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Monday, March 30, 2020

Basketball

Detroit Pistons have finally embarked on a rebuild

Blake Griffin Pistons

The first step to solving any problem is identifying that there is, in fact, a problem. The Detroit Pistons recognized their roster was not set up for long-term success and attempted to remedy the situation in February by trading away their franchise mainstay, Andre Drummond, which signaled the beginning of a rebuild. The initial reaction around the league after the Pistons traded Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Brandon Knight, John Henson, and a second-round draft was one of bewilderment.

There was no confusion as to why the Pistons would trade Drummond; in his first seven seasons with the Pistons, the team never advanced past the first round of the playoffs. The puzzling part of the trade was that on the open market, the two-time All-Star, and three-time rebounding champion, was worth no more than a single second-round pick and two journeymen veterans on contracts that made the finances of the deal work.

Drummond’s lack of trade value furthers the ideology of the limited impact that a traditional paint-bound center can have in the modern NBA. Post-up, rebounding centers, like Drummond, were once thought of as the necessary ingredient in any championship recipe. 2,495 3-pointers later, Chef Curry has cooked up a new recipe for success. The analytics approach to basketball has led to more spacing and, subsequently, more 3-point shots. The Pistons recognized that they would never become an elite offense with Drummond as their fulcrum.

Trading Drummond not only represented a stylistic overhaul for the Pistons but also conveyed their willingness to escape the self-induced purgatory they have been stuck in for the entirety of the Drummond era. By trading Drummond, the Pistons ensured that he could not pick up his player option this summer, worth approximately $28 million. But the trade was not solely predicated on finances, as it was not long ago when the Pistons believed that they could construct a contending roster around Drummond.

To properly understand why the Pistons were willing to part with Drummond for such an insignificant return, it is paramount to examine the 2018 blockbuster trade in which the Pistons acquired Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers.

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Report: Knicks coaches think Kevin Knox plays ‘soft’

Kevin Knox has had a sophomore season to forget with the New York Knicks, and his conservative style of play is apparently doing him no favors.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on Sunday that Knicks interim coach Mike Miller and his predecessor David Fizdale each thought the former No. 9 overall pick had a tendency to play “soft.” Berman also adds that Miller did not start Knox even after the team traded Marcus Morris Sr because he did not believe that Knox gave him the best chance to win games.

Indeed Knox, who is 6-foot-8 but just 215 pounds, is often passive on offense, settling for jumpers and generally shying away from contact. His resulting averages this season (6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game) are roughly half the output that he produced in his rookie campaign.

The good news for Knox is that he is still only 20. Berman also notes that the Knicks coaching staff is happy with his improved defense and that team brass considers Knox to be arguably the hardest-working player. Regardless though, Miller appears to be here to stay in New York, so the former Kentucky star will have to do more to win him over.

Metta World Peace threatens those breaking quarantine rules

Metta World Peace issued a threat to those breaking quarantine rules as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

The former NBA All-Star, who was known for being one of the toughest guys in the league, asked people to direct him to anyone not staying indoors. Metta threatened to enforce the quarantine on them.

Metta was one of the realest dudes in the league when he played. Nobody wanted to mess with him. Just ask Tyler Hansbrough about that.

Do you want Metta running up into your apartment or house to tell you to follow the rules? I wouldn’t. That’s why you need to stay indoors like he says!

Marcus Smart cleared from coronavirus

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart was among the NBA players who tested positive for the coronavirus, but he says he has been cleared from it.

Smart sent a tweet on Sunday night sharing an update about his status.

Smart joins Detroit’s Christian Wood and Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell as players who have been cleared since having the virus. This is great news, as it’s showing NBA teams may have managed to slow the spread of the virus by cancelling games at the first sign of a player who tested positive.

The entire Oklahoma City Thunder team tested negative a week and a half ago, and only a few other teams — like the Nets and Lakers — have shared that some of their players tested positive.

What does this mean? Why not get the players who tested negative and the ones who have already recovered and start setting them up in the Las Vegas bubble!

Coronavirus creates major challenges for executives ahead of NFL, NBA Draft

Roger Goodell booed

We already know that the NFL Draft will look a lot different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the NBA Draft may end up in a similar situation. Beyond how it looks, though, the people making draft decisions are going to have to lean on different scouting strategies this year.

NFL pro days have been canceled, and teams have essentially halted all travel for team employees. That means that, aside from their NFL Combine interactions, teams are going to be relying on tape to scout players. As executives have explained to Tom Pelissero, this could lead to significant issues.

NBA teams also fear that in-person interviews and workouts will be scrubbed by similar travel restrictions. NBA scouts and executives are at even more of a disadvantage, as the cancellation of postseason tournaments deprived them of chances to see top prospects in pressure environments against top competition.

One executive told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher that it will be a draft heavy on scouting, and it would “expose” GMs who had not seriously put in the legwork during the season.

“This is a basketball person’s draft, based on actual basketball play,” the executive said. “The high-ranking decision-makers who have been working all year aren’t going to miss a beat. It’s going to expose the GMs who were flying around with their teams staying in Four Seasons rather than going [to scout] in Dayton, Ohio, and staying at the Courtyard Marriott. If there are no more data points coming in, they’re screwed.”

There is already speculation that one prospect could be hurt by the complications that could come with the process. Executives in both leagues are dealing with similar problems, and it will be a massive challenge for them to deal with as the pandemic continues.

Report: Clippers could pursue Kris Dunn in free agency

The LA Clippers have already made several in-season moves to improve their roster, and now they could be looking ahead to offseason upgrades as well.

Clippers beat writer Jovan Buha of The Athletic noted in an article this week that there have been “multiple rumors” linking the team to Chicago Bulls point guard Kris Dunn and that there “appears to be some smoke there.”

Dunn, the former No. 5 overall pick, has seen his role decrease in Chicago this season, ceding minutes to Tomas Satoransky and rookie Coby White. While he has still made 32 total starts, Dunn’s averages are down to 7.3 points and 3.6 assists per game and there have been other signs that he could be on the outs.

The 26-year-old is due for restricted free agency this offseason, but it’s unclear if the Bulls will even tender him a qualifying offer. Though a shaky shooter and inefficient scorer, Dunn brings defense and energy the Clippers could use next year, especially with newcomer Reggie Jackson also hitting free agency.

Here’s what new White House guidelines could mean for sports schedule

President Donald Trump announced Sunday that his administration is extending social distancing guidelines nationally until April 30.

Trump also stated his hope to be able to open up the country and return to normal life by June 1.

These are estimates, and things are subject to change if outbreaks progress in certain areas and aren’t brought under control. Many states have strict orders in place urging residents to stay at home, which should help, but there is no guarantee that the guidelines won’t be extended beyond that.

June could still be a time to start thinking about getting pro sports up and running. That’s a timeline that has been suggested for MLB in the past. The situation is very fluid, and current measures have to work before we can even think about sports again. There is also no guarantee that fans will be able to attend events when they begin again. Either way, it looks like there could be some sports action again come mid-summer, but almost certainly not before that.