Stanley Johnson

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Combine, Johnson, Dumars

Pistons center Andre Drummond may start wearing a facemask to protect his nose, according to Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Drummond recently underwent surgery to fix a deviated septum, which has limited his breathing for several years. Coach Stan Van Gundy said the procedure could make Drummond more vulnerable to having his nose broken, which is why the mask is being considered. “The only thing is there’s a little bit of a chance that it makes you more susceptible to breaks, which he knew going in, which means he may have to wear a mask, at times,” Van Gundy said. “Or if it gets hit. So we’ll see.” He added that Drummond is ” feeling a thousand times better” since the procedure.

There’s more news out of Detroit:

  • The Pistons asked the prospects they interviewed at this week’s draft combine to break down film clips, Ellis adds in the same story. Gonzaga big man Zach Collins said Detroit was one of the few teams he talked to that asked for film analysis, but Van Gundy is a believer in the technique. “There is no right or wrong answer; I just like to hear them talk about basketball and articulate what they see on the court,” Van Gundy said. “Most of them will go back to their rules in college about defensive rotations. I’m not worried about what it is [they know], but more if guys have a pretty clear understanding of what they think should be done.”
  • Second-year swingman Stanley Johnson expressed a willingness to play in the Orlando Pro Summer League, but the Pistons seem to have decided against it, Ellis relays in another story. Van Gundy says the decision was made in last month’s exit meeting. “I think what we might do with him is – and he talked it about when he left – go down [to Orlando] and practice with us,” Van Gundy said.[Reggie] Bullock did it with us last year. Go down and practice, but not anything else.” He added that rookies Henry Ellenson and Michael Gbinije will definitely be part of the summer league team.
  • Pistons legend and former executive Joe Dumars is honored to be a candidate to run the Hawks, Vincent adds in a separate piece. Appearing this week on ESPN’s “The Jump,” Dumars addressed rumors that he is being considered for the top job in Atlanta. “There’s only 30 of these jobs in the world,” he said. “If I’m fortunate enough to be with the Hawks or anyone else, I look at it as a great opportunity because these are tough jobs.” Grant Hill, Dumars’ former teammate in Detroit, is a minority owner of the Hawks.

Pistons Notes: Redick, Kennard, S. Johnson

The Pistons have indicated since the regular season ended that adding outside shooting to their roster will be a priority this offseason. However, while a veteran sharpshooter like J.J. Redick – who is a free agent and played for Stan Van Gundy in Orlando – looks like an ideal fit on the surface, Detroit’s cap situation will make it difficult to pursue a player of that caliber, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

As Ellis explains, the Pistons will be well over the cap if they retain Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and would only have the mid-level, bi-annual, and minimum salary exceptions at their disposal to add free agents in that scenario. The bi-annual and minimum exceptions are too modest to add an impact player, and even the MLE – which is expected to rise in value to about $8.4MM – likely wouldn’t be enough to land someone like Redick. That means Detroit may have to get creative in trades or target under-the-radar free agents in order to acquire the shooting help they need.

Ellis’ entire piece, which touches on a handful of Pistons-related offseason topics, is worth checking out. Here are a few more items out of Detroit:

  • One shooter who may be attainable for the Pistons is Duke’s Luke Kennard, who is a candidate to be selected in the lottery by Detroit or another club. Brendan Savage of MLive.com examines Kennard’s potential fit with the Pistons.
  • After a solid rookie year, former eighth overall pick Stanley Johnson took a step backward in 2016/17. While Johnson’s development remains a work in progress, he wasn’t discouraged by his underwhelming sophomore season, and the Pistons remain hopeful that he can blossom into a key piece for the team, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
  • In a separate piece for The Detroit News, Beard previews this week’s draft combine from the Pistons’ perspective and passes along a few quotes on the subject from Van Gundy.

Pistons Committed To Keeping Caldwell-Pope

The Pistons plan to match any offer that restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope receives, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.

The organization is prepared to give the fourth-year shooting guard a maximum deal if that’s what it takes to keep him in Detroit, Ellis adds, with several sources saying he is an important part of the team’s future.

Caldwell-Pope averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season, but his numbers declined after the All-Star break. Ellis states that the Pistons may have viewed the situation differently if they were confident that Stanley Johnson was ready to become a starter, but they believe keeping Caldwell-Pope is vital and they wouldn’t be able to get an adequate replacement because of their cap situation.

Ellis touches on several other Pistons-related matters:

  • Trade talks involving Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson will continue this offseason. Ellis states that the organization is becoming impatient with Drummond, with coach/executive Stan Van Gundy saying in Friday’s press conference that he needs a “sense of urgency to elevate his game.” Jackson’s drop in production stemmed from left knee tendinitis that plagued him throughout the season, and Ellis claims the only available replacement who might be an upgrade is the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe.
  • The Pistons believe they have enough young players and future first-rounders to acquire a star this offseason. There were rumors that Drummond was offered to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins before he was sent to New Orleans, and a source told Ellis the Pistons contacted the Pacers about Paul George but never got close to a deal. George has another season left before he can opt out, and Detroit might be interested in taking the chance that it can re-sign him, but only if the price in a trade comes down. Other targets could include Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony.
  • Although the Pistons might benefit from a franchise-altering move, Van Gundy said smaller deals are more realistic. “There’s a couple things we’d like to do and make us a little bit better, but I don’t think we’re broken” he said. “Getting our point guard situation back to where it was or even better is more than feasible and corrects a great deal of the problems we’re talking about. Our roster is pretty good from there.”

Van Gundy: Andre Drummond Needs To Improve

Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy will hold a meeting Monday with Andre Drummond to discuss the center’s future with the organization, tweets Rod Beard of the Detroit News. At a press conference today, Van Gundy expressed confidence that the 23-year-old can still be a leader in Detroit, but added that he needs to commit himself to getting better. “He needs to have a sense of urgency to elevate his game,” Van Gundy said (Twitter link). “He has the potential to be good or great, but he needs to do some work to get there.” (Twitter link).

Drummond is coming off a season in which he played 81 games, averaging 13.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per night. While those numbers are solid, the Pistons were hoping for more after giving him a five-year extension last summer with a potential value of more than $125MM. Detroit’s front office reportedly began to sour on Drummond as losses piled up this season and was listening to trade offers before February’s deadline. Van Gundy stated that motivation remains a concern with Drummond, adding, “It’s an issue we need to address — and probably in a different way.” (Twitter link).

There’s more from today’s meeting with reporters:

  • Van Gundy is hopeful that point guard Reggie Jackson can bounce back from an injury-filled season. “Our medical people are confident he’s back now physically,” the coach said. “What he didn’t get back to was confidence.” (Twitter link). Jackson battled tendinitis problems in his knee all the way back to training camp and was shut down in early April even though the Pistons were still in the playoff race. Van Gundy said Jackson looked good in a recent practice and should be back to normal by the start of next season (Twitter link).
  • Van Gundy says Stanley Johnson needs “a better offseason” than he had last year to secure a spot in the rotation (Twitter link). Johnson is an elite defender, but needs to improve his offensive game by making more shots and committing fewer turnovers (Twitter link).
  • Van Gundy added that the team doesn’t need “a bombshell move” to get back to the playoffs (Twitter link).
  • GM Jeff Bower, who also spoke to reporters, believes the Pistons are in a good position to help themselves through the draft. Detroit holds the 12th pick heading into next month’s lottery, and Bower says the top half of the first round is especially strong (Twitter link).

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Jackson, Johnson

The Pistons have “quietly explored” the trade market for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, two of their roster’s centerpieces, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports in his latest piece, which is a deep dive into the situation in Detroit. According to Lowe, the Pistons came away disappointed with what teams might be willing to offer for Drummond or Jackson, reducing the likelihood of either player being moved in the next eight days.

Still, while a Drummond trade remains an “extreme long shot,” a deal involving Jackson isn’t entirely off the table. Lowe suggests the Timberwolves, Magic, and Pelicans are among the potential suitors for the veteran point guard, if Detroit is willing to settle for a modest return. Per Lowe, Jackson’s value has “cratered,” and a player like Ricky Rubio is one of the few solid starters the Pistons could get in any trade package. Lottery teams seeking a long-term solution at point guard are unwilling to move their first-round picks for Jackson, and Detroit isn’t ready to simply dump him for a collection of expiring contracts.

In his attempt to find a potential trade partner for a Jackson deal, Lowe identifies the Magic and Nuggets, pointing to players like Elfrid Payton and Emmanuel Mudiay as possible trade pieces. However, while Mudiay is believed to be available, Denver doesn’t appear to have interest in Jackson. Lowe notes that Orlando is an “intriguing” possibility, since GM Rob Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the team drafted Jackson.

Here’s more from Lowe on Jackson, along with a few other intriguing Pistons-related tidbits:

  • The Pelicans have kicked the tires on Jackson, but never engaged in serious talks, league sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, several Pistons players criticized Jackson during a December players-only meeting for his apparent lack of effort on defense. Drummond tells Lowe that the criticism “wasn’t cool,” since Jackson was coming off an injury and wasn’t yet 100%. However, both Drummond and Stan Van Gundy acknowledge that the team has struggled to adjust to Jackson’s presence on the court this year after finding a groove early in the season with Ish Smith handling the point.
  • According to Lowe, a fear that top free agents won’t come to Detroit has pushed the Pistons to acquire solid players on good contracts when they become available. Those players aren’t always a fit with Drummond and Van Gundy, which has contributed to some of the team’s roster issues.
  • Multiple teams, including the Spurs, made an effort to nab Stanley Johnson in a trade after Van Gundy publicly called out the second-year forward earlier in the season. Although the Pistons rebuffed those efforts, the team has been frustrated by Devin Booker‘s development in comparison to Johnson’s, since the draft room was “almost deadlocked” between those two players in 2015, says Lowe.
  • The Pistons are unlikely to make a major move until closer to the draft, since they want to make the playoffs and are reluctant to do anything that will adversely impact their odds of earning a postseason spot, says Lowe. The ESPN analyst notes that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency will be an interesting case to follow this offseason, since the Pistons may have to shed a salary – perhaps Tobias Harris‘ or Boban Marjanovic‘s – if they need to match a max offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope.

Central Notes: Rondo, Middleton, Ellenson, S. Johnson

Rajon Rondo gained respect by standing up for his “rank-and-file” teammates and is unlikely to be traded before the Feb. 23rd deadline, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Discord in the Bulls‘ locker room was aired publicly last week when Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler both went to the media with complaints that some players don’t care enough. Rondo responded on Instagram with a post saying that the veteran leaders on his former Celtics teams never would have done that. Rondo not only improved his standing in the locker room, he has also been productive in his role with the second unit, creating shots for younger players rather than fighting Wade and Butler for the ball.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks swingman Khris Middleton is getting closer to making his season debut, tweets Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has been participating in contract drills and is expected to be ready soon, although not during the team’s current road trip. Middleton had surgery for a torn hamstring in September.
  • Henry Ellenson has only played in 14 NBA games, but the rookie big man has performed well enough in the D-League to the keep the Pistons optimistic about his future, according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Ellenson averaged 20 points and nine rebounds per game during his most recent trip to Grand Rapids. Langlois notes that he was taken with the pick that Detroit traded last year for Donatas Motiejunas then regained when the deal was rescinded. “I think the guy is a really, really talented offensive guy and I have great confidence in his work ethic, that he’ll work at it and get better,” said coach/executive Stan Van Gundy.
  • Pistons second-year swingman Stanley Johnson credits weight loss for his increased playing time, relays Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Johnson has dropped about 15 pounds and has become a reliable backup to shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope“The two things to me are he’s gotten in shape — which he wasn’t to start the year — and he’s gotten much more coachable,” Van Gundy said.

Central Rumors: Cavs Moves, Caldwell-Pope, Pacers

Acquiring a veteran backup point guard will be the next move the Cavaliers make, but there could be others in store, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer speculates in his latest mailbag column. The team doesn’t trust that rookie Kay Felder can run the offense and defend for 8-12 minutes in postseason games as Kyrie Irving‘s backup, pushing the need for a backup point to the top of the wish list, Vardon continues. The club would also like to add another big man and perhaps an additional wing player, Vardon continues. GM David Griffin could open up roster spots by dumping the contract of injured Chris Andersen and moving a bench player like Jordan McRae for a draft pick, Vardon adds.

In other developments around the Central Division:

  • The defending champs have lost three of the five and their stars believe practice will get them back on track, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. LeBron James expressed that sentiment during his postgame press conference in Portland and Kyrie Irving echoed it as the team prepares to face the Kings on Friday.  “Practice does the mind good and the body good sometimes, and I think we’re in need of it,” Irving told Amick and other reporters. “But we’re on the West Coast road trip, West Coast swing, so we’ve just got to make due with the time we have.”
  • Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard are the only healthy wing players the Pistons have left in the wake of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s shoulder injury, Aaron McMann of MLive.com reports. Caldwell-Pope was injured in the early going against the Warriors on Thursday when he crashed into Golden State center Zaza Pachulia, who was setting a screen. Caldwell-Pope will have an MRI on Friday. That leaves the Pistons with the second-year duo of Johnson and Hilliard sharing the shooting guard spot until he returns. “We have two right now,” coach Stan Van Gundy said of his two-guard situation. “I mean, two actual wings, unless we play Marcus (Morris) or Tobias (Harris) there. Yeah, we’re down in numbers right now.”
  • The Pacers cannot continue to pair Al Jefferson and Kevin Seraphin on their second unit because of their defensive limitations, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com details in his latest column. Opponents have outscored Indiana by about 7.5 points per 100 possessions when they’ve been on the floor together, mainly due to Seraphin’s inability to check power forwards and hedge on pick-and-rolls, Lowe continues. Adding Lavoy Allen to the rotation, or ensuring that either Thaddeus Young or Myles Turner plays alongside Jefferson, would fix the problem, Lowe adds.

Central Notes: Mirotic, Carter-Williams, Pistons

Nikola Mirotic‘s standing with the Bulls has been called to question after consecutive DNP-CDs suggest he could be falling out of the rotation. Mirotic failed to get off the bench on Thursday, then missed the team’s Friday walk-through, leaving head coach Fred Hoiberg little choice but to sit him for that game as well. Though Mirotic claims he simply forgot about the walk-through, he’s still subject to a fine, says K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. The 25-year-old admitted to being surprised about Thursday’s lack of playing time, but insists his absence from practice was unrelated.

“No, I’m not that kind of guy. Even if things are not like how I would like them to be, I’m very professional,” the Bulls big man told ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “It’s not my first year here. Those guys respect me and I respect them. I would never do that, something like that.”

In 22.4 minutes per game this season, Mirotic has logged 8.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. That offensive output and his corresponding .381 field-goal percentage mark the lowest figures of his career.

There’s more from the Central Division.

  • Michael Carter-Williams had his cast removed Friday and the backup Bulls point guard believes that he’ll be able to play by the end of next week, reports Friedell. A return to the court on Christmas Day, therefore, is realistic.
  • The Pistons have the assets to make a major trade, a testament to the work that head coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower have done over the years, writes Keith Langlois for the team’s official website. The team has been aggressive in the trade market in recent memory, too, having acquired Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris mid-season in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
  • Pistons sophomore Stanley Johnson appears to be working his way back into the rotation, says Rod Beard of The Detroit News. In three contests this week, Johnson has played 26, 14 and 16 minutes. Prior to that span, the last time he had seen more than 10 minutes in a game was on November 23.

Pistons Have Resisted Overtures For Stanley Johnson

After a promising rookie season in 2015/16, Stanley Johnson has taken a step back this season, having been sent to the D-League on Saturday for the first time this year. With Johnson’s place in Detroit’s long-term plan no longer certain, Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com expects rival executives to become more aggressive in trying to pry him away in a trade. However, sources tell Goodwill that the Pistons have “resisted overtures” for Johnson so far.

As Goodwill notes, even before assigning him to the Grand Rapids Drive for a game over the weekend, Stan Van Gundy had called Johnson out publicly and has suspended him for violating a team rule. It’s certainly possible – likely, in fact – that the Pistons will be patient with 2015’s eighth overall pick, but he does seem to have fallen out of favor a little this season in Detroit.

After averaging 8.1 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 73 games last season, the 20-year-old has averaged only 3.5 PPG and 2.2 RPG so far this season, with his minutes per game dipping from 23.1 to just 13.4. With Reggie Bullock having been sidelined due to injuries for most of the season, there was a rotation role available on the wing, but 2015 second-rounder Darrun Hilliard – rather than Johnson – has been getting most of those minutes lately.

Still, Johnson did get a chance to play 26 minutes against the Sixers on Sunday, albeit in a that game was a blowout early — Philadelphia jumping out to a 32-12 lead in the first quarter. Johnson picked up an impressive five steals in that contest after having looked good for Grand Rapids on Saturday, so perhaps the former Arizona Wildcat is starting to turn a corner. In any case, it doesn’t look like he’s on the trade block in Detroit for now.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 12/11/16

Here are Sunday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • Jazz forward Joel Bolomboy was assigned to the Salt Lake City Stars, the Jazz’s D-League affilitate, the team announced via its website. This marks the fourth assignment this season for Bolomboy.
  • The Pistons recalled forwards Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson and guard Michael Gbinije from the team’s D-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit announced in a press release. That was Johnson’s first D-League stint and it lasted one day.
  • The Bulls announced via press release that guard R.J. Hunter was recalled from the Windy City Bulls.
  • The Lakers recalled Ivica Zubac from their D-League affiliate, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News tweets.
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