Thon Maker

Central Notes: Maker, Evans, Pistons, Osman

Thon Maker has given the Pistons an energetic boost since he was acquired from the Bucks in a three-team swap at the trade deadline, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes.

The 7-footer fell out of Milwaukee’s rotation, but has proven to be a solid backup for Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. The Pistons outscored Phoenix by 20 points when Maker was on the court Thursday, as he scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots in 28 minutes.

“He’s been great,” Griffin said of his Pistons teammate. “Just his energy, man. He’s just always everywhere. And if he’s not blocking shots, he’s swinging for the fences. It’s making people think and it’s making people be aware of where he is.”

Maker will make a guaranteed $3.57MM next season and will be eligible for a rookie scale extension with the Pistons prior to opening night.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers swingman Tyreke Evans admits it’s been a roller-coaster season for him, Scott Agness of The Athletic reports. Evans has battled injuries, a bout with food poisoning and the tragic death of a nephew during the course of the season. Evans’ playing time has dropped dramatically from last season, when he averaged 19.4 PPG for Memphis in 52 games. He’ll return to the free agent market after signing a one-year, $12.4MM contract from Indiana. “Yeah, it’s tough,” he told Agness. “Everybody knows what type of player I am. (Since) I got drafted, I’m better with the ball in my hands. I’m a team player and just want to win this late in my career.”
  • D’Angelo Russell‘s breakthrough season with the Nets after the Lakers gave up on him illustrates why the Pistons explored trades for young point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Markelle Fultz prior to the trade deadline, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. The Pistons will likely continue to pursue a young point guard during the offseason, since starter Reggie Jackson has one more season left on his contract and reserves Ish Smith and Jose Calderon will be unrestricted free agents, Ellis adds.
  • Forward Cedi Osman is considered part of the Cavaliers’ future core, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports in his latest mailbag. The team could sign Osman to an extension this summer but there hasn’t been any talk of doing that yet, Fedor continues. However, he’s a front-office favorite and has made positive strides in recent months. He’s shown signs of being more than just a bench rotation player and his 3-point shooting has improved, Fedor adds.

Eastern Notes: Kaminsky, Maker, Giannis, Cavs

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday that no decisions have been made about pursuing a contract buyout with young forward Frank Kaminsky, with the 25-year-old still on the Hornets’ roster after the trade deadline.

“He wants to play,” Kupchak said of Kaminsky, as relayed by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “He’s under contract. Short of that, no decisions have been made addressing that situation.”

Bonnell also relayed that Kupchak, hired by the Hornets last April, is sympathetic to a remedy if Kaminsky is looking to play elsewhere.

The Hornets explored moving Kaminsky in the hours leading up to the trade deadline Thursday, but failed to find a suitable deal for the fourth-year player. Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported (via Twitter) that Kaminsky would likely become a buyout candidate in the near future, but it’s unclear where the possibility stands right now.

Charlotte also held strong trade discussions with the Grizzlies on a deal centered around Marc Gasol, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), but talks eventually broke off. The Hornets ended up not making a single trade on deadline day.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference today:

  • The Bucks traded Thon Maker to the Pistons for Stanley Johnson this week, sending away one of Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s closest teammates in an effort to upgrade the roster. “Thon is like my little brother, this one hurts more than any trade that happened that I’ve been a part of but this is the business we work in,” Antetokounmpo said, according to Cassidy Hubbarth of ESPN (Twitter link). The Bucks eventually flipped Johnson, Jason Smith and two second-round picks to acquire sharpshooting forward Nikola Mirotic.
  • For Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo could be the next star involved in rumors as the 2019/20 season draws closer, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports notes. Antetokounmpo is eligible to receive a super-max extension in the summer of 2020, but could become a free agent in 2021 if he chooses not to sign the extension. Antetokounmpo has cemented himself as one of the league’s top stars, leading the Bucks to a 40-13 record through 53 games this season. “He has been incredibly loyal,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think that’s something that’s important to him. So, he’s a gift, for sure.”
  • The Cavaliers renounced the free agent rights to Deron Williams and Dahntay Jones today, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets. Cleveland made multiple trades in the past week, acquiring Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss and a 2019 first-round pick in a multi-team deal on Wednesday.

Bucks, Pistons Agree To Stanley Johnson, Thon Maker Trade

Update: This trade agreement has been rolled into a second deal between the Bucks and Pelicans to make it a three-team trade. You can read the full story here.

The Bucks and Pistons are in the process of finalizing a trade that will send forward Stanley Johnson to Milwaukee and big man Thon Maker to Detroit, a league source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the deal has been agreed to in principle.

The move will see two Central Division teams swap a pair of former lottery picks that had fallen out of their clubs’ long-term plans. It’s a straight-up, one-for-one trade with no additional players or draft assets, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic.

Johnson, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, seemed set to assume a larger role for the Pistons in 2018/19 after starting 50 games last season. However, the 22-year-old has taken a step back, averaging 20.0 minutes per game after playing 27.4 MPG in 2017/18. His shooting numbers have also failed to improve over the course of his career. His .381 FG% and .282 3PT% this season are about in line with his career rates.

Because he’s in his fourth NBA season, Johnson will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but he was unlikely to receive a qualifying offer from the Pistons, as Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press notes (via Twitter). The Bucks will get the opportunity to audition him as a three-and-D wing down the stretch in 2018/19 before deciding this summer whether they want to try to keep him around for a little longer.

As for Maker, the 10th overall pick from 2016’s draft has also seen his role reduced this season. The 7’1″ center, who will turn 22 later this month, appeared in 35 games for Milwaukee, averaging 4.7 PPG and 2.7 RPG in just 11.7 minutes per game. Given Maker’s limited playing time, his agent asked the Bucks to trade him to a team that would give him a greater opportunity.

Maker will get that opportunity in Detroit, where he’ll reunite with former Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps observes (via Twitter). The Pistons aren’t exactly stacked with a deep and talented frontcourt behind Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so Maker should get the chance to battle the likes of Zaza Pachulia and Jon Leuer for minutes in Dwane Casey‘s rotation. He also remains under contract for one more year before reaching restricted free agency in 2020.

Maker is earning a salary of about $2.8MM in 2018/19, while Johnson’s cap hit is $3.94MM. Trade rules allow for that modest difference in salaries, which will benefit the Pistons — as a result of this deal and their trade sending Reggie Bullock to the Lakers, they’ve created an extra $2MM+ in breathing room below the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes.

The Pistons will also generate a small trade exception worth the difference in the two players’ salaries ($1,140,682).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Thon Maker Asks Bucks To Trade Him

The Bucks have the NBA’s best record at 35-12, but not everyone is happy with how things are going in Milwaukee. Backup center Thon Maker, frustrated by his reduced role, is requesting a trade, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

A lottery pick in 2016, Maker has seen his minutes fall from 16.7 per game a year ago to 11.7 this season. Second-year forward D.J. Wilson has surpassed Maker in the rotation in recent weeks, leaving him with little chance to contribute.

Maker’s agent, Mike George, has told the Bucks his client would prefer a situation with greater opportunity. George and Milwaukee GM Jon Horst has been examining possible trades that would benefit both Maker and the team. Sources tell Wojnarowski that the Bucks have discussed deals with a few teams, but the organization hasn’t lost confidence that Maker will develop into a productive player.

The Bucks already picked up Maker’s $3,569,643 option for next season, so he’s under contract for another year. He will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, but under the circumstances it’s very unlikely that Milwaukee would offer such a deal.

The 21-year-old is averaging 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds through 35 games in his third NBA season. He has been in and out of the rotation and had a spot with the second unit while Ersan Ilyasova was injured, but his playing time has fallen since Ilyasova’s return, including three DNPs this month.

Central Notes: Cavs, Boylan, Bulls, Bucks

As if there wasn’t enough drama in Cleveland already this season, the Cavaliers are now the subject of another unusual story. As Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays, former Cavs assistant Jim Boylan has sued the team, along with owner Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman, for age discrimination.

Boylan’s lawsuit claims that Tyronn Lue left Boylan a voicemail informing him that Altman and the Cavaliers wouldn’t be picking up his option for 2018/19 since they wanted to “go younger.” Boylan subsequently had a conversation with Altman during which the GM confirmed that the Cavs wanted a younger coach, suggesting that the decision to move on from Boylan had nothing to do with his performance, per the suit.

The Cavaliers responded to the lawsuit today, calling it “frivolous” and referring to it as a “shameless cash grab.” Pointing out that Boylan simply had an option declined and wasn’t fired, the Cavs’ statement accused the assistant coach’s lawyers of attempting to shame the franchise into a settlement by releasing Lue’s voicemail.

As we wait to see what tomorrow brings in Cleveland, let’s round up a few more Central notes…

Bucks Exercise 2019/20 Options On Maker, Wilson

The Bucks have picked up the 2019/20 rookie scale options for former first-round picks Thon Maker and D.J. Wilson, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). Velazquez suggests that the Bucks “love” both players and consider them important parts of the club’s present and future.

Maker, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft, had a promising rookie season, but didn’t take a noticeable step forward in 2017/18 and has seen inconsistent minutes so far this season. Still, the 21-year-old big man has plenty of upside and his fourth-year option isn’t expensive, with a cap hit of $3,569,643, making the decision a fairly easy one for the Bucks.

The decision to pick up Wilson’s $2,961,120 third-year option is a little more surprising. The second-year forward played just 71 total minutes in his rookie season and hasn’t seen any action so far this season.

Wilson, the 17th pick in the 2017 draft, has been slowed by a hamstring issue this year, but it’s not clear if he’ll be part of the rotation even when he gets healthy, as there were rumblings during the preseason that he wasn’t even a lock for the regular season roster. However, the Bucks are apparently still high enough on him to guarantee his 2019/20 salary.

NBA teams must make their final decisions on rookie scale options for 2019/20 by Wednesday.

Central Notes: Love, Middleton, Perkins, Pistons

Earlier tonight, we heard talk of the Cavaliers sending Kyle Korver to Philadelphia in exchange for Jerryd Bayless. While we wait to see if anything materializes in Cleveland, let’s take a look at some notes from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are not shopping Kevin Love, though he could be on the move if the right offer presents itself, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst mentions on the Lowe Post podcast. The scribe adds that Khris Middleton is in the same boat with the Bucks not deeming him untouchable nor looking to deal him.
  • Cleveland waived Kendrick Perkins to “do right” by the big man and allow him to pursue training camp deals, a source tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers signed Perkins on the final day of the 2017/18 regular season back when LeBron James was still on the roster. The team had hoped to use Perkins’ contract as part of an offseason trade.
  • The Pistons have added Tim Grgurich and Micah Nori as assistant coaches to Dwane Casey‘s staff, Ansar Khan of Mlive.com relays.
  • Alex Boeder of NBA.com examines what Brook Lopez will bring to the Bucks. Lopez should be able to help the team stretch the floor with his three-point shot, as over 40% of his shots from the field last came from behind the arc.
  • FIBA has banned Bucks center Thon Maker for three games in international play for his part in a brawl during a game in the Philippines earlier this month, according to an ESPN report. Maker said he disagreed with the decision in a written statement that was released on his Twitter account.

Central Notes: Hood, Cavs, Pacers, Maker

While reports in the wake of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals indicated that Rodney Hoodrefused” to enter the game for the Cavaliers, he classified it a little differently in his explanation to reporters, as Nick Schwartz of USA Today details.

“They called my name, they did call my name, but I was like, ‘Just let Jose (Calderon play),'” Hood said. “He was warm and ready to play, so I said, ‘Just let him.’ I should have took it more serious, went in there, got some reps up.”

It may be a matter of semantics whether Hood “refused” to enter the game or just politely passed on the opportunity, but for what it’s worth, the rest of the Cavs don’t seem to be holding a grudge. According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, after he apologized on Thursday, Hood said that his teammates just laughed at him, pointing out that after all the drama the team has been through this season, they didn’t need to blow the Game 4 incident out of proportion.

“Things like that happen in the course of a season,” Kevin Love said. “I mean, I’ve only known Rodney for a short period of time, but I know he’s a great guy. I know he’s here to win. Was that a great decision? Maybe not. But he came in today, said he’s all in and we believe him.”

While we wait to see if Hood regains a spot in the Cavs’ rotation in the Eastern Conference Finals, here are a few more notes from around the Central:

  • The Cavaliers were praised after the trade deadline for acquiring young, controllable players like Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., but given how little they contributed during the Cavs’ four-game sweep of Toronto, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman wonders whether that trade was a mistake for Cleveland.
  • Sean Deveney of The Sporting News previews the Pacers‘ offseason, observing that president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard will have a narrow line to walk as he looks to improve Indiana’s roster without handing out or taking on any bad long-term contracts.
  • It’s possible that All-Star caliber players like Kawhi Leonard and Kemba Walker will be on the trade market this offseason, prompting J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star to explore whether it would be worth it for the Pacers to pursue any big-time trade candidates.
  • Bucks big man Thon Maker intends to suit up for Australia during the FIBA 2019 World Cup qualifiers this summer, as he tells FIBA.basketball.

Central Notes: Bucks, Doncic, Pacers

As we relayed yesterdayBucks’ interim head coach Joe Prunty is still a candidate to retain Milwaukee’s head coaching position. However, as we also indicated, former Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer is just one name circulating as a possible replacement for Prunty, with the Bucks planning to conduct an open and active search for their next head coach.

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Bucks would be wise to move on from Prunty and seek a head coach who can do a better job of inserting franchise cornerstone Giannis Antetokounmpo into a superstar role. Per Deveney, the Bucks have failed to do so to this point in Antetokounmpo’s young career, and it is negatively affecting both Antetokounmpo and the team.

Deveney mentions Budenholzer, former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, and former Cavaliers coach David Blatt as worthwhile candidates for the position, but ultimately opines that whoever the Bucks hire, he needs to be able to formulate an offense that runs through Antetokounmpo, creating mismatches and finding options for when teams double team him.

Deveney also touches on what he deems disappointing seasons from role players Tony Snell, Thon Maker, and Matthew Dellavedova, as well as the upcoming free agency of former No. 2 overall pick, Jabari Parker. Deveney feels that the best case scenario for the Bucks, although highly unlikely, is a total lack of suitors for Parker, thereby opening the door for the Bucks to potentially sign Parker to a one-year deal at the value of his qualifying offer.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Regardless of how the Bucks plan on approaching Parker’s free agency, at least one teammate is extremely confident that the former Duke star is not leaving Milwaukee (story).
  • As one part of a 10-part series focusing on the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft, Marc Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago argues that the Bulls should select Luka Doncic if he is available when Chicago makes its selection in June, as his elite-level passing ability is a perfect fit for today’s fast-paced NBA game.
  • Fresh off a heartbreaking loss to the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the teams’ first round series, the Pacers should be excited about their promising future, writes Michael Marot of The Associated Press. As Marot notes, the Pacers could have their top eight players all back next year if Thaddeus Young and Cory Joseph exercise their player options and the Pacers exercise their team option on fan favorite Lance Stephenson.

Bucks Notes: Parker, Walker, Williams

Scrapping for their spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Bucks know they need to rally around one another in the wake of the franchise’s recent coaching change, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.

Velasquez writes that young players like Thon Maker, who haven’t gone through a coaching change before, have been seeking advice from veterans who have. Considering that Jason Kidd was at the helm in Milwaukee for three and a half seasons there are a number of players like Maker for whom Kidd was the only, or at least the longest-tenured, coach they had had.

I think for the most part the message was, ‘It’s on us,’ ” Bucks veteran Jason Terry said of a team meeting after the news was announced. “Once they make the decision — which was a tough one — that they did, they put the onus on the players. We understand it’s going to take us as a group collectively.

There’s more out of Milwaukee:

  • Sidelined forward Jabari Parker rejected the notion that there was tension between he and Jason Kidd, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. “He was my coach for four years and it’s always been a good relationship,” Parker said. “Any coach in a head position, we’re going to have disagreements, but most importantly he helped me.”
  • The Bucks were among the teams that contacted the Hornets about Kemba Walker prior to Michael Jordan saying that he’s not looking to deal the point guard unless he gets a marquee player in return, Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets.
  • Among the frontrunners to land the full-time head coaching gig in Milwaukee is Monty Williams, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports writes. The well-respected former Pelicans coach is currently part of the Spurs’ front office and could be available to take over right away.
  • The G League affiliate of the Bucks has obtained the rights to both Gary Neal and Ricky Ledo, the team announced. Ledo is a former second-round pick of Milwaukee’s while Neal suited up for the big league club in 2013/14.