Killian Hayes

Olympic Notes: France, Australia, Germany, Brazil

Ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the host nation has announced its preliminary 19-man roster (Twitter link). As Eurohoops relays, the headliners on France’s squad are big men Victor Wembanyama and Rudy Gobert, the top two finishers in this year’s Defensive Player of the Year vote.

However, there are several more notable NBA names on the list, including Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Bilal Coulibaly, and Ousmane Dieng. Other recent NBAers who didn’t finish the 2023/24 season on a roster include Killian Hayes, Frank Ntilikina, and Theo Maledon.

One player not on France’s roster is veteran guard Mike James. The 2023/24 EuroLeague MVP is an American, but according to a report from L’Equipe (hat tip to, the French Basketball Federation explored the possibility of getting a French passport for James, who has played for AS Monaco in France’s LNB Pro A since 2021. That effort didn’t make any real headway, however.

“We do not have the culture of other nations which use naturalized players in a systematic way,” an unnamed executive told L’Equipe. “But we have a duty to explore all possibilities. In this case, we were asked, we looked at it and quickly established that it was not a question.”

The French national team will have to make seven cuts and set a 12-man roster for this July’s event.

Here are a few more updates related to the 2024 Olympics:

  • The Australian national team has trimmed its preliminary Olympic roster from 22 players to 17, the Boomers announced in a press release. None of the NBA players on the roster – including Josh Giddey, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Dante Exum, Matisse Thybulle, and Dyson Daniels, among others – were among the cuts, but potential 2024 first-round pick Johnny Furphy was. The plan is for those 17 Australian players to attend training camp this summer before setting the final 12-man roster.
  • The German national team announced this week that head coach Gordon Herbert won’t continue on in that role after the conclusion of the Paris Olympics (hat tip to Sportando). The two sides are going their separate ways after a fruitful partnership that included a gold medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
  • The Brazilian national team has announced its preliminary roster for this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Latvia. The notable names include veteran point guard Raul Neto, former first-round pick Bruno Caboclo, Warriors rookie Gui Santos, and former NBA guard Didi Louzada. The Brazilians will need to win the six-team qualifier to earn a spot in the Olympic men’s basketball tournament.

How Starter Criteria Will Impact QOs For Potential 2024 RFAs

As we outlined in a glossary entry earlier today, the value of a qualifying offer for a player eligible for restricted free agency can increase or decrease depending on whether or not he meets the “starter criteria.”

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency — or if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency.

In many cases, the difference in the qualifying offer amounts is negligible. For instance, since the Sixers will almost certainly sign Tyrese Maxey to a long-term, maximum-salary contract this summer, it doesn’t really matter that he has bumped the value of his qualifying offer a little by meeting the starter criteria.

But in other cases, the adjusted qualifying offer amount could have a real impact on how a player’s free agency plays out by making his team more or less likely to actually issue the QO — and by making the player more or less likely to accept it.

Here are the players whose projected qualifying offers will change as a result of the starter criteria this season:

Players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 who met the starter criteria:

Bey, Maxey, and Quickley would have had qualifying offers worth $6,498,258, $6,259,588, and $6,128,004, respectively, if they had fallen short of the starter criteria. Instead, their QOs will each be worth $8,486,620.

As noted above, the QO change won’t have any effect on Maxey’s free agency. It’s unlikely to affect Quickley either, since the Raptors will be looking to sign him to a multiyear deal. But it could make a difference for Bey, who tore his ACL last month to bring an up-and-down season to an early end.

A healthy Bey would probably be a safe bet to to get his qualifying offer despite a disappointing season, but ACL recoveries are lengthy processes. If Bey isn’t going to play much – or at all – next season, will the Hawks want to risk him accepting a one-year qualifying offer worth $8.5MM that would set him up to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025?

That QO decision will likely depend on whether or not the Hawks envision Bey as part of their long-term future and whether they expect to reach a multiyear agreement with him.

Second-round picks or undrafted free agents who met the starter criteria:

An experienced veteran who will turn 29 later this year, Fontecchio spent the first part of his career playing in Europe and has just two years of NBA experience, so he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer. His qualifying offer got bumped from $3,806,090 to $5,216,324 when he met the starter criteria.

Fontecchio has been a bright spot in Detroit, averaging 15.4 points per game with a .426 3PT% in 16 games as a Piston. Based on those numbers – and his solid first-half play in Utah – the Italian wing is probably in line for a salary exceeding $5.2MM, which means the QO bump shouldn’t be a difference-maker.

Top-14 picks who won’t meet the starter criteria:

As a former No. 2 overall pick, Wiseman would have been in line for a qualifying offer worth $15,815,870 if he had made at least 41 starts or played 2,000 minutes. Because he fell short, his actual QO will be worth less than half that ($7,744,600).

Wiseman hasn’t shown a whole lot in Detroit, averaging just 6.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game this season across 59 appearances. But the Pistons will have a ton of cap room this offseason — maybe they’d be comfortable bringing back Wiseman for one more year and trying again to unlock his full potential if the price is just $7.7MM instead of $15.8MM. I’m still skeptical he’ll get that qualifying offer, but it’ll at least be a tougher decision now.

Toppin’s qualifying offer, meanwhile, will drop from $9,170,460 to $7,744,600, but I think the Pacers would have extended it either way. The former No. 8 overall pick has had his best season in 2023/24 as a reserve in Indiana, establishing new career highs in points per game (10.1), field goal percentage (57.2%), and three-point percentage (40.3%), among other categories.

The qualifying offer change for Lewis is marginal — his QO will dip by less than $200K from $7,913,687. He’s unlikely to receive it either way.

It’s worth noting that three other top-14 picks from the 2020 draft met the starter criteria this season. The qualifying offers for Bulls forward Patrick Williams and Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro will remain at $12,973,527 and $11,828,974, respectively. Those aren’t cheap, but I’d still be a little surprised if either team decides to pass on the QO.

Former Pistons guard Killian Hayes also met the starter criteria, but was later waived, so he won’t get a qualifying offer this June. If he had remained under contract and was eligible to receive one, it would have been worth $9,942,114.

Pistons Notes: Trades, Weaver, Grimes, Fontecchio, Hayes, Brown

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver has drawn criticism for the team’s lack of success during his tenure, which included a record-setting 28-game losing streak this season. Speaking to the media on Friday, Weaver maintained that he’s the right person to lead the basketball operations department going forward, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press.

Absolutely, I’m the right guy,” Weaver said. “I sat here in June 2020 and said we’re going to restore the Pistons, and that’s what we’re going to do. We have a plan in place, a young core that’s showing that they’re growing and have a chance to be special players. It’s on us to continue to fortify that group. We have things in place, our core is in place. Have a coach in place to lead us. Absolutely, excited about the future. Like I said, we’ll own what’s behind us. But more importantly, we’re excited about what’s ahead of us.”

Weaver also addressed the additions of Quentin Grimes and Simone Fontecchio, who were acquired in separate trades with New York and Utah, respectively.

Grimes is a 3-and-D guy,” Weaver said, per Sankofa. “(Houston coach) Kelvin Sampson, I spoke with him about (Marcus Sasser) and he said his two hardest workers were Sasser and Quentin Grimes. We’re excited about adding Grimes. He fits the profile that we need. Doesn’t need the ball to hit shots and he defends at a high level. Great teammate. We expect him to step into a role to help support the young core. .. He was a target for us.

This guy has made huge, huge strides from his first year in the NBA to this season,” Weaver continued, about Fontecchio. “Versatile, his shooting, toughness, the vigor he plays with. We’re excited about what he adds. A young veteran even though it’s his second year in the NBA.”

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • While Detroit made five in-season trades in 2023/24 and overhauled much of the roster, Grimes and Fontecchio are the only newly acquired players who look like locks to be on the team to open ’24/25, Sankofa writes in a subscriber-only story. Fontecchio will be a restricted free agent this summer, Sankofa notes, while Grimes will be a RFA in 2025 if he doesn’t sign a rookie scale extension in the offseason.
  • Former No. 7 overall pick Killian Hayes — Weaver’s first draft choice as GM — was released yesterday in order to make room for the incoming players. Head coach Monty Williams hopes the 22-year-old guard catches on with another team, as Sankofa tweets. “He had some good moments with us,” Williams said of Hayes. “(Sasser) was playing at a pretty good clip and then Monte (Morris) came back, and I wanted to try some new things … I think he would agree he had a great opportunity here and I wish him the best.”
  • The trade deadline moves can’t rectify Detroit’s “nonchalant” 2023 offseason, which played a significant factor in the team’s 8-43 record, but having competent wing shooters who can also defend like Grimes, Fontecchio and Troy Brown puts the roster in a better spot for the rest of the season and in the future, says James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Cutting Hayes and trading Morris also made clear that Sasser should be viewed as part of the team’s core, Edwards writes. While Weaver’s asset management is certainly questionable, the Pistons will likely have a top-five pick on top of a ton of cap room to make impact signings or trades this summer, according to Edwards.
  • In another story for The Athletic, Edwards predicts the team’s post-deadline depth chart, with Fontecchio as the starting small forward and Grimes as the backup shooting guard, though he expects both to play heavy minutes. Edwards also believes Brown will find his way into a rotation spot down the stretch.

Pistons Waive Killian Hayes

4:31pm: The Pistons have officially waived Hayes, the team confirmed today (Twitter link).

12:57pm: Former lottery pick Killian Hayes will be released by the Pistons, according to a report from James L. Edwards III and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft, Hayes entered the NBA with a reputation for being a solid defender and passer whose offensive game was a work in progress. That’s essentially still the case, as his shooting percentages have increased only marginally over the course of his four NBA seasons.

Hayes averaged 6.9 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game across 42 appearances (31 starts) this season, with a shooting line of .413/.297/.660. Those field goal and three-point percentages actually represent career bests.

The Pistons reportedly explored the trade market for Hayes prior to Thursday’s deadline – talking to the Grizzlies, among other teams – but apparently didn’t find a deal to their liking. The team agreed to a series of trades that will bring in seven players while sending out three, so the 22-year-old guard will be a victim of the roster crunch, joining Joe Harris among those waived.

Cutting Hayes and Harris will put the Pistons in position to complete at least one and potentially two of their three reported trade agreements. They’ll need to waive two more players to finalize all three deals, but those last two cuts could come from their group of newly acquired players.

Hayes will be eligible to sign with any NBA team if and when he clears waivers, since his salary is well shy of this season’s non-taxpayer mid-level exception.

Scotto’s Latest: Mavs, Washington, Grimes, Pacers, Hornets, Hyland, More

The Mavericks and Hornets have discussed various P.J. Washington trade concepts that include a future first-round pick from Dallas, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

According to Scotto, if Charlotte is going to agree to take back Richaun Holmes, who holds a $12.9MM player option for next season, in exchange for Washington, the Hornets want that Dallas first-rounder to be unprotected. The Mavs have resisted that idea so far, Scotto writes, adding that Seth Curry has also been part of those trade discussions between the two teams.

While Scotto doesn’t say that Grant Williams has come up in the trade talks between the Mavs and Hornets, he suggests it wouldn’t be a surprise if that’s the case, since Dallas has talked about Williams with multiple teams already.

In addition to Washington, the Mavs have expressed interest in Raptors wing Bruce Brown and Knicks wing Quentin Grimes, among others, Scotto reports. League sources tell HoopsHype that Dallas explored acquiring Grimes in exchange for a package headlined by Josh Green, but New York turned down the proposal.

Here’s more from Scotto, with just hours to go until Thursday’s trade deadline:

  • Although Buddy Hield is considered Indiana’s top trade candidate, rival executives think the Pacers might move some of their frontcourt depth, with Obi Toppin and Jalen Smith among the players believed to be available, Scotto writes. Lottery pick Jarace Walker, on the other hand, remains off limits based on what the Pacers are telling other clubs, league sources tell HoopsHype.
  • The Hornets have expressed interest in Bones Hyland, according to Scotto, who says the Clippers are seeking a pair of second-round picks in exchange for the third-year guard.
  • Despite some speculation that the Nets are interested in D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn hasn’t had any “substantive” talks with the Lakers and/or Hawks about getting involved in a potential Dejounte Murray trade to acquire Russell, Scotto reports.
  • The Pistons and Grizzlies continue to talk about a possible Killian Hayes trade, with second-round draft compensation serving as the sticking point, per Scotto.

Scotto’s Latest: Jones, Wright, Hayes, Grizzlies, Okoro, More

He may not be a splashy name, but veteran point guard Tyus Jones is drawing interest from a variety of teams on the trade market, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The Lakers and Timberwolves have previously been linked to Jones, which Scotto confirms. However, he also adds three new possible suitors to the list: the Magic, Spurs and Nets.

As Scotto previously reported, the Wizards want a first-round pick back for Jones, preferably one beyond the 2024 draft, with a chance at being a top-20 selection. However, rival executives are reportedly confident that Washington will ultimately accept multiple second-rounders for the 27-year-old, who likely wouldn’t be a starter in certain situations and is on an expiring $14MM contract.

Jones has been the NBA’s assist-to-turnover leader for several years running and is posting career highs in several categories as a full-time starter for the first time in his NBA career, averaging 12.2 PPG, 6.3 APG (against 0.9 TOV), 2.8 RPG and 1.2 SPG on .491/.392/.758 shooting in 49 games (28.5 MPG). He has limitations too of course, namely size (he’s listed at 6’1″, 196 lbs.), which limits his defensive versatility.

It’s worth noting that San Antonio currently deploys Jones’ younger brother, Tre Jones, as its starting point guard, though the Spurs are reportedly on the lookout for a long-term fixture at the position, viewing Tre as more of a strong backup.

The Magic seem like an odd fit for Jones, since they have Markelle Fultz (another impending free agent), Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and Anthony Black as backcourt players who can initiate offense, though those duties are frequently handled by Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. Jones would obviously help on the turnovers front, but he’s small as opposed to rangy and athletic, which is the mold of the rest of Orlando’s roster, and he isn’t a high-volume long-range shooter (3.7 three-point attempts per game), which is a team weakness.

Here’s more from Scotto’s latest rumor round-up:

  • The Celtics, Kings and Timberwolves are among the teams with interest in Wizards guard Delon Wright, sources tell Scotto. Washington is looking for second-round picks for the veteran guard, who had a previous stint with Sacramento back in 2020/21. Known for his excellent defense, Wright is on an expiring $8.2MM contract.
  • Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required) reported on Sunday that Killian Hayes‘ camp preferred a change of scenery, and sources tell Scotto the Grizzlies are among the teams to show interest in the fourth-year Pistons guard. Hayes has fallen out of Detroit’s rotation of late and could be a restricted free agent if given a qualifying offer this summer. As for players rivals teams are monitoring from Memphis’ side, Scotto hears Xavier Tillman, Ziaire Williams and Jake LaRavia are all considered potential trade candidates. Tillman will be an unrestricted free agent, while former first-rounders Williams (third year) and LaRavia (second) are still on rookie scale deals.
  • Forward Danilo Gallinari is another Pistons trade candidate, Scotto adds, with the Lakers checking in on the asking price for the Italian veteran.
  • Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro is considered a trade candidate by rival teams, Scotto writes. One GM who spoke to HoopsHype speculated that Okoro could get $14MM annually in free agency this summer — right around the projected mid-level exception for 2024/25. As with Hayes, Okoro will be a restricted free agent if he’s tendered a qualifying offer, otherwise he’d be unrestricted and free to sign with any team. According to Scotto, the Knicks, Hawks, Pacers, Suns and Bucks are all worth watching, as they all have an interest in two-way wings.
  • In addition to Tyus Jones, Monte Morris, Bones Hyland and Wright, the Timberwolves also have interest in Pistons guard Alec Burks, Scotto reports. As Sankofa reported, the Pistons value Burks and “aren’t eager” to part with him. Sankofa suggested it would take a “strong offer” for Detroit to trade the 32-year-old, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. As for players Minnesota might move, rival executives are eyeing Wendell Moore, Shake Milton and Troy Brown, according to Scotto.
  • The Timberwolves are “hopeful” about their chances of re-signing veteran point guard Mike Conley this summer, Scotto adds. Conley, 36, has started all 45 of his games this year for Minnesota, averaging 10.6 PPG, 6.4 APG, 2.8 RPG and 1.0 SPG while shooting 43.6% from long distance. He’s making $24.4MM in the final year of his deal.
  • The Celtics continue to look for bench upgrades, with minimum-salary players and draft picks the likely outgoing pieces in a deal, according to Scotto.

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.”

Trade Rumors: Pelicans, Carter, Tate, Hayes, Nets

The Pelicans are looking to shore up their frontcourt defense, but there aren’t many impact centers available on the trade market, according to Christian Clark of (subscriber link). Magic big man Wendell Carter Jr. has been floated as a potential trade candidate, but Clark hears there is some “doubt” about Orlando moving him this season.

New Orleans doesn’t appear to hold much interest in Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray, but Clark says the Pelicans would make a “significant offer” for Nets wing Mikal Bridges if were ever made available. Multiple reports have stated Brooklyn is not interested in moving the 27-year-old.

According to Clark, the Pelicans may look for help on the buyout market if they can’t find a trade they like. They have an open roster spot and have Malcolm Hill on a 10-day deal, Clark notes.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Athletic reported on Wednesday that the Suns have shown some level of interest in Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM has heard the opposite, tweeting that Phoenix isn’t interested in Tate. The 28-year-old is earning $6.5MM this season and has a $7.1MM team option for 2024/25.
  • Pistons guard Killian Hayes received a Did Not Play — Coach’s Decision for the first time this season in Wednesday’s loss vs. Cleveland. According to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, Hayes’ benching felt like “the unofficial end” of the former lottery pick’s time in Detroit, though it’s unclear if Hayes will be moved prior to the February 8 deadline or perhaps let go in the offseason. “It’s just hard to play four point guards,” head coach Monty Williams said. “(Marcus) Sasser is playing off ball just to get him on the floor. I talked to Killian (before the game) and told him this was the route I was going to go.” Edwards hears Detroit nearly traded Hayes last summer before hiring Williams, who was interested in working with the 22-year-old.
  • Multiple Nets players, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, have popped up in recent trade rumors. Cam Thomas says the team is doing its best to ignore the outside noise, as Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post relays. “Unspoken really, nobody really wants to talk about everybody’s situation,” Thomas said. “Everybody reads stuff, but I think it’s (an) unspoken (thing). Nobody talks about that kind of stuff. We’re just enjoying the moment that we have here and just playing together as a team. We playing well as a team. Everybody gets along, so we’re just enjoying the moment.

Killian Hayes Meets Starter Criteria

Pistons guard Killian Hayes has met the “starter criteria” for potential restricted free agents by making his 26th start of the season on Wednesday night vs. Minnesota.

An RFA-to-be meets the starter criteria – which dictates the value of his qualifying offer – when he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the final season of his contract, or when he averages 41 starts (or 2,000 minutes) in his last two seasons before free agency. Hayes made 56 starts in 2022/23, so he has now made 82 over the past two seasons, for an average of 41.

As a result of meeting the starter criteria, Hayes’ qualifying offer, if the Pistons opt to issue one this summer to make him a restricted free agent, will be worth $9,942,114. Had he failed to meet the criteria, the value of that QO would have been $7,744,600.

For a player who is expected to sign a lucrative long-term contract, the value of that qualifying offer generally doesn’t matter much, since it essentially functions as a placeholder while he negotiates a multiyear deal.

However, for a player like Hayes, who isn’t assured of a major payday in free agency, that figure looms larger. Now that he has bumped the value of his qualifying offer from $7.7MM to $9.9MM, the Pistons may be less inclined to give him that QO — and if they do, Hayes may be more inclined to accept it, locking in a one-year salary just shy of $10MM.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Hayes has averaged 8.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game in 203 career appearances (26.3 MPG). The 22-year-old has put up 7.4 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 2.9 RPG on .400/.279/.681 shooting this season. He reclaimed his spot in Detroit’s starting five after Cade Cunningham was sidelined last week due to a knee injury.

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.”