Saddiq Bey

Pistons Pick Up Options For Cunningham, Hayes, Stewart, Bey

The Pistons have exercised their 2023/24 team options for Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey, the team announced (via Twitter). The moves were expected, as all four players have been productive in different aspects of the game on their rookie contracts.

Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick of last year’s draft, finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in ’21/22 after averaging 17.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.6 APG and 1.2 SPG on .416/.314/.845 shooting in 64 games (32.6 MPG). He put up big counting stats post-All-Star break, averaging 21.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.5 APG and 1.1 SPG, though his three-point percentage dipped (.457/.275/.833 shooting line). ’23/24 will be Cunningham’s third season, and he’ll earn $11,055,360.

Hayes was the only player of the group who might not have been viewed as a lock to have his team option picked up, as he’s dealt with injuries (he’s appeared in 92 of 154 games) and has struggled to score (6.8 PPG on .374/.268/.780 shooting) through two seasons. However, he’s a solid play-maker (6.4 assists per 36 minutes) and an above-average defender for a guard, plus he was the No. 7 overall pick in 2020 and is only 21 years old, so it’s not like the Pistons were in a rush to give up on him. Hayes will earn $7,413,955 in his fourth season.

Stewart, the No. 16 overall pick in 2020, started all 71 of his games last season (25.6 MPG), averaging 8.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 1.1 BPG on .510/.326/.718 shooting. A tenacious offensive rebounder, Stewart will earn $5,266,713 in year four, making him a relative bargain.

Bey, the No. 19 overall pick in 2020, appeared and started in all 82 games (33.0 MPG) for Detroit in ’21/22, averaging 16.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.8 APG on .396/.346/.827 shooting. He had a memorable 51-point outburst in a win over Orlando in March and will make $4,556,983 in the final season of his rookie deal.

Central Notes: Hayes, Ball, Bucks, G League Trade

Killian Hayes has to make progress as a scorer to show the Pistons he should be part of their long-term plans, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. After injuries limited him to 26 games as a rookie, Hayes bounced back to play in 66 last season, showing the defensive and passing skills that made him the No. 7 overall pick in 2020.

However, his scoring development remained stagnant as he averaged 6.9 PPG in 25 minutes per night while shooting 38.3% from the field and 26.3% from three-point range. Edwards believes Hayes needs to become more aggressive in getting to the basket, noting that he made 74% of his attempts at the rim last season, but that only accounted for 16% of his shots.

Edwards poses questions involving other Pistons players, asking whether Isaiah Stewart has become a legitimate three-point shooter, whether Saddiq Bey can balance his performance from his first two seasons and whether Saben Lee can find a way to stand out on a roster loaded with guards.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Lonzo Ball tops a list of Bulls players with the most to prove compiled by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Ball may be held out through the start of the regular season because of pain in his surgically repaired left knee. The Bulls insist the knee is structurally sound, but his availability will play a massive role in where the team finishes in the Eastern Conference. Mayberry adds that the team also needs a bounce-back performance from center Nikola Vucevic, who’s heading into a contract year.
  • Unlike most of their competitors in the East, the Bucks didn’t make major changes this offseason and can rely on continuity as they make a run at another NBA title, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Milwaukee still has the defensive foundation to contend for a championship, Gozlan adds, and Giannis Antetokounmpo remains one of the best players in the world. One financial concern that Gozlan points out is that the Bucks appear destined for the repeater tax next season, while Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez will both become unrestricted free agents in July if they don’t receive extensions.
  • In a press release, the Cleveland Charge – The Cavaliers‘ G League affiliate – announced the trade of Norvel Pelle and the Charge’s second-round pick to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (the Pacers‘ affiliate) in exchange for Nate Hinton.

Central Notes: Pistons, Turner, Bitadze

There are many ways Pistons coach Dwane Casey could go with his rotation next season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. In Langlois’ view, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden Ivey are the only rotation locks, with Kelly Olynyk, Marvin Bagley III, Killian Hayes and Alec Burks “good bets” to join them. Beyond that, Casey has numerous choices between youth and experience.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons fans are brimming with optimism, though they’re realistic about next season’s prospects, The Athletic’s James Edwards III revealed in a fan poll. With nearly 2,000 subscribers weighing in, 98 percent professed confidence in the team’s direction and 64 percent said they were very confident in the front office. However, 72.5 percent voted that the team would only win between 26-35 games next season. Second-year forward Isaiah Livers received the most votes for “breakout” player.
  • Myles Turner‘s season could play out similar to the way Victor Oladipo departed from the Pacers organization in 2020, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files opines. Turner could get off to a good start and pump up his trade value. In the same mailbag piece, Agness speculates that Goga Bitadze won’t have a long-term role in the organization due to the team’s current playing style, along with the presence of Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith.
  • Earlier on Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo stated he wouldn’t mind playing for the Bulls later in his career. Get the details here.

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.