Reggie Jackson

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Frazier, Oladipo, Stoudemire

Bulls head coach Jim Boylen is excited about the new players his team brought in this offseason, and he hopes that the additions of veterans Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky alongside rookies Coby White and Daniel Gafford will allow him to deploy a deeper roster during the 2019/20 season, writes Sean Highkin of NBC Sports Chicago.

“What we (the Bulls) talked about is we wanted to bring in high character depth that could support our current roster,” Boylen said. “I also wanted a team that was duplicit and redundant so we could play the same way (when we go to our bench).”

Specifically, Boylen spoke on how the last couple years’ lack of depth caused the Bulls to rely on G League level players whenever stars like Zach LaVine or Lauri Markkanen were out with injury or sickness.

“We’ve struggled the last couple years to play on a night when we had injury or illness, where we had to change our style of play before the game. I don’t want that (for the Bulls). The good teams don’t have that.”

There’s more news out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Veteran point guard Tim Frazier is eager for the opportunity that awaits him with the Pistons, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. While Frazier may see limited minutes behind Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose, Detroit sees value in having a young and experienced option in case Jackson or Rose get hurt.
  • As Jackie MacMullan of ESPN explains, Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has seen his appreciation for basketball grow as he’s been sidelined with a ruptured right quadriceps tendon. Regarding watching his team’s performance during the playoffs last season, Oladipo said “It was so hard. It makes you appreciate the game more, your teammates more, even yourself more… Sometimes we don’t realize our own impact. You take it for granted. I won’t ever do that again.”
  • The Knicks do not plan on signing former NBA All-Star big man Amar’e Stoudemire to a contract for the 2019/20 season, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post. Stoudemire worked out for the Knicks and 14 other teams in Las Vegas on Monday. He last played in the NBA for the Heat during the 2015/16 season.

Latest On The Mike Conley Trade

The Jazz had been targeting Mike Conley for months before pulling off today’s trade with Memphis, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah made a strong push to get Conley before the February deadline, offering Ricky Rubio, two first-round picks and other expiring contracts that would have provided the Grizzlies with cap relief this summer.

Jones cites “frustration” among Jazz management, which believed Conley would be a difference maker in the postseason, when the offer wasn’t accepted. Utah finished with the fifth seed and a first-round playoff ouster.

“What we found out this year,” Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey said after the season ended, “is that while we were a good team, we weren’t a great team.”

The organization sees Conley as a path to becoming great, viewing him as one of the best pick-rand-roll guards in the league and a strong leader in the locker room. The Jazz were willing to pay a heavy price in the deal, giving up Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and Grayson Allen, plus this year’s first-round pick and a future conditional first-rounder. Sources tell Jones the Grizzlies insisted on Allen because they wanted “a young player with upside” and were impressed by how he improved during the season.

There’s more fallout from today’s trade:

  • The Pistons and Pacers were both contenders for Conley, but were unwilling to surrender two first-round picks, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN. Sources tell Lowe that even if the Pistons had agreed to meet that price, they might have insisted that Memphis take back Reggie Jackson and his $18MM contract. The Pacers, meanwhile, refused to give up the picks plus first-year guard Aaron Holiday.
  • The Jazz needed to send enough salary to Memphis to enable them to guarantee Derrick Favors‘ $16.9MM contract for next season without going over the salary cap, Lowe adds. He states that the decision to include Crowder in the deal instead of Dante Exum shows a lot of faith in the 23-year-old guard.
  • Lowe also notes that the trade will have a ripple effect on free agency. Utah no longer has the cap space for a max-level offer, which means one less suitor for the Sixers’ Tobias Harris. Point guards who had been hoping for an offer from Utah will also be disappointed. In addition, the trade increases the likelihood that the pick the Grizzlies owe the Celtics won’t convey until 2021, when it will be unprotected. The selection has top-six protection next year.
  • Donovan Mitchell is thrilled to have Conley as his new backcourt partner, tweets Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “He’s a great player,” Mitchell said. “He’s very underrated in my opinion. He does a lot of getting into the lane and being able to find guys and also I can learn a lot from him so as far as being a point guard.”

Eastern Notes: Pistons, J. Brown, Ujiri, Hawks, Heat

Pistons head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski said this week that he isn’t going into the offseason looking to move any of the team’s three highest-paid players – Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson – as Rod Beard of The Detroit News details. However, he did admit that he doesn’t have a clear vision yet for what the rest of the Pistons’ offseason will look like.

“The philosophy right now is we have those three and we’re going with them,” Stefanski said. “But I have no idea what (else is) going to happen.”

The Pistons won’t have any cap room available this summer, but they have the No. 15 pick in the draft, the full mid-level exception (worth approximately $9.2MM) and the bi-annual exception ($3.6MM).

While Detroit is expected to try to add a backup center and a wing or two, a source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that the team’s No. 1 priority will be the point guard spot, with Ish Smith and Jose Calderon headed for free agency. For his part, Stefanski acknowledged that both positions will be of interest to the Pistons this offseason.

“I think free agency is where you look more for (immediate help) than the draft,” Stefanski said, per Ellis. “I think everyone hits it right on the head. We don’t know if we’ll be able to sign Ish, so we need a point guard. We don’t have really a starting wing right now.”

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Some teams near the top of the draft are wondering about Jaylen Brown‘s availability, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. There has been no indication that the Celtics would make Brown available, but one report indicated that Boston is among the teams that has considered trading for the No. 4 pick. A player like Brown would likely be needed to make that happen.
  • The Raptors would need “significant compensation” to allow president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri to leave the franchise, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (podcast link). The Wizards were rumored to have interest in Toronto’s top executive, but owner Ted Leonsis shot down those reports on Tuesday.
  • Holding three first-round picks and three second-rounders heading into Thursday’s draft, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk recently said he’s more inclined to package and trade his second-round selections, per Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). It wouldn’t surprise me if Atlanta makes deals involving picks from both rounds.
  • The Heat officially hired a replacement for Juwan Howard on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff, announcing in a press release that Malik Allen is the club’s newest assistant coach.
  • With Anthony Davis – and Mike Conley – now off the trade market, it will be interesting to see whether the Wizards eventually reconsider their stance on keeping Bradley Beal, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. As Hughes points out, Beal might be the most sought-after prize on the trade block if Washington makes him available.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Maker, Evans, Pistons, Osman

Thon Maker has given the Pistons an energetic boost since he was acquired from the Bucks in a three-team swap at the trade deadline, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes.

The 7-footer fell out of Milwaukee’s rotation, but has proven to be a solid backup for Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. The Pistons outscored Phoenix by 20 points when Maker was on the court Thursday, as he scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots in 28 minutes.

“He’s been great,” Griffin said of his Pistons teammate. “Just his energy, man. He’s just always everywhere. And if he’s not blocking shots, he’s swinging for the fences. It’s making people think and it’s making people be aware of where he is.”

Maker will make a guaranteed $3.57MM next season and will be eligible for a rookie scale extension with the Pistons prior to opening night.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers swingman Tyreke Evans admits it’s been a roller-coaster season for him, Scott Agness of The Athletic reports. Evans has battled injuries, a bout with food poisoning and the tragic death of a nephew during the course of the season. Evans’ playing time has dropped dramatically from last season, when he averaged 19.4 PPG for Memphis in 52 games. He’ll return to the free agent market after signing a one-year, $12.4MM contract from Indiana. “Yeah, it’s tough,” he told Agness. “Everybody knows what type of player I am. (Since) I got drafted, I’m better with the ball in my hands. I’m a team player and just want to win this late in my career.”
  • D’Angelo Russell‘s breakthrough season with the Nets after the Lakers gave up on him illustrates why the Pistons explored trades for young point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Markelle Fultz prior to the trade deadline, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. The Pistons will likely continue to pursue a young point guard during the offseason, since starter Reggie Jackson has one more season left on his contract and reserves Ish Smith and Jose Calderon will be unrestricted free agents, Ellis adds.
  • Forward Cedi Osman is considered part of the Cavaliers’ future core, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports in his latest mailbag. The team could sign Osman to an extension this summer but there hasn’t been any talk of doing that yet, Fedor continues. However, he’s a front-office favorite and has made positive strides in recent months. He’s shown signs of being more than just a bench rotation player and his 3-point shooting has improved, Fedor adds.

Latest On Mike Conley

With three days to go until the trade deadline, the Jazz and Pistons remain the teams most frequently named as potential suitors for Mike Conley. Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Grizzlies are talking to both Utah and Detroit, adding that both clubs have made competitive offers for the veteran point guard (all Twitter links).

As previous reports have suggested, the Jazz’s offer for Conley centers around Ricky Rubio and a first-round draft pick, though at least one more player would need to be added for salary-matching purposes and Memphis may be seeking an additional pick.

According to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press, who confirms that the Pistons have engaged in talks with the Grizzlies, it’s fair to surmise that Detroit has offered Reggie Jackson and a first-rounder for Conley. However, a source tells Ellis that the Grizzlies would “want more.” Ellis wonders if adding Luke Kennard would be enough — and whether it’d be worth it for the Pistons.

Like the Jazz, the Pistons would also have to add at least one more player to their offer in order to match Conley’s salary. Many of Detroit’s most expensive contracts – including Jackson’s – are multiyear deals, while Utah has sizable expiring contracts like Rubio’s and Derrick Favors‘ available. The Grizzlies’ willingness to take on multiyear money is unclear, but those expiring deals would allow for more flexibility.

For their part, Conley and longtime teammate Marc Gasol are eager for answers about which team(s) they’ll be playing for on Friday, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press writes.

“You look forward to that deadline passing,” Conley said. “Either way it goes, you just want to get clarity and understand your situation going forward, and you try to block it out but it’s hard. Everybody who texts you or talks to you in person mentions something about it, so it’s hard to run from it. But you just hope for the week to get through real quick and get back to business, whether it’s here or anywhere else.”

Latest On Mike Conley, Marc Gasol Suitors

The Jazz and Grizzlies have explored a trade involving Mike Conley and Ricky Rubio, and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com hears that Utah’s interest in the former No. 4 overall pick is “very real.” The organization could feasibly build a package around Rubio and Derrick Favors, who are both on expiring deals, while peppering in a draft pick or two.

Utah is reportedly unimpressed with the 2019 draft class and their first-round pick is on the table in trade talks. It’s unclear if the Jazz would toss in a second first-round pick for Conley, though it would be a surprising development. Lowe speculates that Dante Exum could be in the mix as part of a package, adding that the Jazz could move on to more affordable targets, such as Nikola Mirotic, if the price for Conley remains too high.

The Conley sweepstakes are expected to heat up as we get closer to the deadline and surprise suitors could emerge. Lowe passes along more from Memphis regarding their two biggest stars:

  • Marc Gasol is hoping for a trade and teams are waiting to see if the Grizzlies lower the asking price for their long-time center, Lowe reports. As for a potential Pistons-Grizzlies deal, Memphis has not shown any interest in acquiring Andre Drummond yet and Lowe hears that Detroit may be saving its trade chips for someone else.
  • The Pistons and Grizzlies have talked about a Conley deal, though discussions did not get very far. Detroit would likely have to ship out Reggie Jackson is a trade for Conley.
  • While Conley would be a nice on-court fit for the Pacers, Indiana has stepped away from Conley talks, sources tell Lowe. Lowe speculates that the Grizzlies would likely ask for Domantas Sabonis is a Conley deal, something that wouldn’t appeal to the Pacers.
  • The Jazz would have interest in signing Tobias Harris this summer should they not trade for Conley or make a major move at the deadline that utilizes their future cap space. The Clippers have received calls for Harris, per Lowe, though rival teams get the sense that they have no interest in trading him. Lowe adds that Los Angeles would be happy to re-sign Harris in the offseason.
  • The Kings are not as interested in Gasol as reports and speculation might suggest. Sacramento doesn’t appear to be willing to hand over a future first-rounder in exchange for the big man, as the club owes its 2019 pick to Boston (Philadelphia gets the selection if it’s the No. 1 pick).

Pistons Notes: Trade Deadline, Brown, Bullock

If the asset-strapped Pistons are going to make a splash at the NBA trade deadline they’ll have to get creative. As The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III writes, Detroit would presumably need to unload some sizable contracts if they brought back a significant package and the players currently making big money on their roster – outside of Blake Griffin – aren’t particularly desirable.

Edwards writes that Pistons senior adviser Ed Stefanski isn’t eager to give up a future first-round pick simply to alleviate the cap burden of its weighty contracts (Reggie Jackson‘s $17MM, Jon Leuer‘s $10MM, for example) but those picks could be in play if a solid star comes along. Edwards includes Bradley Beal as a hypothetical possibility that might warrant such a return.

The Pistons have some players that could be considered modest assets ahead of the deadline, including sophomore Luke Kennard and fourth-year forward Stanley Johnson. Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock, similarly, could draw interest from contending teams looking to shore up their rotations with veteran depth.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • While there are plenty of scenarios that could hypothetically jump-start a Pistons rebuild, Keith Langlois of the team’s official website writes in a weekly mailbag that he’d wager the team stands pat at the deadline. The club may look to shore up its second-unit but lack draft assets to offer in trades.
  • Scrappy first-year guard Bruce Brown has struggled to showcase his elite defensive skills lately, something head coach Dwane Casey‘s believes could be attributable to a famous foe in the basketball world. “I don’t know if it’s a rookie wall or whatever, but just the concentration, the attention to detail,” Casey told Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “Those are mental things that young fellows usually make when they’re mentally fatigued a little bit.
  • In the same blog post, Langlois writes that Reggie Bullock practiced on Wednesday. The 27-year-old sharpshooter and potential trade chip missed Tuesday’s game with a sprained ankle that has plagued him and and off throughout the season. His status is uncertain for Thursday.

Central Notes: Lopez, Parker, Love, Carter, Pistons

It’s only a matter of time before Bulls center Robin Lopez and forward Jabari Parker are either traded or bought out, suggests Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The Bulls are in fire sale mode and the Justin Holiday deal with the Grizzlies is just the start, Mayberry continues. Lopez has an expiring contract, while Parker has lost his rotation spot under new coach Jim Boylen. Lopez jokingly referenced in practice Friday how he could be the next shoe to drop with the front office in a seller’s mode, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relays. “There’s kind of been a little shoe-dangling over the past couple years,” Lopez said.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love can progress with “select” basketball activities and continue to advance his therapy and strength and conditioning program, according to a team press release. Love has been targeting a mid-January from the foot surgery he underwent in early November and the latest news suggests the timetable hasn’t changed. There have been conflicting reports recently on whether the rebuilding team is interested in trading the power forward, who signed an extension during the offseason.
  • Bulls rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. has seen wild swings in his playing time but he’s not squawking about it, Mayberry reports in a separate story.  Carter played a season-low 13 minutes against Orlando on Wednesday and has played fewer than 20 minutes in five games since Boylen took charge. Carter blamed himself for his limited minutes against the Magic. “I don’t feel like I brought it,” Carter said. “I couldn’t get into a good groove. So I would have (taken) myself out.”
  • The Pistons’ cap situation will improve marginally this offseason, Rod Beard of the Detroit News notes. Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer and Langston Galloway will also be entering the final year of their contracts and that could open up opportunities for the team to retool, Beard adds.

Pistons Would Move Assets For Impact Player

The Pistons are willing to move assets to become more competitive in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not inclined to make a trade simply to dump a bad contract. That’s what senior advisor Ed Stefanski told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press in a recent Q&A.

Second-year guard Luke Kennard and future first-round picks are the most likely enticements to acquire another impact player, Ellis continues. The Pistons are close to the luxury-tax line and won’t exceed it unless they can get that type of talent.

“(Pistons owner) Tom Gores would go into the luxury tax only — and I agree with this — if it would move the needle for us to be a team that would allow us to compete in the conference,” Stefanski said. “If we’re asked to give up a big asset like a first-round pick to help the growth of the franchise, we would consider it. … If we weren’t sure of that, to make a big commitment with assets, I think could really hurt us. We can’t make a deal to set the franchise back.”

The Pistons have shown a willingness to trade a first-round pick in order to get an All-Star caliber talent. They traded their 2018 first-rounder last winter as part of the Blake Griffin deal.

Here’s more from Ellis’ chat with Stefanski:

  • Using an asset in order to move forward Jon Leuer, who is making approximately $10MM, or guard Langston Galloway ($7MM) — both of whom are signed through next season — wouldn’t make much difference on the Pistons’ cap situation for the 2019/20 season. Stefanski explains they’d be better off retaining their mid-level exception. “We wouldn’t improve substantially (in terms of cap room), so to use assets to get off some of the contracts you may want to get off — I’m not saying we want to — but to do something like that? It still wouldn’t create a lot of room.”
  • Stefanski believes Kennard, who was sidelined by a knee injury in the summer and a shoulder injury early in the season, is ready to make a bigger contribution. “What Kennard can do is make plays for other people. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used now that he’s got his legs back. … We can’t have enough shooters and you need playmaking. I think Kennard provides both to the table.”
  • Reggie Jackson has underperformed in Dwane Casey’s system but Stefanski is optimistic that will change. Jackson spent most of the offseason rehabbing an ankle injury. “Our medical people said he would not be physically there until the end of the year, that he would still need time because when you’re off your feet that long and not playing basketball, it doesn’t just pop back on. This will get better and better.”

Central Notes: Pistons, Boylen, Evans, Cavs

Don’t expect the Pistons to move either Andre Drummond or Reggie Jackson anytime soon, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes in a mailbag.

As Beard explains, Detroit views Drummond as a long-term core piece rather than a trade chip. And while Jackson may not be quite on that same level, he’s probably a more valuable asset to the Pistons than he would be to another team, according to Beard, who expects Detroit to “ride through Jackson’s contract.” Drummond and Jackson can both become free agents as early as 2020, though Drummond has a $28.75MM player option for 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes an interesting, detailed look at how Jim Boylen has dove head-first into his new job as the Bulls‘ head coach this week, meeting individually with all his players after taking the reins from Fred Hoiberg.
  • As his first season with the Pacers progresses, Tyreke Evans continues to adjust to a new role and new expectations, as Mark Montieth of Pacers.com writes. Evans, who inked a one-year deal to play in Indiana, has been moved to the starting lineup during Victor Oladipo‘s absence but is still struggling to produce consistently.
  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson has been find $15K by the NBA for making an inappropriate gesture toward a fan earlier this week, the league announced today in a press release. Thompson flipped off some Brooklyn hecklers in the wake of the Cavs’ win over the Nets on Monday.
  • Speaking of that Cavaliers win over Brooklyn, head coach Larry Drew – who removed rookie Collin Sexton from the lineup down the stretch in that game – explained later that he doesn’t believe sitting Sexton in situations like that will stunt the youngster’s development. “You can learn just as much sitting over there watching, so you can kind of get a feel and see what other guys are doing,” Drew said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “But it’s a long season and we’re going to be in a lot of different situations where he’s going to be allowed to experience some of this stuff.”