- Avery Bradley is slowing becoming one of the best two-way guards in the NBA, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Bradley is averaging career-bests in PPG (17.8) and 3P% (45.2%) this season and Stan Van Gundy has been impressed. “He came in with the respect based on what he had done, but it grows a lot more when you’re out here every day and see the way he goes to work.” The Pistons are currently tied for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 10-5.
- It wasn’t long ago when Andre Drummond was the subject of trade rumors due to his inability to hit free throws and a perceived lack of effort. These days, Vincent Goodwill of Bleacher Report writes, the Pistons big man has drastically improved his stock with head coach Stan Van Gundy and around the league.
- The Pistons haven’t utilized Jon Leuer as they originally intended to when they signed him in the summer of 2016. Though he’s missed time with a sprained ankle this season, Leuer had been seeing time as the club’s backup center, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. With Eric Moreland now developing in that role, Leuer could become expendable.
- So long as Greg Monroe remains with the Suns, there will be speculation about what teams may be interested in his services. One team to consider, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes, is the Pistons. Monroe played for Detroit from 2010-2015 and has the respect of head coach Stan Van Gundy.
- In his latest mailbag for The Detroit Free Press, Vince Ellis explores the possibility of a Pistons reunion with Greg Monroe, suggesting the team should consider the possibility of sending a first-round pick to the Suns along with Jon Leuer and Boban Marjanovic for Monroe. Meanwhile, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com fields Pistons-related questions in a mailbag of his own, explaining why he doesn’t expect Leuer to be dealt and addressing whether Detroit needs to add a scoring small forward.
- The Pistons have been one of the NBA’s most pleasantly surprising teams in the first month of the 2017/18 season, but that hasn’t yet translated to good attendance numbers for the team’s new downtown arena. Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a closer look.
NBA rosters will undergo some changes over the course of the 2017/18 season, particularly around the trade deadline, and those changes may have an impact on teams’ cap sheets for future seasons. Based on the NBA’s current rosters, however, we can identify which teams are most and least likely to have cap room in the summer of 2018, which will dictate the type of moves those clubs can make in the offseason.
We’re taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams by division this week. Today, we’re tackling the Central division. With the help of salary information compiled by Basketball Insiders, here’s how the summer of 2018 is shaping up for the five Central teams:
The Bucks’ recent acquisition of Eric Bledsoe, which added another $15MM to the team’s books for next season, all but guarantees that Milwaukee won’t have any cap space available in 2018. Moving another contract or two could change that, but if the Bucks intend to re-sign Jabari Parker to a long-term deal, they’ll likely end up much closer to the luxury tax line than to the salary cap threshold.
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $101,685,313
Projection: Over the cap
The NBA’s most recent salary cap projection estimated a $101MM cap for 2018/19, which would put the Pistons right around the threshold. Don’t expect Detroit to try to sneak below that line and create space though — if they intend to re-sign Avery Bradley, the Pistons figure to remain well over the cap next summer.
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $75,902,175
Projection: Up to approximately $21MM in cap room
Since LeBron James returned to Cleveland in 2014, the Cavaliers have spent more money than any other NBA team on player salaries and tax payments, so it’s somewhat surprising to see the club with only $76MM in guaranteed commitments for 2018/19.
Of course, the only reason the Cavs’ projected team salary is so modest is because James and his $35MM+ player option aren’t included. Neither is Isaiah Thomas, another free-agent-to-be. And neither is Iman Shumpert, who seems like a good bet to exercise his $11MM player option. If any of those players return to the Cavs, the team’s cap space will disappear quickly. If Cleveland actually ends up with $21MM in available cap room, the squad will look a whole lot different next season.
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $46,648,020
Projection: Up to approximately $43MM in cap room
The Bulls, who don’t have many pricey long-term commitments on their books, could actually create up to about $52MM in cap room, but we’re adding Zach LaVine‘s cap hold to their team salary, since the club has been adamant about re-signing LaVine, one of the key pieces of this year’s Jimmy Butler trade.
Still, that leaves the Bulls with a ton of flexibility, as Nikola Mirotic‘s $12.5MM team option is the only other salary that could cut into the team’s cap room significantly. Based on recent events in Chicago, it’d very surprising if that Mirotic is still a Bull at that price – or at all – a year from now.
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $39,913,044
Projection: Up to approximately $54MM in cap room
In order to get up to $54MM in cap room, the Pacers would have to move on from several key players from this year’s squad. Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, and Al Jefferson all have partially guaranteed salaries. Thaddeus Young and Cory Joseph have player options. Lance Stephenson and Joe Young have team options. The odds that none of those players will be back are incredibly slim.
Even if the Pacers’ available cap room is ultimately much more modest than the maximum figure suggests, the team is in a pretty good spot. The Thaddeus Young and Joseph contracts aren’t toxic, and Indiana is in full control of all the other players with options or without full guarantees. That will give the Pacers the opportunity to retain the deals that are solid values and dump the rest.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Pistons have been winning ball games but that doesn’t mean Stan Van Gundy won’t still look for ways to improve the team. As Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes, Detroit’s ugly win over the Hawks on Friday yielded some proactive concern from their bench boss.
“We have to understand what it is that’s gotten us here and what it will take to keep having success. It’s not simply showing up for the game,” Van Gundy said of the young Pistons and their 9-3 record (now 10-3, more on that below).
In that Friday night game, the Pistons blew a 19-point lead only to claw their way to a victory down the stretch. Given that the club’s early success in 2017/18 is such a stark contrast to their disappointing 2016/17 campaign, it’s not surprising that Van Gundy is adamant to keep his squad on its toes.
There’s more from Detroit today:
- The Pistons responded well to Stan Van Gundy‘s concerns after the Friday night tilt, putting forth one of their best efforts of the season in a win two days later against the Heat. “Our guys got down double figures in the second half and just kept playing, kept fighting, kept staying with the game,” the head coach said. “I was really proud of the guys, especially the way they shot the ball.”
- Spot starter Reggie Bullock has developed his game over the course of three seasons with the Pistons, adding to the three-point shot that helped him secure a role in the NBA. Keith Langlois of the team’s official website discussed the forward’s evolving game. “This year I felt like I stepped up my defensive intensity and rebounding and running the floor and making the right passes and doing whatever I can to help the team,” Bullock said. “Even with me not making shots as I would like to, my game still affects the energy of the team.“
- Among the reasons for Tobias Harris‘ step forward with the Pistons this season is LASIK eye surgery. As Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes, the forward is shooting .478 from three-point range so far this year, a marked improvement from last season’s .347.
- The Pistons know that Andre Drummond needs to keep his head in the game in order to be most effective. As Ansar Khan of MLive writes, the big man is well aware of that fact himself. “When I play with high energy and confidence it gives everybody else confidence and you can see it in everybody’s face when they’re playing,” Drummond said. “In previous years, I played down and it looked like it could bother me and everybody kind of moved around in slow motion.”
Coach executive Stan Van Gundy is not a fan of the trade that brought Eric Bledsoe into the Pistons‘ division, telling the media today he “would have liked [Bledsoe] to stay in the West because he’s a really good player.”
“Bledsoe’s a hell of a player,” Van Gundy continued (via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press).“Clearly [the Bucks] wanted another guy to push the ball and run pick-and-rolls, maybe take some pressure off Giannis having to handle the ball all the time.”
SVG adds that while getting Bledsoe helps Milwaukee, the team will feel the absence of Greg Monroe.
“Greg’s a loss,” Van Gundy said. “You don’t get somebody Bledsoe’s level of player without giving something up. I thought Greg last year off the bench as a scorer was huge, huge reason they ended up making the playoffs.”
Van Gundy coached Monroe for one season in Detroit before the big man departed as a free agent in the Summer of 2015.
Here’s more from Detroit:
- Could the Pistons be a fit for Jahlil Okafor? Ellis (separate piece) hears that the front office views the former No. 3 overall pick as a developmental project and they are unlikely to be in the market for that kind of player right now.
- Avery Bradley is exactly the kind of guard the Pistons have always needed, Sean Deveney of Sporting News contends. In the beginning of Van Gundy’s tenure, he targeted Danny Green in free agency, only to see the defensive-minded shooting guard return to the Spurs. With the addition of Bradley, the Pistons are able finally able to get the mix of top defense and spot-up shooting at the two.
- The Pistons started the season wielding one of the league’s deepest rotations, something that was designed through an offseason of adding depth. The plan is allowing the team to play at a high level despite being with Stanley Johnson and Jon Leuer because of various injuries, Keith Langlois of NBA.com writes.“We said that going in. I think it’s a roster where everybody’s capable of playing and so now you get tested,” Van Gundy said. “With having two of your top seven guys out, you get tested on that a little bit so we’ll see how it goes.”
- The Pistons recalled Luke Kennard and Henry Ellenson from the Grand Rapids Drive this evening, a team-issued press release says. This, after assigning them just earlier today. The two played in the G League affiliate’s season opener, Ellenson scoring 28 points and adding nine rebounds, Kennard adding 26 points of his own.
- The Pistons assigned rookie shooting guard Luke Kennard and second-year power forward Henry Ellenson to the G League today, the team announced in a press release. The duo helped lead the Grand Rapids Drive to an afternoon win over the Raptors 905, combining for 54 points.