Patrick Williams

Arturas Karnisovas Admits Changes Are Necessary In Chicago

After watching his team get eliminated in the play-in round for the second straight season, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas promised that changes are coming, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Addressing reporters today in the wake of Friday’s loss at Miami, Karnisovas sounded ready for a major roster shake-up.

“I’ve said numerous times today: This group, something doesn’t work. I have to find ways to find a group that’s going to make improvements. We’ve done it for a couple years now and it hasn’t worked,” Karnisovas said. “Everything is on the table. I am going to look at totality of the group. This group hasn’t worked. There’s a lot of great things in certain individual players and a lot of young guys who took a step forward and it’s positive. But in totality as a group, it didn’t work. So I’m going to have to find these answers in offseason.”

Presumably that will start with Zach LaVine, whom the team tried to move last fall before injuries derailed his season. Multiple outlets have reported that Karnisovas will make another attempt this summer to find a taker for LaVine, who has three years and about $138MM left on his contract, including a nearly $49MM player option for 2026/27.

Although Karnisovas emphasized the need for change at today’s press conference, Johnson states that he repeated his commitment to re-sign free agents DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams. A source tells Johnson that the team recently offered DeRozan a two-year extension in the neighborhood of $40MM per season. DeRozan reportedly wants a longer deal, but Johnson suggests that could just be a negotiating tactic.

“DeMar’s been great for us for three years,” Karnisovas said. “He’s been invested in the city of Chicago and has been really great to our young guys. So both sides are interested in continuing and we’ll see what happens in free agency.”

Johnson notes that giving new contracts to DeRozan and Williams without trading LaVine means the Bulls would start next season in luxury tax territory. Karnisovas expressed a willingness to pay the tax, but only for a contender, which heightens the need to move LaVine’s contract.

“My approach looking at the luxury tax is if you can prove that your team is going to be in the top four, you go in the luxury tax,” he said. “It just makes no sense to be in play-in if you’re going to be in the luxury tax. As long as I can put a team together that is going to be competing top four in the East, that’s when you start look at retaining guys and go in the luxury tax.” 

Karnisovas also addressed the status of Lonzo Ball, saying the organization will monitor his progress during the offseason, but he’s had no setbacks so far in his latest attempt to return from knee issues that have sidelined him since January of 2022. While Karnisovas didn’t address the possibility, Johnson points out that the Bulls stand to receive $21MM in cap relief if Ball can’t return and an independent doctor declares the injury to be career-ending.

Karnisovas said there’s no plan to replace coach head coach Billy Donovan, who is fresh off an extension and recently stated that he’s not interested in returning to college coaching when his name was floated as a possibility for Kentucky. Although Karnisovas remains loyal to Donovan, Johnson speculates there could be some changes to his staff.

“I like what Billy has done here the last four years. Billy is someone you build a program with,” Karnisovas said. “He’s a very good coach and even a better human being. We established a winning expectation, we defined a profile for the Bulls player and we put an emphasis on player development. It is also on me to facilitate Billy with the resources he needs to build a team that can be successful consistently.”

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.

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.

2024 Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents during the 2024 offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of players from the Central Division.

Patrick Williams, F, Bulls

  • 2023/24: $9,835,881
  • 2024/25: RFA
  • Stock: Neutral

The Bulls are in a tricky spot with Williams, whose season ended early when it was announced in February that he would undergo foot surgery that would sideline him for the remainder of ’23/24. He’ll be a restricted free agent if Chicago gives him a $12.97MM qualifying offer, which should be a lock.

Still just 22 years old, Williams is a former No. 4 overall pick who has shown glimpses of tantalizing two-way upside over his first four seasons. The problem is, those glimpses have been fleeting and have never been sustained for a prolonged period of time.

In fairness to Williams, injuries have certainly played a role in his up-and-down play — while he played 71 games as a rookie and all 82 games in 2022/23, he was limited to just 17 games in ’21/22 due to a wrist injury and only made 43 appearances this season due to foot and ankle issues.

I’m sure the Bulls would have loved for Williams to have a breakout season in ’23/24 and cement his place as a cornerstone to build around going forward. But his averages — 10.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG on .443/.399/.788 shooting in 43 games (27.3 MPG) — were basically in line with his career numbers. Not better or worse, just neutral.

Williams has a high ceiling on both ends of the court due to his size, length, athleticism and skills. His production hasn’t matched his talent level to this point though, and there are a wide range of outcomes for what his next contract could look like, depending on how much external interest he draws as a RFA.

Isaac Okoro, G/F, Cavaliers

  • 2023/24: $8,920,795
  • 2024/25: RFA
  • Stock: Up

Okoro was selected with the No. 5 overall pick in 2020 — right after Williams. And as with Williams, Okoro showed glimpses of being a productive rotation regular for Cleveland during his first three seasons.

So why is Okoro’s stock up and Williams’ stuck in neutral? The answer is subjective of course, but part of it has to do with expectations.

After playing a career-low 21.7 minutes per game last season, Okoro is up to 27.2 MPG in ’23/24, and he has played well both as a starter and as a reserve. Overall, he’s averaging 9.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.0 APG and 0.9 SPG on .498/.399/.686 shooting in 57 games, including 34 starts.

The 23-year-old has improved in the area most critical to his development: three-point shooting. His 39.9% mark from deep is a career high, and he’s Cleveland’s best perimeter defender.

Like Williams, Okoro will be a restricted free agent in the offseason if he’s tendered a qualifying offer. Given the Cavs’ salary cap situation, I don’t expect him to receive much more than the mid-level exception, which is projected to be worth about $13.8MM annually on a four-year deal.

Okoro’s future with Cleveland was looking a little shaky last summer after the team acquired Max Strus and re-signed Caris LeVert. But he has become more decisive and effective on offense on top of being an already-strong defender, and I’d be very surprised if the Cavs didn’t keep him around in the offseason.

Jae Crowder, F, Bucks

  • 2023/24: $3,196,448 (minimum salary; $2,019,706 cap hit)
  • 2024/25: UFA
  • Stock: Down

Now in his 12th NBA season, Crowder has far exceeded the careers of most second-round picks (he was selected No. 34 overall back in 2012). But he also appears to be at the tail end of his career.

The 33-year-old’s lengthy holdout with Phoenix last season was one of the more bizarre decisions for a player who was about to become a free agent. He was eventually moved to Milwaukee — his preferred destination — but at a significant cost: he made $10.2MM in ’22/23, and re-signed with the Bucks on a one-year, minimum-salary contract last summer.

Crowder hasn’t shown anything this year to prove he’s worth more than the veteran’s minimum going forward, averaging 6.1 PPG and 3.4 RPG on .421/.353/.692 shooting. He  has only appeared 36 games (23.8 MPG), having missed 31 games early in the season after suffering a left adductor and abdominal tear, which required surgery.

Perhaps things will change if Crowder has a strong playoff performance, but to my eyes, he’s at least a half-step slower on defense than he used to be, and that was always his calling card. At his age, it’s rare for that trend to reverse.

Jalen Smith, F/C, Pacers

  • 2023/24: $5,043,773
  • 2024/25: $5,417,386 player option
  • Stock: Up

Smith, who turns 24 years old today (happy birthday), is actually the third former lottery pick from 2020 on this list, as he was selected No. 10 overall in the same draft as Williams and Okoro. However, he has had a much different NBA path than his fellow draftees.

Smith didn’t play much for the team that selected him, Phoenix, and the Suns declined their third-year team option on his rookie scale contract in 2021. He was traded to Indiana in February 2022, eventually re-signing with the Pacers on a three-year, $15.1MM deal with a player option for the final season.

In 2022/23, which was Smith’s first full season with the Pacers, it seemed like the team was a little unsure about how best to utilize him. He opened the season as the starting power forward, but it was an awkward fit on both ends of the court, and he was eventually moved to the bench, mostly playing backup center. Overall, he averaged 9.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 0.9 BPG in 68 games (18.8 MPG).

Smith’s counting stats in ’23/24 — 10.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 0.6 BPG in 47 games (17.7 MPG) — are very similar to last season’s. There’s one huge difference though: he has been one of the most efficient offensive players in the NBA.

After posting a below-league-average 56.5 true shooting percentage in ’22/23, Smith is at 70.7 TS% in ’23/24, more than 12% above league average. He’s shooting 71.8% on twos and 44.2% on threes.

Given his elite offensive efficiency, decent defense, and age, it’s hard to imagine he’ll pick up his $5.42MM player option. The big man market is pretty thin in 2024, and Smith is in line for a raise — the two-year, $16MM deal Moritz Wagner signed with Orlando last summer should be his floor.

The Pacers will have cap room and Smith’s Early Bird rights if they want to bring him back. But they also have to pay Pascal Siakam, and third-year center Isaiah Jackson will be entering the final year of his rookie scale deal. Money could be a sticking point in negotiations.

Central Notes: Cunningham, Middleton, Rivers, Williams

Cade Cunningham knows he won’t get more individual accolades until the Pistons turn things around, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic. Cunningham has put up solid stats after missing most of last season due to a shin injury but Detroit has won just eight games.

“With how the league is, we reward winning,” Cunningham said. “People are going to say everything I’m doing is empty and meaningless until I win games. That’s what I plan on doing.”

Cunningham is eligible to sign a rookie scale extension this offseason. He’s averaging 22.2 points and 7.4 assists per game, and it would be a surprise if Detroit doesn’t make a max offer to the 2021 No. 1 pick.

“I don’t do the comparison thing as far as me to these other players. I know that I’m that level of being an All-Star, but I haven’t won enough games. I respect that,” Cunningham said. “I know that once I do that, all the other stuff will come with it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Khris Middleton didn’t play in the Bucks’ 21-point victory over Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon but it shouldn’t be long before he returns to the lineup, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. The veteran wing hasn’t played since the All-Star break due to a left ankle sprain. “He’s getting closer. I don’t know if I’m going to say close enough that we could think next game, but he’s getting a lot closer. He’s feeling a lot better,” coach Doc Rivers said.
  • Speaking of Rivers, Jamal Collier of ESPN details the coach’s first month since replacing Adrian Griffin as the Bucks‘ head coach. Rivers revealed that he said in a phone conversation with his brother that he felt “full” again after returning from his broadcasting job to the sidelines. “I missed it more than I thought,” Rivers said. “I thought I may not do this again. If the right job [didn’t come up] I wasn’t doing it. … Then the first day … man, I felt like I was at home again. I didn’t know that. I just felt normal. Good. I felt full. You’ve got to be full when you’re working and I felt full.”
  • Patrick Williams‘ future is cloudy after word broke that he’ll need season-ending foot surgery. The Bulls forward will be a restricted free agent this offseason unless the front office doesn’t give him a $12.97MM qualifying offer. Williams told The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry he’s not overly concerned about what the offseason will bring. “I know what I showed when I was healthy this season,” he said. “I think I know who I am as a player and what I’m capable of as a player. So, ‘nervous’ isn’t the word. I’m kind of excited to see what happens. And just ready to get back to playing.”

Eastern Notes: Tatum, P. Williams, Nesmith, Cavs, LeVert

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum says he was “devastated” when Boston lost to Golden State in the 2022 NBA Finals, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Tatum was determined to advance as a play-maker after that experience, something he has continually improved upon over the years.

The easiest way to say it is, I was devastated,” Tatum said. “I got so close and didn’t perform the way I wanted to, and we didn’t win. At that time, besides my family, nothing else mattered but getting better and getting back to that point.”

Tatum had plenty of individual and team success through his first six seasons, with three All-NBA nods and three other trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. However, as Weiss writes, Tatum knows that the only way to become “the face of the league” is by claiming a championship.

I feel like it’s mine to take,” Tatum said. “I do feel like, if we win a championship, it would be more distinguished and clear. But I understand I’m in that shortlist for sure.”

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams is undergoing season-ending left foot surgery. He told reporters on Saturday that he had been trying to get back on the court by the end of February, but imaging revealed a fracture in his injured foot (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). Williams is scheduled for surgery on March 6 in New York, with an expectation that he’ll resume basketball activities in July. As Johnson writes in a full story, the 22-year-old said he’s open to returning to Chicago as a restricted free agent this summer. “I don’t think anybody knows what their future is to be honest,” Williams said. “I would love to continue to be a Bull. I love it here. I love the opportunity we have to build culture, to build something special with this group and this team. I think I could really be a cornerstone piece for this team. But you never know what the future holds, and I understand it’s a business.
  • Fourth-year forward Aaron Nesmith, who is having a career-best season for the Pacers, was sidelined for Thursday’s win over Detroit due to an ankle injury and is considered day-to-day. Head coach Rick Carlisle said the 24-year-old was able to increase his activity a bit during Saturday’s practice, tweets Tony East of The Pacers’ next game is Sunday against the red-hot Mavericks, winners of seven straight.
  • The Cavaliers dropped their first two games after the All-Star break without Donovan Mitchell, who has been battling an illness. Chris Fedor of (subscriber link) says the Cavs need more from their bench unit, particularly from Caris LeVert, who was just 3-of-21 from the field in those two losses. “I liked my looks tonight, especially in the second half,” LeVert told Fedor after going 1-of-11 on Friday. “I’m happy with how the ball is leaving my hands. Sometimes you go through that. Is what it is. It’s the NBA. Try not to think too much about it. Just continue to do what I do and be who I am. Do the same stuff outside of games and things like that. Just gotta keep going. I’m due for a big game.”

Patrick Williams To Undergo Season-Ending Foot Surgery

Bulls forward Patrick Williams will undergo surgery on his injured left foot and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season, the team announced today in a press release.

According to the Bulls, Williams was initially diagnosed with a bone edema, but recent imaging revealed a “progression of his foot stress reaction.” He last played on January 25.

The No. 4 overall pick of the 2020 draft, Williams has had an up-and-down four seasons with Chicago, showcasing tantalizing two-way upside at times mixed in with plenty of inconsistency. Part of that has been due to injuries — while he played 71 games as a rookie and all 82 games in 2022/23, he was limited to just 17 games in ’21/22 due to a wrist injury and only made 43 appearances this season due to foot and ankle issues.

Overall, the 22-year-old averaged 10.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG on .443/.399/.788 shooting in 43 games (27.3 MPG) in ’23/24, including 30 starts.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, Williams will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Bulls give him a $12,973,527 qualifying offer.

With Williams and Torrey Craig (right knee sprain) both sidelined, the Bulls have been running smaller lineups, with a starting five of Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. Rookie Julian Phillips and second-year wing Dalen Terry also received rotation minutes in Thursday’s loss vs. Boston.

Williams is Chicago’s second opening-night starter to go down with season-ending foot surgery, joining two-time All-Star Zach LaVine. The Bulls are currently 26-30, the No. 9 seed in the East.

Torrey Craig Has Right Knee Sprain, Out Multiple Weeks

Bulls forward Torrey Craig suffered a right knee sprain while working out during the All-Star break, the team’s PR department tweets. Craig will be reevaluated in two-to-four weeks.

Craig, who started regularly for the Suns last season, has appeared in 33 games (eight starts) this season in Chicago. The defensive stalwart is averaging 6.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 21 minutes per game.

It’s the second significant injury Craig has suffered this season. He was sidelined in mid-December with an acute sprain of his right plantar fascia and didn’t return until Feb. 3.

Craig signed a two-year, $5.4MM contract during free agency last summer that includes a player option for next season.

Craig has mainly been used as an undersized power forward. The team’s starting power forward, Patrick Williams, is also dealing with an injury. He’s been out since Jan. 25 due to a left foot issue and isn’t close to returning.

Coach Billy Donovan said on Tuesday that Williams hasn’t started running yet and the staff is being “very, very careful” with the former lottery pick, who is still experiencing mild discomfort in the foot, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.

The frontcourt injuries could spur the Bulls to find help on the buyout market. They have an open roster spot.

Central Notes: Williams, Haliburton, Fontecchio, Grimes

Bulls forward Patrick Williams hasn’t played since Jan. 25 due to a left foot injury. He’s also dealt with a right ankle injury while missing a total of 12 games this season.

Coach Billy Donovan hinted that Williams, a restricted free agent after the season, needs to give the team’s medical staff a heads-up if he’s not feeling 100 percent.

“I think Patrick has got to get better at when he has ailments and issues, not that he’s not getting treatment, but sometimes – and I’m not saying that this was the issue – but he’s got to really make sure that he’s not taking himself to a point where he’s putting himself in harm’s way health-wise,” Donovan said, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Williams’ hasn’t had any setbacks regarding his current injury but his return depends on his ramp-up activity, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. He doesn’t have discomfort walking at this time but it’s unlikely he’d play against Boston, Chicago’s first game out of the All-Star break, Johnson adds (Twitter links).

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Tyrese Haliburton believes the Pacers can reach the Eastern Conference Finals, and perhaps even represent the conference in the NBA Finals. “I have no doubt in my mind that we can be a conference finals team, no doubt in my mind that we have that capability,” he told Marc J. Spears in an Andscape interview. “And again, I don’t even want to say that because I don’t want to put a limit on it. I think that teams already know when they see us it’s not a walk in the park. That was established last [season] with the way we played. And now add another guy like Pascal (Siakam)  and with the success that I’m having and the success that everybody on our team is really having this year, it ain’t a walk in the park at all.”
  • The Pistons enter the All-Star break with eight victories in 54 gamse. After the Pistons made numerous trades before the deadline, James Edwards III of The Athletic believes that the impact of acquisitions Simone Fontecchio and Quentin Grimes will be one of the top storylines to follow in Detroit for the rest of the season.
  • As for the Bulls, Johnson takes a look at the reasons for optimism and pessimism heading into the second half of the season. Chicago currently holds a play-in spot.

Bulls Rumors: DeRozan, Drummond, Caruso, Williams

With Zach LaVine out for the rest of the season after opting for foot surgery, the Bulls‘ most important decision at the trade deadline will involve DeMar DeRozan, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Mayberry believes the organization should think twice about committing big money to the 34-year-old forward, who will be a free agent this summer. DeRozan and the team haven’t been able to reach a deal in extension talks, and Mayberry questions whether it’s wise to keep the core of the team together amid another mediocre season.

Thursday’s deadline provides an immediate opportunity to part with DeRozan, Mayberry notes, adding that the Bulls should be able to obtain draft assets or young talent from a contender in need of a veteran scorer.

There’s also the possibility of an offseason sign-and-trade, but Mayberry points out that waiting until summer presents the risk of losing DeRozan in free agency with nothing in return. Holding DeRozan’s Bird rights, the Bulls will have the advantage of being able to offer him more money than rival teams, but Mayberry states that DeRozan won’t have any other reason to stay in Chicago if he wants to be part of a winner.

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Veteran center Andre Drummond is a target of several teams, including the Celtics, Mavericks, Lakers and Suns, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. He adds that the Rockets considered making an offer for Drummond before acquiring Steven Adams last week. Scotto points out that Drummond carries significant value for teams in need of rebounding as he’s collecting 18.9 boards per 36 minutes this season.
  • The Bulls are asking for two first-round picks in exchange for Alex Caruso, Scotto adds. In addition to being a defensive standout, Caruso is viewed as a bargain because of his $9.89MM salary for next season. Scotto also hears that teams are keeping an eye on the potential availability of Patrick Williams, who wasn’t able to reach a rookie scale extension agreement before the start of the season.
  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago examines the trading record of president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and speculates how it might influence the team’s direction at this year’s deadline.

Pistons Rumors: Harris, LaVine, Morris, Bogdanovic, Burks

With Zach LaVine out for the season, Sixers forward Tobias Harris may be the Pistons‘ top trade target, James L. Edwards of The Athletic writes in an overview of the team’s options ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Edwards has stated since December that the Pistons have interest in Harris, who spent time in Detroit early in his career and has connections with members of the front office and coaching staff.

Harris has been a reliable scorer throughout his career and is averaging 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists this season while shooting 51.2% from the field and 34.4% from three-point range. The 31-year-old can handle either forward spot and would give the Pistons a frontcourt weapon to team with Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey.

Edwards cautions that Detroit might not be overly aggressive in pursuing Harris this week because of his upcoming free agent status. The front office may be reluctant to part with a significant asset when it will have plenty of cap room to sign him this summer.

Edwards has more on the Pistons:

  • Detroit seems to have paused trade talks regarding LaVine, but Edwards isn’t certain that the team was ever very committed to acquiring him. While he reports there were “many discussions” between the Bulls and Pistons in recent weeks, sources in the organization tell Edwards that Detroit would have only gotten serious about such a move if Chicago was willing to attach other assets like draft compensation or another player such as Patrick Williams. Edwards also speculates that the Pistons may have been willing to take on LaVine’s contract if the Bulls would have accepted expiring deals in return, but he’s not certain of that. Chicago was asking for Bojan Bogdanovic and another young player, according to Edwards, who doesn’t believe Detroit would have ever agreed to that price.
  • League sources tell Edwards that numerous teams have inquired about Monte Morris. He cites the Timberwolves as one of the most interested parties, noting that they tried to deal for the veteran guard when he was still with Washington. Morris recently returned after being sidelined by injuries for the season’s first 43 games, and Edwards suggests that Detroit might prefer to hang onto him.
  • Edwards hears that rival teams have “strong interest” in Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, but the Pistons are leaning toward keeping both players unless the current offers improve.