Stanley Johnson

Pistons Pick Up Options On Johnson, Ellenson

The Pistons have picked up their fourth-year option on Stanley Johnson and third-year option on Henry Ellenson for 2018/19, the team announced in a press release Sunday. Detroit faced an Oct. 31 deadline to pick up their options for 2018/19. Johnson will make $3,940,402 next season while Ellenson will pocket $1,857,480.

Johnson, 21, enters his third NBA season. After a solid rookie campaign, Johnson’s scoring production was cut in half last season as he averaged 4.4 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 73 games. The first-round pick from 2015 (eighth overall) is still a young asset with potential and figures to be a key part of the Pistons’ team in 2017/18.

Ellenson, 20, only played in 19 games as a rookie last season, posting a meager 3.2 PPG and 2.2 RPG. However, the Pistons’ first-rounder (18th overall) from last season possesses a strong 6’11” frame and offensive potential that has forced the Pistons to consider him for a starting role.

For all of this year’s decisions on 2018/19 rookie scale options, be sure to check out our tracker.

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Ellenson, Johnson, Jackson

Many teams remain interested in trading for Pistons center Andre Drummond, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Ellis talked to several talent evaluators around the league, who say that at age 24, Drummond still has the potential to become a successful big man despite questions about his energy and defense. Teams don’t seem reluctant to take on Drummond’s contract, which will pay him more than $105MM over the next four seasons.

The people Ellis spoke with don’t believe the Pistons are currently shopping Drummond, athough they were over the offseason and before February’s trade deadline. However, he cites two potentially interested parties in Knicks GM Scott Perry, who was an assistant GM in Detroit when Drummond was drafted, and Clippers executive VP Lawrence Frank, who coached the Pistons when Drummond was a rookie.

There’s more this morning out of Detroit:

  • Henry Ellenson‘s impressive preseason could mean more minutes for the second-year big man, Ellis adds in the same piece. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Ellenson is “playing at a high level” after he scored 16 points in 17 minutes Friday. He is competing with Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer and Anthony Tolliver for playing time at power forward.
  • The competition at power forward will keep Stanley Johnson at small forward, which may not be his best position, Ellis writes in a separate story. Many observers believe Johnson would excel as a stretch four, but Van Gundy expects nearly all of Johnson’s minutes this season to come at small forward. “We just don’t really have a need for another [power forward],” Van Gundy said. “There may be some defensive things late in the game where teams go small and we could go small with him, but we’ve got enough stuff we could run without having him to spend a lot of time there. I’m not going to confuse him and have him having to work and know all the sets at [power forward].”
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson is ready to take on a larger leadership role this season, Ellis writes in a another story. Now one of the oldest players on the team at 27, Jackson wants to erase the nightmare of last year when knee problems forced him to miss the start of the season and the team wasn’t able to incorporate him smoothly once he returned. Part of the problem was physical, as assistant coach Tim Hardaway says Jackson never fully recovered. “He’s the catalyst,” Hardaway said. “He wants to come out here and be the man. He can be the man, but first he has to be healthy. Once he’s 100% and shape, everybody’s going to see a different Reggie because last year he was hurt all the time.”

Central Notes: Bulls, Smith, Johnson

The Bulls have fully embraced a rebuild and it’s centered around Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman declared as much at media day, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

We’re in a position now where we have supportive ownership, we’ve defined our direction and we’re looking forward,” Paxson said. “That’s all Gar and I can do every day.

The three players mentioned were all acquired a draft day deal between the Bulls and Timberwolves that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. The change of course to embrace a rebuild came after a season of trade rumors and speculation that the organization should dismantle its core (among other things).

I do think we can win our fans’ trust back by showing them we can put a group of young players out there who care and show them there’s promise ahead,” Paxson said.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • For now at least, J.R. Smith is the starting shooting guard on the Cavaliers, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. “I’m not going to sit here and get into a ‘blank’ measuring contest with Dwyane Wade,” Smith said. “I’m not going to win that. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to continue to work hard for our team and however they choose to do it, that’s who it’s going to be.”
  • Citing mental maturation and a commitment to improving, Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy is optimistic about third-year forward Stanley Johnson‘s progress, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site writes. Van Gundy also praised rookie Luke Kennard‘s performance at training camp thus far.
  • There’s a case to be made for Cavaliers forward LeBron James winning the MVP this season. Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes that the 15-year veteran is coming off one of the best offseasons he’s had since he came into the league.

 

Central Notes: Johnson, Paxson, Green

There haven’t been any reported indications that the Pistons are pursuing a specific trade, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press notes, but the asset he posits would be most valuable if they were is third-year man Stanley Johnson.

Ellis cites the interest that Johnson drew at the trade deadline as the biggest indication that teams would still be interested in taking a flyer on the intriguing physical specimen. In addition to his impressive 6’7″, 235-pound, NBA-ready frame, the Pistons forward also has a palatable contract that would serve a contending team well.

Involved in a deal or not, however, this season marks Johnson’s best chance to succeed as he’ll break camp as the most natural small forward on the Pistons’ roster.

Ellis suggests that Henry Ellenson and Luke Kennard wouldn’t be quite as valuable considering their lack of NBA success and that the biggest limitation on Andre Drummond‘s trade value would be his hefty contract.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The man calling the shots in Chicago’s front office is John Paxson. The Bulls executive is as powerful as ever, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes. The new perspective – especially new after the arrival of Doug Collins this week – could serve them well as they officially embark on a rebuild.
  • As Jeff Green settles into life with the Cavaliers, he does so with a unique connection to the city of Cleveland. The forward, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes, underwent major heart surgery at the world-famous Cleveland Clinic back in 2012.
  • Expect second-year Pistons forward Henry Ellenson to vie for a larger role in 2017/18. As Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes, the sophomore forward has been focusing specifically on improving his defense and three-ball, two qualities that head coach Stan Van Gundy is known to put great stock in.

Pistons Notes: Roster Turnover, New Arena, Leuer

The Pistons had the chance to bring back the core of their 2016/17 squad this offseason, but elected to swap continuity for the possibility of a better situation, Keith Langlois of NBA.com explains.

Detroit has undergone serious roster turnover since executive/coach Stan Van Gundy arrived in town with only one player — Andre Drummond — remaining on the roster from the team which Van Gundy inherited. This summer, the franchise had the opportunity to bring back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and allow the core time to gel. However, by letting KCP walk, trading for Avery Bradley and carving out a bigger role for Stanley Johnson, the team will for the third straight season try to incorporate new pieces.

Langlois believes the team’s offseason moves will allow the Pistons to become more diverse on the offensive end as well as remain flexible in the accounting department. Had the organization inked KCP to a long-term deal, it would have been meant approaching or surpassing the luxury tax and it would have created difficulties if the team needed any substantial changes. As it stands, Detroit has a season to evaluate how Johnson progresses and Bradley fits before making a decision on capping out the roster.

Here’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons are set to move downtown to a new arena next season, though they may face one last hurdle in their efforts to do so. Christine Ferretti of The Detroit News reports.  A small group filed a lawsuit against the City of Detroit over the $34.5MM in public funding which will go to the new arena.
  • Jon Leuer made several changes this offseason as he prepares for his second season with the Pistons, relays Langlois in a separate story. He focused more than ever on three-point shooting and has decided to continue to vigorously lift weights through the season to counter last year’s decline in productivity after the All-Star break. “I lift really hard in the off-season and preseason and that keeps my weight up and keeps me stronger. Jordan was saying there’s even a testosterone boost when you lift more, so I think that’s something toward the end of the season I’ll be conscious of to hopefully maintain a high level of play,” said Leuer. Van Gundy says that he views Leuer as a starter, but that he will have plenty of choices at power forward.
  • For everything Pistons, check out the team page.

Central Notes: Pistons, SVG, Bullock, Bucks, Kidd

In the wake of Clippers head coach Doc Rivers surrendering his front office power, Tom Ziller of SB Nation writes that Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy should do the same.

In the piece, Ziller praises Rivers for giving up the power of possessing dual roles as someone who has been so famous and successful. Rivers quietly accepted a demotion and seems to have handled the transition in stride. Earlier this offseason, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer was also stripped of his front office power with the team installing GM Travis Schlenk above him in the decision-making hierarchy.

Ziller goes on to write that Van Gundy’s 2016/17 team was extremely disappointing and comprised mostly Van Gundy acquisitions. SVG previously traded for Reggie Jackson and paid him a tremendous amount and drafted Stanley Johnson in the lottery. Both players have been monumental disappointments. Ziller argues that while Van Gundy is a talented coach, “someone else needs to be in the seat of power when it comes to roster.”

Here’s what else you should know from the Central division:

  • Pistons wing Stanley Johnson, who underwhelmed in 2016/17, lies at the heart of SVG’s vision for the team to be elite on defense, writes Keith Langois of NBA.com. Detroit spent most of last season as a top-10 defensive squad before finishing the season at No. 11. Van Gundy said: “I think now we have a chance to become an elite defensive team and Stanley’s a huge part of that. And then I think it’s for him to really find his offensive game and it takes some guys some time. Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, his primary role will be to guard the best forward or a big two guard every night. Avery (Bradley) will take on the challenge of guarding the best guard every night and then Andre (Drummond) will take on more responsibility as a defender and that’s our way to becoming an elite defensive team.”
  • The Pistons will feature Reggie Bullock for a more prominent role this upcoming season, Ansar Khan of MLive.com writes. In limited minutes in two seasons, Bullock has been the team’s best deep shooter, drilling 39.7% of his three-point attempts. Van Gundy is also high on Bullock for other reasons: “A lot of people focus on Reggie’s shooting, which is very good, but to me it’s more the way he plays the game. The ball moves when he’s out there, he makes quick decisions, he moves very well without the ball, he helps other people play well. And at the other end he defends, so he’s a two-way player who helps your team function at both ends of the floor. We’re looking forward to having Reggie back, healthier than he’s been, hopefully, and available for a lot more action because he has helped us play very well.”
  • The pressure is on for head coach Jason Kidd and his Bucks, writes James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. With many Eastern Conference teams taking significant steps backward this offseason, the athletic and upstart Bucks carry lofty expectations entering the 2017/18 season. For a detailed look at why so much is expected of Kidd and the Bucks this coming season, I highly recommend reading Blancarte’s piece.

Pistons Notes: KCP, Galloway, Johnson, Moreland

The Pistons were still undecided whether they would match any offer sheet for restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope until the Celtics offered shooting guard Avery Bradley and a draft pick for small forward Marcus Morris, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Though the Pistons reached an agreement with Langston Galloway during the first day of free agency, they were still hoping to re-sign Caldwell-Pope until Boston came calling, Langlois continues. The Pistons renounced their rights to Caldwell-Pope after the trade with Boston was finalized. Galloway will receive playing time at both guard positions, Langlois adds.

In other news regarding the team:

  • Coach Stan Van Gundy believes Stanley Johnson will bounce back from a disappointing sophomore campaign in part because he will play his natural small forward position regularly, Langlois writes. Johnson, who could become a starter in the aftermath of the Morris trade, might even play some power forward in smaller lineups.
  • The Pistons originally planned to sign big man Eric Moreland to a two-way contract if he impressed during the Orlando Summer League, Langlois notes in the same piece. Moreland exceeded all expectations, especially at the defensive end, and that’s what led to the team signing him to a three-year contract with a partial guarantee.
  • Van Gundy and GM Jeff Bower tried to trade for Galloway in recent seasons before landing him in free agency, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. “Langston Galloway has been a guy that Jeff and I have had an interest in virtually from the time we got here, when he was in New York [with the Knicks],” Van Gundy told Beard and the assembled media. “This year, when he was in New Orleans and Sacramento, we’ve made inquiries about trying to get him. It’s been a long process for us to try to bring Langston here.”
  • Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the team, and Olympia Entertainment, which owns the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, were added to a federal lawsuit seeking to force a vote over the use of $34.5MM in public funding to finance the Pistons’ move, Katrease Stafford of the Detroit Free Press reports. The Pistons will share the arena with the NHL’s Red Wings, who are also owned by Olympia.

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.”
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