Stanley Johnson

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.”

Spurs Interested In Trading For Avery Bradley

FEBRUARY 8, 8:23am: According to Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link), the Pistons discussed the possibility of trading Bradley or Stanley Johnson to San Antonio for Danny Green before including him in the Blake Griffin trade, so it makes sense that the Spurs would still have interest.

One potential deal the Spurs and Clippers have discussed is Green and a first-round pick in exchange for Bradley, league sources tell Stein (Twitter link). However, San Antonio would prefer not to part with a first-rounder, Stein adds (via Twitter).

FEBRUARY 7, 10:31pm: The Spurs have become a “trade suitor” for Clippers guard Avery Bradley, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Bradley was acquired from the Pistons last week in the deal that sent Blake Griffin to Detroit. He has an $8.8MM expiring contract and reportedly isn’t in the Clippers’ long-term plans. He has been productive in two games for L.A., playing 30 minutes per night and averaging 10.0 points.

The Spurs have been shorthanded on the wing with both Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay sidelined by injuries. It would take Gay, Danny Green or a combination of smaller salaries to match up with Bradley’s, and the Clippers will probably want some draft assets in return.

Central Notes: Pistons, S. Johnson, Dunn, Bucks

The Disabled Player Exception the Pistons received doesn’t make them more likely to complete another deal before tomorrow’s trade deadline, writes Ansar Khan of MLive. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy says tax concerns will limit the team’s ability to follow up last week’s blockbuster that brought Blake Griffin to Detroit.

“The chances of that helping us at all are very, very slim because it would take us into the [luxury] tax to begin with and we only have until March 12 to use it,” Van Gundy told reporters before tonight’s game. “I don’t expect it to be of much value, but you want to have every tool at your disposal.”

The Pistons’ DPE is valued at about $5.25MM, half the salary of Jon Leuer, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. The Griffin deal cost the team its top two scorers in Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley, but Van Gundy believes there are still enough good shooters on the roster.

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • It might take a starter and a draft pick to pry Stanley Johnson away from the Pistons, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Johnson is among the team’s best defensive players and has increased his offensive production over the past five games, averaging 15 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
  • Bulls guard Kris Dunn returned to practice today for the first time since suffering a concussion after taking a hard fall in a January 17th game, writes Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago. Dunn has been ruled out for Friday’s game, but is hoping to play again before the All-Star break. However, coach Fred Hoiberg warned that may not be possible. “He hasn’t done anything,” Hoiberg said. “His inactivity will prevent him from playing anytime soon. But the important thing is he was able to do some non-contact drills, he’s been on the treadmill, he’s completed the bike portion.” The Bulls are 1-7 without Dunn, who sparked a streak of success after moving into the starting lineup in December.
  • The Bucks created a $1.9MM trade exception when they shipped Rashad Vaughn to the Nets on Monday, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Milwaukee also has two other trade exceptions valued at $3,4MM and $5MM.

Trade Rumors: Suns, Smart, Pistons, Ferguson

While Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is working the phones, one source tells Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic that there hasn’t been a whole lot of Suns-related chatter this week. The odds of Phoenix completing a major deal in advance of the deadline appear slim, according to Bordow.

Still, as Bordow details, there are a few Suns players who make some sense as trade candidates. The team would like to shed Tyson Chandler‘s contract, which includes a $13.6MM guaranteed salary for 2018/19, a source tells Bordow. Alex Len, who wants to be a starter – or at least a backup on a contender – next season, is another trade candidate. As is Troy Daniels, who says he’s prepared to move if necessary, but would rather stay in Phoenix for now.

“I’m prepared for whatever. I’ll be prepared to play wherever it is,” the fifth-year Suns guard told Bordow. “Everything is smooth running right now. If I was going to get traded I would like it to happen in the summertime.”

Here are a few more trade notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Marcus Smart trade rumors may be somewhat overblown, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald, who writes that the Celtics will likely only move Smart if they can land a player who helps the team more this season — or if they can acquire a draft pick that can be flipped to secure a player who fits that bill. Bulpett also expressed skepticism that Boston will surrender Smart solely for a rental player.
  • Based on the Pistons‘ cap situation, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press believes it’s “highly unlikely” that either Luke Kennard or Stanley Johnson gets moved before Thursday’s deadline. Both players will attract interest from other teams, but their affordable contracts are valuable to the Pistons, who are on the hook for a few big contracts, including Blake Griffin‘s.
  • Several teams have expressed interest in Thunder rookie Terrance Ferguson, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. However, those teams came away with the impression that Oklahoma City has no desire to move Ferguson, as we heard earlier this week.

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.

Thunder, Bulls, Others Eyeing Rodney Hood

The Thunder, Bulls, and Pistons are among the teams showing interest in Jazz guard Rodney Hood as Thursday’s trade deadline nears, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. League sources tell Jones that the Nuggets and Magic have also displayed “at least a passing interest” in Hood.

The Jazz have reportedly been exploring the trade market for Hood for at least the last few weeks, and Jones suggests the team is seeking “an asset” in return. While a first-round pick would be ideal, Utah may need to take on a bad contract in order to land a draft pick of that caliber, and it’s not clear whether the club is willing to do that, says Jones.

Hood, 26, is having the best offensive season of his career in 2017/18, averaging 16.4 PPG and shooting 38.7% on three-point attempts — both marks are career highs. However, he has once again been limited by injuries, a recurring issue throughout his NBA career. A fourth-year guard, Hood has only played more than 59 games in a season once so far.

As for Hood’s potential suitors, it’s no surprise that the Thunder, Bulls, and Pistons would have some interest, as all three teams could use another young shooter. However, Oklahoma City’s trade assets are limited, and Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press tweets that Detroit’s interest in Hood was stronger before the Blake Griffin trade. With Griffin’s long-term salary on their books, Ellis notes, the Pistons are less inclined to explore a swap of Stanley Johnson for Hood, since Johnson’s affordable rookie contract runs through 2019, while Hood will get expensive in restricted free agency this summer.

Meanwhile, Alec Burks is also generating some trade interest around the NBA, according to Jones. However, Jones cautions that Burks’ contract, which pays him $11.5MM in 2018/19, is limiting his appeal to some extent.

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.

Scotto’s Latest: Pelicans, Gordon, Carroll, Nuggets

Before sending Omer Asik to Chicago, the Pelicans explored trading the veteran center to a number of other teams, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. League sources tells Scotto that the Hawks and Pelicans recently talked about a deal that would have sent Asik and a first-round pick to Atlanta in exchange for Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova.

The Mavericks discussed a deal that would have seen them take on both Asik and Alexis Ajinca – along with a first-round pick – in exchange for Wesley Matthews, but Dallas was hesitant to take on two undesirable multiyear contracts, says Scotto.

Additionally, the Pelicans proposed a pair of trades to the Lakers, according to Scotto, who reports that one would have sent Asik and a first-round pick to L.A. for Jordan Clarkson, while the other would have sent Ajinca and a second-round pick to the Lakers for Julius Randle. That second deal could technically still happen, but I can’t imagine it would appeal to the Lakers.

Scotto’s piece for The Athletic is jam-packed with more noteworthy trade rumors, so let’s dive in and round up some highlights…

  • The Magic‘s front office has “left no stone unturned” as the team explores potential trades. Scotto hears that the club has even quietly gauged trade interest in Aaron Gordon, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. I imagine Orlando would require a pretty overwhelming offer to seriously consider moving Gordon.
  • Several teams have expressed interest in Nets forward DeMarre Carroll, according to Scotto, who identifies the Heat as one of those teams.
  • As we heard on Thursday, the Bulls are still very much open for business. Robin Lopez is a trade candidate, but Chicago wants a first-round pick in a deal for the veteran center, per Scotto.
  • Scotto names Malik Beasley, Kenneth Faried, and Emmanuel Mudiay as trade candidates for the Nuggets, noting that the team could be a suitor for Jazz guard Rodney Hood.
  • Hood isn’t the only Jazz guard who could be available at the deadline — Scotto hears that Utah has also explored the trade market for Ricky Rubio.
  • Several teams are monitoring Pistons forward Stanley Johnson. Scotto notes that Johnson was one player the Magic coveted when they discussed deals with Detroit earlier in the season, and adds that the Spurs have interest too.
  • Speaking of the Spurs, they’re one of the teams – as are the division-rival Mavericks – that has expressed interest in Knicks center Willy Hernangomez.
  • The Wizards are keeping an eye on the trade market and buyout market for a backup point guard, writes Scotto.
  • Fourth-year forward Noah Vonleh has been shopped by the Trail Blazers, according to Scotto. In addition to keeping tabs on DeAndre Jordan, Portland is also interested in acquiring a small forward.
  • Executives around the NBA believe that Raptors swingman Norman Powell could be a trade candidate during the offseason due to the emergence of rookie OG Anunoby.

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.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Van Gundy, S. Johnson

The Pistons introduced their new star player in a press conference this afternoon, confirming that physicals have been completed and Blake Griffin is officially on the roster, ready to make his on-court debut for the team on Thursday night. Asked about the move across the country, Griffin didn’t express any animosity toward his old club in Los Angeles, but he did admit to being caught off guard by the trade.

“Shocked is a good way to put it,” Griffin said (Twitter link via Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “I found out when everybody else found out. It took a second to realize everything’s changing.”

While Griffin was surprised by his change of address, he spoke today about embracing his new opportunity, calling it a “very, very exciting” challenge. “I truly believe we have the pieces, coaching staff, and support from the organization to make a run in the next few months,” Griffin said (Twitter link via Beard).

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Griffin isn’t the only one excited about his arrival in Detroit. As Nick Friedell of ESPN details, Andre Drummond said he’s looking forward to building a “new empire” alongside his new frontcourt mate. Meanwhile, Stan Van Gundy and Reggie Jackson also expressed enthusiasm, as Beard writes for The Detroit News. “The juices get flowing and you see all the possibilities with a guy like that,” Van Gundy said on Tuesday. “Of course, what I’d like to do is get it all (installed) right away, get about a 10-hour walkthrough in on Thursday and play because I see all the possibilities. Our schedule is not really conducive; it’s going to have to go little by little.”
  • The acquisition of Griffin feels like a “make-or-break moment” for Van Gundy’s tenure with the Pistons, says John Niyo of The Detroit News.
  • Stanley Johnson, frequently cited in trade rumors this season, had a huge night on Tuesday, racking up a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds in the Pistons’ win over Cleveland. The performance might help boost Johnson’s trade value a little, but he’s also making a case for a more prominent role in Detroit if he’s not dealt, writes Ansar Khan of MLive.com.
  • A handful of NBA.com analysts and reporters are split on whether the Griffin trade will help propel the Pistons to a playoff spot this season.
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