Gallinari didn’t play Wednesday, but Muscala made his debut with the team, taking James Wiseman‘s place in the rotation. “If you look around the league at young teams, what they’ve done is surround their guys with savvy, experienced players who can still play,” Williams said. “Anytime you do that with high-level, high-character guys like Mike and Gallo, it’s going to be a benefit to your team. It’s not just the in-game stuff. You get a chance to watch how these games work, how they prepare and understand why they’ve been around so long. It’s gonna be an asset to the organization and the program.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out Wednesday’s game with a right shoulder contusion, but the Bucks don’t expect him to miss much time, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “Well, from what I’ve been told, he went through shootaround and then prior to the game tonight, he just felt that he couldn’t go,” coach Adrian Griffin told reporters. “So, we’re just being smart. And I don’t believe it’s going to be multiple games. It’ll just be day-to-day for now.”
  • In an interview with Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, Bulls guard Coby White talks about a spiritual transformation last summer that led to his breakthrough season.

Warriors Notes: Jackson-Davis, Green, Wiggins, Payton

The Warriors appear to have gotten a major steal late in this year’s draft, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Weaving a separate but related agreement into the Chris Paul/Jordan Poole deal, Golden State sent Patrick Baldwin Jr. and cash to Washington for the 57th pick, which it used to select Indiana center Trayce Jackson-Davis, who has been indispensable, especially since Draymond Green‘s latest suspension.

Jackson-Davis showed the Wizards what they missed in their Friday night matchup, posting his third straight double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds. He feels like he has something to prove to the rest of the league after sliding so far on draft night.

“Washington, I think, called me on draft day,” Jackson-Davis recalled. “Them and the Spurs called me and said, ‘We’re thinking about taking you early in the second. We’re probably going to get a pick.’ But it didn’t happen. Then all of a sudden my agent called and said the Warriors are trading for Washington’s pick.”

The Warriors have a numerical model that projected Jackson-Davis as a top-15 prospect and they considered him worthy of a first-round pick, Slater adds. Jackson-Davis said he heard that Golden State was trying to trade for another first-round selection after taking Brandin Podziemski at No. 19, but couldn’t find an acceptable deal until the draft was almost over.

Jackson-Davis added that teams began calling his agent around the 35th pick, but they all wanted him to accept a two-way contract. His insistence on a guaranteed deal caused him to stay on the board until nearly the end.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Green has missed more than five games during his indefinite suspension, which means Golden State can transfer him to the suspended list and sign a replacement player, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Memphis added Bismack Biyombo during Ja Morant‘s suspension, but salary cap concerns may make the Warriors less likely to follow suit — they already have an open roster spot.
  • Coach Steve Kerr likes his current rotation, but changes are still expected soon, per Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. After missing two games with an illness, Andrew Wiggins could be ready to return on Christmas Day, and Gary Payton II, who has been sidelined since late November with a strained right calf, recently began practicing again. Room will also have to be made for Green whenever he’s reinstated by the league.
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic re-examines the 2020 draft and explains why the Warriors opted for James Wiseman instead of Tyrese Haliburton. Head coach Steve Kerr said he thinks Haliburton was ranked fourth or fifth on Golden State’s board. “I was disappointed that they (had) the No. 2 pick because I felt like if they were anywhere out of the top three, I felt like I was going to be the pick,” Haliburton said.

Pistons Notes: Williams, Cunningham, Wiseman, Gores, Rebuild

When Monty Williams signed a six-year contract to coach the Pistons, he couldn’t have possibly known that a franchise seemingly ready to turn the corner would approach an NBA record for most consecutive losses. Williams admits that it’s the most difficult test in his coaching career.

“It’s tough to even put it into words. Even with this losing streak, I’m around town, taking my kids to games, I still get an unbelievably great deal of support,” Williams told Marc J. Spears of Andscape. “And it means the world to me. But we’re not done. I know it seems bad right now, and it is. This thing will turn and I just have to have faith and belief. This is the toughest challenge I’ve had in my coaching career. But I felt that way when I got to Phoenix and that thing turned. This one has taken a bit longer, but we’ve had way more obstacles.”

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Despite the 24-game losing streak, franchise player Cade Cunningham has shown progress this season, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes. Cunningham, who can sign a rookie scale extension next offseason, racked up a career-high 43 points and added seven assists and five rebounds with only three turnovers in Detroit’s loss at Atlanta on Monday. Over his last 10 games, Cunningham is averaging 22.0 PPG and 7.0 APG on 49% shooting and has cut back on his turnovers. Williams has also been impressed with Cunningham’s leadership. “Watching his leadership during which will probably be the toughest time in his career, I couldn’t be more proud of how he’s talked to the group, had a great spirit every single day,” Williams said.
  • James Wiseman‘s minutes have increased due to frontcourt injuries and he’s taking advantage, averaging 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in the last four games, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. “It shows when you work and do the right things and you get the chance to play and you’re productive, you earn minutes,” Williams said. “There are times he looks like our best player on the floor on both ends and I’m happy for him.” Wiseman will be a restricted free agent after the season, if the Pistons extend a qualifying offer.
  • How much longer before owner Tom Gores declares the rebuild a failure and either pushes for a major trade or makes changes to the front office? Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required) explores that topic.
  • The way this Pistons season has unfolded should be a cautionary tale to fans who are rooting for their teams to go into rebuild mode, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. The crux of the problem, Hollinger notes, is that the Pistons have made eight first-round draft picks since their reset in 2019 and have yet to land a star. Even Cunningham might be better off as a complementary player rather than a No. 1 option, according to Hollinger.

Pistons Notes: Wiseman, Losing Streak, Spacing, Ivey

With Jalen Duren and Marvin Bagley III injured, Pistons center James Wiseman received rotation minutes on Wednesday against Philadelphia, finishing with 10 points (on 5-of-7 shooting), three rebounds, one steal and one block, but fouling out in just 16 minutes. Asked after the game about the challenge of defending reigning MVP Joel Embiid (41 points in 31 minutes), Wiseman conceded it was a tall order.

It was hard, but we tried our best,” the former No. 2 overall pick said (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press). “Especially myself, because I haven’t played that much. I took on the challenge and tried to contain him. I didn’t back down from him.”

It was the 21st consecutive loss for the Pistons, who are now 2-22.

We just have to keep working hard and figuring it out,” Wiseman said of the team’s spirit, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). “We’re a young squad, young team. We just have to figure it out.”

Wiseman could be a restricted free agent in 2024 if the Pistons give him a qualifying offer.

Here’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons haven’t won a game since October 28. In a full story for The Athletic, Edwards examines the events that have led to the longest losing streak in franchise history, which is approaching the NBA record for futility. Cade Cunningham‘s season-ending shin injury in 2022/23 started the team down a path of losing that hasn’t reversed, according to Edwards, with excessive turnovers on the court and plenty of turnover in the rotation (mostly due to injuries) also playing factors. There’s plenty of blame to go around for all involved, says Edwards.
  • A lack of spacing due to poor outside shooting has been an issue all season for Detroit. Following Monday’s loss to Indiana, which saw the Pistons score a season-high 123 points, head coach Monty Williams said he was still learning how to utilize certain players. “I think we’re starting to figure out that we can score when we space the floor properly,” Williams said (Twitter video link via Bally Sports Detroit). “I’m learning how to use certain guys on the team.” For what it’s worth, the Pacers are 28th in the league in defense; the Pistons scored 111 points tonight against Philadelphia’s ninth-ranked defense.
  • It took until Monday for Williams to “allow Jaden Ivey to be Jaden Ivey,” Sankofa writes for The Detroit Free Press (subscriber link). Ivey was the No. 5 pick of last year’s draft and made the All-Rookie Second Team in 2022/23, but his playing time and role have fluctuated in his second season (first under Williams). He finished with 18 points in a season-high 34 minutes on Monday. “Obviously, it’s challenging,” Ivey said. “You’re trying to find yourself, when you play a certain role for a whole year and then are flipped into a different role. It’s like you’re trying to figure out how you can feel good and do your best in that role. It’s hard. The NBA’s hard. You’re playing different roles. I guess any guy can attest to that, playing different roles is hard when you’re trying to find yourself. Obviously it’s been hard and challenging, but my faith, it’s unwavering. My faith in my game. I always believe highly of myself and I’m going to continue to stick with it.”

And-Ones: Petrusev, 2024 Draft, Trade Candidates, More

After being cut by the Kings on Friday, big man Filip Petrusev should officially clear waivers later today. Nebojsa Covic, the president of Crvena Zvezda, Petrusev’s former team in Serbia, indicated on Saturday that he would be open to bringing back the 23-year-old.

“I heard about it and that Olympiacos made a very decent offer,” Covic said, per Mozzart (hat tip to Eurohoops). “The door of Red Star is open for Petrusev now, but it’s his and his agent’s decision. We’ll let them decide. There won’t be any hard feelings, regardless of this decision.”

Any interest the Serbian club may have in Petrusev appears to be moot. As Covic alluded to, reporting on Friday suggested the NBA rookie is set to join Greek team Olympiacos once he clears waivers, and that deal remains on track to be completed.

Aris Barkas of Eurohoops reports that Petrusev is expected to sign a three-year contract with Olympiacos that includes a third-year team option. The agreement will also include NBA outs in the event that Petrusev is offered another opportunity stateside, according to Barkas.

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

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has updated his mock draft for 2024, making major changes to rounds one and two. Two of the biggest risers are Pittsburgh’s Carlton Carrington and Virginia’s Ryan Dunn, who weren’t on Wasserman’s previous board but are now projected as lottery picks at No. 10 and No. 14, respectively.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype takes a look at a few players who are currently injured or out of their team’s rotation, identifying them as possible in-season trade candidates. A pair of PistonsMonte Morris and James Wiseman – and Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski are among the players singled out by Gozlan.
  • Which players are the NBA’s biggest overachievers and underachievers through the first month of the regular season? Mark Medina names three for each category in a story for Bovada Sportsbook, with 10-time All-Star James Harden and five-time All-Star Klay Thompson showing up in his list of underachievers.

Pacific Notes: Harden, Westbrook, Wiseman, Kings

The Clippers view James Harden as a “ceiling raiser” and believed they had to make another significant addition after watching the Suns, Celtics and Bucks improve their rosters this summer, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

L.A. now has a tantalizing lineup if everyone stays healthy, teaming Harden with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook, who are expected to start alongside Ivica Zubac when Harden makes his debut with the team tonight in New York. According to Youngmisuk, the Clippers are the fourth team in league history to have four players who started the season with at least five career All-NBA selections.

Even though coach Tyronn Lue plans to continue using Westbrook as his primary play-maker, the Clippers view Harden as someone who can boost their offense by creating his own shot or setting up open opportunities for Leonard and George. Harden led the league in assists with the Sixers last season and he’s averaged at least 10 per game in each of the past three years.

“James is a superstar,” George said. “Another play-maker. Another scorer, leader. Really happy to have him here. … It’s not every day you get a chance to get a guy of his ability that wants to come and play on this team. It was worth taking a swing on, and so we felt that he could help us.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • This marks the third pairing for Harden and Westbrook, who entered the league with Oklahoma City and spent the 2019/20 season together in Houston, Youngmisuk adds. They both requested trades after that season, but Clippers forward P.J. Tucker, who was also with that Rockets team, doesn’t believe the situation will carry over. “Russ and James (have known) each other for years, so they’re familiar with each other, playing with each other,” Tucker said. “I don’t know if it’s the same (experience this time), especially with Kawhi and PG. I think this team is kind of a totally different type of dynamic (for them).”
  • The Warriors‘ game in Detroit tonight will mark their first meeting with James Wiseman since he was traded in February, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Golden State selected Wiseman with the second pick in the 2020 draft, but he was never able to earn a regular role. He’s in the same situation with the Pistons, having made one brief appearance in the team’s first seven games. “I know he’s not playing much, but it’s the challenge that he’s facing,” Stephen Curry said. “In terms of forcing them to play him. That’s the challenge. Knowing him, I know he’ll have extreme confidence in himself to figure it out, even if it’s not on the timeline he wants right now.”
  • Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee examines what’s gone wrong with the Kings, who are struggling to score after having the highest-rated offense in league history last season.

Central Notes: LaVine, Williams, Wiseman, Hayes, Pistons

There has been speculation that the Sixers might have interest in Zach LaVine, but a source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the Bulls have “no intention” of trading the two-time All-Star in the near future, and even if they change their mind, Chicago’s front office probably wouldn’t be interested in what Philadelphia has to offer.

LaVine, who is in the second year of a five-year, maximum-salary contract, recently said he’s not bothered to see his name pop up in rumors again. The Bulls are off to a 2-3 start and will face Brooklyn on Friday for their first in-season tournament game.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Patrick Williams was eligible for a rookie scale extension before the season began, but that deadline has passed and now he could be a restricted free agent next summer if the Bulls tender him a qualifying offer. The former No. 4 overall pick has had a very slow start to 2023/24, averaging just 4.0 PPG and 3.2 RPG on .267/.125/1.000 shooting through five games (22.4 MPG). Still, the 22-year-old tells Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic that his contract situation isn’t on his mind. “Nah. None at all,” he said. “Knowing it’s a long season. Knowing what I can do. I’ve always had confidence in myself, what I can do, what I bring to the game. Knowing it’s going to be stretches like this and times like this. It’s all about how you bounce back from it. It’s not a matter of what you go through but how you go through it. I kind of look at it as an opportunity to show what I’m really made of. Everybody can be happy when everything’s going well for them. But when it’s not, when it’s shaky, when you can’t make a shot, when you lose a couple of games in a row, then what are you really made of?
  • Pistons center James Wiseman, another player who could be a restricted free agent in 2024, made his season debut in Wednesday’s loss to Portland, notes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link). The 2020 No. 2 overall pick finished with four points and two rebounds in six minutes off the bench, committing four fouls in his limited run, including three in a two-minute span in the first quarter.
  • Killian Hayes has once again struggled to score efficiently early in ’23/24, attempting 8.8 shots per game but only averaging 6.4 points (on .273/.235/.571 shooting), and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic believes it may be time for the Pistons to remove him from the starting lineup. As Edwards writes, Hayes got a starting guard spot after a strong preseason showing, but Detroit’s loss to Portland is the latest evidence that the team needs more offensive spacing. Alec Burks (once he returns from injury) and Jaden Ivey are logical choices to start, but Edwards wonders if rookie Marcus Sasser might be the best option for what head coach Monty Williams is seeking (shooting and defense).

Maxey, Quickley, Williams Among Players Who Didn’t Sign Extensions

An unusual number of players who were eligible to sign rookie scale extensions prior to Monday’s deadline inked new deals. A total of 14 players received rookie scale extensions in 2023, blowing away the previous single-year record of 11.

However, nearly half of the 27 eligible players didn’t sign a contract and thus will head to restricted free agency, if they are extended qualifying offers by their respective teams after the season. Otherwise, they’ll be unrestricted free agents next summer.

Perhaps the biggest name on the list is Sixers star guard Tyrese Maxey, though that comes with an asterisk. The Sixers front office and Maxey mutually agreed to put off an extension so that Philadelphia could maximize its cap room next summer.

Immanuel Quickley and Patrick Williams are two of the other big-time names on the list who didn’t reach agreements with their teams. While the Knicks and Quickley’s reps — as well as the Bulls and Williams’ reps — held extension talks as the deadline neared, they couldn’t come to terms on the numbers.

Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn (Raptors), Saddiq Bey (Hawks), James Wiseman and Killian Hayes (Pistons), Kira Lewis (Pelicans), Chuma Okeke (Magic), Isaac Okoro (Cavaliers), Aleksej Pokusevski (Thunder) and Obi Toppin (Pacers) are the other eligible players who didn’t sign extensions.

A full list of the players who did, or did not, sign rookie scale extensions this offseason can be found here.

Pistons Notes: Thompson, Hayes, Bagley, Livers

Pistons rookie Ausar Thompson looked worthy of being a starter in his first preseason game, writes James L. Edwards of The Athletic. The 20-year-old small forward replaced Jaden Ivey in the starting lineup for Sunday’s overtime loss to Phoenix and posted 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes. He also drew a tough defensive assignment, guarding Devin Booker for most of the afternoon.

Coach Monty Williams was impressed by what he saw from Thompson, but pointed out areas where he needs to improve.

“He’s got to play with force all game,” Williams said. “I thought there were times when he thought he was in position, and I got to show him on the film that if he sprinted to the spot and used his athletic ability to shift out as opposed to walking to the backside of the defense … he’s going to be much better.”

Ivey had an efficient game off the bench, scoring 15 points while shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 3-for-6 beyond the arc. Williams told reporters not to read too much into Sunday’s lineup decision, but Edwards observes that Thompson and Ivey will likely compete for the final starting spot once Bojan Bogdanovic returns from a right calf strain that kept him out Sunday.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Killian Hayes followed up a strong camp with an impressive performance in the preseason opener, Edwards adds. The fourth-year guard, who will be competing for minutes in a crowded backcourt, registered 13 points, seven assists and five steals in 21 minutes. Monte Morris didn’t play Sunday due to injury, and Hayes took advantage of the chance to show Williams that he’s deserving of a spot in the rotation.
  • Sunday’s game didn’t do anything to clear up the rotation in the frontcourt, notes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Before starting center Jalen Duren sprained his right ankle in the first half, James Wiseman was the only big man to come off the bench. After the intermission, Marvin Bagley III scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 22 minutes. “He just came in and played with a great deal of force,” Williams said of Bagley. “His dives were productive. He wasn’t putting the ball down in traffic. Defensively, I thought he did a much better job calling out screening actions which helped our guards out. For him to sit over there and come in and have an effect says a lot about his mindset and discipline to stay locked in.”
  • Isaiah Livers is likely to see regular minutes when he returns from his sprained ankle, Edwards states in a mailbag column. He notes that Lively can handle either forward spot, and Williams seemed impressed with him before the injury.