Archive for the ‘ Detroit Pistons Blog ’ Category

Pistons exercise contract option on Luke Kennard

The Detroit Pistons yesterday (Tuesday, October 30) exercised their team option on the contract of guard Luke Kennard through the 2019-20 NBA season.

Kennard, 6-6, 206, was selected 12th overall by the Pistons in the 2017 NBA Draft from Duke. Last season, he averaged 7.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 20.0 minutes in 73 games.

The Pistons are an impressive 4-1 to start this new season. That’s too small a sample size to go too overboard with expectation, but it’s still an excellent sign that the team can do some decent things in 2018-19. Leading the team in scoring, in a big way, is power forward Blake Griffin, who is putting up 28.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, on 50.5% shooting. Griffin has also been amazing from three-point range this season, taking 5.4 three-point attempts per game so far and hitting 55.6% of them. Here’s the Detroit Free Press with more:

He put up a clunker in Saturday’s 109-89 loss to the Boston Celtics. But other than that, he has played as well as any player in the league. Griffin scored 50 last Tuesday in an overtime win against the Philadelphia Sixers and followed it up two nights later with 26 points and 10 rebounds in the win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Quite simply, Griffin has been a superstar in the first two weeks of the season, something this team hasn’t had in at least a decade and maybe longer.

That brings me back to one of the most basic truths in sports: Fans love superstars. They buy their jerseys. They try to get them on their fantasy teams. They watch them when they’re on the floor. When Griffin is on the floor, people watch.

Defining a superstar is tricky. For some people, it’s like determining whether or not someone is a Hall of Famer. The simple answer is — if you have to ask, then they’re not a Hall of Famer. Is the same true of NBA superstars? If you have to ask, then they’re not a superstar. By my book, Griffin was a superstar, lost his superstar status due to injury and playoff losses, and is now angling to achieve that status again. If he’s able to do that, if he’s able to stay healthy and be a dominant force on a winning team, then he’ll be a magnet for the fans.

Full Article

The Pistons are off to a nice start this NBA season, and deserve some attention. Blake Griffin is leading the team in scoring with 28.4 ppg, followed by Andre Drummond at 18.4 ppg and then Reggie Jackson at 16.8 ppg. Here’s the Detroit News with a look at Jackson and how his role has changed:

Role change for Pistons guard Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson stood in the corner, hands on his sides, watching as Blake Griffin dribbled and initiated the offense. Jackson waiting to see how Griffin would break down the defense, as the safety valve in case his defender cheated toward the paint to help on Griffin’s drive.

The defender dipped in just enough to create space for Griffin to find Jackson for a corner 3-pointer.

Swish.

It’s a new era for Jackson — and the rest of the Pistons, in the first year of Dwane Casey’s offense. No longer is the offense predicated on high-pick-and-roll plays with Jackson handling the ball and Griffin or Andre Drummond running to the rim, giving Jackson a choice.

The numbers are showing that the Pistons are benefiting from the switch, with Jackson operating more from the outside. More than half (55 percent) of his field-goal attempts are 3-pointers and he’s shooting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, which would be a career high.

Full Article

Pistons give Zach Lofton a two-way contract, and waive Reggie Hearn

The Detroit Pistons have exercised their two-way player conversion option on guard Zach Lofton.

Also, guard Reggie Hearn has been waived by the team.

Lofton, 6-4, 180, appeared in four games with the Pistons this preseason and averaged 5.5 points (.471 FG, .400 3FG), 2.0 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 8.9 minutes per game. A member of the Pistons’ team at the 2018 MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, NV, Lofton played last season at New Mexico State where he averaged 20.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Hearn, 6-5, 210, played in one game this preseason, recording three points at San Antonio on October 5. He was signed to a two-way contract on January 15, 2018 and appeared in three games with the Pistons where he averaged 1.0 points in 2.3 minutes per game.

Pistons waive center Johnny Hamilton

Pistons waive center Johnny Hamilton

The Detroit Pistons have waived center Johnny Hamilton.

Hamilton, 7-0, 230, appeared in one game this preseason with Detroit and recorded six points, three rebounds and one block at San Antonio on October 5.

Preseason for the league ended Friday. Teams must trim down their rosters in the next few days. The regular season for the league begins Tuesday, October 16.

Pistons waive Chris McCullough

The Detroit Pistons waived forward Chris McCullough today.

McCullough, 6-11, 200, was signed to the training camp roster on September 25 and did not see action in any of the Pistons’ two preseason games.

McCullough has played in 59 career NBA games with the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards. He was drafted 29th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Brooklyn Nets from Syracuse University.

Paper tickets are apparently now as worthless as the paper they’re printed on, at least for Detroit pro basketball and hockey games, according to the Detroit Free Press, as quoted below:

If you’re going to a Detroit Red Wings or Detroit Pistons game at Little Caesars Arena, whoever has your tickets better not forget their phone.

That’s because the LCA, which opened a season ago, will no longer accept paper tickets for Wings or Pistons games.

This announcement came during the summer and may have flown under the radar, but now as the NHL and NBA have returned, you need to know that Ticketmaster’s mobile ticketing technology will be used at the doors of the new arena.

Regardless of how any of us feel about this move, it’s the wave of the future and is bound to happen sooner or later at other arenas in the coming years. Ideally, some sort of safeguard comes to exist in case somebody does forget their phone, or if their phone battery dies, etc, though.

Pistons training camp report

Training camp came, then preseason quickly started. There’s basketball being played. It’s just preseason basketball, but the teams are actual NBA teams, and therefore everything is amazing, even if stars played limited minutes and the main goal is to loosen up.

As for the Pistons, here’s the Detroit News reporting:

The Pistons finally got away from the grind of practice and got closer to a game atmosphere. Sort of.

The Pistons wrapped up a week of training camp in Ann Arbor with an open scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Crisler Center, before a crowd of just more than 4,000.

The standout was Andre Drummond, who had 25 points on an array of scoring — including a 3-pointer — and helped the Blue Team to a 73-66 victory.

The starting lineup for the Blue Team was Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson, Blake Griffin and Drummond. That could be the starting lineup to start the regular season, but coach Dwane Casey said it was more to balance the lineups.

The Pistons are worth keeping an eye on. Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond form an intriguing core. However, it’s one that isn’t great enough to do monster things on their own. Serious Pistons talent needs to emerge (or be found) in the shooting guard and small forward spots. And the entire bench.

Even so, if Jackson, Griffin and Drummond are actually all healthy, they can do some things.

Pistons sign Chris McCullough

Pistons sign Chris McCullough

The Detroit Pistons signed forward Chris McCullough to their training camp roster today.

McCullough, 6-11, 200, has played in 59 career NBA games with the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards. Last season, he averaged 2.4 points and 1.3 rebounds in 19 games with Washington. He also averaged 11.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 12 games in the NBA G League with the Erie Bayhawks, Northern Arizona Suns and Wisconsin Herd last season.

McCullough was drafted 29th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Brooklyn Nets. He played collegiately at Syracuse University where he averaged 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds in 16 games.

Pistons sign Zach Lofton and Johnny Hamilton

The Detroit Pistons have signed Zach Lofton and Johnny Hamilton.

It’s likely that the signings are non-guaranteed deals that merely bring the players to training camp.

Lofton, 6-4, 180, played last season at New Mexico State where he averaged 20.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Hamilton, 7-0, 230, played his senior year at the University of Texas – Arlington and averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Hamilton set a UT-Arlington single-season record with 77 blocks last season.

Both Lofton and Hamilton were members of the Pistons’ 2018 NBA Summer League team.

Stan Van Gundy knows coaching. Sure, he probably knows other things, too. He can walk around. He can do this and that. He probably knows how to do the things you or I do. But he definitely also knows NBA coaching, and may seek a return to those ranks. Here’s the Detroit Free Press with an in-depth update:

Stan Van Gundy may want to return to coaching

Stan Van Gundy is enjoying life.

In the spring, he took his wife, Kim, on a European vacation, their first as a couple.

Last month, Kim gifted him with birthday tickets to the Fox Theater where they grooved to the sounds of Gladys Knight and the O’Jays.

The next day, he played fetch with family dogs, Opie and Eastwood, in the backyard of his lakefront home in Clarkston. Later, he was a picture of comfort inside as the dogs slumbered, worn out from playing on the warm August day.

It’s clear the former Detroit Pistons coach doesn’t have to work another day the rest of his life. A comfortable retirement where he works at his leisure awaits – if he wants it.

But with his May firing still fresh, he’s not sure he wants comfort.

He thinks he might want to coach again.

Full article

Darrun Hilliard signs with team in Spain

Here’s Euroleague.net with news that a former NBA player has signed to play in Spain:

Hoping to return to the Final Four that will be hosted next spring in its own city for the first time, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz found some perimeter talent right before training camp starts, announcing on Monday the addition of swingman Darrun Hilliard to its roster for the 2018-19 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season. Hilliard (1.98 meters, 25 years old) has played his entire three-year pro career to date in the NBA, including 14 games last season with San Antonio.

Full article

Jon Leuer undergoes knee surgery

Jon Leuer undergoes knee surgery

Pistons forward/center Jon Leuer underwent surgery on Wednesday, August 8 in New York, to help fix a right medial meniscus injury that occurred during an offseason workout earlier this week.

Leuer will begin the rehabilitation process immediately and his return to full basketball activity will be updated prior to the start of training camp.

A backup for the vast majority of NBA games he’s played, Leuer career began with the Bucks in 2011. He then played for the Cavs, then spent a few seasons with the Grizzlies, then one with the Suns, and this will be his third season on the Pistons. He only played eight games last season, but in 2016-17 he played 75 and averaged a career-high 10.2 points per game, along with 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 25.9 minutes per outing.

Pistons name Sachin Gupta new assistant general manager

The Detroit Pistons have hired Sachin Gupta as assistant general manager.

“We are pleased to welcome Sachin Gupta to the Detroit Pistons organization,” said Ed Stefanski, Special Advisor to owner Tom Gores. “Sachin is a creative thinker, extremely intelligent, and has a great handle on the analytical side of basketball operations systems. His analytics and salary cap background will be a tremendous resource while serving a leadership role for our basketball operations team.”

Gupta spent last season as a special advisor to Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, his second stint with the organization. The Boston-area native began his NBA career with the Rockets in 2006 as Morey’s first hire, laying the foundation for the team’s extensive analytics undertaking, which the Rockets would later become renowned for. In addition to his responsibilities as an analyst, Gupta also assisted in managing the team’s salary cap during his six-year tenure in Houston.

Gupta transitioned to the Philadelphia 76ers front office in 2013 as a consultant prior to the NBA Draft while finishing MBA studies at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He then moved to a more permanent position, Vice President of Basketball Operations in 2014 and served as General Manager Sam Hinkie’s top lieutenant. Gupta served a substantial role in driving the club’s overhaul that led to this past season’s return to the NBA Playoffs.

Prior to joining the NBA ranks, Gupta spent two years at ESPN where he had a hand in fostering basketball’s analytical movement, implementing advanced NBA metrics on ESPN.com before their use had become widespread across the league. While at ESPN, he also became well versed in the CBA when he developed the widely popular NBA Trade Machine.

Gupta earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.

The Detroit Pistons hired Tim Grgurich and Micah Nori as assistant coaches today.

Grgurich, a longtime NBA veteran and highly respected assistant, most recently served as an assistant coach for Milwaukee as a member of Jason Kidd’s staff and has spent the last 27 years with a number of NBA teams including the Seattle Supersonics (1991-98), Portland Trail Blazers (1998-2001; 2004-05), Milwaukee Bucks (2001-02; 2016-18), Phoenix Suns (2002-04), Denver Nuggets (2005-10) and Dallas Mavericks (2011-16). He was honored earlier this month with the 2018 Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award by the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA).

Grgurich spent many years on George Karl’s staffs in Seattle, Portland and Milwaukee and also overlapped with Pistons head coach Dwane Casey when they both served under Karl’s Supersonics teams from 1994-98, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 1996. The duo also spent one season together with Rick Carlisle in Dallas (2011).

Grgurich was the lead assistant for Jerry Tarkanian at the University of Las Vegas-Nevada, preparing emerging NBA standouts such as Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony, Armen Gilliam and Sidney Green. The Runnin’ Rebels won the 1990 NCAA Championship and made three Final Four appearances while he was part of the program.

He began his coaching career at the University of Pittsburgh, his alma matter, where he was also a three-year letterman in both basketball and baseball.

Nori joins the Pistons after spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets. Prior to Denver, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. Overall, Nori has spent 20 years working in the NBA – including 15 seasons with the Toronto Raptors in various roles. He served as an assistant coach during his last four seasons with the Raptors organization and previously served as Toronto’s director of NBA scouting and as an advance scout.

A native of Middleton, OH, and multi-sport athlete, Nori was four-year starter and captain of Indiana’s baseball team that won the 1996 Big Ten Championship. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Sports Organization from Miami (OH) University.

The Detroit Pistons made a front office move this past Friday, naming Gregg Polinsky the team’s new director of player personnel.

Polinsky is coming off a massive work stretch with the Brooklyn Nets, where he worked a variety of roles over the last 19 seasons. His most recent role with the Nets was director of college scouting. He originally joined the Nets back in 1999, working as a scout. By 2004 he was named Nets director of scouting. He later served as director of player personnel for eight years.

Before his work in the NBA, Polinsky was Georgia Southern University’s head coach from 1995-99. His ccoaching career began with a job as an assistant at Howard College from 1981-83.

Polinsky played college ball at the University of New Mexico. He has a degree in physical education from Northern Arizona University.

Pistons waive Dwight Buycks

The Pistons yesterday requested waivers on guard Dwight Buycks.

Buycks, 6-3, 190, was originally signed as a two-way player by the Pistons on September 7, 2017 and later had his deal converted to a full NBA contract on January 12, 2018. In a career-high 29 games, he averaged 7.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 14.7 minutes per game.

Pistons sign rookie Bruce Brown Jr

The Pistons yesterday signed rookie guard Bruce Brown Jr.

Brown, 6-5, 202, was selected 42nd overall in the 2018 NBA Draft after averaging 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season for the University of Miami (Fla.). A 2017-18 Preseason All-ACC Second Team selection, Brown was also a 2017-18 Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 and was on the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year watch List.

A native of Boston, MA, Brown averaged 11.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 52 career games for the Hurricanes. As a freshman, he scored a career-high 30 points against eventual national champion North Carolina. He also recorded two of the three triple-doubles in Miami program history.

The Detroit Pistons yesterday signed free agent guard Jose Calderon and free agent forward Glenn Robinson III.

Calderon, a 13-year NBA veteran, returns for his second stint as a Piston. The 6-3, 200-pound guard played in 28 games for the Pistons during the 2012-13 season after he was acquired from the Toronto Raptors in a three-team trade which saw the Pistons send Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis and the Grizzlies trade Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi to the Toronto Raptors. Calderon averaged 11.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists for the Pistons.

A native of Spain, Calderon spent last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers where he appeared in 57 games and averaged 4.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists and helped the Cavaliers reach the NBA Finals. In 846 career NBA games, he has averaged 9.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists with Toronto, Detroit, Dallas, New York, L.A. Lakers, Atlanta and Cleveland. He’s also appeared in 37 career playoff games averaging 7.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

A two-time Olympic silver medalist with Spain’s national team, Calderon won medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China and at the 2012 Games in London, England.

Robinson III, 6-6, 222, played the last three seasons with the Indiana Pacers. In four NBA seasons, the Gary, IN native has averaged 4.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 172 career games with Minnesota, Philadelphia and Indiana.

Drafted 40th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Timberwolves, the 2017 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner, played collegiately at the University of Michigan for two seasons. He averaged 12.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 76 career games and helped the Wolverines reach two NCAA Tournaments, including the 2013 NCAA National Title Game and 2014 NCAA Elite Eight.

The Detroit Pistons yesterday hired Sidney Lowe and Sean Sweeney as assistant coaches.

Additionally, DJ Bakker has been added to the basketball operations staff as a player development coach.

Lowe returns to the Detroit Pistons for the third time during his basketball coaching and playing career. He spent the 2005-06 season as lead assistant to head coach Flip Saunders and played six games for the Pistons as a point guard on the 1984-85 squad. The Washington, DC, native and former NBA point guard has spent eight years as a head coach and 12 years as an assistant coach in the NBA and NCAA, most recently serving as an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards the last two seasons. Lowe began his coaching career in 1992, when he became an assistant coach under then-head coach Jimmy Rodgers, eventually being promoted to head coach midway through the 1992-93 season and remaining in the position through the 1993-94 season. In addition, Lowe served three seasons (2011-14) as an assistant with the Utah Jazz after previously serving as head coach at his alma mater, North Carolina State (2006-11). In his first season at NC State, he became the third coach in school history to win 20 games and defeat the three other ACC North Carolina institutions (North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest).

As a player, Lowe was originally selected by the Chicago Bulls with the first pick of the second round (25th overall) in the 1983 NBA Draft and spent time with Indiana, Detroit and Atlanta. He also spent time in the Continental Basketball Association, leading the Albany Patroons and Tampa Bay Thrillers to CBA titles. Lowe played college basketball under the late Jim Valvano at North Carolina State, earning Final Four All-Tournament honors while helping lead the Wolfpack to the 1983 NCAA Championship.

Sweeney enters his first season with the Pistons after spending the last four seasons as an assistant coach with Jason Kidd’s Milwaukee Bucks squads from 2014-18. The St. Paul native entered the NBA assistant coaching ranks with Kidd as part of this 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets team after serving two season as the Nets’ assistant video coordinator. Before joining the Nets, Sweeney served as video coordinator for the University of Northern Iowa, and previously held the position of director of basketball operations for the University of Evansville. Sweeney played one season at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay before transferring to the University of St. Thomas where he was a three-year starter and earned all-conference honors as a senior in 2005-06.

Bakker served as a member of Dwane Casey’s basketball staff in Toronto the last two seasons as assistant video coordinator and will join the Pistons as a player development coach.

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