Author: Dan Feldman

Pistons on track to start Marcus Morris over Stanley Johnson


The Pistons have basically been locked into three starters:

Small forward Marcus Morris and power forward Ersan Ilyasova were penciled in, but No. 8 pick Stanley Johnson had a chance to push either forward – more likely Morris – to the bench.

It appears Detroit will stick with Jackson/Caldwell-Pope/Morris/Ilyasova/Drummond.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

“I just think that’s our best lineup right now,” Van Gundy said. “It gives a little bit more size, a little more experience. That’s where my comfort level is right now, but we’ll see how it goes early in the year, or even these (last) two preseason games.”

I doubt anything beyond injury would change Van Gundy’s mind before the regular season, but it’s only a matter of time until Johnson starts.

The Pistons traded for Morris as a placeholder in the starting lineup. Johnson is the long-term bet, and a strong preseason had him pushing to start sooner than most expected.

Morris, a four-year pro, is just more ready to contribute than the 19-year-old Johnson. As Johnson gains experience, his talent should overcome the gap between him and Morris.

Morris’ versatility could keep him in the starting lineup at that point, tough. Capable of playing either forward position (and Johnson might be too), Morris could outlast Ilyasova, whose contract is barely guaranteed beyond this season.

But, sooner or later, someone will have to make room for Johnson.

Jazz try hard to downplay optimism

Derrick Favors, Quin Snyder, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward
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The Jazz went 19-10 after the All-Star break last season. They allowed – by far – a league-low 94.8 points per 100 possessions in that span. They were historically young.

Rudy Gobert looks like a future star. Gordon Hayward is more confident. Derrick Favors has rounded into an impressive player. Alec Burks, Rodney Hood and Trey Burke all have potential to reach the next level.

Many are optimistic about Utah this season, myself included.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder wants to hear none of it.

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

Hayward has bought into the message.

Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:

Consider my optimism only increasing. If the Jazz remain hungry to improve, that only serves them well.

Snyder is right that it’s too soon for Utah to rest on its laurels. This group hasn’t even made the playoffs, though I suspect that will change this season.

But Snyder is underselling what this team has accomplished. The Jazz are good and should be even better this season – especially if they follow his lead on this.

Bulls waive Jordan Crawford

Jordan Crawford, Jodie Meeks
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The Bulls are shaking things up this season.

Just not to Jordan Crawford levels.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived guards Jordan Crawford and Marcus Simmons.

Crawford was the most accomplished of the four Bulls without fully guaranteed salaries – Crawford, Simmons Cameron Bairstow and Cristiano Felicio – vying for roster spots behind 13 players with guaranteed salaries. But that has also cemented Crawford’s reputation.

Crawford is an exciting, though inefficient, gunner. It would’ve been fun to see him on the court this season. Chicago is probably better off without him, especially if Fred Hoiberg can create more organic scoring opportunities based on ball and player movement.

This leaves the Bulls with the regular-season limit of 15 players, including Bairstow and Felicio. I think Bairstow, whose salary is $425,000 guaranteed, sticks. Felicio is a tougher call – especially because Chicago is in line to pay the luxury tax.

Russell Westbrook says he has never shaved

Russell Westbrook

In their annual survey, NBA general managers just picked Russell Westbrook as the league’s best athlete.

He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s explosive.

He’s on another level physically, except…

Westbrook, via Maxim:

“I have never shaved a day in my life. I just don’t really grow facial hair.”

Imagine how good he’ll be once he hits puberty.

Magic’s Tobias Harris mops court during game

Jason Smith, Tobias Harris
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I’ve seen players grab a mop or towel when the court wasn’t being wiped to their satisfaction. I’d never seen a player just do it for himself in the first place.

I guess Tobias Harrisfour-year, $64 million contract didn’t go to his head.