Cleat Geeks

Clear the Dekk

One of the pieces in the Chris Paul trade was Sam Dekker, he is a small forward/power forward and being with the Clippers should present more opportunities to prove himself as a legit forward. He is only 23, but has tons of potential. He has been in the association for two years and in his sophomore season, he averaged 6.5 points per game while appearing in parts of 77 games for the Houston Rockets last season. He broke his left hand in April prior to the playoffs and missed the entire series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

What drives his potential is his ability to score in multiple ways. He is 6’9 and can post up and dunk while he can also penetrate the lane and draw fouls, which leads to foul line shots. One of the areas of improvement will be his ability to rebound the basketball and be a compliment shot blocker to DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Add to that, he should be the biggest benefit when teams are guarding Jordan and Griffin, which should give him a legit chance to take his game to the next level. While he will not be a starter, Dekker must be a key contributor for the “new” Clippers franchise to prove himself.

During his last season playing alongside Frank Kaminsky, Dekker shot over 50% from the field and averaged just under 15 points per game. What could be overlooked is his personality, as being in L.A. appears to be a perfect combination, especially in the locker room. Positive chemistry is always welcome in any locker room, but especially with the Clippers as there have been rumors of tense relationships between Jordan and Griffin. If his Twitter account is any indication, L.A. is the place for him.

Dekker will be a bigger piece to the Clippers success than he was with Houston, and he knows there will be higher expectations playing in a bigger market. He is a legend in high school basketball circles in Wisconsin and it may take some time for him to adjust to a bigger market. The best way to accomplish this is by having a solid preseason, which is only a couple of weeks long this year.

His numbers in his first two seasons in the NBA may not be that impressive, but his numbers will only improve as he gets more minutes. Any NBA fan should appreciate what Dekker brings to the table both on and off the court, he takes his job seriously but does not obsess over mistakes. When you compare him to the juggernauts of the NBA, he is not close to being a household name but that is not a drawback, it’s what adds to the greatness of this game. If he is successful with the Clippers, Dekker will be noticed more by NBA fans, players and coaches.

The Effects Of The New NBA Rules

On Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the NBA Board of Governors approved a new rule about draft lottery reform and players resting.

He noted that the lottery system meant to curb tanking would take effect come the 2019 NBA draft. One important detail in this announcement is that the team with the worst record will no longer have the best odds to get the 1st overall pick. Wojnarowski further explained what the odds of landing the NO. 1 draft pick would look like in this tweet he sent out shortly after the announcement.

The only no vote came from the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Dallas Mavericks abstained. Earlier this month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver pushed for a new rule stating that teams should get fined for being fined if they sat healthy players in nationally televised games or more than one healthy starting players in regular-season games. Silver will have discretionary authority in fining teams for resting healthy players and teams will be encouraged to do the same during home games if they feel the need to do so. Another element of this new rule is that rested players must be present on their respective team’s benches. Silver could fine teams up to $100,000 for violating these new rules.

Portland Trailblazers coach Terry Stotts reacted to the new rule of teams tanking and player rest, by saying these rules were for the better of the game. “I think the league really looked hard at what would be the right solution,” said Stotts. “I think Adam Silver, his judgement is impeccable and his discretion and I think there is an obligation for healthy players to play. I understand the whole rest concept. I also think the rule is made for a handful of teams. Even though obviously it’s for the entire league, I think there were a handful of teams that did that that effected national TV games, in particular. I think it’s probably good for the game.”

Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters that the best way to discourage teams from intentionally giving away their seasons is to get rid of the draft entirely. He also said that rookies coming into the league should be free agents. Furthermore, Van Gundy believes that his idea would not lead to rookies going to certain teams while creating more disparity within the NBA. In June, Steph Curry signed a max contract deal worth over $200 million and Van Gundy suggested getting rid of those kind of contracts as he believes that is the reason so-called ‘super-teams’ form.

There has to be incentives for real competition in the NBA. The fact that the NBA regular season has meant almost nothing in recent years is a slap in the face to fans coming out to games. I have said this before, when the Cavaliers go to Los Angeles, it’s not that Cleveland has to play LeBron James for all 48 minutes of a game, but he should play half of the game at the least. Making it harder for teams to tank isn’t good, it is great for the game. The NBA has tons of individual talent, Ben Simmons with the 76ers, Devin Booker with the Suns and D’Angelo Russell just to name a few. What did these teams have in common last season? Neither made the playoffs and their collective records were 78-168 and Russel’s new team the Brooklyn Nets record was 20-62 last season. Staying with individual talent, Phoenix, LA and Philadelphia have other good players who are not as well-known but if developed well, these three teams can easily win more than 78 games.

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The NBA is largely focused among a few teams, the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder and Cavaliers, but other teams have something to offer to general NBA fans that is worth watching. The sky is the limit for the talent that comprises today’s NBA, but the test facing the league is for the fans to see what I call this individual talent and to gain traction besides the usual stars that make the highlights most nights. The league thrives with competition, fans breath competition, but the league tried to fix something that wasn’t broke and that is the reason it has come down to this.

Goin’ To Work: News and Notes

It’s been a quiet offseason for Stan Van Gundy and Company.

Here’s a quick roundup of happenings in the world of Detroit basketball.

More Boban Time?

With Aron Baynes no longer in the picture there will be a push for more minutes from fan favorite Boban Marjanovic. After appearing sporadically for much of 2016-17, Marjanovic saw more time down the stretch as the Pistons faded out of the playoff picture. And he performed well, registering 15.8 points per contest to go with 10.3 boards (including 3.8 on the offensive glass) in an expanded role during the last four games of the season. This is a small sample size but, even so, it serves as a return on the $7 million per year investment made in signing him. And it shows the potential of further return to come.

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His 7’3″ frame puts him above almost anyone else who takes the floor against him, giving a distinct advantage in the post and on the boards. But this blessing also proves to be banal. Boban is not highly mobile or agile due to his build, though he moves fairly well for his size. As well, his offensive game suffers once he leaves the post, shooting just under 31% from the midrange. The Pistons experienced spacing issues last seasons and Boban’s limited mobility is not going to provide much aid in that area. But he can still be an asset if the rest of the team can spread the floor around him.

To Extend or Not To Extend

The Pistons’ move to acquire Avery Bradley, a viable two-way threat with a dangerous outside shot, was met with both praise and scrutiny. The praise came due to the clear upgrade that Bradley will be against the pricier option of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on both ends of the court, as well as the value at which the Pistons have him (just over $8.8 million against the max deal it would have taken to retain KCP). However, his expiring deal taken up in the place of a gritty presence like Marcus Morris and a younger option like Caldwell-Pope, were criticized. Especially given Morris’s leadership and incredibly club-friendly deal.

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Whether or not his stay in Detroit will last beyond 2017-18 is yet to be seen. But the Pistons would do well to see if they can’t lock up the 26-year old for the long-term. While he’s eligible for an extension, the club, for the next six months at least, can only add two years to Bradley’s current deal at $9.5 million annually. After that six month period, the most the Pistons could offer him would be four years at $11.85 million per.

Because he’ll almost certainly receive a bigger payday on open market you can expect that Bradley is going to test the waters upon his contract’s expiration. And, even before the preseason, it’s possible that he’s made up his mind already, as a source close to the situation has already said an extension won’t happen because “money is too low.”

Eyes will be on this as the season progresses.

New Threads

With the arrival of Nike as the NBA’s official apparel partner, the Pistons rolled out a new uniform set for the upcoming season and beyond. The Icon (white) and Association (blue) uniform sets are all that have been revealed so far, with potential alternate and throwback sets to come at a later date.

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Though largely similar to their predecessors, there are a few marked differences:

The manufacturer’s logo returns, with Nike’s hallmark swoosh featuring prominently on the right sleeve of the jersey.

The new primary logo appears at the center of the waistline.

A new secondary logo appears at the bottom of the left leg.

The Pistons join many others around the league in adding a sponsor to the left sleeve of their jerseys. A red and white advert for the metro Detroit-based Flagstar Bank will appear on all uniform sets, much to the chagrin of many fans.

A Sort of Homecoming 

After threat of legal action blocking the team from making the move, 2017-18 will officially see the Pistons returning full-time to the city of Detroit for the first time since their departure from Cobo Arena in 1978. Their new home, Little Caesars Arena, is taking final shape as Detroit native Kid Rock’s opening six show engagement swiftly approaches. Season ticket packages are on-sale now on the Pistons’ official website, with single-game tickets becoming available to the public on September 16th at 10 a.m. local time.

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The future of the team’s former home, the Palace of Auburn Hills, remains up in the air.

Schedule Released

The full schedules for all 30 NBA teams were released.

The Pistons will open their inaugural season at Little Caesars Arena on October 18th. Notable division matchups include visits from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 2oth and January 30th, and appearances by the Milwaukee Bucks on November 3rd and February 28th.

Kevin Durant defending champion Golden State Warriors will make their only appearance in Detroit on December 8th. The new look Houston Rockets, spearheaded by the tandem of James Harden and Chris Paul, will visit on January 8th. Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and the newly acquired Paul George will lead the Oklahoma City Thunder into the Motor City on January 27th. The Los Angeles Lakers and rookie sensation Lonzo Ball and the aforementioned Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will bring the Lake Show to the Great Lakes State on March 26th.

 

 

Why Kemba Can Be Elite

Last season Kemba Walker was an All-Star for the first time since he was drafted by the then Charlotte Bobcats in 2011 from Connecticut. He had a breakout season last year in several categories. Walker averaged a career high of 23 points a game, up from 20 the previous year, shot nearly 40% from downtown and averaged over 5 assists a game. Long time NBA small forward Caron Butler explained why Walker is an All-Star when he wrote in the Player’s Tribune in 2016. One of the descriptions that stood out to me and couldn’t have been explained any better was when Butler said, “He possesses a basketball combustion engine that you just can’t teach.”

Walker tends to get overlooked because he plays in a small market and college basketball is considerably more popular in the Carolina’s. I argue that he has some of the best handles of any NBA player today. The key to this is to have good footwork and that is what makes him a lethal scoring threat when he can step back and drain a long shot. Defenders have no option but to respect the ability to drive to the hoop and give him space. When a defender is on his heels and is going backwards, he gets you and when he plants, defenders are in a no win situation.

Butler compares Walker’s game to that of Chris Paul and the ability to execute the pick and roll. Walker is more of a scorer while Paul is a facilitator, but what makes Walker stand out is his killer instinct, the ability to take a tough shot in a close game especially in a hostile road environment. An area of improvement for Walker for next season is his defense. Last year, he averaged 1.1 steals a game, which is down from his career high of 2 per game. If he can improve on his down year on defense, that alone will make him even more valuable to his team.

Besides being an upcoming star, he has shown incredible maturity on and off the court. In June, he won the 2017 NBA Sportsmanship award.

I’ve written about other NBA players and their ability to think on their feet as the game is going on and that is his best quality, a quality that I wish more NBA players had. His head coach Steve Clifford confirmed this when he said back in January. “Some guys get determined to score anyway. He’s never been like that. As long as he’s willing to make the right play, which is one of his strengths, then we’re good to go.” The NBA has become a super-star, super-team league, but he has proven to be a legit point guard while somewhat defying the trends of the league. He is not about himself, rather he is about the team and only if he had a better supporting cast around him would he garner more nationwide attention. His instincts are among the best of any NBA player and what is even better, he is still in his prime. He is a must see not just watching from a TV at one’s home, but when you see what he has to offer, you would be impressed. If I were an aspiring basketball player, I would look up to Kemba Walker. The season he had last year was no fluke and he is only getting better.

Carmelo Trade Rumors

It has been nearly two weeks since a deal to send Carmelo Anthony to the Houston Rockets was “at the two-yard line,” but as August approaches, no deal has been made as of yet. There have been reports that the Oklahoma City Thunder are interested in Anthony, but Houston remains the favorite to land him.

Meanwhile, CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers has done everything in his power to convince Anthony to waive his no-trade clause and McCollum thinks Anthony is interested.

If Anthony gets traded to either the Thunder or Rockets, would he fit well? If he goes to the Rockets, would that improve the Rockets chances of de-throning the Golden State Warriors? If he went to the Thunder, could that cement their chances of over taking the Warriors and if he went to the Blazers, would he help make rip city a true playoff contender?

Damian Lilard took that question a step further when he said last week, “I can only imagine what it would be like having [Anthony] iso’ing on one side, and C.J. [McCollum] in a corner, and me on the opposite wing and Nurk [Jusuf Nurkic].” McCollum said if the Blazers got Melo, the Blazers would easily be in the top-three in the west.

While Anthony is a solid one-on-one scorer, his defense was almost non-existent last season as he ranked 65th out of 69th in qualifying small forwards in plus-minus last season. According to Basketball reference, his defensive box plus-minus has never been above 0.0 in his 14-year NBA career and even with the hype of a Rockets combo of James Harden, Chris Paul and Melo, don’t expect those numbers to improve when he plays more games against the Warriors.

On the other hand, if Anthony becomes a Rocket, he would be in a place he has never been in and that is having a chance to win. He has never had a supporting cast that is as good as Paul-Harden-Clint Capella and Eric Gordon. One of the biggest questions is whether combinations like these increase efficiency as the Warriors combinations do.

Anthony is not in his prime years as he is he is 33 and in the 2016 Olympics, he wasn’t as dominant for Team USA as he shot only 40% from the floor, his worst mark for Team USA since 2004. Furthermore, last year wasn’t his best year in some stats. Anthony averaged 22 points per game for the Knicks, but in 2012-2013 he averaged 28 points a game. His assist numbers took a dip last season compared to the previous one as his assist numbers dropped from 4.2 to 2.9.

Nearly two weeks ago, Mychal Thompson, the father of Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson said that Carmelo on the Rockets would be a serious threat to the Warriors. When people talk about the Rockets, much is talked about Paul and Harden, understandably so. However, the Rockets have some role players that I’m not sure if I would give up to get another superstar such as Eric Gordon, who was part of the Rockets record three-point shooting team last year. One of the possible players that could be traded also include Ryan Anderson and he shot nearly 42% from downtown last season. Are the Rockets willing to give up a role player such as Anderson to get a superstar who would add 20 points per game, but are the Rockets willing to give up some of these role players to go all in to defeat the Warriors? Such a move seems like a slam dunk, but the biggest reason why Anthony isn’t a Rocket is because of the key role players that helped contribute to the success of the Rockets last season. Yes superstars help, but sometimes players who don’t have the name recognition add value to a team and that is extremely important in today’s NBA. The Rockets are being smart by not rushing to get Carmelo and no trade may end up being the best move for the Rockets.

WNBA All-Star Game

Led by Mya Moore, the All star game’s MVP for the second consecutive year, the Western All-Stars defeat the Eastern All-Stars 130-121. Moore led all scorers with 23 and the reigning reigning league MVP Nneka Ogwumike added 22.
 
The Western All-Stars had the experience advantage, as their roster combined for 55 total all star selections. Moore hit 5 three pointers and Sue Bird had a game record 11 assists.
 
The youthful East team was led by Jonquel Jones with a game-high 24 points, . There were eight first-time selections on the East roster.
The East got good production off their bench, as Layshia Clarendon, Candic Dupree and Allie Quigley each had 14 points.
 
Sue Bird was the center of attention, having the All-Star game played in her hometown of Seattle. She received the loudest ovation when her name was announced. Bird also tied a record for the most All-Star appearances with 10.
 
Bird controlled the game, as she played the role as the distributor. She set up West teammates Candice Parker, Mya Moore, and  Nneka Ogwumike.
 
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For the first time in eight years the three point competition was at halftime of the All-Star game. Bird was the favorite, but only finished with seven points after the first round. Sugar Rodgers made her first eight three’s and her first nine out of ten.
 
Unfortunately for Rodgers, she met her match in the final round against Quigley, who currently is second in the WNBA in three pointers. She was nearly flawless in the finals making 19 of her 25 shots outlasting Rodgers, who scored 19 points.
 
A $10,000 dollar donation will be made by the league to the Patrick Quigley Memorial Scholarship in honor of her dad.
 
 

 

Roger Federer Wins 8th Winbledon Title

Roger Federer for the eight time in his career is the Wimbledon champion, defeating Marvin Cilic 6-3,6-1,6-4 in Sunday’s final. The win moves Federer past both William Renshaw and Pete Sampras for the most Wimbledon titles.

Federer spoke to ESPN about his historical title win. “I always believed that I could maybe come back and do it again. And if you believe, you can go really, really far in your life, and I did that,” Federer said. “And I’m happy I kept on believing and dreaming, and here I am today for the eighth. It’s fantastic.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information Federer joins Bjorn Borg, as the only men’s player to win Wimbledon without losing a set.

Cilic’s game plan going into the final was to go after Federer’s back hand. All of Cilic’s points were off of Federer’s mistakes off his back hand.

Cilic said after the match that he had really bad blisters and it was bothering him.

“Obviously was very tough emotionally because I know how much I went through [the] last few months in preparation with everything,” Cilic said. “It was also tough because of my own team. They did so much for me. I just felt it was really bad luck.”

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It was a remarkable turn around for Federer, considering the fact that last year at Winbledon, he had a disappointing semi-finals loss. The worst part was that he was having durability issues with his body. Questions were popping up in the mainstream media questioning if he could still perform at a high level.

Last year at Winbledon was motivation enough to give Federer the motivation to come back this year and win his record eight Winbledon title.

Federer, 35, became the oldest champion and won his second Grand Slam of the year, by not dropping a set throughout the two week run. According to ESPN Stats & Information Federer joins Bjorn Borg, as the only mens player to win Wimbledon without losing a set.

 

The Thunder Strike Back

A year after Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City to take his talents to the Warriors, the Thunder got Paul George in a trade from the Indiana Pacers. Rumors were that George was going to the Cleveland Cavaliers after he expressed his disinterest in playing for the Pacers, but again the NBA world was taken for a ride as it was when Chris Paul got traded to the Houston Rockets. This move was announced hours before free agency officially began on July 1. George and Russell Westbrook both have one year left on their contract and Thunder GM Sam Presti took an all out gamble hoping this pays off.

People are now asking, what are the Thunder getting with Paul George? He is a multi-faceted player who can score and lock down the best outside player, while playing on or off the ball. Last season, George averaged nearly 24 points per game, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists per game while shooting over 45 percent from the field and nearly 40% from downtown. George grew up in the Los Angeles area and said that playing in L.A. would have been “a dream come true”  but said that winning was more important. “It’s too early for L.A., (Lakers), It would have to be a situation where the ball gets rolling and guys are hopping on,” he said.

One of the biggest questions surrounding George is whether he will stay with the Thunder when his contract is up. The Thunder are positing themselves for home-court advantage in the playoffs, the Thunder share with Westbrook the challenge of convincing George to stay beyond next season, given George’s earlier statements saying that he wants to sign with his hometown Lakers in 2018. The Thunder could indeed be renting George for one season and could be reduced to seeing another star take his talents elsewhere. What should give Thunder fans reason to be cautiously optimistic is that sources close to George are pushing back against this narrative. More specifically, a source close to George with direct knowledge into his mindset said, “Everything is on the table with Paul, and anything is possible.”

What led to George being traded to the Thunder was not a case of trade demand, instead it was to be on a team with a direction and he did not see himself being on a winning team if he stayed with the Pacers. If he is serious about winning not just this season, but afterwards, how does a Lakers team that won just 26 games last season, meet the criteria of ‘winning’? If his hometown Lakers are considered legit western conference contenders, they will need more than Julius Randle, Lonzo Ball and Jordan Clarkson. The Thunder are fully aware of the outside noise, that are the Lakers and the year-long campaign to keep George with the Thunder is well underway. The Thunder are citing their strong fan base that could make a star like the king of the city. After his welcome from the airport Tuesday, the official introduction will be less of a news conference and more of an event with live music.

One of the biggest challenges facing last year’s MVP is to build a strong on-court bond with George if he is to stay with the Thunder long-term. Westbrook is eligible for a five-year extension and the deal is still on the table but he not acted yet. Westbrook has until the last day before the start of the 2017-18 season to act and signing sooner than later would send a message that Westbrook is interested in playing with George for the long-term.

George will not decide whether to stay with the Thunder until next summer despite all the efforts from the Thunder to keep him. What will determine whether he stays with the Thunder or not will depend on how well the Thunder play not just in the regular season, but the playoffs. If the Thunder win 60 or more games and get eliminated in the first or second round, George may be more likely to sign with the Lakers. On the other hand, if the Thunder get past the second round and he thinks the Thunder are a year away, there is a better chance he would resign with the Thunder. The Thunder front office know that George will not commit one way or the other until next summer and while they would rather avoid that, they know that everyone on the team will need to do their part to make #13 feel welcome and a slip-up or the appearance of one could jeopardize his chances of staying in Oklahoma City.

Goin’ To Work: Off-season Report

Following a disappointing 2016-17 season, the Detroit Pistons have gone to work in the off-season. While there have been no big waves (at least for incoming players) there have been a few moves made.

Here’s what you need to know about the off-season so far.

The Draft

The Pistons made only one selection in the 2017 NBA Draft, earning the 12th pick in the lottery. With the pick they selected Luke Kennard, a 6’6″ shooting guard out of Duke University.

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Initially received with criticism, there are aspects of Kennard’s game that can help the team. He averaged 19.5 ppg last season, an impressive feat for any team, let alone on a Duke Blue Devils team where Grayson Allen is considered “the guy.” He also averaged about 5 rebounds a contest. But, above all, Kennard is a shooter, something the Pistons direly need. He averaged 49% from the field, including nearly 44% from beyond the arc. He will wear the number 23 on his jersey.

Free Agency

There wasn’t going to be a lot done in free agency. Everybody knew that going in. Aside from the re-signing of restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, there weren’t going to be any major waves in the Motor City.

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That was, until July 7th.

That day, the Pistons pulled a surprise trade (more on that later), leading to the team renouncing their exclusive rights to the young guard, thus granting him unrestricted free agency. Once expected to earn a maximum deal from the Pistons or another suitor like the Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers, Caldwell-Pope sits without a clear home or future.

To this point only two moves have been made by the Pistons on the free agent market, with the club signing Langston Galloway and Eric Moreland.

Image result for langston gallowayGalloway, a shooting guard, signed to a three-year, $21 million contract, bringing him to his fourth team in as many seasons. He saw plentiful time with the New York Knicks from 2014 to 2016, appearing in all 82 games during the 2015-16 season. He’s become largely a backup player known more for his defense, which will be needed in the absence of Caldwell-Pope. As well, his defense will allow for Stan Van Gundy to create a tandem of Galloway and Luke Kennard, balancing the latter’s offensive prowess with the former’s defensive abilities. But that’s not to say that Galloway is useless on the offensive end, as he averaged 7.9 points per game as a backup in 74 contests, albeit on an unimpressive 38% from the field. The contract, in today’s NBA, is team friendly and adds more depth, also necessary with the departure of Darrun Hilliard via trade.

Image result for eric morelandMoreland, a 25-year old undrafted center, has seen only 11 games at the NBA level over two seasons with the Sacramento Kings. He spent most of last year with the Canton Charge of the NBA D-League. While there, Moreland’s play impressed, earning him All D-League Third Team and Defensive First Team honors. He averaged 12.8 points per game on 56% shooting and 12.2 rebounds to go with 2.7 blocks per contest in 44 games. His defensive style of play fits the historical narrative of lockdown post defenders in Detroit. However, his free throw shooting could use quite a bit of work, as his numbers at the charity stripe echo those of Andre Drummond. At 25, this is a low-risk deal for Detroit. It adds depth with the departure of Aron Baynes in free agency. He will likely compete with resident giant Boban Marjanovic for the backup center position.

Besides Caldwell-Pope, other free agents include Aron Baynes, who exercised his opt-out clause, Reggie Bullock, and Beno Udrih. It’s unlikely that Baynes returns, given the presence of Marjanovic and now Moreland, the fates of Bullock and Udrih remain unclear.

Trades

Two trades have happened to this point.

First, the team sent former second round pick Darrun Hilliard to the Houston Rockets in exchange for cash considerations. Hilliard saw little time on the floor in Detroit and it’s likely that wasn’t going to change. Moves have been made to compensate for his departure and the Pistons are no worse off due to this deal.

Second, and most notably, the Pistons landed Avery Bradley from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Marcus Morris and a 2018 second round draft pick. While I loved Marcus Morris, I like this deal a lot more. Morris wasn’t likely to stay in Detroit. He brought grit and solid two-way ability at the small forward, but the spot he leaves is now filled by Tobias Harris, quietly one of the most reliable pieces on last year’s team. In Bradley, the Pistons gain a player who is able to shoot from the outside with consistency, as well as create off the dribble. On the other end of the court he brings some of the better perimeter defense in the NBA. On and off the court, Bradley will serve as a mentor to the young Luke Kennard, helping to hone his offensive game as well as helping develop his defense (which, from reports, was looking better than expected in summer workouts). Bradley is a free agent after this season and it’s unclear what will happen then, but the focus now lies on the upcoming season.

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Rumors abounded on draft night regarding potential deals involving Andre Drummond, including heavy speculation that the Sacramento Kings were prime players, but nothing ever came to fruition. Reggie Jackson’s name was also thrown around early in the summer, though there’s nothing to indicate that he will be on the move. Van Gundy has reiterated that no player on his team is “untradeable”, so it’s possible that we’ve not seen the end of the Pistons’ presence on the trade market this off-season.

What do you think of the Pistons’ off-season moves so far? What other moves would you like to see happen? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for more updates out of the Pistons’ camp!

Find me on Twitter @milz_chris and follow @cleatgeeks for more basketball and sports news.

 

 

James Harden Signs Richest Deal In NBA History

Houston Rockets superstar James Harden signed a 4 year extension worth $228 million dollars, making him the richest player in NBA history.
 
Since James Harden had two seasons left before signing the extension, it will not interfere with the Rockets plans to bring in free agents to compete with the Warriors. Leslie Alexander issued a statement about the Harden contract.Image result for james harden 2017
”Since he arrived in Houston, James has exhibited the incredible work ethic, desire to win, and passion to be the best that has made him one of the most unique and talented superstars in the history of the game,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement issued by the team. ”Additionally, the commitment he has shown to our organization, the city of Houston, and Rockets fans all over the world makes him a perfect leader in our pursuit of another championship.”
Harden is coming off his best season as a pro. Last season Mike D’Antoni moved Harden to point guard and it turned out to be a great move. Harden averaged 29.1 points, an NBA leading 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds. He also finished second in the MVP race to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
Harden’s MVP caliber season helped the Rockets bounce back from a disappointing  2015-2016 season, where their was major chemistry issues between Center Dwight Howard and James Harden. Howard leaving was a huge reason that the Rockets were successful last season. Houston was able to focus their offense around just Harden.
Houston went 55-27 and defeated Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. Harden spoke to the media after receiving his extension.
”Houston is home for me,” Harden said. ”Mr. Alexander has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title.”
 
The Rockets have strong interest in acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks. If they can acquire Anthony they will become a serious threat to dethroning the Golden State Warriors.

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