Ted Wu

Central Notes: Markkanen, Weaver, Wu, Pistons G League, Love

Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen feels extra motivation after he couldn’t reach an extension agreement with the organization by Monday’s deadline, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “Obviously disappointing, I wanted to get a deal done,” he said. “But that happened, and we’re moving on, and I’m 100 percent committed to this team.”

Markkanen confirmed the sides were never near a deal after he struggled through an injury-marred season. “I don’t think it was very close,” Markkanen said. “I talked to (my agent) obviously a lot last couple days, and (the Bulls’ offer) just wasn’t something I would take, and that’s the end of it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • As we noted, the Pistons remade their roster more than any team in the league. New GM Troy Weaver promises to continue making changes. “We are going to stay aggressive,” Weaver said, per Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports. Owner Tom Gores is confident that Weaver has the franchise on the right path. “He is concise in how he sees talent. He sees it on a micro-level,” Gores said. “I’ve met a lot of executives who know basketball. Troy is just on a whole different level.”
  • The Pacers have officially hired Ted Wu as VP of Basketball Operations, according to a team press release. Wu worked eight years with the NBA league office, specializing in salary cap management. Wu will be the team’s capologist.
  • The Pistons have a program that includes night sessions and extended practice sessions for players that would ordinarily be on their G League squad, coach Dwane Casey told Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) and other media members. The Pistons had been affiliated with the Grand Rapids Drive but are switching to the newly-created Motor City Cruise in Detroit next season. They are not expected to participate in the G League bubble season in Atlanta.
  • A strained calf will prevent Kevin Love from playing in the Cavaliers’ opener on Wednesday, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer relays.

Central Notes: Weaver, Bulls Draft, Avdija, J. Holiday

The Pistons hired general manager Troy Weaver because of his reputation for evaluating young talent, so Omar Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press looked into Weaver’s track record with the Thunder to get clues for this year’s draft. Detroit holds the No. 7 pick in a draft that appears unpredictable after the first two or three choices.

Weaver has a history of taking athletic players with long wingspans, Sankofa notes. His standout selection was Russell Westbrook with the fourth pick in 2008, and the pattern extends with first-rounders such as Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, Josh Huestis, Terrance Ferguson and Darius Bazley. Weaver also signed Luguentz Dort, a similar player, after he went undrafted last year.

Sankofa believes former Memphis center James Wiseman and Georgia guard Anthony Edwards are the best fits for Weaver’s philosophy, but both are expected to be taken well before the Pistons’ turn. Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, possibly the draft’s best wing defender, could be an alternative, along with guard RJ Hampton and Florida State forward Patrick Williams.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • With the Bulls holding the No. 4 pick, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times looks at four potential selections and their possible impact on the organization. LaMelo Ball would challenge Coby White for the starting point guard job right away and could open the door for a Zach LaVine trade that would create cap room to add a free agent next summer. Edwards could be the future shooting guard, which would also make LaVine expendable, while Wiseman would give the team a true center and leave Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen battling to become the starting power forward. Deni Avdija fills the greatest need for Chicago and would eventually take over for Otto Porter Jr.
  • At least one draft expert believes Avdija would be a perfect fit for the Bulls, relays Rob Schaffer of NBC Sports Chicago. Appearing on the Bulls Talk podcast, Spencer Pearlman, a former draft consultant with the Suns, says Avdija is versatile enough to handle either forward slot and plays bigger than his 6’9″ size.
  • Although the Knicks have interest in free agent guard Justin Holiday, returning to the Pacers is his first option, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Michael also states that assistant coach Bill Bayno will remain with Indiana under new coach Nate Bjorkgren (Twitter link) and the organization has hired Ted Wu as a capologist (Twitter link).