It ended in a way he wouldn’t have liked, not meshing with new owner Tom Gores after a simpatico partnership with late Pistons owner William Davidson. It didn’t mean he became stupid overnight, or lost his basketball acumen. It merely meant it was time to move on after 29 years with one franchise in one city, and he needed to recharge his batteries, take a step back and re-evaluate an evolving league.
In the midst of a Detroit Pistons rebuild, six-time All-Star Blake Griffin is embracing the process during his rehabilitation and said he is willing to accept “a different role” if necessary. Griffin, 31, underwent an arthroscopic debridement of his left knee on Jan. 7 and has been training six days per week in anticipation of the NBA’s return for the 2020-21 season, likely happening sometime in December.
Storyline: Blake Griffin Injury
“Troy’s been great. I’ve known him for a while. He just has a great mindset and he also has a very, very good eye for talent in the NBA,” Griffin said. “I think he likes guys who are hard-nosed players, guys that’ll come in and work, earn their spot. Guys that will compete and that’s what I’m about. So, we see eye-to-eye on that and I think he has a great vision for where we want this franchise to go. I feel confident with him leading the charge of drafting and everything else, free agency and all that.”
No word yet if J. Cole will accept the invitation, which was hatched when Pistons senior vice president of marketing Alicia Jeffreys noticed the item (via TMZ) that hip-hop OG Master P, who suited up for the Toronto Raptors during 1999 preseason, is taking J. Cole seriously. What started as a simple marketing attempt paid off with social media buzz and a mention on ESPN’s daily NBA program, “The Jump.”
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It’s an example of the perspective chief business officer Mike Zavodsky, who was hired in June to oversee sales, marketing and creative operations, brings to the Pistons. He was lured from entertainment agency Roc Nation, where he served as an executive in charge of sports and event sales. The new position reports to Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem. Prior to his stint with Roc Nation, Zavodsky cut his teeth with the Nets organization, where he spent 14 years. Zavodsky recently spoke with Pistons.com and in just under 20 minutes, he discussed J. Cole, the attractiveness of the Pistons brand and his plans for the new position.
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Pistons.com: What’s the benefit of being part of the conversation now? Zavodsky: The NBA is a lifestyle brand. It’s not just about basketball for the league. People follow it for the fashion, people follow it for the music associations. There’s a variety of different reasons that people follow it in addition to just the game. It’s a year-round platform that the league has created. Although it’s our offseason, that doesn’t mean the conversation for us needs to stop. We can be a part of a variety of different things and utilize the year-round platform that the league offers to insert ourselves and be relevant.
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KD said he’s been playing some with other NBA players, including Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and Allonzo Trier. “I’m playing a lot of one-on-one lately, so what comes with that is your handle is a little better, You’re more quicker with your moves. You’re less indecisive with what you want to bring out. So I’m just crafting that, that playground style of ball even more, just working out by myself or with two or three guys. “That’s the cool part about it because it’s hard to get that type of play in a regular season because you’re going through the team aspect, you’re training with the team and you want to preserve your body for the season. So if I’m playing 1-on-1 or 2-on-2s, it’s just going to help my creativity. That’s the timing thing that every injured player goes through. Just finding that rhythm again. Hopefully I gain it over time and once I get into real games it translates real fast.”
There has been some talk about a potential second bubble for the teams that didn’t get invited to Orlando. Are you focused solely on getting healthy for next season, or would you consider playing in that second bubble if it comes to fruition? Blake Griffin: To be honest, I haven’t really heard any truth to that, so I hadn’t even given that a thought. I don’t know that that’s probably the best route just because, you know, the NBA had to spend a large amount of money to put this bubble together in Orlando, and that’s for the playoffs to continue to happen and finish this season and give people some sort of entertainment, so I don’t know how real that information was about the Chicago bubble. But I’m healthy and I’ve been working out and going hard, so if that ever does come up we’ll revisit that topic then, but for now I don’t know how much truth there is to that.
On that note, Game 7 of the Finals is slated for Oct. 13. Some of the reporting has suggested that next season could start as early as Dec. 1. As someone who’s played through some playoff runs, is that feasible? Blake Griffin: No, I don’t think it is. I don’t see how that’s gonna stand up. I just don’t. That’s not enough time for guys that have not only been playing basketball for the past however many months at that point, but also for guys that have been in this bubble since the beginning of July. Mentally that’s going to take such a toll on guys that once they get out, after the Finals whenever that may be, they’re gonna need more time than that. I don’t think it necessarily makes sense for us to rush into a season with no fans. I’m not sure where we’re at in those talks, but the Dec. 1 start and the Nov. 10 training camp doesn’t really make sense to me.
Would you have felt comfortable going into the bubble from a health standpoint, had the Pistons been invited? Blake Griffin: Yeah, they put out a 120-page report and I read most of it just because I was kind of curious as to like, the protocol and how in depth all of this was gonna be, and it feels like the NBA and the NBPA of making sure that this protocol and these procedures that they put in place were covering most things. And I think they did for the most part, it sounds like they had a plan and multiple backup plans for each situation. They thought about a lot of different things and were very thoughtful about the things that they put into this, so I’m obviously biased, but I think the NBA does a very good job of taking action and sort of being the league that’s like “here’s how we’re going to do this.” I think it was a really good formula. Yeah, I would’ve felt comfortable.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
You’ve made a mark in comedy after having done some stand-up, appearing on Alec Baldwin’s roast and a few acting gigs. Do you have plans to do more acting or comedy? Blake Griffin: I sort of just do things here and there. I like comedy but it is something that terrifies me. I always only want to do it in a setting where I am never taking another comedian’s time or spot on stage. So, normally I do it in a setting where I can host something and I get to bring other young, up-and-coming comedians to mix with more well-known comedians. Once you’ve done it, though, you can walk away with a new confidence or skill set that maybe you didn’t have before. I don’t have a huge plan going forward but [acting and comedy] are things that I enjoy doing for sure.
While the league’s Disney World venture has gone smoothly thus far, with the league having twice reported that all of the players present have tested negative for COVID-19 while the games go on, sources say the National Basketball Players Association remains concerned about the safety concerns that would come with creating another location for the other eight teams to compete (Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Minnesota, Cleveland, Golden State). The NBPA, sources say, has been open to the idea of having in-market bubbles for individual team minicamps. So far, those eight teams have only been able to do 1-on-0 workouts in the facility with up to two coaches at a time.
He became the first rookie since Blake Griffin in 2011 to record at least 35 points and 10 rebounds while shooting at 75 percent or better from the field. It underscores what has been building for this moment all season: the Nuggets need Porter, just 22, at his best if they want to make a deep playoff run. “He was outstanding, obviously,” Malone said. “… my biggest disappointment with Michael in the Miami game was the rebounding. He had one rebound in that game. We’ve all grown accustomed to see Michael rebounding at an elite level, and tonight he did that. That’s who he is. He’s got tremendous size, length, he can score the ball, he’s got soft touch, he does so in a very efficient manner, but he can also rebound at a very high level, and tonight we saw all those things put together.”
He became the first rookie since Blake Griffin in 2011 to record at least 35 points and 10 rebounds while shooting at 75 percent or better from the field. It underscores what has been building for this moment all season: the Nuggets need Porter, just 22, at his best if they want to make a deep playoff run. “He was outstanding, obviously,” Malone said. “… my biggest disappointment with Michael in the Miami game was the rebounding. He had one rebound in that game. We’ve all grown accustomed to see Michael rebounding at an elite level, and tonight he did that. That’s who he is. He’s got tremendous size, length, he can score the ball, he’s got soft touch, he does so in a very efficient manner, but he can also rebound at a very high level, and tonight we saw all those things put together.”
Players, coaches and teams have made it clear that shutting up and dribbling is not an option this season. The Hawks, Pistons and Kings have each worked out deals with their respective cities that their arenas will be used as polling places for the Nov. 3 general election; the Hornets and Wizards are working on similar arrangements. Each of those teams has already announced all of their employees will be given Election Day off with pay to make it easier for them to vote. “Black Lives Matter” is decaled on all of the courts in Florida that will host NBA and WNBA games this season.
Storyline: Social Justice Messages
He tried to piece together how he had contracted the virus, concluding that it probably happened on the road trip in New York, Boston or Detroit. He wondered how it was possible that other members of the Jazz didn’t test positive given that he shared locker rooms with his teammates and received massages from team staffers. As he recovered, he concluded that he probably wasn’t the first NBA player to contract the virus — just the first to return a positive test. He might have been careless with the microphones, but Mitchell or Wood easily could have exposed him to the virus rather than the other way around.
Storyline: Coronavirus Infections

Pistons to purchase G League team from Suns

The Detroit Pistons, the Phoenix Suns and the NBA G League today announced that the Pistons have agreed to purchase the Northern Arizona Suns from the Phoenix Suns. The rebranded team is expected to play in a new arena currently being constructed on the campus of Wayne State University beginning in the 2021-22 season. “I’m excited to welcome Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons as NBA G League owners,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “It’s always bittersweet for a team to relocate, and I thank Robert Sarver and the Phoenix Suns for their time in this league and the fans in Northern Arizona for their ongoing commitment to the team. I’m sure the fans in Detroit will welcome the team with open arms and I look forward to watching NBA G League basketball at Wayne State for seasons to come.”
Pistons owner Tom Gores said the NBA G League will be good for the Pistons organization and the community. “This is another important investment in our franchise and in the city of Detroit,” said Mr. Gores. “Having an NBA G League team near our new performance center will be an advantage for our front office, our coaching staff and our young players. It will also generate more economic activity in the area and serve as a catalyst for additional development.”
This would allow the Charlotte Hornets and seven other teams not at Disney’s campus dramatically more activity than currently allowed. The proposal under discussion — which has not yet been approved by the league or the players union — would include: ▪ A week of practice at individual teams’ home facilities, starting the second week of August. ▪ Possibly two weeks of group workouts hosted by two teams not in the restart. Those cities have not yet been finalized. Teams traveling would likely be contingent on the players union approving teams scrimmaging each other.
Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak and the other seven general managers affected have lobbied hard over the past month for more practice time. For now, individual players can work with up to two coaches on skills development. However, players can’t work out against each other in a team facility.
“I’ve seen a couple of guys tear ACLs in front of me, but not something that extensive to where you could hear the injury happening,” Pistons guard Langston Galloway told The Athletic. Galloway was on the Pistons’ bench when Roberson suffered the injury. “That’s the first time I’d seen or heard something like that. “He tries to plant and all I remember was … I heard like a pop and I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was somebody behind me. I didn’t know what happened.”
Prince agreed to the task, but wanted to provide full transparency: He was not yet a certified personal trainer. Everything he had done to that point was side work to help out friends. For Galloway, Prince wanted to make sure everything was handled properly. Galloway came back to Prince with another proposition. “He told me that he needed to step his game up and get certified, so I told him that we should do it together,” Galloway, 28, told The Athletic. “I really hadn’t planned on entering this space, but once I looked into it, I saw that it wasn’t that bad. “I like to help out my friends and grow together. We can’t do it individually. With the quarantine going on, and me having a little time on my hands, I thought this would be great trying to knock out. I already have three clients.”
DeMarcus Cousins: At the time, my agent actually wanted me to go to the pistons, which had the seventh pick. I was the fifth pick, they had the seventh pick, so they wanted me to go to the Pistons, which is crazy. I mean, like thinking long time or whatever the case may be, I guess it can make sense but as to why he would want me to drop in the draft. I don’t know. But I mean, it didn’t work out that way.
First, we start with Christian Wood, a soon-to-be 25-year-old unrestricted free agent who broke onto the scene this season. Since Detroit owns his “Early Bird” rights, signing him for roughly $9 million or $10 million would count only $1.7 million against the cap. That’d be a huge win for the Pistons. However, many people I’ve talked to believe Wood will get more in free agency, maybe even up to $16 million per year, which, if the Pistons set or matched, would all go toward the cap, leaving them with about $17 million left to play with. But for this exercise, let’s slot Wood in for $12 million per year. Not many teams have cap space, especially with a shrinking cap.
Storyline: Christian Wood Free Agency
The Detroit opportunity comes with a pretty dismal short-term outlook, but it also could be more promising in the longer term. Sources tell me owner Tom Gores has been willing to spend money on the things fans don’t see (staff, scouting, training resources) that make life a lot easier for a rebuilding team. Additionally, the team is at a pretty clear transition point for Weaver to put his stamp on the team. The post-Blake Griffin-trade delusions of grandeur have been replaced by the grim acknowledgment that this team needs to rebuild and it could take a while.
The Detroit opportunity comes with a pretty dismal short-term outlook, but it also could be more promising in the longer term. Sources tell me owner Tom Gores has been willing to spend money on the things fans don’t see (staff, scouting, training resources) that make life a lot easier for a rebuilding team. Additionally, the team is at a pretty clear transition point for Weaver to put his stamp on the team. The post-Blake Griffin-trade delusions of grandeur have been replaced by the grim acknowledgment that this team needs to rebuild and it could take a while.