Reggie Jackson

Central Notes: Oladipo, Pistons Rotation, Griffin

Victor Oladipo knew a breakout season was possible after speaking with Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard on the team’s private plane prior to his introductory press conference last summer, as Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated divulges in a feature story. Pritchard assured Oladipo that the club truly coveted his services, rather than just matching up salaries to facilitate the Paul George blockbuster with the Thunder. Indiana wanted to play faster this season. “This wasn’t a dump. We targeted you,” Pritchard told Oladipo, according to Jenkins. The All-Star shooting guard is averaging a career-high 24.4 PPG for the surprising Pacers.  “It was the first time in my career I felt like a team really believed in me,” Oladipo told Jenkins. “I was just thinking, Don’t mess this up.”

In other nuggets involving the Central Division:

  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy will likely go with a 10-man rotation once Reggie Jackson returns from his Grade 3 ankle sprain, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com.  Jackson would join a starting unit of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock. Ish Smith would return to his usual role as leader of the second unit with center Eric Moreland and forwards Anthony Tolliver and James Ennis getting steady minutes, Khan speculates. Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway would split time as the backup shooting guard, Khan adds.
  • Pistons owner Tom Gores invited Griffin and his business partners over to his California home immediately after the blockbuster deal with the Clippers, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details. Gores wanted to assure Griffin how badly the Pistons wanted him and address any concerns the five-time All-Star power forward might have, Langlois continues. The Pistons are 5-3 since Griffin joined their lineup. “We were very quickly on the same page with the same view of what we want to achieve and the approach to get there,” Gores told Langlois. “He’s definitely hit the ground running. It’s been great to see how his teammates, the whole organization and the fans have embraced him.”

Central Notes: Jackson, Antetokounmpo, Bower

When Pistons guard Reggie Jackson sprained his ankle on Boxing Day, he was given a six-to-eight week recovery timeline. Seven weeks in, head coach Stan Van Gundy is noncommittal about Jackson’s return, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes.

“I don’t have any preconceived notion at all of when he’ll be back,” Van Gundy said. “When [Pistons doctors] tell me he’s back, he’s back.

Though the Pistons guard hasn’t suffered a setback, the lack of enthusiasm doesn’t bode well. Per Beard, the 27-year-old may need a few more weeks to get to a point where he’s practicing heavily.

When Jackson does make his return, it will be to a Pistons lineup much different than the one he left in December. Jackson, of course, figures to be one of Detroit’s top offensive options in addition to Andre Drummond and recently acquired Blake Griffin.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • While Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown that whatever he does to improve his game in the offseason seems to be working just fine, the 23-year-old Bucks forward has an interest in training with Kobe Bryant in the summer. “When I go to [All-Star Weekend], I’m going to try to sneak an opportunity to talk to him,” he told ESPN’s Eric Nehm.
  • Second-year Bucks guard Xavier Munford, among the NBA’s first class of two-way players, has bounced between the big league club and its G League affiliate so far this season. He spoke with Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype about his new role.
  • There’s more that goes into pulling off an NBA trade than simply cold calling a fellow executive ahead of the trade deadline. Pistons general manager Jeff Bower spoke about the process that unfolded ahead of the Blake Griffin trade with Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Pistons Notes: Trade Talks, S. Johnson, Griffin

The Pistons have already completed a deal that will likely go down as the biggest in-season trade of the 2017/18 season, acquiring Blake Griffin last week from the Clippers. Still, that doesn’t mean Detroit is ready to sit out this week’s deadline.

“[GM Jeff Bower] is always working,” president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy said today, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link). “I don’t know that we will do anything or we won’t. I couldn’t put a percentage on the possibilities, but Jeff is still working.”

With Griffin and Andre Drummond – the latest Eastern Conference player of the week – leading the frontcourt, Van Gundy was asked about the possibility of adding a third star to that duo and creating a “Big Three” for the Pistons. In Van Gundy’s view though, the club already has a solid third option on the roster.

“To me, the third piece is Reggie [Jackson],” Van Gundy said, per Beard (Twitter link). “That’s pretty good. That’s a pretty good three. We’ve got it in place. We just don’t have it on the court right now.”

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • With the possibility of another trade looming, Ansar Khan of MLive.com runs through the entire Pistons’ roster, examining each player’s value and odds of being dealt.
  • Stanley Johnson‘s name has surfaced repeatedly in trade rumors this season, and according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link), the Knicks are one team that has been monitoring the third-year forward. Ellis adds that he’d be “stunned” to see Johnson moved, however.
  • The acquisition of Griffin has re-energized the Pistons and their fan base, Beard writes for The Detroit News. Within the same piece, Beard notes that two-way players Kay Felder or Reggie Hearn could be in line for a call-up from the G League if Detroit’s need for backcourt help persists.
  • Earlier today, we passed along the latest on the Pistons’ reported interest in Rodney Hood.

Pistons Notes: Van Gundy, Johnson, Jackson

Despite the fact that they’ve won a pair of games with him in the lineup, the Pistons haven’t quite figured out how to play with Blake Griffin. That’s not all that surprising, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes, considering that they’ve had so little time to acclimate to the new star.

Playing with Blake is still new to us. We had an hour and a half, and now we’ve had, what, two days now?” third-year forward Stanley Johnson said on Saturday. “So it’s still not the greatest stuff in the world, but if we can do that every night, regardless with what we have in, it doesn’t matter.”

While the Pistons have, at times, been smoother with Griffin on the sidelines, that’s nothing head coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t expect.

I have to get figured out offensively. I’m not helping him or us a lot. You can see today in the early fourth quarter, we were actually a lot smoother when he was out because we were just playing,” Van Gundy said after the Pistons took down the Heat. “I’ve got this great player now and we’re just sort of playing to him all the time and the defense is all loaded up.

When Griffin is on the court he’s a constant penetration threat, which commands attention from defenses and frees up teammates. While the Pistons may not have a set offensive scheme that features him in place already, their success through two games is a testament to the impact that he’s had already.

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Among the Pistons players most impacted by the arrival of Blake Griffin has been small forward Stanley Johnson. The 21-year-old spoke with the media, including The Detroit News, about how much easier his life is with Griffin on board. Johnson has averaged 17.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in just under 37 minutes per game since the trade was announced. “I see a lot more opportunity. Now with Blake involved, he creates so much attention, it’s crazy. It’s easy to turn the corner sometimes, with him. Then with Andre Drummond, you have two guys that are crazy lob threats. It’s kinda pick your poison sometimes,” Johnson said.
  • Head coach Stan Van Gundy is intent on finding a better way to feature Blake Griffin in the team’s offense. “I think Blake is naturally a guy who moves the ball and stuff. I think I’ve been running stuff to him and making him play against a loaded up defense,” he told Ansar Khan of MLive and the rest of the media. “We gotta get moving so the defense has to play against movement and not be loaded up against him. We’ll make that correction hopefully fairly quickly.”
  • For the Pistons to make the most of the Blake Griffin addition, other players are going to have to accept new roles, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press writes. One such player is Reggie Jackson who, after years behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, had embraced being a go-to option for Detroit.

Pistons Rumors: Failed Trades, S. Johnson, Love

The Pistons had originally planned to approach this season’s trade deadline by aggressively pursuing upgrades on the wing, writes Jake Fischer of SI.com. League sources tell Fischer that Detroit looked into several potential trade candidates around the NBA, including Danny Green, Jordan Clarkson, Tyreke Evans, Rodney Hood, and Courtney Lee. The Magic also called to discuss a deal that would have included Evan Fournier, Elfrid Payton, and Luke Kennard, per Fischer.

As a result of all that research and legwork on wing players, the Pistons came to a realization that prompted them to change direction. “It’s becoming a wing league, and not many teams are willing to move those players,” a Pistons source told Fischer. “We were willing to give up ours.”

Rather than looking to build up on their own wing depth, the Pistons decided to part with Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris in a deal that would bolster their frontcourt instead. It remains to be seen whether that approach will pay off, but the team will start to find out tonight, with Blake Griffin set to make his Pistons debut. “It’s time to make a run now,” one team source told Fischer, who notes that seven of Detroit’s eight remaining games before the All-Star break are at home.

Here’s more on the Pistons from Fischer:

  • The Pistons, who explored trading for Eric Bledsoe last summer, circled back to him in November and came “within inches” of acquiring him in a three-way deal with the Suns and Pelicans, according to Fischer. That trade, which would have included Reggie Jackson, fell through.
  • The Pistons will continue to keep an eye out for opportunities to acquire wing players, and Fischer hints that Stanley Johnson is more likely than Kennard to be included in such a deal.
  • Detroit’s front office worked with Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and GM Michael Winger on the Griffin deal. Head coach Doc Rivers, who served as the Clippers’ head of basketball operations until this past offseason, didn’t find out about the deal until Sunday — by that point, every detail except the first-round pick protections had already been agreed upon, a league source tells Fischer.
  • If the Pistons had been unable to finalize a deal for Griffin, they were planning to shift their focus to Kevin Love, says Fischer. Obviously, that was before Love suffered his hand injury, though there’s no indication that the Cavaliers would have seriously considered moving him.

Clippers Trade Blake Griffin To Pistons

11:46pm: The trade is now official, according to a press release issued by the Pistons.Blake Griffin vertical

“We are serious about winning, and this is a major move to improve our team,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement.Blake Griffin is one of the NBA’s elite players, and when you get an opportunity to add that kind of talent, you take it. … He is a great fit for our team and will bring a combination of toughness and athleticism that will elevate our team and excite our fans.”

5:20pm: The Clippers have agreed to trade star power forward Blake Griffin to the Pistons in a multi-player deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Detroit will ship forward Tobias Harris, shooting guard Avery Bradley, center Boban Marjanovic, a first-round pick and a second-round draft pick to the Clippers, Wojnarowski adds, citing league sources.

Forward Brice Johnson and center Willie Reed are also heading to Detroit, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

Detroit’s 2018 first-round pick is protected if it’s a top-four selection, according to Wojnarowski; It has the same protection for the next two drafts, then goes unprotected in 2021. The second-round pick in the trade will come in the 2019 draft (Twitter link).

The Pistons, long rumored to be active on the trade market, have been trying to shake up their team while nosediving down the Eastern Conference standings. They have lost eight in a row and now sit in the ninth spot in the East. Wojnarowski had reported just hours ago that Detroit was shopping Bradley and his expiring contract.

Griffin re-signed with the Clippers on a five-year max deal over the summer, so the Pistons are taking on an enormous salary commitment in order to pair him with current franchise player Andre Drummond. Griffin is making $29.5MM this season and he’ll be due another $141.6MM over the next four years, though the final year of the contract includes a player option.

The longtime Clipper will also receive a $860K trade bonus spread over the next four seasons, salary-cap expert Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The Griffin trade bonus is not voided because his current salary is slightly below the max, Marks adds.

The Clippers are in the playoff hunt at 25-24, so dealing Griffin certainly signals a change in the franchise’s long-term direction. It’s possible that this will be the first of multiple moves for the Clippers, since players like DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams have also been considered potential trade candidates.

Aside from Drummond, who is making approximately $23.8MM this season, Harris and Reggie Jackson are Detroit’s highest-paid players at $16MM this season. Bradley is making $8.8MM and Marjanovic is pulling in $7MM this season. Johnson is earning approximately $1.3MM and Reed has a $1MM contract this season.

Both teams are hard-capped and near the luxury-tax line, as Marks notes in a tweet, so it was crucial that each team sent and received about the same amount of money.

The Clippers will get cap relief in the long run as the contracts of Harris and Marjanovic expire after the 2018/19 season. Once this deal is finalized, Danilo Gallinari‘s contract will represent the only guaranteed money on L.A.’s cap beyond 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Woj’s Latest: Pistons, Fournier, Lakers, Hawks

Shooting guards and small forwards are in high demand as the trade deadline approaches, and there simply aren’t that many quality wings expected to be available, Adrian Wojnarowski writes in his latest report for ESPN.com. As Wojnarowski details, the Pistons, Knicks, Pelicans, and Trail Blazers are just a few of the many teams looking for upgrades on the wing.

DeMarre Carroll (Nets), Alec Burks (Jazz), Kent Bazemore (Hawks), and Evan Fournier (Magic) are among the veterans attracting some interest on the trade market, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that the Pistons pursued a deal for Fournier. Such a trade would be hard to pull off without including Reggie Jackson‘s contract, so nothing’s imminent at this point, but the Pistons continue to be aggressive on the trade market, a reflection of Stan Van Gundy‘s desire to win now, says Wojnarowski.

As for the Pelicans, they also remain active in trade talks despite their limited assets, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have negative value and won’t be movable without New Orleans attaching a draft pick or two. If the Pelicans can’t trade for a wing, they’ll have to count on getting Solomon Hill back healthy for the home stretch of the season.

Here’s more from Woj:

  • The Lakers have “made it clear” that Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. are available in trades, reports Wojnarowski. The club had been planning on waiting until after the season to try to move Clarkson, but there may be a mutual desire to get something done on that front sooner rather than later.
  • Bazemore, Ersan Ilyasova, and Marco Belinelli are expendable in Atlanta, where the Hawks are focused on unloading veterans and stockpiling more young players and draft picks, per Wojnarowski.
  • The Bulls still plan to trade Nikola Mirotic after January 15, assuming he OK’s a deal. According to Wojnarowski, Mirotic is somewhat intrigued by the Jazz and their head coach Quin Snyder, who has a reputation for maximizing offensive talent.
  • It’s possible their outlooks could change by the trade deadline, but the Thunder and Pelicans currently have no plans to trade Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins, respectively. Both players can become unrestricted free agents this July.
  • We passed along more rumors from Woj in full stories earlier today, providing the latest on DeAndre Jordan and examining the Grizzliesasking price for Tyreke Evans.

Pistons Notes: Bradley, Leuer, Bullock, Galloway

Avery Bradley‘s role will change now that he’ll be playing alongside Ish Smith instead of Reggie Jackson until after the All-Star break, as he and coach Stan Van Gundy noted to me in a Detroit Free Press story.

The Pistons shooting guard returned to action on Wednesday after a seven-game absence due to a groin injury. While Bradley was on the mend, Jackson suffered a severe ankle sprain. Bradley will have to get used to quicker tempo and he’ll have the ball in his hands a little more. Van Gundy is running the offense more through the wings with Jackson on the sidelines.

“It’s going to change and I just have to make the adjustment,” Bradley said of his role. Bradley usually defended point guards with Jackson on the floor but those switched assignments will occur less often with the smaller Smith.

“The best part of Reggie Jackson’s defense is his post defense, so you could play him on a lot of bigger people,” Van Gundy said. “With Ish, that’s a lot different. So matchups will be a little bit different.”

In other Pistons developments:

  • Forward Jon Leuer, who hasn’t played since October 31st due to an ankle injury, could be headed to surgery if his condition doesn’t improve soon. Leuer received a joint lubrication injection for his sprained left ankle a month ago after suffering a setback. He was put on anti-inflammatory medication recently to aid the healing process. Van Gundy hopes that Leuer will show significant progress by next weekend. “I can’t tell him to play and I can’t tell him to go get surgery,” Van Gundy said. “At that point, if we’ve gone another 12 days and we haven’t had anything change, he’s going to have to make some decisions on what he wants to do.”
  • With Bradley returning to the lineup, Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver will share a starting spot, depending on matchups. Against smaller lineups, Bullock will start. Against taller, more rugged power forwards, Tolliver will get the nod with Tobias Harris moving to small forward.
  • The backup point guard job spot behind Smith is up for grabs. Langston Galloway played most of those minutes the first game Jackson was out. Dwight Buycks, who is on a two-way contract, played 18 minutes at the point the following game.

Central Notes: Thomas, Mirotic, Valentine, Jackson

Isaiah Thomas‘ return should happen any day now and it could not come a moment sooner for the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. Cleveland has dropped four of its past five games, including back-to-back losses to the sub-.500 Kings and Jazz. Thomas’ ability to score will help a Cavaliers team in need of an offensive punch.

“You always look forward to having a great player back on your team,” head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Fedor. “He’s been going through the process he’s going through. He came out yesterday feeling pretty good so we’ll see what happens after that.”

Thomas completed his first scrimmage with the Cavaliers on Friday and came out of it well. It has been reported that tomorrow’s contest against the Trail Blazers could see Thomas return or the following night against the Celtics in Boston — his former team. Either way, Thomas’ return is close and if he manages anything close to his 28.9 PPG average from last season, Cleveland will be better off.

Check out other Central Division news below:

  • Nikola Mirotic‘s 2017/18 has been a roller coaster but his outspoken confidence since he returned from a facial injury has been noticed by his Bulls teammates and coaches, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Head coach Fred Hoiberg said that Mirotic’s confidence is rubbing off on his teammates. However, some teammates may be rubbed the wrong way by a player who was involved in a physical confrontation with a Bulls teammate — which caused the facial injury — and has publicly demanded a trade.
  • In his second NBA season, Denzel Valentine has expanded his role beyond a simple catch and shoot three-point shooter, NBA.com’s Sam Smith writes.  Injuries have given Valentine more playing time and his improvements have been noticed. “I give Denzel credit,” Hoiberg said. “He’s not playing outside himself right now. Earlier in the season, if he wasn’t getting shots he’d take a crazy one. Now he’s letting the game come to him.”
  • Reggie Jackson‘s grade 3 ankle sprain has changed the Pistons’ plans and it will take time to adjust to life without one of the team’s best players, NBA.com’s Keith Langlois writes. Wins and losses will not be as important as achieving consistency while Jackson is on the shelf. The responsibility of that falls on Ish Smith and Langston Galloway, the two players who will see increased roles in Jackson’s absence.

Central Notes: LaVine, Rose, Shumpert, R. Jackson

When they stumbled their way to a 3-20 start, no team seemed less likely to have a seven-game winning streak than the Bulls. But that’s what happened, and their improbable play since December 8 has given them the league’s best record during that span at 10-2. With Zach LaVine due back soon, the only thing that could dampen spirits in Chicago is a rumored trade involving Nikola Mirotic or Robin Lopez, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

Trade rumors began when the Bulls appeared headed for a high lottery pick and Mirotic was sidelined by facial fractures from a preseason fight with teammate Bobby Portis. Those two have resolved their differences enough to co-exist on the court, and Chicago has pulled to within five games of a playoff spot.

“We’re playing so well you don’t want to interfere with that,” LaVine said about the possibility of a deal. “But that’s not a decision for me or anybody on the team. We go out there to play and win and prove ourselves and impress. That’s what we’re going to do.”

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • Today marked the first of six straight contact practices scheduled for LaVine as he works his way back from ACL surgery, Johnson adds in the same story. LaVine, who was averaging 18.9 points per game for the Timberwolves before the injury last season, said he feels “close” to returning. “I’ve actually picked things up pretty quickly,” he said of the Bulls’ offense. “The main thing is just doing a lot of conditioning. I like being one of the best in-shape dudes out there. I’m getting that down. The touch and feel comes back the more you play.”
  • There’s also positive health news regarding the Cavaliers, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. In addition to the imminent debut of Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland expects to have Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert back soon. Rose has been sidelined since December 7 with bone spurs and a sprained ankle, while Shumpert hasn’t played since having meniscus surgery December 1. “D Rose looked good the other day,” said coach Tyronn Lue. “First time I seen him run without a limp. He was going through some stuff. He was doing three-man weave with a lot of pace and speed. … You know Shump, he’s always healing faster than he’s supposed to, so he’s coming along well also.”
  • Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson can’t start his rehab process until the swelling goes down in his injured right foot, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. That’s expected to happen in about two weeks.
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