After weeks and weeks of everyone clamoring for the Pistons to change their starting lineup, they’ve finally done it.
But Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – who excel in pairs, just not as a trio – will still be starting together in the frontcourt.
Instead Kyle Singler will replace Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard against the Magic tonight.
Arron Afflalo has given Caldwell-Pope trouble. In the 34 minutes they’ve shared the court this season, Afflalo is 12-for-17 for 29 points. And Caldwell-Pope was already on a short leash with Maurice Cheeks, getting pulled just two minutes into the Pistons’ loss to the Heat on Monday after Dwyane Wade worked him.
But Caldwell-Pope has been the Pistons’ best perimeter defender this season. Singler, who played more shooting guard last season, is just too slow to cover most shooting guards well.
In the 42 minutes Singler has played with Smith, Monroe and Drummond, the Pistons have yielded a whopping 125.0 points per 100 possessions. The lineup’s offensive rating of 86.8 is also awful.
That’s obviously a very small sample, but it only confirms the eye test. Singler is not cut out to defend starting shooting guards.
Caldwell-Pope has had issues against some of the league’s better twos, and that includes Afflalo. But the rookie is the best in a pool of imperfect options. When Caldwell-Pope joined the Pistons’ starting lineup, it went from horrendous to merely below average defensively.
That was at least progress.
There’s a chance Singler takes the Pistons further – and one game against the meager Magic won’t prove it one way or another – but this is not the significant change to their starting lineup many anticipated.
Derrick Rose meeting with the Clippers barely registered. He has to meet with the Bucks twice before most noticed.
But it seems Rose and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, have finally figured out how to drum up attention – leak interest from more prominent teams like the LeBron James-led, championship-contending Cavaliers and big-market, widely followed Lakers.
What team could generate even more buzz?
Sam Amick of USA Today:
If the talks went beyond Armstrong asking the Bulls whether they would sign Rose and the Bulls declining, I’d be surprised.
There’s probably a part of Rose that wants to return to his native Chicago, but it seems his former team has long moved on.
Derrick Rose is suddenly in demand – once the market was set at a minimum salary or so.
Not only are the Cavaliers pursuing the former MVP/overhyped role player, so are the Lakers.
Rose is also meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, sources told ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Ramona Shelburne. The Lakers are trying to entice Rose to sign with them, suggesting they can offer more playing time and money in a better environment after Rose’s tumultuous season in New York, sources said.
Rose’s tumultuous season was due in part to Rose. No matter where he signs, he can’t escape himself. And Los Angeles is even further from his native Chicago.
But the Lakers can offer more money. They still have the $4,328,000 room exception. Rose would earn just $2,116,955 on a minimum salary from Cleveland, and the Cavs can bump that offer to only about $2.5 million. (That’d come with exponential additional costs, so they probably wouldn’t do that, anyway.)
The Lakers can also offer a larger role. Lonzo Ball can’t play every minute at point guard, and Rose would fill in the rest. They’ll likely add a point guard, Rose or not. The Cavaliers might be set with Kyrie Irving, Jose Calderon and Kay Felder if they don’t get Rose.
I’m not sure how Rose would work as a veteran mentor, especially on a one-year contract as he eyes a bigger payday next summer. But – say whatever else you want about him, and there’s plenty to say – Rose has remained impressively focused on basketball amid untold chaos. Ball – with outsized attention given LaVar and his media market – can probably relate.
James Harden spearheaded the Rockets’ recruitment of Chris Paul, but the MVP runner-up didn’t work alone.
Paul’s former New Orleans teammates Trevor Ariza and Bobby Brown added appeal.
So, unsurprisingly, with Paul in a contract year, Houston is re-signing Brown. The Rockets are also re-signing Troy Williams.
Alykhan Bijani of ESPN Houston:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Brown is an undersized gunner who’s not nearly efficient enough to compensate for his defensive deficiencies, and he turns 33 before the season. But if he helps convince Paul to re-sign, it would be well worth keeping Brown on the roster all year.
The 22-year-old Williams, who went undrafted last year, is the far more intriguing player. A 6-foot-7 forward, he has the athleticism to stick in the NBA. His 3-point shot needs major development – though not quite as much if he becomes more adept at being a small-ball four, an easier task in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system.
The Celtics lost their third-string point guard (Demetrius Jackson) and plenty of big men (Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller and Jordan Mickey) in their quest for Gordon Hayward.
That paid off in a big way, but it’s time for Boston to restock its depth.
Enter Shane Larkin and, as previously expected, Guerschon Yabusele and Daniel Theis.
Jay King of MassLive:
The Boston Celtics have agreed to sign Shane Larkin for point guard depth, league sources confirmed to MassLive.com.
The one-year contract, which pulled Larkin away from bigger money in Europe, will be fully guaranteed for the coming season, a source indicated.
Despite adding another guaranteed contract in Larkin, the Celtics still plan to sign 2016 draft pick Guerschon Yabusele
Theis signed a two-year deal with the first-year salary fully guaranteed, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Yabusele will be on a rookie-scale contract for a No. 16 pick.
They, with Larkin, give Boston 16 players on standard contracts – one more than the regular-season limit. All those deals apparently include guaranteed 2016-17 salaries, but the Celtics can always eat (or trade) a contract. It costs only money. This just increases the likelihood Boston fields the best possible roster after the preseason.
Larkin showed promise early in his career, opted out of a $1.5 million Nets contract then fell out of the NBA. He adds another viable point guard behind Isaiah Thomas, joining Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Smart and Rozier can spend time off the ball, but the 5-foot-11 Larkin probably can’t. Fortunately for Larkin’s chances of making the regular-season roster, the Celtics likely need Smart and Rozier to spend time at shooting guard after trading Avery Bradley.