Trey Lyles

Central Notes: Lyles, Olynyk, Lopez, Caruso

Veteran Pistons big man Trey Lyles appears to be maximizing his time with his new team, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Edwards takes a look at how Lyles, a former lottery pick out of Kentucky, has reinvented himself as a role player with a lottery-bound Detroit club. Lyles discussed his struggles with mental health during his early NBA tenure.

“My first couple years, if my confidence was down, I’d be out there and wouldn’t shoot the ball,” Lyles said. “Over the years, I’ve tried to improve my mental ability to bounce back… I’ve done a lot of work in the offseason on my mental state of mind. Just being confident in who I am as a player is huge.”

Lyles signed a two-year, $5.1MM contract with the club during the 2021 offseason, and has spent most of his on-court time at center.

“[Therapy] has helped me out a lot,” Lyles, still just 26, reflected. “I have a tendency to get in my head. I just want to go out and use my muscle memory. Therapy has helped me in a variety of ways.”

Lyles is averaging 9.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.2 APG across 39 games with the Pistons thus far.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Injured center Kelly Olynyk is excited to return to the court for the Pistons soon, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit News. An MCL sprain has limited Olynyk to just 10 healthy games with his new team. The 6’11” big man has returned to basketball activities during the last few weeks and expects to rejoin the Pistons on the hardwood at some point during the team’s current four-game road trip. “It’s a long process and you can’t cheat any of the steps,” Olynyk said, per Beard. “You just miss it. You miss competing, miss being with the team, all that kind of stuff, especially in today’s world.”
  • Bucks center Brook Lopez has resumed on-court workouts at Milwaukee’s practice facility, writes Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Lopez, 33, has been recovering from a back surgery that has limited him to just a single game of availability this season for the reigning champs.
  • Injured Bulls reserve combo guard Alex Caruso has proven in his absence how valuable he is to the club, posits Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago’s defense ranks 24th during the team’s last 13 games without Caruso. The 27-year-old out of Texas A&M, one of the Bulls’ best defenders, is expected to rejoin the club at some point this week.

Seven Pistons Exit Protocols, Nuggets’ Monte Morris Enters

Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Cory Joseph, Saben Lee, Trey Lyles, and Rodney McGruder have all exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the Pistons, James Edwards III of The Athletic relays (via Twitter).

All seven players are listed as out for Saturday’s contest against San Antonio due to reconditioning. The Pistons’ next game after Saturday will be Monday against the Bucks, when several of the players could return to action. Second-year big man Isaiah Stewart is now the lone player still in the protocols for Detroit.

In other COVID-related news, Nuggets point guard Monte Morris has become the fourth Denver player to enter the protocols in the past two days, joining Jeff Green, Bones Hyland, and Zeke Nnaji, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Morris has started all 32 of his games this season (30 MPG), averaging 12.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 4.3 APG on a .479/.380/.783 shooting line.

The Nuggets signed Davon Reed to his third 10-day hardship contract Thursday, and reportedly plan to sign Rayjon Tucker to a deal as well.

COVID-19 Updates: Osman, Lyles, Maxey, Kings, Aldridge, Mavericks

If the Cavaliers are able to host the Raptors Sunday afternoon, both teams will have a shell of their normal lineups. Cavs forward Cedi Osman has become the team’s eighth player in the league’s health and safety protocols, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. He joins Jarrett Allen, Ed Davis, Evan Mobley, RJ Nembhard, Isaac Okoro, Lamar Stevens and Dylan Windler.

Toronto’s roster is even more strained, with 10 players currently in protocols. Khem BirchIsaac Bonga, and Justin Champagnie were placed in the protocols earlier today, joining Precious AchiuwaOG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Malachi Flynn, Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr. and Fred VanVleet. Toronto will have to finalize 10-day hardship contracts with at least one more player before game time to reach the league roster minimum of eight.

There’s more COVID-19 news from around the league:

  • Pistons forward Trey Lyles entered the protocols Saturday, becoming the team’s sixth player this week to do so, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Lyles is coming off his best game since signing with Detroit in the offseason, posting 28 points, eight rebounds and four blocks Thursday night. Sankofa expects rookie Luka Garza and possibly Jamorko Pickett to see more playing time while Lyles is unavailable.
  • Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has also been placed in the protocols, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Maxey has taken over as point guard in the absence of Ben Simmons and has started 28 of the 29 games he has played in his second NBA season.
  • Kings forwards Marvin Bagley III and Louis King have cleared protocols and should be available Sunday, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Terence Davis has been cleared as well, Anderson tweets.
  • Nets coach Steve Nash said veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge has either exited the protocols or is close, but will need time for conditioning before he can resume playing, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Josh Green has joined his Mavericks teammates in Utah after clearing protocols, but won’t be active for tonight’s game, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). He’s expected to be able to play during the rest of the team’s road trip.
  • Mavericks assistant coach Kristi Toliver tweeted on Christmas that she contracted COVID-19.

Pistons Notes: Rotation Changes, Cunningham, Grant, Garza

Fill-in Pistons coach Rex Kalamian had to get creative when Killian Hayes was a late scratch for Tuesday’s game, writes Omar Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Replacing head coach Dwane Casey, who was away from the team on a personal matter, Kalamian inserted veteran guard Cory Joseph into the starting lineup and tinkered with the rotation throughout the game. He found an effective combination in the third quarter with Saben Lee and Trey Lyles, who helped cut a deficit from 22 points to nine.

“Sometimes through injury or through foul trouble, we have to find new rotations and new combinations that’ll work,” Kalamian said. “For us tonight, it seemed like the Trey Lyles-Saben Lee combination really worked for a little while. And even the other three guys, they were feeding into it. They had great spacing, and they were helping out a lot. It’s just one of those things that you gotta keep searching sometimes, keep rotating guys in and out. That’s what I tried to do in the fourth quarter, get combinations to work.”

The Pistons’ plans have been upended by injuries to Kelly Olynyk, who has only played 10 games, and Jerami Grant, who was leading the team in scoring before undergoing thumb surgery last week. Sankofa notes that Friday will mark six weeks since Olynyk suffered a sprained left knee, so he may be close to returning soon.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • With Cade Cunningham entering health and safety protocols, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic looks at how the team will adjust until the rookie can return. Edwards expects Frank Jackson to move into the starting lineup, while Lee should see more minutes off the bench and Josh Jackson may find his way back into the rotation.
  • Trade rumors surrounding Grant stem at least in part from his upcoming eligibility for an extension worth up to $112MM over four years, Edwards writes in a mailbag column. Edwards believes the Pistons want to eventually build around Cunningham, so they’re likely to see what they can get in return for Grant, rather than spend that much to keep him. Edwards also states that general manager Troy Weaver would likely consult with Grant while working out a trade because they have a long relationship that pre-dates Detroit.
  • Second-round pick Luka Garza may see more minutes as the season wears on, Edwards adds in the same piece. Garza’s lack of quickness limits what he can do on defense, but he has already displayed his offensive talents in limited playing time.

Jerami Grant Out With Injured Thumb, Will Be Re-Evaluated In Six Weeks

DECEMBER 12: Grant suffered a UCL ligament sprain and will be re-evaluated in six weeks, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.


DECEMBER 11: Pistons forward Jerami Grant will be out indefinitely with torn ligaments in his right thumb, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Grant suffered the injury in Friday night’s loss to the Pelicans as the thumb was bent backward in an awkward manner. He has been Detroit’s most consistent player for the first two months of the season, averaging 20.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 24 games.

Tests conducted earlier today confirmed the extent of the injury, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

Grant, who has one more year left on his contract at about $21MM, has been the subject of trade rumors as the Pistons begin to look toward building for the future. A mid-November report suggested that the Sixers might have interest in Grant in a potential Ben Simmons swap, but that rumor seems to have gone cold.

While Grant is out of action, more playing time may fall to power forward Trey Lyles, who is averaging 7.8 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench in his first season in Detroit.

Central Notes: Bulls, Bagley, Mobley, Love

The Bulls have been subjected to frequent COVID-19 testing since they played the Sixers last week, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Nikola Vucevic is out at least 10 days after a positive test. The Sixers had several players test positive in recent weeks. “I feel like everybody has been pretty safe with us. We’ve been wearing our masks a lot,” Zach LaVine said. “Obviously, we have got a lot of tests done the last couple days and it seems like everybody has been safe. Fingers crossed.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons reportedly have some interest in Kings big man Marvin Bagley III, the former No. 2 overall pick who has been benched most of the season.  Their interest could heighten with Kelly Olynyk sidelined at least six weeks. The Athletic’s beat reporters for those teams, James Edwards III and Jason Jones, explore potential trade scenarios, suggesting that a package of Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles might work for both sides once Lyles, who was signed as a free agent this summer, becomes trade-eligible.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey offered high praise for Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. “The young man’s ceiling is off the charts, and not only that, he’s a great young man,” Casey said of the No. 3 overall pick. “He’s a student, he’s a sponge, he’s a quick-learner.” Mobley had 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks against Detroit on Friday, while top pick Cade Cunningham committed seven turnovers in Detroit’s 20-point loss.
  • Kevin Love has been cleared to return to the Cavaliers but it’s uncertain when he’ll suit up again, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Love entered the league’s health and safety protocols at the beginning of the month.

Pistons Notes: Cunningham, Rotation, Jackson, Pickett

Top pick Cade Cunningham is dealing with an ankle sprain and has missed some practice time, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. The medical staff is being very cautious with the Pistons’ prized rookie so that the injury doesn’t linger.

Cunningham has been doing some light shooting drills, Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets. It appears unlikely that the rookie guard will play in the team’s preseason opener on Wednesday.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Head coach Dwane Casey will serve youth, mainly in the starting lineup, and rely on veterans on the second unit, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “I think we’re going to have probably two different units – one a younger unit that’s going to bring energy and the second unit will probably have more experience,” Casey said. Cunningham will likely be joined by second-year players Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes in the starting unit, as well as possibly Isaiah Stewart. Casey is still mulling whether to go with Stewart or free agent signee Kelly Olynyk as the starting center. Cory Joseph will likely be the second-unit floor leader with Hamidou Diallo, Josh Jackson, Frank Jackson and Trey Lyles fighting for playing time.
  • Frank Jackson, like Cunningham, is dealing with an ankle injury, Sankofa adds in a separate tweet. He was re-signed as a restricted free agent on a two-year, $6.2MM deal that includes a team option next summer.
  • Jamorko Pickett continues to earn the admiration of the coaching staff, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. “I’m really impressed with Jamorko Pickett, as far as his game, approach, maturity and communication,” Casey said. An undrafted forward out of Georgetown, Pickett recently had his non-guaranteed camp deal upgraded to a two-way contract.

Central Notes: Pistons Contracts, McConnell, Allen, Bulls

The Pistons‘ three-year deal with Kelly Olynyk has a partial guarantee in year three, with only $3MM of the big man’s $12.2MM salary assured in 2023/24, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Detroit also gave Trey Lyles a two-year, $5.125MM deal that includes a second-year team option, Smith adds (Twitter link).

While those contract details are similar to what was reported earlier in free agency, the specifics on the Pistons’ deals for Saben Lee and second-round pick Isaiah Livers didn’t surface until today.

According to Smith (Twitter link), the Pistons used cap space to give Lee a three-year, minimum-salary contract that includes two fully guaranteed years followed by a third-year team option. As for Livers, his new deal with Detroit is also for three years with a third-year team option, tweets Smith. The No. 42 pick got slightly more than the rookie minimum in his first year, followed by the veteran’s minimum in years two and three.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Trey Lyles Signs Two-Year Deal With Pistons

AUGUST 6: Lyles’ deal is now official, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.


AUGUST 2: Free agent forward Trey Lyles has reached a two-year agreement with the Pistons worth approximately $5MM, agent Rich Paul told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

A two-year, minimum-salary deal for Lyles would work out to about $4.44MM, so it sounds like he may get something a little higher than the minimum.

Lyles has spent the last two seasons with the Spurs. He also had two-year stints in Utah and Denver. Lyles saw his playing time diminish last season, as he appeared in just 23 games. His representatives were eager to find a new home for their client, who was looking for a fresh start. He started 53 of 63 games in his first year with San Antonio.

Lyles has averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 15.6 MPG through 374 career games. He’s a 34.1% 3-point shooter.

He’ll provide insurance at the power forward spot behind Jerami Grant and Sekou Doumbouya.

Rosters Announced For Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Four qualifying tournaments to determine the final four teams in the men’s basketball pool at the Tokyo Olympics are set to tip off on Tuesday. In advance of the Olympic qualifiers, the 24 teams involved have officially set their 12-man rosters, according to a press release from FIBA.

More than two dozen current NBA players are participating in the tournament, and 11 of the 24 teams competing for Olympic spots have at least one current NBA players on their respective rosters. Of those clubs, Team Canada has the biggest contingent of NBA players — eight of the 12 players on Nick Nurse‘s squad finished the season on an NBA roster. Turkey is next with four NBA players.

The four qualifying tournaments will take place in Serbia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Canada. Only the winner of each six-team group will advance to Tokyo. Those four winners will join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, France, Spain, Australia, and the U.S. in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

The teams that move onto the Olympics may tweak their rosters for Tokyo, depending on the availability of certain players. For instance, if Greece were to win its qualifying tournament, perhaps Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – who remains active in the playoffs for now – would make an effort to join the team in Tokyo next month.

Here are the NBA players on the OQT rosters:

Belgrade, Serbia

Kaunas, Lithuania

Split, Croatia

Victoria, Canada

There are also many former NBA players among the 24 rosters, including Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Milos Teodosic (Serbia), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Timofey Mozgov (Russia), and Anthony Bennett (Canada).

To view the full rosters, be sure to visit FIBA’s official site and click through to each team from there.