Tag: Detroit Pistons

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard says he likely will not take part in USA Minicamp, “I don’t know why I would go”


The list of players expected to be at Team USA’s mini-camp in Las Vegas in August is impressive and could reach near 40 players trying to gain favor for a potential Rio Olympics spot. Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and many others are expected to take to the court. Meanwhile big names like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony will be there, but with limited if any participation.

Just don’t expect to see Damian Lillard.

The Trail Blazers’ guard was the final cuts from Team USA last year before the FIBA World Cup, Kyrie Irving that spot, and he seems a little bitter about this. He was on the Jody Mac show on CBSSports Radio Saturday and had this exchange:

Jody Mac: Are you headed to Vegas next month?
Lillard: Probably not.
Jody Mac: Why Not?
Lillard: I did it the last few summers and last summer I didn’t make it. I don’t know why I would go. After I got cut last summer, I don’t think I’m a part of it.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Lillard was expected to be there, although it doesn’t sound like it from this interview.

Lillard’s problem is the NBA, and USA Basketball, is deep with elite point guards right now (Curry, Irving and Derrick Rose made the roster that won gold last year). While Lillard was on the bubble last summer remember that Durant, Anthony, LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, not to mention point guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul didn’t show up for that event. Every one of them knocks Lillard another peg down the ladder (even though some play different positions, LeBron and Durant certainly are ball handlers).

Lillard can do what he wants, he’s under no obligation or commitment. But is this the kind of attitude that’s going to make free agents the next few years say “I want to go to Portland to play with this guy?” It probably doesn’t sway guys much, but it might make a few think about it.

Stan Van Gundy: Pistons feared Reggie Jackson taking qualifying offer


Why did the Pistons give Reggie Jackson $80 million over five years when he was a restricted free agent with no other obvious suitors?

The answer probably starts with Greg Monroe.

A restricted free agent last summer, Monroe accepted the Pistons’ qualifying offer. He played out the season, became an unrestricted and then bolted for the Bucks this summer.

Did the Pistons fear Jackson following the same path – taking the qualifying offer and opening the door to him leaving?

Stan Van Gundy, via NBC Sports Radio:

That was a scenario that we couldn’t have happen. That was really the one.

I think all the teams like us would tell you, when you’re a team that’s been battling below .500 for a number of years, the free agent market, quite honestly, is not kind to you.

We couldn’t afford to lose Reggie. So, yeah, that was certainly a big part of our thinking.

Monroe was the best player ever to accept the qualifying offer. Basing future decisions on that outlier would be a mistake.

That said, there are substantial differences between Monroe’s and Jackson’s situations.

Most importantly, the salary cap will shoot up next season. There will be a lot of money available, and Jackson would have had a good chance to get a sizable portion of it as a restricted free agent.

Jackson has also meshed better with Detroit’s franchise player, Andre Drummond, than Monroe did. The Pistons were certainly more willing to pay Jackson than Monroe.

But the Pistons also had plenty of leverage.

Would Jackson really have taken the qualifying offer ($4,433,683) if the Pistons offered him $65 million over five years? That’s a huge risk for Jackson to take, even if the upside exists. For the Pistons, that extra $3 million of cap flexibility per season could have come in handy.

They apparently didn’t want to find out the answer to that question.

Phil Jackson questions whether Duke players live up to expectations in NBA

2015 NBA Draft

The Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 4 pick, and the early returns are positive.

But they also surely considered a couple players from Duke – Jahlil Okafor (who went No. 3 to the 76ers) and Justise Winslow (No. 10 to the Heat).

Would New York have chosen either? Knicks president Phil Jackson implies he had concerns simply because of their college team.

Jackson on Okafor, via Charlie Rosen of ESPN:

Jackson thinks he might not be aggressive enough. “Also, if you look at the guys who came to the NBA from Duke, aside from Grant Hill, which ones lived up to expectations?”

Let’s take a comprehensive look rather than cherry-picking players who could support either side of the argument.

We obviously don’t know yet whether Okafor, Winslow and Tyus Jones (No. 24 this year) will live up to expectations. Jabari Parker (No. 2 in 2014) looked pretty good last year, but he missed most of the season due to injury. It’s far too soon to make any judgments on him.

Otherwise, here are all Duke players drafted in the previous 15 years:

Lived up to expectations

  • Rodney Hood (No. 23 in 2014)
  • Mason Plumlee (No. 22 in 2013)
  • Ryan Kelly (No. 48 in 2013)
  • Miles Plumlee (No. 26 in 2012)
  • Kyrie Irving (No. 1 in 2011)
  • Kyle Singler (No. 33 in 2011)
  • Josh McRoberts (No. 37 in 2007)
  • J.J. Redick (No. 11 in 2006)
  • Luol Deng (No. 7 in 2004)
  • Chris Duhon (No. 38 in 2004)
  • Carlos Boozer (No. 34 in 2002)
  • Shane Battier (No. 6 in 2001)

Didn’t live up to expectations

  • Austin Rivers (No. 10 in 2012)
  • Nolan Smith (No. 21 in 2011)
  • Gerald Henderson (No. 12 in 2009)
  • Shelden Williams (No. 5 in 2006)
  • Daniel Ewing (No. 32 in 2005)
  • Dahntay Jones (No. 20 in 2003)
  • Mike Dunleavy (No. 3 in 2002)
  • Jay Williams (No. 2 in 2002)
  • Chris Carrawell (No. 41 in 2000)

That’s 12-of-21 – a 57 percent hit rate.

By comparison, here are players drafted from North Carolina in the same span:

Lived up to expectations

  • Harrison Barnes (No. 7 in 2012)
  • John Henson (No. 14 in 2012)
  • Tyler Zeller (No. 17 in 2012)
  • Ed Davis (No. 13 in 2010)
  • Tyler Hansbrough (No. 13 in 2009)
  • Ty Lawson (No. 18 in 2009)
  • Wayne Ellington (No. 28 in 2009)
  • Danny Green (No. 46 in 2009)
  • Brandan Wright (No. 8 in 2007)
  • Brendan Haywood (No. 20 in 2001)

Didn’t live up to expectations

  • Reggie Bullock (No. 25 in 2013)
  • Kendall Marshall (No. 13 in 2012)
  • Reyshawn Terry (No. 44 in 2007)
  • David Noel (No. 39 in 2006)
  • Marvin Williams (No. 2 in 2005)
  • Raymond Felton (No. 5 in 2005)
  • Sean May (No. 13 in 2005)
  • Rashad McCants (No. 14 in 2005)
  • Joseph Forte (No. 21 in 2001)

The Tar Heels are 10-for-19 – 53 percent.

Nobody would reasonably shy from drafting players from North Carolina, and they’ve fared worse than Duke players. Making snap judgments about Duke players just because they went to Duke is foolish.

Jackson is talking about a different time, when aside from Hill, Duke had a long run of first-round picks failing to meet expectations:

  • Roshown McLeod (No. 20 in 1998)
  • Cherokee Parks (No. 12 in 1995)
  • Bobby Hurley (No. 7 in 1993)
  • Christian Laettner (No. 3 in 1992)
  • Alaa Abdelnaby (No. 25 in 1990)
  • Danny Ferry (No. 2 in 1989)

Then, it was fair to question whether Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching yielded good college players who didn’t translate to the pros. But there have been more than enough counterexamples in the years since to dismiss that theory as bunk or outdated.

Count this as another example of Jackson sounding like someone who shouldn’t run an NBA team in 2015.

To be fair, the Knicks had a decent offseason, at least once you acknowledge they couldn’t land a star (which was kind of supposed to be Jackson’s job, right?).

The questions Knicks fans must ask themselves: Do you trust Jackson because of the moves he has made or worry about the next move because of what he has said?

Pistons sign Adonis Thomas, giving them 18 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts

Los Angeles Clippers v Detroit Pistons
Leave a comment

The Pistons already had a pretty crowded roster – 17 players with guaranteed contracts.

They’ll need to trim that to 15 by the start of the regular season, but for now, they’re going the opposite direction.

Pistons release:

The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has signed guard/forward Adonis Thomas.

Jason Smith of The Commercial Appeal:

Thomas, a D-League All-Star for the Detroit Pistons-affiliated Grand Rapids Drive last season, will sign a two-year partially guaranteed deal with the Pistons today, his agent, Travis King, told the Commercial Appeal.

Thomas went undrafted out of Memphis in 2013. The 6-foot-6 wing has nice physical ability, but his skills lagged a bit behind NBA level when he turned pro. He has continued to develop since, and he’s on the cusp of being NBA-ready.

But it will be difficult for him to make the Pistons.

Danny Granger, whose career has been derailed by injury as he’s hit the wrong side of 30, is probably Detroit’s easiest cut. Cartier Martin and Reggie Bullock are competing for roster spots, too. It’s possible second-round pick Darrun Hilliard needs to prove his worth, but I doubt the Pistons waive him so soon after signing him.

So, Thomas would likely have to beat Martin and Bullock, both of whom have fully guaranteed contracts. Detroit might not mind eating those low-paying deals, but it would be cheaper just to waive the partially guaranteed Thomas.

The Pistons clearly like Thomas, and he’ll have a chance to prove himself in training camp. But this might end up being a way to funnel him some money to entice him to return to Detroit’s D-League affiliate rather than playing overseas next season.

Suns wonder about Markieff Morris’ state of mind after they traded his brother

Phoenix Suns Media Day

Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are the kind of twins who are very tight, they are best friends. They played their high school ball together at APEX Academy in New Jersey, they played in college together at Kansas, and they have played together as pros the past two and a half seasons in Phoenix.

Then this summer the Suns traded Marcus to Detroit, part of their salary clearing moves in the chase for LaMarcus Aldridge (who chose San Antonio).

Markieff is apparently not thrilled about this.

Here is Suns GM Ryan McDonough speaking to Dave King of Bright Side of the Suns (hat tip Ball Don’t Lie).

“I think he’s at a reasonable place now,” McDonough said of what he’s heard via others in the organization. “I don’t know if it’s a good place or not. I think he’s processed all of it, he had time to let the rawness, the emotional part of it wear off.”


And here is coach Jeff Hornacek, speaking to ArizonaSports.com (hat tip Bright Side of the Suns).

JH: I’ve texted him a few times. We might try to go see him this week. We’ll be out on the East Coast.

BG: Does he seem like he’s doing OK with how everything went about?

JH: Yeah, I’m sure just like anything else, whenever a trade, especially with as close as him and his brother are, there was some hurt feelings for a little bit. It’s a case where they’re going to do their best wherever they’re at. Once you get into the season, and you get with your team, they’ve played apart before too, they will be fine.

The Suns locker room was not a place of harmony and love last season, and frankly the Morris twins were part of that. Bright Side of the Suns described them as “cranky.”

Hornacek and McDonough are taking the big picture view. As they should. And the Morris brothers should know very well by now that the NBA is a cold hearted business at its core. They were not going to get to play together forever.

But some guys let go of things easier than others. We’ll see how good Markieff is at that skill.