Tyreke Evans

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.

Central Notes: Porter, R. Lopez, Bucks, Evans

The Bulls traded for Otto Porter last month with the intention of making him a team leader, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic. VP John Paxson and GM Gar Forman made Porter’s role clear in their first meeting with him after the deal with Washington was complete.

“They said, ‘We want a bunch of high character guys to play for one another.’ It’s really rebuilding a culture here and they brought me here to be a part of that,” Porter said. “Of course, that just comes with experience. Coming from a situation where I can pass on things that I know, from experience, being with the Wizards, here. Because I’ve played in playoff games, played in playoff series and ultimately, that’s where we want to see ourselves — playing in the playoffs, being a top team in the East and making some noise.”

Porter has provided much more than leadership in the 15 games since arriving in Chicago. He has scored a career-best 17.5 PPG and is shooting a stunning .488 from 3-point range. He has already posted two 30-point games for the Bulls, which matches his career total in Washington.

“It’s a new opportunity for me to showcase my talent,” he said. “What I know I can do. And just go out there and have fun playing.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls opted to keep Robin Lopez, but it’s still uncertain if he’ll return next season, notes Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports. Chicago didn’t get any decent trade offers for Lopez prior to the deadline because teams were expecting a buyout. The Bulls would like to re-sign him in free agency, but Wendell Carter is their long-term center and Lopez may not want to settle for a back-up role. Chicago is paying Cristiano Felicio nearly $15.7MM over the next two seasons, and Lopez may demand more than that to return.
  • The Bucks get a little more breathing room under the luxury tax with Christian Wood being claimed off waivers by the Pelicans, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. With Wood’s $1,512,601 salary removed from its books, Milwaukee is now about $1.76MM away from tax territory, providing more cushion for late-season moves.
  • Tyreke Evans is hoping for a strong end to the season after having his best game since joining the Pacers, relays J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Evans, headed back to free agency after signing a one-year deal, credits the improvement to a meeting with coach Nate McMillan. “I need to be the aggressor,” Evans said. “I talked to him and I told him that’s the way I want to play. Put the ball in my hands and create. Put the pressure on the defense.”

Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Matthews, Roster, More

While Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard makes the final call on the team’s personnel moves, a pair of Indiana’s former heads of basketball operations remain very much in the loop, Pritchard tells Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.

According to Pritchard, he works with advisors Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird on a “daily basis.” Calling both men “true mentors,” Pritchard notes that Walsh is on the office every day, while Bird gets “very involved” in the summer and fall.

Within his conversation with Aschburner, Pritchard touched on a number of other subjects, discussing the Pacers’ approach to free agency, the excellent job head coach Nate McMillan has done with the club, and Victor Oladipo‘s rehab, among other topics. For Pacers fans, the conversation is worth reading in full, but here are a few highlights from the team’s president of basketball operations:

On the sales pitch that allowed the Pacers to land Wesley Matthews last month:

“He saw opportunity, right? We needed a starting two. And there was continuity with just knowing Nate and how he coaches, his style [Matthews and McMillan were together in Portland for a season and a half]. And from what he’s told us, he saw us, he played against us and he liked the way we play. But it became a recruiting process, for sure. He had a lot of options.”

On what the Pacers have gotten out of 2018’s free agent signees (Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, and Kyle O’Quinn):

“They fit in nicely. They all made it clear that they wanted to come in, play a role and do it as well as they possibly could. Kyle is a great backup center, and we’ve asked him to be the third center. We’ve needed him, because Sabonis is going to be out for a little bit. McDermott, as he gets comfortable here and learns to seek out his offense, the better he’s going to be. And Tyreke, he’s had some ups and downs. But when he plays well, we’re a different team. We need that punch off the bench, and that’s something we focused on when he got him.”

On the impact of having so many free-agents-to-be on the roster:

“It’s good in that guys are pretty motivated. I’ve believed in this team. We’re going to be challenged in the playoffs and it will be fun watching them, but we’ve got to get there first. I don’t want to look too far in the future. We know we’re going to have some tough decisions this summer. But I believe 40% of the league will be free agents, so it’s not only our issue. It’s a league issue and an opportunity.”

On the Pacers’ long-standing aversion to tanking (Indiana hasn’t won fewer than 32 games in a season since 1988/89):

“You’ve got to give [team owner] Herb [Simon] a ton of credit. He’s not the kind of guy who says, ‘Let’s tank and look to the future in three years.’ We’re not about that. “

Central Notes: Oladipo, Pacers, Dunn, Bucks

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo knew right away that the injury he suffered tonight was significant, tweets Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. There are concerns that Oladipo may need surgery on his right knee that will keep him out for the rest of the season, but the team will await the results of an MRI tomorrow before making a decision.

“I just slipped and knew it was serious,” he told reporters after tonight’s game. “We’ll see what tomorrow shows and go from there. My teammates stepped up earlier this season and everyone has the utmost confidence going forward.”

Oladipo is Indiana’s top scorer at 19.2 points per game and leads the team in steals with 1.7 per night. He made the All-Star Game for the first time last season and was in contention for another trip this year.

“It’s tough watching our best player go down,” teammate Darren Collison said in a video tweeted by the Pacers. “Not just because he’s our best player but because he’s one of the best people to be around.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers have two weeks until the trade deadline to figure out how they want to proceed without Oladipo, writes Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. Indiana is third in the East at 32-15 and making the playoffs shouldn’t be a concern, but Woo states that it’s hard to see the Pacers having any postseason success without Oladipo. He notes that they have roughly $59MM in expiring contracts in Collison, Tyreke Evans, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Cory Joseph and Kyle O’Quinn that could be moved for future assets if they decide to play for next season. Indiana will be in position to offer a max contract this summer, but Woo notes that the team’s bargaining power with free agents could be reduced if Oladipo’s rehab stretches into next season.
  • Bulls point guard Kris Dunn had extra motivation in his matchup with Hawks rookie Trae Young tonight, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Even though Chicago’s front office assured Dunn that he was the team’s point guard of the future, they brought in Young for a pre-draft workout and had legitimate interest in selecting him, Cowley writes. Dunn prevailed in the individual matchup, holding Young to a 1-for-12 shooting night, but Atlanta won the game.
  • Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers become a minority investor in the Bucks when he bought a 1% share of the team last year, but he tells Jim Owczarski of Packers News that he might be interested in expanding his role in the future. “When I’m done playing, there’s going to have to be something to fuel the competitive juices,” Rodgers said, “and being involved in sports would be great as long as it’s not commenting or maybe a GM. The ownership part seems a little more my speed and what I want to do when I retire from sports.”

Central Notes: Griffin, Thomas, Evans, Rose

Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants to reduce Blake Griffin‘s workload, as he told the Detroit Free Press. Griffin is averaging 35.9 minutes per game, the sixth-most for any player in the league. The former Clipper has missed significant time with injuries over the past four seasons but sat out only one game this season, when Casey decided to give him a night off. “We want to watch his minutes and the key is the first half,” Casey said. “Making sure we keep it at a certain level in the first half, that’s what I’ve done with most high minutes players or high usage players in the past.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Casey inserted rookie second-round pick Bruce Brown Jr. into the lineup against Washington on Wednesday. He would like to get his other rookie wing player, Khyri Thomas, some minutes as well. Thomas who was chosen four picks ahead of Brown and acquired in a draft-day deal with Philadelphia. He has made 43.2% of his 3-point attempts while averaging 19.9 points in seven games with the G League’s Grand Rapids Drive. “It’s up to me to get some growth out of these young guys,” Casey said.
  • Pacers guard Tyreke Evans received PRP injections for his sore right knee and he feels much better, as he told J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star and other media members. Evans had 19 points and five assists in 19 minutes against Atlanta on Wednesday after sitting out the previous two games. That was his highest point since he supplied 23 points against Miami in mid-November. Evans will be a free agent again after signing a one-year, $12MM deal with Indiana over the summer.
  • Derrick Rose could return to the Bulls in free agency, as he hinted to the media this week in comments relayed by Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Rose has enjoyed a bounce-back season with the Timberwolves and will be an unrestricted FA after the season. “This is home for me. I’ll never leave Chicago,” Rose said. “I still have a place here, I’m always going to have a place here. … You never know in the future, you never know.” A Rose reunion would speed up the tempo of the Bulls’ offense and boost their perimeter shooting, Strotman notes.

Central Notes: Kennard, Krauskopf, Evans, Dunn

Luke Kennard may be the latest Pistons wing to play his way out of the starting small forward spot, as I noted in the Detroit Free Press. Kennard has scored just 24 points over the last six games after a 28-point outing in Philadelphia. The second-year swingman out of Duke was benched during the second half of a 98-95 home loss to Atlanta on Sunday. Stanley Johnson and Glenn Robinson III were also ineffective in that role. “There’s nothing maddening about it at all (but) you want that person to step in and produce,” coach Dwane Casey said of finding someone to fill that slot. “Give some production, whether it’s energy defensively, energy offensively, running the floor, cutting, just playing basketball. That’s what you’re searching for in that position.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard said that hiring Kelly Krauskopf as an assistant GM had nothing to do with making history, according to Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star. Krauskopf became the first women to hold that NBA front office position in a modern-day format in that she will be involved in personnel decisions. “It’s going to be made a big deal about (her being a woman) and the truth is she is just the best person for the job, period, end of discussion,” he said. “It doesn’t matter (her) gender, race, anything like that. She was the best person for the job.” Krauskopf spent 17 years as GM of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever.
  • Pacers guard Tyreke Evans has missed the last two games due to knee soreness and will be a game-time decision against Atlanta on Wednesday. Evans explained to Scott Agness of The Athletic that he aggravated an old right knee injury when the Sixers’ Joel Embiid fell on him during a collision. Fluid built up and Evans, who had three operations on that knee in 2016, needed to have the knee drained.
  • Bulls point guard Kris Dunn has taken a bigger offensive role with Zach LaVine sidelined by an ankle injury, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Dunn is averaging 17.8 PPG and 6.0 APG over the last five games with LaVine out of commission. “Whatever gets the win. If I’ve got to be aggressive on the offensive side looking at the rim a little bit more or getting my guys involved,” he said. “I’m a pass-first point guard but it’s the NBA.”

Central Notes: Pistons, Boylen, Evans, Cavs

Don’t expect the Pistons to move either Andre Drummond or Reggie Jackson anytime soon, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes in a mailbag.

As Beard explains, Detroit views Drummond as a long-term core piece rather than a trade chip. And while Jackson may not be quite on that same level, he’s probably a more valuable asset to the Pistons than he would be to another team, according to Beard, who expects Detroit to “ride through Jackson’s contract.” Drummond and Jackson can both become free agents as early as 2020, though Drummond has a $28.75MM player option for 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes an interesting, detailed look at how Jim Boylen has dove head-first into his new job as the Bulls‘ head coach this week, meeting individually with all his players after taking the reins from Fred Hoiberg.
  • As his first season with the Pacers progresses, Tyreke Evans continues to adjust to a new role and new expectations, as Mark Montieth of Pacers.com writes. Evans, who inked a one-year deal to play in Indiana, has been moved to the starting lineup during Victor Oladipo‘s absence but is still struggling to produce consistently.
  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson has been find $15K by the NBA for making an inappropriate gesture toward a fan earlier this week, the league announced today in a press release. Thompson flipped off some Brooklyn hecklers in the wake of the Cavs’ win over the Nets on Monday.
  • Speaking of that Cavaliers win over Brooklyn, head coach Larry Drew – who removed rookie Collin Sexton from the lineup down the stretch in that game – explained later that he doesn’t believe sitting Sexton in situations like that will stunt the youngster’s development. “You can learn just as much sitting over there watching, so you can kind of get a feel and see what other guys are doing,” Drew said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “But it’s a long season and we’re going to be in a lot of different situations where he’s going to be allowed to experience some of this stuff.”

Central Notes: Evans, Thompson, Bulls

Still in the early stages of his first season with the Pacers, Tyreke Evans continues to find his groove and fit on the team. Evans posted his best game of the season in Indiana’s win on Friday, and has said that he is continuing to adjust to the offense and will look to be more assertive moving forward.

Signed this past offseason on a one-year deal, Evans serves as the Pacers’ sixth man, providing capable shooting and ball-handling in bench units. So far this season, Evans is averaging 11.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, while knocking down 40 percent of his 3-pointers and playing 20.3 minutes per game.

The Pacers will continue to need Evans to step up alongside Victor Oladipo as they look to navigate the top of the Eastern Conference and cement themselves as true playoff contenders.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • With the Cavaliers suffering a slow start due to injuries and inconsistent play from many key rotational players, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic writes that amidst a career year, Tristan Thompson has also taken on a new role as a leader of the team, which is something the Cavaliers didn’t have when LeBron James left in 2010.
  • As the Bulls continue to struggle with injuries and inconsistent play, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago points out that the team is exactly where it should be given the injuries to some of its best players and the club’s primary focus on rebuilding and player development.
  • A recent Central Rumors post highlights Robin Lopez receiving more playing time to boost his trade value and provides updates on the injuries to Luke Kennard and John Henson.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Central Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if those players’ stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Central Division:

Justin Holiday, Bulls 29, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $9MM deal in 2017
Holiday is playing heavy minutes for the injury-riddled Bulls. His scoring average (12.0 PPG) is modest, given the amount of playing time he’s receiving, but he’s been solid from long range (38.9%) and rarely turns the ball over. His OBPM (Offensive Box Plus/Minus) is a career-best 1.7, according to Basketball Reference. Defensively, he leads the club in steals (1.6). Holiday probably won’t find a starting gig on the open market, but he’d be a solid second unit option on a playoff contender.

Rodney Hood, Cavaliers, 26, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $3.47MM deal in 2018
Hood accepted the Cavaliers’ qualifying offer as a restricted free agent over the summer with the aim of landing a lucrative mult-year pact as an unrestricted FA next summer. Thus far, Hood hasn’t really stood out from the pack on a struggling team. With Kevin Love sidelined by a foot injury, Hood had an opportunity to be a bigger offensive force. Instead, his numbers have declined. He averaged 14.0 PPG in 27.7 MPG last month but has posted a 9.3 PPG average in 26.0 MPG through four November outings.

Stanley Johnson, Pistons, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $12.85MM deal in 2015
Johnson didn’t receive a rookie scale extension and he’ll be a restricted free agent if the Pistons extend a $5.3MM qualifying offer after the season. Right now, that’s a big if. Johnson lost his starting job to Glenn Robinson III after shooting 35.2% overall and 25.0% from deep while committing 16 turnovers in seven starts. The Pistons are currently looking at Johnson as a small ball power forward off the bench. He’s looked comfortable in that role, posting back-to-back double-digit games while shooting with more confidence.

Tyreke Evans, Pacers, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $12MM deal in 2018
Coming off a career year with the Grizzlies in which he averaged 19.3 PPG, Evans was expected to be one of the league’s premier sixth men. He’s still finding his way with a much more talented team, averaging 10.9 PPG, though he’s been fine beyond the arc (41.7%). In his last six games, Evans is averaging 10.0 PPG while shooting 38.2% from the field. Evans’ numbers should spike up but for now, he hasn’t done anything to make him more attractive on the open market than he was this summer.

Khris Middleton, Bucks, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $70MM deal in 2015
Middleton has a $13MM option on his contract for next season and it’s a foregone conclusion he’ll test the open market. His value continues to rise with his early-season performances. He’s the second-best player on a very good team, averaging 19.3 PPG and shooting a whopping 45.5% from long range. Throw in career bests in rebounding (5.2 per game) and assists (4.3) along with his solid defense and Middleton will be highly coveted in July.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Hoiberg, Arcidiacono, Love, Evans

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is standing up for associate Jim Boylen after criticism from Jabari Parker, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Boylen sets the team’s defensive schemes, which Parker felt were lacking in Friday’s loss to the Hornets, telling reporters after the game that the Bulls “didn’t adjust” while giving up 135 points.

‘‘You look at Jim’s track record in this league,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘He had the No. 1 defense in Indiana. He was on some really good Spurs defensive teams. … We have long film sessions. Jim does a great job in those. We have a young team. We have to keep growing, keep working.’’

It’s the first swipe at the coaching staff from Parker, whose stay in Chicago might be short after signing a two-year, $40MM contract with only the first season guaranteed. This is the third year with the Bulls for Boylen, who got his first job as an NBA assistant in 1992.

There’s more today from the Central Division:

  • Ryan Arcidiacono has shown he deserves the backup point guard job at least until Kris Dunn returns from an MCL sprain in his left knee, contends Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. Arcidiacono is shooting 53% from 3-point range, providing a much-needed outside threat for a team with few other long-distance shooters. He also supplies energy on both ends of the court that rubs off on his teammates, Walton adds.
  • Kevin Love‘s aching left foot may turn out to be a lingering injury, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Love sat out his second straight game last night because of pain that has been bothering him since the preseason. Sources tell Vardon an MRI showed some fluid in the foot, and while it’s not thought to be serious, Love will need rest to get it under control.
  • Tyreke Evans‘ one-game suspension was a result of being late for practice on Friday, according to Scott Agness of The Athletic. It was the final straw for the Pacers‘ guard, who had already accumulated multiple infractions early in the season. “We’ve got guidelines that we have to follow,” coach Nate McMillan said. “When you start to see a pattern with those guidelines being broken, then you have to be disciplined. Our players know those guidelines. We have a book with those rules, guidelines, laws in them.” Pacers president Kevin Pritchard spoke to the team after Friday’s practice, but players refused to reveal what was discussed.