Saddiq Bey

Central Notes: Cunningham, Duarte, Rubio, Osman

Pistons Rookie of the Year candidate Cade Cunningham played just eight minutes on Friday but he wasn’t injured. Head coach Dwane Casey gave Cunningham a chance to rest in the second game of a back-to-back, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart also only made cameo appearances.

A handful of other rotation players missed the game due to rest or injuries.

“It gave us the opportunity to play the young guys and that’s what we wanted to do,” Casey said. “If we were competing for a playoff position, they could have definitely gone out and played. But we wanted to make sure we didn’t risk anything.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers rookie guard Chris Duarte is unlikely to play the rest of the season, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Duarte has been dealing with a sore left toe since February and last played on March 15.
  • Don’t rule out a possible reunion between the Cavaliers and Ricky Rubio, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Rubio was a key part in their success before he tore his ACL and his expiring contract was traded, Fedor points out. Cleveland targeted Rubio last offseason but a reunion may depend on whether he’ll accept a one-year, prove-it deal after his latest knee injury.
  • Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman received two DNPs, then got a chance to reclaim a rotation spot. He responded with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes on Thursday, Fedor notes. “Cedi’s a good basketball player and we need him to be his best, so we can be our best,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.

Central Notes: Caruso, DeRozan, LeVert, Bey

Bulls guard Alex Caruso admits he’s still not 100 percent healthy yet after returning from a fractured right wrist that sidelined him for 22 games, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

It just gets hit, banged up a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just sore. It’s just going to take time,” Caruso said. “We took a very aggressive rehab schedule and ramp-up schedule so I could get back with the team and try to play. It just kind of comes with the territory.

I’m not 100 percent. I’m not going to lie to you. But it’s moreso just the rhythm of the game. Try not to make excuses, but that seven weeks is tough. I didn’t get any practices or anything. Just right back in the game. I got high standards for how I want to play, how I want the team to play. And I don’t think I’m doing my part as well I can right now, which is frustrating.”

Johnson notes the Bulls were a strong defensive team at the beginning of the season with both Caruso and Lonzo Ball healthy, but have slipped to 18th in the league in defensive rating following their injuries. The Bulls are just 2-7 in their last nine games, including consecutive road losses in Sacramento and Utah, where they gave up 112 and 125 points, respectively.

At 41-28, the Bulls are currently the fifth seed in the East. They have a difficult remaining schedule, with 11 of their last 13 games against teams vying for the play-in or the playoffs.

Here are a few more notes from the Central Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan‘s influence on the Bulls is similar to the way Chris Paul has impacted winning throughout his career, Johnson writes in a separate article for NBC Sports Chicago. Coach Billy Donovan has coached both players and compared their leadership qualities. “They’re two totally different players, two totally different people,” Donovan said. “But the impact that Chris made that I saw in Oklahoma and now seeing the impact that DeMar made, you can just see how they’ve kind of galvanized the group and they’ve got everybody together. It’s because of how humble they are, how team-oriented they are, how competitive they are and how much they both want to win.” For his part, DeRozan says he’s just focused on the grind. “I try to be the same person every day and carry that over to my teammates and to my work,” DeRozan said. “That’s how I lead.”
  • Kelsey Russo of The Athletic details how Caris LeVert has been acclimating to the Cavaliers. LeVert, who recently returned from a nine-game absence after suffering a sprained foot, admits it was difficult dealing with the injury, but he’s enjoying his time in Cleveland. “It’s been fun for me, to be honest with you,” LeVert said. “I try to look at it as a positive challenge for me; it’s just getting better. I know we’re playing for something, playing for the playoffs or playing for a championship. So that’s what gets me going in every morning.”
  • Second-year forward Saddiq Bey helped the Pistons snap a four-game losing streak on Thursday by scoring a career-high 51 points, writes Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press. Bey became the seventh Piston to score 50-plus in a game and tied Hall of Famer Joe Dumars‘ franchise record with 10 threes made (on 14 attempts), Sankofa notes. Bey finished with an eye-popping 51 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals on 17-of-27 shooting in the team’s 134-120 victory over Orlando.

Central Notes: LeVert, Marsh, Bey, Pistons

Cavaliers swingman Caris LeVert returned to action on Monday after a nine-game absence, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. LeVert sprained his right foot last month. LeVert averaged 13.3 PPG and 3.8 APG in his first four games since he was traded from Indiana to Cleveland.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers assistant Tyler Marsh will be joining Becky Hammon‘s staff with the Las Vegas Aces, the WNBA team tweets. Marsh will remain in Indiana until the end of the season, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Another Pacers assistant, Jenny Boucek, turned down a chance to join Hammon’s staff late last month.
  • Saddiq Bey is one of five players who have appeared in every game this season. The second-year Pistons forward has earned great respect from his coach for his toughness, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “I love him,” Dwane Casey said. “He’s an iron man. He plays with bumps and bruises. He plays with hangnails. Some guys are out with a hangnail, but Saddiq is there every night.”
  • The Pistons have been much more competitive since the All-Star break but they still need another top three pick to facilitate their rebuild, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. The risk factor increases drastically outside of the top three in this year’s draft class, according to Edwards’ sources, and it’s possible for Detroit to wind up picking as low as sixth or seventh if the team doesn’t finish with the worst record. The Pistons currently have one more win than Houston and the same amount as Orlando.

2021/22 Rising Stars Team Rosters

As we previously relayed, the NBA announced a new format for its Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend, which will take place on Friday, February 18. The event will feature four seven-player teams competing in a three-game tournament (two semifinals and a final).

The player pool is comprised of 12 NBA rookies, 12 sophomores, and four players from the G League Ignite, while the games will be played to a target score: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

The rosters were announced on February 1, but now the four honorary coaches (75th anniversary team members Rick Barry, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton and James Worthy) have selected their seven-man teams, per our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Here are the rosters:

Team Barry:

Team Isiah:

Team Payton:

Team Worthy:

James Ham of ESPN 1320 and The Kings Beat provides (via Twitter) the full draft results.

The top 10, in order, were: Edwards, Mobley, Ball, Anthony, Giddey, Barnes, Cunningham, Bey, Bane, and Wagner. It’s worth noting that Worthy and Anthony both went to the University of North Carolina, so Anthony’s selection at No. 4 is less surprising given that context.

What do you think of the teams? Who do you think will come out on top? Head to the comments section and let us know your thoughts!

NBA Announces 2021/22 Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has revealed the 28 players (12 rookies, 12 sophomores, and four G League Ignite players) who will suit up for the 2022 Clorox Rising Stars Game in Cleveland this year, per its official PR account (Twitter links). There are a few intriguing surprises among the first-year NBA players.

Here are the players who made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

Additionally, four players from the G League Ignite will participate in the Rising Stars Game based on voting from NBA G League head coaches. The NBAGL has announced (Twitter link) that MarJon Beauchamp, Dyson Daniels, Jaden Hardy and Scoot Henderson will partake in the action. Players will be separated into four teams, and each G League player will be drafted to join one of the teams later this week.

Among the rookie NBA players, the additions who would be most surprising ahead of the 2021/22 season would be Dosunmu and Jones, both of whom were second-round draft selections. 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga, Ziaire Williams, James Bouknight, Joshua Primo and Moses Moody were all omitted from inclusion this year.

Among the second-year players, Ball could be appearing on multiple nights during All-Star Weekend this season, as he appears to be a very possible first-time All-Star this year thanks to his outstanding work with the upstart Hornets.

The lottery-bound Magic, Pistons, and Rockets can boast having the most inclusions here, with three players apiece.

As we detailed last week, this year’s Rising Stars event will look a little different, with the four teams taking part in a mini-tournament and playing to a target score in each game: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

Scotto’s Latest: A. Holiday, LeVert, Cronin, Pistons, Simmons

Wizards guard Aaron Holiday is considered to be available via trade, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who said on the latest HoopsHype Podcast that multiple teams have checked in on Holiday’s price tag.

The Wizards acquired Holiday from Indiana in the five-team offseason trade that sent Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles. As the team’s backup point guard this season, the ex-Pacer has averaged 6.2 PPG and 1.9 APG on .475/.382/.808 shooting in 35 games (16.2 MPG). He’ll be eligible for restricted free agency during the 2022 offseason.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • Most executives around the league believe Caris LeVert is now the most likely Pacers player to be traded, in the wake of Myles Turner‘s foot injury, says Scotto. There’s a sense that teams may lower their offers for Turner or back off pursuing him entirely, Scotto adds.
  • A number of rival execs believe Trail Blazers interim general manager Joe Cronin has a chance to keep the job on a permanent basis, according to Scotto. Interestingly, Portland announced a series of front office hires and promotions today — none of those moves impacts the very top of the team’s basketball operations department, but the fact that the franchise is actively adding and promoting executives under an interim GM is noteworthy.
  • On Tuesday, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggested that the Pistons offered Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Kelly Olynyk, and a first-round pick for Ben Simmons earlier in the season, and the Sixers weren’t enthusiastic about the concept. Scotto has heard that Detroit’s offer, which was turned down by Philadelphia, actually consisted of Grant, Bey, and Josh Jackson.

Latest On Jerami Grant

The Pistons aren’t a lock to trade Jerami Grant before the February 10 deadline, but the veteran forward may be this winter’s most popular trade candidate, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“He’s the grand prize of this deadline,” one team strategist told Fischer. “… He fits everywhere.”

“He’s gonna have so many suitors,” an assistant general manager said. “They’re just gonna wait them all out.”

According to Fischer, the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Jazz, Wizards, Celtics, Pacers, Timberwolves, and Kings are among the teams that have signaled some level of interest in Grant. Sources tell Bleacher Report that the Pistons are seeking multiple first-round picks, or one first-rounder along with a high-upside young player.

Fischer likens Grant’s situation this season to Aaron Gordon‘s in 2020/21, a comparison Shams Charania made when first reporting Grant’s availability in December. Like Gordon, Grant is a versatile frontcourt defender who has one-and-a-half seasons left on his contract and will be extension-eligible.

That extension eligibility will be important. Any team acquiring Grant will want assurances he’ll sign a new deal, according to Fischer, who hears from sources that the 27-year-old hopes to receive a four-year offer in the range of $112.7MM (the maximum he can get prior to 2023 free agency).

Fischer does share one complicating factor, writing that Grant wouldn’t be enthusiastic about joining a new team that doesn’t feature him as a “primary offensive option.”

Here’s more on Grant:

  • A November report indicated that the Pistons may be willing to offer a package of Grant, Kelly Olynyk, Saddiq Bey, and a future first-round pick for Ben Simmons. According to Fischer, the Sixers weren’t particularly enthusiastic about that concept, but when it leaked, it alerted teams that Grant might be available, which has helped accelerate his market.
  • Some people around the league view the Wizards as the favorites for Grant, says Fischer, noting that Wes Unseld Jr. coached the forward as an assistant in Denver. Sources tell Bleacher Report that Wizards center Montrezl Harrell, who is on an expiring $9.7MM contract, has been considered available via trade. Harrell could be included in any Washington offer, along with at least one of Rui Hachimura or Deni Avdija, Fischer suggests.
  • Fischer classifies the Lakers and Jazz as unlikely destinations for Grant based on the limited assets those teams have to offer. He also downplays the possibility of the Celtics or Grizzlies acquiring the Pistons forward, writing that neither team is expected to seriously pursue him.
  • As others have reported, the Bulls don’t appear comfortable with the idea of moving Patrick Williams in a deal for Grant, according to Fischer.
  • According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, there’s a belief that the Pelicans will look to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline, and Grant is considered a possible target for them.

Jerami Grant On Sixers’ List Of Potential Targets For Simmons

Pistons forward Jerami Grant is one of the players on the Sixers‘ list of targets for a potential Ben Simmons trade, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey also confirms Sam Amick’s report that James Harden is on Philadelphia’s list.

Amick reported on Thursday that the 76ers have a list of about 30 impact players whom they view as possible targets in a Simmons trade. Philadelphia believes several of those players could become available via trade within the next year or two, which is why the front office remains in no rush to resolve the Simmons situation. Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal are among the other stars on the club’s radar.

According to Pompey, the Sixers have engaged in discussions with the Pistons about the possibility of trading Simmons for a package that would include Grant, another forward, a young player, and a draft pick. One source told Pompey that Kelly Olynyk and Saddiq Bey are players that could be included in a possible deal between Philadelphia and Detroit, but another source said the Pistons would be unlikely to include either Olynyk or Bey.

Although one source told Pompey that the Sixers haven’t spoken to Detroit lately and would likely want a higher-profile player than Grant as the centerpiece of a Simmons deal, multiple sources said the two teams have had recent conversations centered around Grant.

A former Sixer, Grant has taken huge strides since last playing for the team in 2016. In 67 games (33.6 MPG) since joining the Pistons a year ago, the 27-year-old has averaged 21.5 PPG and 4.6 RPG on .425/.343/.841 shooting.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report first reported last month that there was a belief the Pistons would entertain the idea of moving Grant in a deal for Simmons.

As for Harden, Pompey explains that the Sixers view the former Rocket as a possible sign-and-trade option in free agency next summer if they still haven’t dealt Simmons by that point. Harden didn’t sign an extension with the Nets prior to opening night last month and can opt out of his contract in 2022.

Harden has spoken about wanting to remain in Brooklyn for the rest of his career, so his decision to forgo an extension may have been more about trying to maximize his future earnings than about keeping his options open to jump ship. Still, it’s not inconceivable that he could consider other suitors as a free agent next summer if the Nets underachieve this season. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is obviously very familiar with Harden due to their time spent together in Houston.

Harden is off to a slower-than-expected start this season, but is still putting up 20.3 PPG, 8.8 APG, and 7.6 RPG with a .395 3PT% through 16 games (34.4 MPG).

Pistons Exercise 2022/23 Options On Hayes, Stewart, Bey

The Pistons have picked up their third-year team options on guard Killian Hayes, center Isaiah Stewart, and forward Saddiq Bey for the 2022/23 season, the team announced today (via Twitter).

Rookie scale option decisions for 2022/23 are due by the end of October, but the Pistons didn’t wait until the deadline to officially exercise the options for three players they selected in the first round of the 2020 draft. All three players’ salaries for ’22/23 are now guaranteed: Hayes at $5.84MM, Stewart at $3.43MM, and Bey at just $2.96MM.

Hayes was limited to just 26 games in his rookie season due to a hip injury and provided inconsistent production when he played, but he remains a major part of the Pistons’ future, having been the first player drafted by general manager Troy Weaver during his tenure in Detroit.

Stewart and Bey, meanwhile, made strong first impressions as rookies in 2020/21. Stewart averaged 7.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 68 games (21.4 MPG), earning a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team. Bey made the All-Rookie First Team with averages of 12.2 PPG and 4.5 RPG, plus a .380 3PT%, in 70 games (27.3 MPG).

You can track all of the rookie scale team option decisions for 2022/23 right here.

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Rotation, Jackson, Pickett

Top pick Cade Cunningham is dealing with an ankle sprain and has missed some practice time, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. The medical staff is being very cautious with the Pistons’ prized rookie so that the injury doesn’t linger.

Cunningham has been doing some light shooting drills, Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets. It appears unlikely that the rookie guard will play in the team’s preseason opener on Wednesday.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Head coach Dwane Casey will serve youth, mainly in the starting lineup, and rely on veterans on the second unit, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “I think we’re going to have probably two different units – one a younger unit that’s going to bring energy and the second unit will probably have more experience,” Casey said. Cunningham will likely be joined by second-year players Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes in the starting unit, as well as possibly Isaiah Stewart. Casey is still mulling whether to go with Stewart or free agent signee Kelly Olynyk as the starting center. Cory Joseph will likely be the second-unit floor leader with Hamidou Diallo, Josh Jackson, Frank Jackson and Trey Lyles fighting for playing time.
  • Frank Jackson, like Cunningham, is dealing with an ankle injury, Sankofa adds in a separate tweet. He was re-signed as a restricted free agent on a two-year, $6.2MM deal that includes a team option next summer.
  • Jamorko Pickett continues to earn the admiration of the coaching staff, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. “I’m really impressed with Jamorko Pickett, as far as his game, approach, maturity and communication,” Casey said. An undrafted forward out of Georgetown, Pickett recently had his non-guaranteed camp deal upgraded to a two-way contract.