Marcus Sasser

Central Notes: Mitchell, Sanogo, Bulls, Sasser, Green

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell is looking like he’s regained his All-Star form over the past two games after a rough combination of injuries and off-nights following Valentine’s Day, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon writes. Mitchell appeared in just nine games since the mid-point of February and averaged 16.9 points per contest on 37.8% shooting, well below his season averages of 26.6 PPG and 46.2%.

His return to form began on Wednesday against the Grizzlies when Mitchell shot 52.9% from the field (9-of-17), his highest mark since Feb. 27. According to Vardon, Mitchell’s knee injury sapped him of the ability to get by defenders and get to the rim since mid-February, but he moved around much better against Memphis and he was more vocal and animated than he had been in recent weeks. For what it’s worth, coach J.B. Bickerstaff expects Mitchell to fully get back into form before the postseason begins.

To me, there is no doubt that he’ll get there,” Bickerstaff said. “We’ve got three games in almost 14 days, so he has an opportunity to do some really good work on his body, on the court. We know who Donovan is and what he is capable of.

Mitchell followed his game against Memphis with a 33-point outing against the Pacers that saw him record five assists and four steals, the latter of which matched his season-best mark. As a result of the win, Cleveland clinched a playoff berth and a top-four seed. During the nine games Mitchell struggled, the Cavs went 4-5. In the two wins this week, Mitchell scored a combined 62 points, three m0re than he had in his previous four games combined.

The biggest thing for me is just to continue to build my confidence back up in my body,” Mitchell said after Wednesday’s game. “The biggest cure for this is rest. I don’t have time for that. … I consider myself a pretty mentally strong person, so just being able to find ways to adapt to the situation. I felt really good tonight, and just continue to build on that.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls clinched home-court advantage in next week’s play-in game against the Hawks, and coach Billy Donovan said he’d consult with the players and medical staff for their final two regular-season games, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Much of the Bulls’ rotation went on to not play on Friday against the Wizards as they manage injuries. As a result, several of Chicago’s end-of-roster pieces got extended playing time. Two-way center Adama Sanogo became just the second rookie this season to post a 20-point, 20-rebound game, joining Victor Wembanyama. “I don’t think I got here by chance,” Sanogo said, per The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry (Twitter link). “I got here because these guys believe in me. These guys think I can have a chance. I’ve got to show that, too, that I can do this.” Other role players like Javonte Green (24 points), Jevon Carter (12 assists) and Henri Drell (23 minutes, career-nine points) also had big nights.
  • The Bulls started the season at 5-14 but have since gone 33-28 despite injuries to Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams, prompting Donovan to acknowledge how far the team has come, Johnson writes in the same NBC Sports Chicago story. “I’m happy for these guys,” Donovan said. “I think sometimes when you just look in the moment of where you’re at, sometimes you don’t get a chance to look at where you started. I’ve said before: It was a rough start for us. And I really appreciate the guys in that locker room sticking together, fighting, not quitting, not making excuses or pointing fingers and trying to rally and pull together and play better.
  • Rookie guard Marcus Sasser has been a bright spot in a nightmarish Pistons season that has resulted in the franchise’s worst win percentage of all time. Sasser has appeared in 70 games, starting 10, and averaged 8.1 points and 3.3 assists while making 37.3% of his three-point shots. The Houston product reflected on his rookie year, saying he wants to get mentally stronger for next season, per The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III (Twitter link). “It’s definitely a big jump, but that’s what makes this job fun,” Sasser said. “It’s not for everybody
  • Bucks guard A.J. Green departed Wednesday’s game against the Magic in the second quarter with a left ankle injury. The Bucks announced that he underwent an MRI on Thursday which revealed a left ankle sprain; he was ruled out for at least the team’s final two regular season games (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Eric Nehm). Green has averaged 4.5 points in 11.0 minutes per night while shooting 40.8% from three.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, McDermott, Sasser, Bitim

The rigors of a long season and the toll of injuries caught up with the Cavaliers Sunday night in Miami, writes Chris Fedor of The Cavs looked “disinterested, distracted and exhausted,” according to Fedor, as they trailed by 21 points at halftime and fell behind by as many as 45 in the second half.

“We’ve asked these guys to do so much,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We have asked them to carry a burden of everybody having to do more because of all the injuries and the things we are going through. I think it just showed tonight. It caught up with us. I think mentally and physically, we are worn. It’s on us all to figure it out. No excuses. It doesn’t get any easier. I think tonight was one of those nights where collectively it just set in on us. It was uncharacteristic of this group. I think we had one of those nights.”

Cleveland welcomed back Evan Mobley, who played 21 minutes in his return from a left ankle sprain that had sidelined him since March 5. However, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus and Dean Wade all remain sidelined, and Bickerstaff pulled his starters early in the third quarter to save them for tonight’s second game of a back-to-back.

“These games happen in the NBA where you just get knocked out in the first half and you can never really get back up and start swinging,” Georges Niang said. “Nobody is going to feel bad for us because everybody has had to go through the same thing this year. You just have to have amnesia and flush this one. There is nothing that we can gain from this. Nobody likes getting beat like we just got beat. I think we will remember the feeling of what it felt like to get whooped and fight to never have that feeling again.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Doug McDermott has become a dangerous weapon for the Pacers since returning from a strained right calf that kept him out of action for nearly a month, observes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Over his last three games, McDermott is 9-of-15 from the floor and 5-of-11 from three-point range. “With shooting, there’s going to be some weird pockets every once in a while,” McDermott said. “I wasn’t shooting it great. I knew every time I shoot the ball it has a chance of going in. I just gotta have that belief and just keep firing away. These guys are so unselfish. They kept finding me. It will fall.”
  • Pistons rookie Marcus Sasser is a natural scorer who’s learning to play point guard in the NBA, per James L. Edwards of The Athletic. Sasser is shooting 44.1% from the field and 39.3% from three-point range, but at 6’1″ he needs to develop his play-making skills to fully unlock his game. “There’s a difference learning when to score, when to pass,” he said. “The main thing, right now, I’m just trying to get better in pick-and-rolls, to make the right reads. I feel like the scoring and stuff will come. It’s a learning experience for me.”
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times examines whether Onuralp Bitim can develop into a Max Strus-type player for the Bulls.

Central Notes: Pistons, Giannis, Lopez, Craig, Phillips

The Pistons entered this season hoping to push for a spot in the postseason. They currently have the NBA’s second-worst record (12-53), so they’ll fall well short of that preseason goal. Still, they’ve won as many times (six) in their past 16 games as they did in their first 49 contests, and have shown real signs of growth as of late, according to Keith Langlois of and Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press.

During their past 16 games, the Pistons rank 20th in the NBA in net rating (-3.0) and 16th in defensive rating (113.0). Their pieces also seem to fit together in a way that they didn’t before their trade deadline overhaul, Langlois observes.

“We’re coming together as a team,” center Jalen Duren said, per Sankofa. “We’re all feeling good playing, I feel like everyone is catching their rhythm. You see (Marcus Sasser) coming in and doing his thing, Big Wise (James Wiseman) coming in and doing his thing. … Everyone’s contributing in their own way. That’s helping us.

“… We talk about running through the tape as a team and finishing the year strong, so that’s kinda been my mindset these last whatever games it’s been since All-Star break. Just running through the tape.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo offered some interesting thoughts on the integration of Damian Lillard, the team’s multiple recent coaching changes, and the MVP race, among other topics. Antetokounmpo admitted this might be “the hardest season” of his career due to the adjustments to the personnel and coaching changes, as well as the procedure he underwent on his knee last summer.
  • Bucks center Brook Lopez tells Mark Medina of Sportskeeda that he believes the ups and downs of the season have made the team more resilient, adding that Doc Rivers‘ impact on the club has been “incredibly noticeable” since he replaced Adrian Griffin. “He’s given us a great energy and a great confidence,” Lopez said. “Things have been simplified. We have a lot of people on the same page right now.”
  • Torrey Craig made his ninth start of the season on Thursday, replacing injured Bulls guard Coby White. As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago details, Craig made a strong impression, knocking down four three-pointers and serving as the primary defender on Kawhi Leonard.
  • The Bulls announced today in a press release that rookie forward Julian Phillips has been diagnosed with a right foot sprain. The team didn’t offer any sort of recovery timeline for Phillips, simply stating that he’s wearing a walking boot and that his status will be updated as appropriate.

Central Notes: DeRozan, Caruso, Pistons, K. Brown

The league leader in minutes played per game is a 34-year-old. The Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan is averaging 37.8 MPG, followed by 20-somethings Luka Doncic, Tyrese Maxey and Miles Bridges. It’s a source of pride for DeRozan that he’s receiving such a heavy workload at this stage of his career.

“I love it,” the Bulls forward told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I love the game. As a kid when you’re young, you play until your Momma scream at you and those streetlights come on. Same thing here. You love it. You try to relish in these opportunities.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso believes this season has probably been his best from an individual standpoint, though it depends on how he finishes, he told Johnson. “We’re only 75 percent of the way through. We have to finish strong for this to be a completed sentence,” he said. “But to this point, I think it’s up there. I think offensively it’s probably my best. I think the numbers show that. I think I’m close to 10 points a game. And I’m pretty sure I’m close to 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Defensively, it’s been different for me. I’ve been guarding big wings or posts a lot more rather than lead guards. In turn, I have more blocks than I ever have and about the same for steals. That’s been a unique challenge defensively.”
  • Due to a steady diet of roster moves, Pistons head coach Monty Williams has been constantly tinkering with the rotation. James Edwards III of The Athletic suggests that Williams should cut his rotation down to eight players, staggering the starters’ minutes to make it work. In that scenario, recent acquisitions Simone Fontecchio and Quentin Grimes, along with rookie Marcus Sasser, would be the only reserves getting steady minutes.
  • Kendall Brown‘s rookie season with the Pacers was cut short by shin surgery. Brown, a second-round pick, has shown enough this season in the G League to get his two-way deal promoted on Monday to a three-year standard contract. “It’s been a long two years,” Brown said, per Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. “… The reward feels so much better when the path has been hard. My path has been different than a lot of other players in my class. I was just staying the course, just staying focused. Good things don’t come easy a lot of times. This is a good feeling to finally get that done.”

Central Notes: Wiseman, Sasser, Merrill, Bitim

The Pistons are still hoping reserve center James Wiseman can produce on a more consistent basis, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). During his first full season in Detroit, the seven-footer out of Memphis is averaging 5.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks across 40 appearances. The No. 2 pick in 2020 is now playing just 14.3 minutes per night for a 9-50 Pistons club.

“I just want him to be consistent,” head coach Monty Williams said. “The effort is always there. Communication in defense is improving. We love his presence in pick-and-rolls. We just want to see consistency.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Pistons rookie swingman Marcus Sasser, who’s dealing with a knee injury, is considered probable to suit up for today’s bout with the Magic, reports James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (via Twitter). Edwards notes that, should Sasser actually play, Detroit will field a completely healthy roster for the first time all season.
  • Chris Fedor of wonders if, after scoring 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting – all from long range – during a 110-100 victory over the Pistons on Friday, Cavaliers shooting guard Sam Merrill might have earned further consideration for legitimate rotation minutes. Merrill is already enjoying a career year with Cleveland. In 41 games this year, the Utah State product is averaging a career-best 7.8 PPG on a .435/.435/.917 shooting line, with career highs in rebounds (1.9) and assists (1.5) per game as well.
  • Bulls rookie shooting guard Onuralp Bitim has enjoyed a pair of solid games since being promoted from a two-way contract onto the injury-plagued club’s standard roster. He’s averaging 21.9 minutes across his last two contests and scoring 8.0 PPG on .455/.571/1.000 shooting, along with 5.0 RPG. As Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times details, the 24-year-old was a seasoned pro long before making his NBA debut with Chicago. The 6’6″ wing has been playing with Turkish clubs since he was 19. ‘‘Playing professionally since such a young age helped me a lot because, in the end, basketball is universal,’’ said Bitim, whose parents both suited up for professional Turkish teams. ‘‘[My mom] tells me that I got my IQ and vision from her… My dad says that the athleticism and other things are from him.’’

Injury Notes: Paul, Santos, Simmons, Isaac, Sasser

Future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul is not listed on the Warriorsinjury report for Tuesday’s contest vs. the Wizards, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. That means the 38-year-old will be active for tomorrow’s game, which will be his first contest since January 5.

Paul has been sidelined for most of the past two months after fracturing his left hand, which required surgery. While he was mentioned in several rumors leading up to the trade deadline, the Warriors decided to keep him for the home stretch of the 2023/24 season.

In his first season with Golden State, the 11-time All-NBA point guard has averaged 8.9 PPG, 7.2 APG, 3.8 RPG and 1.1 SPG on .424/.361/.833 shooting in 32 games (27.6 MPG), mostly off the bench (11 starts).

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

  • The lone member of the Warriors who is on tomorrow’s injury report is rookie Gui Santos, who is out with right knee inflammation. According to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link), the Brazilian forward had an MRI, which showed no structural damage. Santos thinks he could return at some point next week, Poole adds.
  • Nets guard Ben Simmons injured his leg in Saturday’s loss to Minnesota, which saw him exit the game in the third quarter. However, the issue seems to be a minor one, as he’s questionable for Monday’s contest vs. Memphis with left leg soreness, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Simmons has only played 14 games in 2023/24, mostly due to a nerve impingement in his lower back. It’s worth noting that he missed one game last month with a left knee injury, though it’s unclear if the two issues are related.
  • Another oft-injured player, Magic big man Jonathan Isaac, underwent an MRI on his left knee/leg, but it revealed “no significant injuries,” the team announced (via Twitter). The defensive stalwart is questionable for Tuesday’s contest vs. Brooklyn with a left knee strain. Isaac was limited to two minutes of action in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta due to the injury.
  • Pistons guard Marcus Sasser will be reevaluated in one week after sustaining a knee contusion, tweets Keith Langlois of The former Houston Cougar has had an impressive rookie season for Detroit, averaging 7.7 PPG and 3.0 APG on .468/.424/.850 shooting in 50 games off the bench (16.3 MPG). Sasser was the 25th overall pick of last year’s draft.

Pistons Notes: Williams, Rotation, Wiseman, Grimes

The Pistons went 11 deep into their rotation through the first 13 minutes of their Thursday loss to the Pacers. According to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, it felt like Detroit was auditioning for players who might be on next season’s roster, even though coach Monty Williams denied that was the case a day earlier.

I’m not going to be throwing combinations on the floor to just be looking at certain combinations,” Williams said Wednesday. “We’re done with that, in my opinion. We’re trying to develop guys, for sure, but we’re going to try and win every game we can so that we can create what we feel [will give us momentum] going into the summer.

In Edwards’ view, it doesn’t feel like there’s much synergy with the rotations Williams is putting on the floor. If the team is prioritizing winning, Edwards writes, it doesn’t make sense that James Wiseman is earning minutes over Mike Muscala and there’s been no staggering the minutes of franchise guards Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. But it doesn’t feel like development is the priority in the rotation either, according to Edwards, because rookie Marcus Sasser played fewer minutes than Evan Fournier and Malachi Flynn.

The deep rotations and new faces are making it difficult for any consistency to develop in Detroit and too many minutes are being given to players who might not be on the roster next season, Edwards writes.

In response to questions surrounding his 11-man rotation on Thursday, Williams explained that he told the coaches he’d prefer to run with about nine rotation players but Sasser bumped his knee and that’s why he ended up using Flynn more (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of Detroit Free Press).

We have more Pistons notes:

  • Williams also explained his decision to play Wiseman over Muscala (Twitter link via Sankofa). “I like what he’s giving us, especially on the defensive side,” Williams said of the former No. 2 overall pick. According to Sankofa, Williams said that the rim protection Wiseman provides is more important when smaller guards like Sasser and Flynn are on the floor.
  • Wiseman is hoping to shed the bust label he picked up after being traded away for a modest return at the 2023 deadline after he was drafted second overall in 2020, according to FOX Sports’ Melissa Rohlin. “I believe I can be a great player,” Wiseman said. His career has been derailed by a combination of injuries, illness and a lack of NBA preparedness, Rohlin writes.
  • Quentin Grimes, acquired by the Pistons at the deadline, is listed as probable ahead of their Saturday matchup against Orlando, according to Sankofa (Twitter link). Grimes hasn’t played since being traded due to a right knee sprain, but averaged 8.6 points per game while connecting on 37.9% of his three-pointers in his first three seasons in the league.

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.

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.”

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.”