Rodney McGruder

Eastern Notes: McGruder, Lee, Bogans, Lewis, Celtics, Cavs

Barring a trade or injury, the Pistons will likely have to choose between Saben Lee or Rodney McGruder for their final roster spot, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes in his latest mailbag column. Making a trade, perhaps involving one of their big men, would create roster openings for both of those players.

McGruder recently signed a fully guaranteed one-year, minimum salary contract.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Pistons are close to finalizing a contract with Keith Bogans to join Dwane Casey‘s staff, ESPN contributor Frank Isola tweets. Rashard Lewis is also in talks with the Pistons regarding a coaching position, Isola adds.
  • The Celtics lead all teams in projected regular season wins at Caesars Sportsbook, as Doug Kezirian of ESPN relays. The Celtics’ win total over/under for the 2022/23 campaign is 54.5, followed closely by the Suns (53.5), Bucks (52.5), Warriors (52.5) and Clippers (51.5).
  • What do the Cavaliers need to avoid in order to continue their ascent in the Eastern Conference? Injuries, regression in an improved conference and defensive slippage, according to The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo, who takes a closer look at each of those possibilities.

Eastern Notes: Haslem, Robinson, Wizards, Pistons, Pacers, Washington

The Heat have a standing offer out to veteran big man Udonis Haslem, which means it’s up to the 42-year-old if he wants to return next season, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel confirms in his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag.

Haslem has played fewer than 20 games in each of his past six seasons, but he plays an immense role in developing the team’s young players. He’s also served as a locker room leader, owning 19 years of NBA experience and winning three championships. He’s previously stated he has no interest in coaching.

Within the same article, Winderman also considered Duncan Robinson‘s status as a trade candidate, suggesting that Miami is unlikely to move Robinson for only a modest upgrade. With Robinson set to make $17MM this season, the Heat would likely need him for salary-matching purposes in order to acquire an impact player, so the club will be patient as it explores the trade market.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

Contract Details: Dellavedova, McGruder, Knox

Matthew Dellavedova‘s new one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Kings, originally reported as partially guaranteed, is actually non-guaranteed for the time being, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Dellavedova will receive a partial guarantee of $250K if he’s not waived before Sacramento’s first game of the regular season, then would lock in his full $2.63MM guarantee if he remains under contract through the NBA’s league-wide guarantee deadline of January 7.

Here are a few more details on recently signed NBA contracts:

  • Rodney McGruder‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Pistons is fully guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned. That gives Detroit 17 players on guaranteed contracts, though one of those players (Kemba Walker) is very likely to be bought out. The Pistons would still have to trade or release one more player with a guaranteed salary in order to get to the 15-man regular season limit.
  • Kevin Knox‘s two-year, $6MM contract with the Pistons is worth a flat $3MM in each of the two seasons. While the first year is guaranteed, the deal includes a team option for the 2023/24 season.
  • As expected, Goran Dragic‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Bulls and JaMychal Green‘s with the Warriors are both fully guaranteed.

Pistons Sign Rodney McGruder, Kevin Knox

The Pistons have re-signed swingman Rodney McGruder, per the NBA transactions log. The team has also officially signed free agent forward Kevin Knox.

McGruder received a one-year deal, James Edwards of The Athletic tweets, though the contractual terms are unclear. Detroit already had 15 players with guaranteed contracts on its roster before both signings, along with filling both of its two-way spots.

Knox reportedly received a two-year, $6MM deal. Detroit will have to clear roster space via a trade or eat some guaranteed money to get down to 15 by training camp — the most logical odd man out is Kemba Walker, who is still expected to be bought out by the Pistons, but if McGruder got a guaranteed contract, another move will be required.

McGruder, 31, has been on the Pistons’ roster for the last two seasons. He appeared in 51 games in 2021/22, including two starts, and averaged 5.4 PPG in 14.8 MPG. He’s a career 35.2% 3-point shooter but made 39.7% of his attempts last season.

Knox, the ninth pick of the 2018 draft, is a reclamation project. He had a productive first season with the Knicks but fell out of favor under coach Tom Thibodeau. He appeared in just 13 games with the Knicks last season before being dealt to Atlanta. In 17 games with the Hawks, Knox averaged just 6.5 MPG.

The Hawks did not tender a qualifying offer to Knox this summer, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Central Notes: Caruso, COVID-19, Bridges, Joseph, McGruder

Guard Alex Caruso played 33 minutes in the Bulls’ Game 1 loss to the Bucks on Sunday. Coach Billy Donovan said Caruso has been dealing with back pain for several weeks and is trying to tough it out, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. He was limited to seven points and missed all but one of his five 3-point attempts.

‘‘He’s felt the best I think he has felt,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Is he 100%? No, but he’s a lot better than he was those games before he sat out. I do think with Alex [that minutes restrictions are] going to be somewhat important. I think if you start pushing him with his back up into the high 30s, I don’t think that would be really, really wise. You want to see how he’s feeling in the game. He kind of throws his body in there and plays incredibly hard and physical, so we’ll have to see how he responds.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks are wary of how a positive COVID-19 test could affect their playoff run, coach Mike Budenholzer told Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He noted how Paul George missed the Clippers’ second play-in game after testing positive. “There’s been a lot of positive movement. You just don’t want to forget, you’ve just got to know it’s still out there,” Budenholzer said. “When we had the conversation what happened with the Clippers and Paul George had happened and the coaching staff with Chicago. I’m guessing those things pop up in conversations in the locker room or at baskets and things like that. It’s not good, but in the sense of it just being a reminder in conversation, I think it’s helpful. Certainly our guys are aware.”
  • The Pistons could have the most cap space in the league this summer but a giant offer sheet for Hornets restricted free agent Miles Bridges wouldn’t be a wise move, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Bridges’ best position is probably at power forward and putting him in that spot wouldn’t be a long-term upgrade over Saddiq Bey, who can play either forward spot.  If Detroit winds up with a top-three pick, the team will likely draft a power forward, which would force Bridges to play small forward with Bey moving out of position to shooting guard. The only way adding Bridges would make sense would be to trade Jerami Grant for a wing or to draft one with their lottery pick, Edwards writes.
  • Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press predicts that Grant, Cory Joseph and Rodney McGruder won’t return next season but that the Pistons will re-sign restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III.

Pistons Notes: Bagley, Livers, Cunningham, Blaha

Marvin Bagley III is headed to free agency but he seems intent on remaining with the Pistons, as he told James Edwards III of The Athletic.

Bagley has enjoyed his experience with Detroit since he was dealt by the Kings last month. He’s also been productive, averaging 14.1 PPG and 7.1 RPG in 27 MPG during his first 10 games with the Pistons.

“We’ve got some amazing talent here. Now, it’s about figuring out how to work together, gel together to do something bigger,” he said. “I’m definitely excited about it. I can’t wait to be around the guys even more, figure them out even more and make runs in the playoffs … even get some championships here. I’m excited about it.”

Bagley didn’t receive a rookie scale extension with Sacramento. His qualifying offer, which would make him a restricted free agent, will be $7.3MM since he won’t meet the starter criteria.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Due to injuries and illness, rookie wing Isaiah Livers received extensive playing time against Miami on Tuesday. He responded with 16 points in 31 minutes but his bigger focus was defense, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Livers, a second-round pick, spent the bulk of the season rehabbing from a foot injury. “Being out, definitely I was locked in, especially to my team,” Livers said. “I was seeing where we need that push and that shove. What I saw was defensive energy right away off the bench. That was my key right away to minutes off the bench.” Livers’ contract is guaranteed through next season with a team option in 2023/24.
  • Rookie of the Year candidate Cade Cunningham missed Tuesday’s game due to a non-COVID illness, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News“He started feeling bad (Monday) night and came to shootaround looking like death, eating crackers. So, he’s in pretty bad shape,” coach Dwane Casey said prior to the game. Hamidou Diallo (finger) and Frank Jackson (back) also missed the game and Rodney McGruder aggravated a hamstring injury during it.
  • Longtime broadcaster George Blaha underwent a heart bypass procedure on Tuesday, the team’s PR department tweets. Blaha is expected to return as the play-by-play announcer next season.

Central Notes: Diallo, McGruder, Bagley, LeVert, Brown

The Pistons won in Boston just before the All-Star break but they’ll be shorthanded when they visit for the second time on Friday. The team has ruled out starting center Isaiah Stewart and key reserves Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Rodney McGruder and Frank Jackson due to an assortment of injuries, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Diallo (finger sprain) and McGruder (hamstring strain) were injured during the loss to the Bulls on Wednesday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Marvin Bagley III‘s athleticism has given the Pistons a new dimension, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Bagley, who will enter either restricted or unrestricted free agency this summer, provides a major lob threat that the team was sorely lacking. “We’re really happy with the way he’s playing, the way he’s fitting in, and he’s creating a lot of options offensively, and defensively, he’s giving us another rebounder,” coach Dwane Casey said.
  • Caris LeVert won’t play against Miami on Friday but he’s making some progress from the right foot sprain he suffered last month. He went through a portion of the Cavaliers’ practice in Miami on Thursday and took some shots on the court afterward, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.
  • Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes Moses Brown can help the team with his interior presence, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. Brown was signed to a 10-day contract on Thursday. “He’s long. He’s rangy. He has good athleticism,” Bickerstaff said. “He knows how to patrol the paint at both ends of the floor. Really good rim roller and lob threat, so he’s a similar build to what we have and what we value.”

Eastern Notes: Turner, Warren, McGruder, Randle, Barrett, Raptors

Pacers center Myles Turner, a prime trade candidate, is displaying significant progress from his foot injury. Turner, who is sidelined with a stress reaction in his left foot, had a scan which showed sufficient healing. He’ll ramp up his activity level, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Turner has been out since January 14.

Pacers forward T.J. Warren had another scan on his left foot this week and will begin to play 1-on-1 for the first time since surgery over a year ago, Agness adds in another tweet. Warren appeared in just four games last season before he was sidelined.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Pistons swingman Rodney McGruder returned to Detroit after a trade with Denver fell through due to the Pistons’ medical concerns regarding Bol Bol. What could have been an awkward situation has instead led to more playing time for McGruder, Rod Beard of The Detroit News notes. “He came back here in the right frame of mind and attitude, and the basketball gods have been good to him because he has handled it properly,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
  • Could the Knicks soon be RJ Barrett‘s team? Newsday’s Steve Popper raises that possibility due to Julius Randle‘s struggles. Randle has not only played poorly, he’s feuded with fans, shunned the media and generally not acted like a leader after signing to a four-year, $117MM extension. Barrett is averaging 22.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.4 APG this month and the Knicks might ultimately decide to ride with youth.
  • What will the Raptors do before the trade deadline? The Athletic’s Eric Koreen and John Hollinger discuss potential moves, with Hollinger concluding that Toronto will hold onto its top players while seeking bench help and an upgrade at center.

Central Notes: Olynyk, McGruder, Giannis, Ball, Pacers

Pistons big man Kelly Olynyk played on Wednesday for the first time since November 10, making his long-awaited return from a knee injury. As Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes, Olynyk was thrown into the deep end immediately, logging 22 minutes in a dramatic road win over Sacramento and earning praise from his head coach, who said the 30-year-old had a “huge” impact.

“We need that – his experience,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “He reads situations. He made plays. When they busted up the first option, he automatically went to the second option. Just his IQ, offensive rebounds, right place, right time, taking what the game was giving him. All those things were great decisions on his part. To win in this league, we’ve got to have more of that.”

Detroit also got big minutes from Rodney McGruder, who has had his two best games of the season since returning to the team last week after his trade to Denver was voided. McGruder, who scored 19 points on Tuesday and 15 more on Wednesday, acknowledged the unusual nature of being a Nugget for three days before rejoining the Pistons.

“It was a lot of travel; it was kind of tough,” McGruder said, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “I met the (Nuggets) in Los Angeles and flew with the team to Denver and I was there about a day and a half. … (But) it just felt right back at home when I came back (to the Pistons). … The guys welcomed me back. It is a family and a brotherhood in that locker room, so even if the trade went through and I played in Denver, it still would have been all love and it still would have been the same when I saw those guys.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Despite only being in his ninth NBA season, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was ranked the 24th-best player in the league history by The Athletic. Speaking to Eric Nehm of The Athletic as part of the feature, Antetokounmpo said he hopes he’s not even at the halfway point of his career. “I want to play 20 years,” he said. “Hopefully, I can play all 20 of those years with the Bucks.”
  • Lonzo Ball‘s knee injury could have a substantial impact on his 2021/22 earnings. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Bulls guard is eligible to earn nine separate bonuses that add up to $1MM, but he must appear in at least 62 games to earn them. That may not happen, especially if he undergoes meniscus surgery.
  • Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files explores the impact that Myles Turner‘s injury will have on the Pacers and their trade deadline plans.

Bol Bol Trade To Pistons Voided

12:39pm: The Pistons announced that the trade was rescinded because “medical clearance was not received for all players involved,” tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic.


11:13am: The Pistons have reneged on a trade that would have would have sent Rodney McGruder and a second-round pick to the Nuggets in exchange for Bol Bol, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Detroit cited an issue with Bol’s physical, Singer adds. He notes that Bol had foot surgery during college, but hasn’t experienced any injury problems during his three seasons in the NBA. Denver was surprised by the Pistons’ decision, according to Singer (Twitter link).

The 22-year-old Bol is an intriguing talent but hasn’t been able to firmly establish himself at any position in Denver. Other big men had moved ahead of him in the rotation, and the Nuggets are seeking veteran help for a playoff run. It’s not clear if Denver will try to work out another trade for Bol, who has a $2.15MM expiring contract.