Zach Lofton

Pistons Waive Hearn; Lofton Gets Two-Way Deal

2:30pm: The Pistons have officially announced both moves in a press release.

1:25pm: The Pistons will reach the regular season roster limit by converting Zach Lofton‘s Exhibit 10 contract into a two-way deal and waiving two-way player Reggie Hearn, sources inform James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter links). The moves will leave Detroit with 15 players on standard contracts and two on two-way pacts.

Lofton, who turns 26 in November, played college ball for four different schools, eventually finishing his college career at New Mexico State in 2017/18. The 6’4″ shooting guard averaged 20.1 PPG and 5.0 RPG with a .456/.380/.772 shooting line in his senior year, but went undrafted in June. After signing a camp deal with the Pistons, Lofton reportedly impressed the team this fall — we heard last week that he was making a strong case for a two-way contract.

As for Hearn, he was one of the Detroit’s two-way players last season, having inked a two-year deal with the club. Although he was solid in the G League, averaging 14.8 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .423/.370/.842 shooting, he appeared in just three games for the Pistons.

Given the positional overlap between Hearn and Lofton, it makes sense that Hearn would be the odd man out if the Pistons were determined to keep Lofton.

Central Notes: Evans, Hood, Cavs, Pistons

An unrestricted free agent over the summer, Tyreke Evans received interest from teams like the Hornets and Lakers, but elected to join the Pacers. As J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star relays, the fact that the Pacers won 48 games and gave the eventual Eastern champs all they could handle in the postseason played a significant role in Evans’ decision.

“I figured out with the run they had, watching how they played and how the chemistry was, I thought I would fit well,” Evans said of the Pacers. “Even though a lot of people think it was a Cinderella run for them, I watch basketball a lot and I could tell the heart they played with in that first round. Throughout the season they played hard every night. I saw the fight in them. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Evans also said that he has no problem playing for a smaller-market team, noting that he could’ve ended up in L.A. but felt like the Pacers were a better fit for him.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

  • Speaking to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Rodney Hood acknowledged that it was tough to watch many of his fellow restricted free agents receive big-money deals this offseason while those lucrative offers didn’t materialize for him. Jabari [Parker] is like a brother to me and I know Marcus [Smart] — we came in the league together,” Hood said. “So I’m happy for them getting money and stuff like that. But I had to understand restricted free agency. At first, it was hard because I really didn’t. And I was thinking, ‘Alright, he got paid and I was supposed to.'” As Hood prepares for the biggest year of his career, the Cavaliers still want him to be part of their future beyond 2019, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.
  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic takes a closer look at the camp invitees vying for a roster spot with the Cavaliers, a group that includes Kobi Simmons, John Holland, Isaiah Taylor, and others.
  • Pistons camp invitee Zach Lofton has impressed the team this fall, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details. Detroit has 15 players on guaranteed salaries and two on two-way deals, but Lofton may be making a case to take over one of those two-way contract slots, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.
  • In a piece for The Free Press, Ellis notes that the Pistons have been giving second-round pick Bruce Brown a look at point guard during the preseason, a move endorsed by Brown’s college coach Jim Larranaga. “The more I observed him and evaluated him, the more I realized his long-term potential is really as a point guard,” Larranaga said of the former Miami Hurricane. “I think he’s going to be a point guard in the NBA.”

Pistons Notes: Leuer, Griffin, R. Jackson, S. Johnson

Jon Leuer‘s knee surgery this week gives the Pistons a reason to worry about their frontcourt depth, suggests Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Leuer had a procedure done on his right knee Wednesday after suffering a medial meniscus injury. Although it’s considered minor, the team isn’t sure that he’ll be ready for camp, saying his condition will be re-evaluated in late September.

New coach Dwane Casey was counting on Leuer to be his primary reserve big man, backing up Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. But if Leuer’s recovery takes longer than expected, that gives greater responsibility to Henry Ellenson and free agent addition Zaza Pachulia. Ellis notes that Johnny Hamilton, a rookie from Texas-Arlington who was with the Pistons for Summer League, could also be in the mix if he performs well in training camp.

Injury misfortune continues for Leuer, who missed 74 games last season with a left ankle issue that also required surgery. The 29-year-old will make slightly more than $10MM this season and $9.5MM in 2019/20.

There’s more today out of Detroit:

  • There’s reason for optimism about the health of Griffin and Reggie Jackson heading into the new season, Ellis writes in a mailbag column. Neither player had injury issues this summer and they were able to keep up a full workout schedule. The switch to Casey may also help as former coach Stan Van Gundy was known for long, often draining practices. Griffin appeared in 58 games last year between the Clippers and Pistons, missing time with knee and ankle injuries, and hasn’t played more than 67 in the past four seasons. Jackson had a platelet-rich plasma treatment before the start of last season and managed just 45 games.
  • The Pistons may have plans to use free agent addition Glenn Robinson III and Stanley Johnson in the lineup together, Ellis adds in the same piece. Power forward could turn out to be Johnson’s best position, and there will be an opening if Leuer’s injury is worse than expected.
  • Former New Mexico State guard Zach Lofton is excited about the opportunity to join the Pistons for training camp, relays Mark Rudi of The Las Cruces Sun-News. Lofton confirmed the agreement today on Instagram. “I want to thank the Detroit Pistons for the amazing opportunity to be a part of the organization,” he said in a news release. “I also want to thank the amazing support system I’ve had through the years. I’m excited to start this new chapter.”

Pistons Sign Zach Lofton To Training Camp Deal

AUGUST 11: The deal is official, Lofton announced on Instagram.

AUGUST 8: Former New Mexico State guard Zach Lofton will sign a G League contract and participate in training camp with the Pistons, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

After going undrafted in June, Lofton joined the Detroit’s summer league entry and impressed team officials with his performance in Las Vegas. As a senior with the Aggies, he averaged 20.1 points per game and was a first-team All-WAC selection.

Lofton will be the 18th player headed to camp with the Pistons, two short of the league maximum.

Draft Workouts: T. Young, Cavs, Blazers, Warriors

Potential top-10 pick Trae Young conducted a “secret” workout for the Cavaliers on Saturday, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Givony, echoing what Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com wrote earlier today, suggests that Michael Porter Jr. may be Cleveland’s top target at No. 8.

However, if Porter is no longer available, the Cavaliers’ decision could come down to Young vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, according to Givony, who notes that he has the team taking Gilgeous-Alexander in his latest mock draft.

Here are a few more updates on pre-draft workouts from around the NBA:

Draft Updates: Porter, Doncic, Bagley, Bamba

Teams that had planned to attend Michael Porter Jr.‘s workout tomorrow are being told it will be held at another time, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Porter’s representatives canceled the session late Wednesday night without providing an explanation.

The move has led to speculation that Porter’s surgically repaired back may be bothering him, but it’s also possible he has received a guarantee that would make a group workout unnecessary. Porter’s camp may be rethinking his status and devoting time just to teams at the top of the draft, according to Tom Ziller of SB Nation, who adds that they now believe he will be taken in the top four.

There’s “a very real chance” that the Kings will use their No. 2 pick on Porter, Amick adds, but it’s not certain at this point whether last night’s news will impact their decision. The organization may request more medical information and take another look at Porter in action before making a commitment.

There’s more draft-related news this morning:

Draft Notes: Sixers, Z. Smith, Pacers, Suns, Wolves

The Sixerspreviously-reported workout with Villanova wing Mikal Bridges is taking place today, but Bridges isn’t the only prospect in town to get a look from the club. According to a press release, the 76ers also hosted a group workout today, with Marcus Derrickson (Georgetown), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Donte Ingram (Loyola Chicago), Nick King (Middle Tennessee State), MiKyle McIntosh), and Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech) taking part.

Speaking of Smith, his busy workout schedule will continue, with an audition for the Hornets still on tap, as Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. We previously heard that Smith also has a workout lined up with Phoenix.

Let’s round up a few more draft-related notes…

NBA Confirms 182 Early Entrants For 2017 Draft

With the deadline for early entrants to enter the 2017 NBA draft now behind us, the league has officially released the list of this year’s early entry candidates, and it’s a long one. According to the NBA’s announcement, 182 players have declared early for the draft — 137 college players and 45 international prospects. That’s a new record.

As was the case a year ago, NCAA rules changes allow underclassmen to “test the waters” before officially committing to the 2017 NBA draft. NCAA early entrants can withdraw their names any time up until May 24 while maintaining their NCAA eligibility, as long as they haven’t hired agents. That means that prospects testing the waters can take part in the NBA draft combine from May 9-14 – if invited – and they can work out for individual teams in the coming weeks.

International early entrants can also withdraw their names from the draft pool within the next several weeks. The final draft list will be set after the early entrant withdrawal deadline for international and other non-NCAA players passes on June 12.

A year ago, a whopping 162 NCAA and international players declared their intent to enter the draft early, but 91 of those players eventually withdrew. This year should follow a similar pattern, so the group of eligible draftees for 2017 figures to be reduced significantly by June 12.

Listed below are the current early entrants, according to the NBA. Players whose intent to declare wasn’t previously reported on Hoops Rumors are listed in italics.

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