Pistons coach Dwane Casey plans to play his point guards Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith together on a regular basis this season, as he told the Free Press and other media outlets. Casey paired them up during stretches of the second and fourth quarters during the team’s 103-100 season-opening win over Brooklyn. “I really liked it,” Casey said. “I think Ish and Reggie together gives us a different pick-and-roll look, an opportunity to have multiple pick-and-rolls and two attackers. … It really gives us some energy, juice, speed, quickness and attackers.”
Pistons guard Langston Galloway has reemerged as a rotation player under new coach Dwane Casey. Galloway was a forgotten man entering camp with Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard and free agent signee Glenn Robinson III seemingly ahead of him at the wing positions. But Casey’s emphasis on 3-point shooting has helped Galloway, who averaged 26 MPG during the preseason, gain a rotation spot. “I’m one of the snipers on the team,” he told me in a Detroit Free Press story. Galloway is coming off a disappointing first year with the Pistons after signing a three-year, $21MM contract in free agency. He only appeared in 58 games under former coach Stan Van Gundy, averaging 6.2 PPG in 14.9 MPG.
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.
Saturday was a busy day in terms of NBA transactions, with most of the league’s 30 clubs making cuts and getting their rosters down to the regular season limit. As we explained over the weekend, players on non-guaranteed contracts must clear waivers before the first day of the regular season in order to avoid counting at all against a team’s salary cap, which is why most of those players were released on Saturday instead of today.
However, not every team now has a roster in compliance with NBA rules. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Clippers, Suns, Bucks, Pistons, and Spurs still need to make roster moves by 4:00pm CT today in order to get down to the regular season limit. Teams are permitted to carry no more than 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way deals entering the season.
Here’s a quick look at the decisions facing those five teams:
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers need to trim their roster from 17 standard contracts to 15. Normally, the guys on non-guaranteed contracts would be the most obvious candidates to be cut, but I’d be surprised if the team parts ways with Patrick Beverley or Tyrone Wallace.
Like the Clippers, the Suns have 17 players on standard contracts, with multiple vets on non-guaranteed deals whom they’d like to keep. If Phoenix keeps all 14 players with guaranteed salaries, that would leave just one spot for Richaun Holmes, Shaquille Harrison, and Isaiah Canaan.
Of the players with guarantees, Darrell Arthur is the most obvious release candidate, but if the club keeps him before getting an answer from the league on its disabled player exception request, it won’t be eligible for that DPE.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Suns will be granted that disabled player exception anyway. Marks wrote on Saturday that multiple team executives were “dumbfounded” by what season-ending injury Arthur could have suffered since being acquired by Phoenix in July. While the big man has been bothered by recurring knee injuries in recent years, the team hasn’t announced any new ailments or listed him on its injury report.
The Bucks have 16 players on standard contracts, meaning one player will need to be traded or released today. Christian Wood, who has one of the team’s two non-guaranteed contracts, appears likely to make the team. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the other player on a non-guaranteed deal – Tim Frazier – will be waived though.
The decision may come down to Frazier vs. former first-round pick D.J. Wilson. Although Wilson has a guaranteed salary for 2018/19, his roster spot is “far from secure,” per Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link).
The Pistons have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and two on two-way deals, leaving no clear openings for the club’s final non-guaranteed player, Zach Lofton. The undrafted free agent has impressed Detroit this fall though, so we’ll see if the club can find room for him, perhaps by having him supplant one of the current two-way players (Reggie Hearn and Keenan Evans).
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs‘ final move is a mere formality. Manu Ginobili, who announced his retirement this summer, technically remains on the roster, but he should be quietly waived today. Once that happens, San Antonio will have 15 players on standard contracts – including partially guaranteed veteran Quincy Pondexter – and one on a two-way deal.
Note: The Bulls and Rockets also still need to officially convert players on Exhibit 10 contracts to two-way deals. Chicago will reportedly do so with Tyler Ulis, while Houston will do so with Gary Clark and Vince Edwards.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
After dealing with various injuries in recent seasons, Blake Griffin is healthy and looking to regain respect by leading the Pistons back to the playoffs this season. Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press writes about how Griffin’s game has evolved and adapted in recent seasons to account for his decline in athleticism. Gone are the nightly posterizing dunks, with a reliable 3-point shot and improved playmaking abilities in their place.
Ellis also details the injuries Griffin has suffered in recent seasons, as well as the work he put in over the offseason to improve his game and his durability. In 25 games with the Pistons last season, Griffin averaged 19.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while knocking down 34.8% of his 3-pointers.
With Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson all healthy, the Pistons are hopeful that the trio can lead them back to the playoffs in the weakened Eastern Conference. While the Pistons struggled after trading for Griffin, they didn’t get a true look at how good they can be with a healthy team. With new head coach Dwane Casey leading the way, there is optimism throughout the organization.
- Speaking of Griffin and Jackson, Casey revealed that there is no minutes restriction for either player, according to Keith Langlois, the editor of the Pistons‘ website (via Twitter). This is a good indication that both players are fully healthy and in game shape to begin the season.
The Pistons have waived center Johnny Hamilton, the team announced today in a press release. The move reduces Detroit’s roster count to 18 players, including a pair on two-way contracts.
Hamilton, who went undrafted out of the University of Texas-Arlington, joined the Pistons for Summer League play in July and earned a training camp invite from the team. However, the seven-footer was always more likely to end up as an affiliate player for the Grand Rapids Drive than he was to make Detroit’s regular season roster.
With Hamilton no longer in the picture, the Pistons are carrying 16 players on standard NBA contracts and two on two-way deals. Zach Lofton, the only player on the roster with a non-guaranteed contract, would typically be the odd man out, but he has impressed Detroit this fall, so we’ll see if the club can find room for him in the next few days.
The 2018/19 NBA regular season will get underway in just five days, which means it’s time to get serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign. With the help of the lines from Bovada and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division, to have you weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.
Having started with the Atlantic and Southwest divisions this week, we’re moving onto the Central today…
- 2017/18 record: 48-34
- Over/under for 2018/19: 47.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Pacers poll)
- 2017/18 record: 44-38
- Over/under for 2018/19: 47.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Bucks poll)
- 2017/18 record: 39-43
- Over/under for 2018/19: 38.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Pistons poll)
- 2017/18 record: 50-32
- Over/under for 2018/19: 30.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Cavaliers poll)
- 2017/18 record: 27-55
- Over/under for 2018/19: 29.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Bulls poll)
Previous voting results:
- Boston Celtics (59.5 wins): Over (53.63%)
- Toronto Raptors (55.5 wins): Over (56.95%)
- Philadelphia 76ers (54.5 wins): Under (51.19%)
- Brooklyn Nets (31.5 wins): Under (56.04%)
- New York Knicks (28.5 wins): Under (54.13%)
- Houston Rockets (56.5 wins): Over (69.33%)
- New Orleans Pelicans (45.5 wins): Under (53.4%)
- San Antonio Spurs (44.5 wins): Under (60%)
- Dallas Mavericks (34.5 wins): Over (55.16%)
- Memphis Grizzlies (34.5 wins): Under (60.87%)
- 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.”
The Pistons have been focused on returning to the playoffs after bringing in Dwane Casey as head coach and banking on a clean bill of health for players such as Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin. With Casey, the Pistons are getting a head coach that is focused on ball movement and off-ball actions in hopes of revitalizing the team’s offense, which ranked just 19th in the league last season.
As Keith Langlois writes for the Pistons’ website, such a focus on diversifying the offense may lead to someone other than Jackson leading the team in assists, which Casey is comfortable with. Casey even went further to express his desire for a player such as Griffin to lead the team in assists: “That’ll free Reggie up to get off of the ball, to move without the ball a little bit more. That means other players are cutting, moving, and we’ll be harder to figure out and predict and scout.”
Griffin is one of the better passers in the frontcourt, as he averaged 6.2 APG in his 25 games with the Pistons last season. Jackson has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons, as he has played in a combined 97 games in the past two seasons.
Casey is also focused on implementing a more modern offense in Detroit, with an emphasis on playing at a faster pace and eliminating shots from the mid-range. So far, the result have been promising — 159 of the 173 total Pistons’ shots have either come from beyond the 3-point arc or inside the paint in their first two preseason games. A more modern offense that is heavy on ball movement and diverse playmaking could be the key ingredient for the club to return to the playoffs this season.
- Speaking of Casey, another difference that Pistons players have been getting used to is his calm demeanor on the sidelines. As Vince Ellis writes for the Detroit Free Press, the players have enjoyed Casey’s positive approach and the fact that he doesn’t direct outrage or disappointment on one player. For a team that is returning a large portion of the same roster, the change at coach may prove to make the largest difference this season.
The Pistons have announced in a press release that they waived forward Chris McCullough. McCullough was signed to Detroit’s training camp roster on September 25, but did not see any time in the team’s first two preseason games.
After being drafted with the 29th pick in the 2015 draft out of Syracuse University, McCullough has appeared in 59 NBA games with the Nets and Wizards. For his career, the 23-year-old forward has averaged 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. He’ll now look to find his footing in the NBA on another team or in the G League.
The Pistons entered the preseason with 15 players on guaranteed contracts and two on two-way deals, so McCullough was always a long shot to make the regular season roster. The club is now carrying 19 players in total, including Zach Lofton and Johnny Hamilton on non-guaranteed contracts.