We’ve got one more night of basketball — Wizards-Pacers and Celtics-Bulls — before everyone heads to New Orleans to eat at Cochon and dunk over Kias. But there is no rest for those who work at the rumor mill. We get up at dawn and eat steel cut oats, made from real steel. And then we put on our Carhartt overalls and go to work. Here’s what we hear, heading into the NBA’s midwinter break.
Detroit’s Core Might Not Be Detroit’s Core
The Pistons are 27–30, sitting not-so-comfortably in the Cleveland-cannon-fodder 8-seed, and 6–4 in their past 10. They are also the subject of a Zach Lowe feature Thursday on ESPN.com that reveals some new fissures in the team, and reiterates some old ones. To sum up: Many Pistons not named Reggie Jackson prefer it when Ish Smith is playing point guard (what a world); Reggie thought the Pistons were going to play more pick-and-roll, rather than the ball-movement/Dubs offense that Stan Van Gundy is now espousing; Andre Drummond isn’t locked in on SVG’s defensive scheme; no one on the roster is untouchable.
[Breathes deep from the muffler of a Ford Focus.] Interesting! There are a lot of names thrown around in Lowe’s piece. Though Zach admits a Drummond deal is “an extreme long shot,” he also described the Pistons as “antsy” about their center’s development. There’s a Drummond-for–C.J. McCollum swap mentioned in the article that got the hair on the back of my neck to snap to attention, but the likelier odd person out in Motown is Jackson. Could be that Detroit circles back to the rumored Reggie-for-Ricky (Rubio) talks, or, as Lowe suggests, the Pistons could look at someone like Emmanuel Mudiay or Elfrid Payton. One thing that Ricky, Mudiay, and Elfrid have in common is that they have never made a jump shot in their entire careers. Here’s the Basketball-Reference link for that stat.
What was Stan’s take on all this speculation? From the Detroit Free Press:
Lovely. Be that as it may, watch out for the Pistons at the deadline. They both have a lot of pieces and don’t have a lot to lose. The only untouchable in Detroit is the guy who coaches the team and also happens to have final say on personnel moves. That’s a perfect context for roster upheaval.
The Wiz Are Feeling Themselves
The Wiz are 33–21, 17–3 in their past 20, and are one of the feel-good stories of 2016–17. If you had to play only starters, Washington would be one of the best teams in the league, but the Wizards bench is a bag of old Five Guys fries, so they are going to need some help for the postseason. Bullets Forever has some interesting possibilities, including a couple of packages for Lou Williams — both of which come at a steep price (either a first-rounder or Kelly Oubre Jr.). I can’t believe I’m writing this: Let Ernie Grunfeld cook.
The Boy Who Cried HoopsHype
Make one trade, Danny Ainge. Please.
Other Names to Watch
Eric Bledsoe? Probably not, says Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough: “[M]ore likely look at add players to help him and Devin (Booker) and help our young core grow.” You can only go up from the bottom. … Now that Nikola Jokic has established himself as the centerpiece of the team, Denver could get in the market. A team vision is coming into focus, and now the Nuggets can start filling it in with the players they want. That could mean a new home for Danilo Gallinari. ESPN’s Marc Stein had speculated that Toronto (before the Ibaka trade) and the Clippers (this would be amazing) could be players, while Galo’s dad mentioned Houston (Rooster Rocket would be outrageous). … Brook Lopez could be got, but the price is high. Used cars like Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut are also on the market, but are they worth it? Paul George and Jimmy Butler? Fake news.