Asked if the Cavs could be a playoff team next season, Bickerstaff expressed plenty of optimism. “Yeah,” he said Wednesday afternoon during a conference call with Wine and Gold United members. “I think our responsibility is to keep improving. You always look outward. You’re always doing your job to see what players you’re going to get in the draft, what free agents may be available, but for us as a coaching staff, our priority is developing the guys that we have here and who we can identify to take the biggest step to make us that team that we want to be. And that’s a playoff-contending team.
“ET is just a ball of light,” Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond told ESPN earlier this season. “His energy, his inspiration, the way he views life and the way he can inspire so many people just by his words is huge. Sometimes I listen to his stuff whenever I’m feeling off or I need a certain message. He has messages for all different types of things.” Thomas has shared his messages directly with NBA veterans such as Drummond, Paul and Kyrie Irving. He has connected with rookies, including Zion Williamson, as part of the NBA’s annual rookie symposium. Players point to his rise from his humble beginnings and his raw, powerful delivery of his messages as sources of inspiration.
Beard: Andre Drummond was the longest-tenured Pistons player before his trade at the deadline. How much did that set back the culture the new regime is trying to build? Isiah Thomas: It took us a long time to build a culture in Detroit, with a belief system, celebrating tradition. Before you celebrate, have to establish something to celebrate: a language, colors — the flag you represent. That’s what we had built in Detroit and that gave us an identity. Whether winning or losing, when you talk about Pistons Bad Boys culture, that is still relevant and talked about to this day. Van Gundy came in and said he wanted to move away from that and build something else. What he was tearing down and trying to build, it wasn’t complete. Drummond as a player and talent coming into one culture of this is who Pistons are and then the change in regime says a new culture. The heartbreak that Andre Drummond feels I understand from a player perspective, but from an organizational perspective, it led to where they are now.
Ira Winderman: NBA today announced this change for NBA2K tournament: Quarterfinals will now air THURSDAY on ESPN2: Rui Hachimura vs. Devin Booker: 7 p.m. Derrick Jones Jr. vs. Montrezl Harrell: 8 p.m. Trae Young vs. Deandre Ayton: 9 p.m. Patrick Beverley vs. Andre Drummond: 10 p.m.