Darren Wolfson: Former Hopkins HS & Arizona star Zeke Nnaji had a recent interview w/ the #Rockets, a team currently w/o a 2020 pick. Next up for Nnaji: the Golden St. #Warriors next week. He’s been training hard at @impactbball in Vegas, able to pick the brains of NBA vets A. Johnson & C. Wood.

Storyline: Draft Interviews
The NBA is closing in on signing off on a second “bubble” in Chicago for the eight teams that were not invited to play in Florida, enabling them to participate in a mini-training camp and subsequent games against other clubs with a target date of September, sources told ESPN on Thursday. The details are still being hammered out, and teams continue to push for an alternative plan that would enable them to hold mini-camps within their local markets and to explore the idea of establishing regional sites where teams could scrimmage against each other.
Storyline: Chicago Bubble
More Than A Vote, the James organization dedicated to maximizing Black turnout in November, shared its plans with The Associated Press on Wednesday after the Detroit Pistons became the second NBA franchise to announce plans to use its arena for voting later this year. In Georgia, Fulton County elections officials this week approved the Atlanta Hawks’ proposal to use State Farm Arena as a polling site. Plans call for the arena to serve as a countywide early voting site ahead of Election Day.
The league spent $3.75 billion on player salaries this year, and a replacement-level player would command the veteran’s minimum of $1,618,520. Work backward and overall, a player who was 1 point per 100 possessions above replacement level (say, Landry Shamet or Langston Galloway) was worth $3,183 more than the minimum for every minute he played. Such a player playing 1,000 minutes over the course of the season was worth just less than $5 million. The most valuable player based on this was (duh) Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose production this year was worth $63.75 million in my methodology. I didn’t use negative values for players — the vast majority of the most terrible players are rookies or developmental players who are holding down roster spots for future purposes. For the curious, the two least valuable by this metric were both 20-year-old guards — Cleveland’s Darius Garland and Portland’s Anfernee Simons.
“I felt like Svi took strides each and every game,” Kennard said. “He learned something every day. Svi – he’s a workhorse. He’s always in the gym, getting shots up early, staying after. He’s a smart player. He’s just smooth.” Blake Griffin also saw Mykhailiuk’s growth and thinks another leap forward is coming. “He’s like a basketball purist,” Griffin said. “He’s putting in the time every single day. He’s listening, he’s learning, he’s watching. And he has a really good feel for the game. Physically, right away you can see the things he brings to the table, but I think he grew this year. His mental approach and also just his confidence that he can impact the game in more ways than just shooting. I think next year will be a big year for him. He’s put in a lot of work and I feel he’s taken that step.”
Darren Wolfson: Told the #Timberwolves are interested in hosting. Atlanta, Detroit, probably more too. Asked two non-Wolves officials involved the likelihood something actually happens. One: “It’s very fluid!! Wouldn’t bet on it.” Other: “I’m optimistic. But obviously nothing is certain.”

Once the Orlando operation is up and running, the league and the NBPA will decide what to do about the eight teams that aren’t taking part (Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Minnesota, Cleveland, Golden State). All those players face the prospect of going nearly six months without facing NBA opponents, and sources say there is significant support from most of those teams for the possibility of a secondary campus site where they would train, compete and even play televised games in much the same way they plan to in Orlando.
Those ideas have been shared openly on the league’s weekly general manager’s call, sources say, with the latest iteration on Thursday including optimism that a solution would be found and a continued focus on building an environment that’s on par with the Walt Disney World campus when it comes to the extensive precautions taken. Sources say the Cavs, Pistons and Hawks have been among the most vocal organizations and several teams (including the Timberwolves) are expressing interest in possibly serving as the hosts. Sources say Las Vegas and Houston were among the cities mentioned by league officials as possible locations on the Thursday call.
Every person should be entitled to their story, especially for a person as forensically dissected as Michael Jordan. I asked Joe Dumars, the Hall of Fame Pistons guard, why he wasn’t in the film. He told me the filmmakers reached out to him, but while he had enormous respect for Jordan and found it entertaining, the film was Michael’s show. His story, as he saw it. In a sense, Tollin and the director, Jason Hehir, got lucky that Jordan was willing to be seen as openly as he was. “I think the film did much to demystify him,” Tollin said. “There were many times when it took a hard, unflattering look at him.”
Stefanski and his staff were able to keep the Pistons afloat, navigating through the salary cap and staying away from the luxury tax. They also added a couple of young pieces in the draft and through shrewd trades to buoy their future hopes. “Ed has come in and done a great job of stabilizing our front office and cleaning some things up,” team owner Tom Gores said this week. “We just felt it was time to go big or go home. Let’s just go get the best. We have a great coach ready to go. Dwane (Casey) and Troy have a great chemistry that they’ve built — that was important to me.”
When Gores targeted Weaver, it was with the understanding that he would fit within the existing structure and utilize the experience and feedback from the key stakeholders. Weaver brings the eye for talent, but working with the other key pieces helps to solidify everything and ensure everyone is going in the same direction. “There’ll be a nice divide-and-conquer coming in and again that’s why I trust Troy to come in as someone smart enough to leverage resources,” Gores said. “At a high level, we’ll work all this out in the detail. Really, Troy, and Ed and Dwane will work on a day-to-day basis with each other, and Troy will have normal — and even higher than normal — GM responsibilities and he’s got a lot to learn. He’s going to get on the ground and know each player well and connect with (Casey) and so on and then as it bubbles up to ownership, Arn and I — if there’s big decisions that need to be made — we’ll all gather.”
With Weaver in place, the Pistons could have a more traditional structure for the first time since 2018, with plenty of input from the other involved parties. It meant making room for Weaver’s expertise and agreeing to work collaboratively to make it work. “They all had reasons not to like this, because we’re bringing in a very powerful person in Troy,” Gores said. “Troy’s got a lot of responsibility and power in this team. I’m just really happy that he’s going to leverage all the resources, but at the end of the day, I think Troy will work with Ed on a day-to-day basis and coach, and as things bubble up that need Arn and I, obviously we’ll, you know, we’ll step in there.”
So long as there is more money to be made in another market, though, rumors will persist. In addition to the Grizzlies, the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs have all been subject to recent relocation speculation. “There might be some teams looking at moving,” Dan Issel said. “All I know is that the people that I’ve talked to who have had knowledge of those situations have promised me that I’ll get a call when it’s appropriate.”
Storyline: NBA Expansion
“Making this game in Chicago during the height of the Michael Jordan era, there was a big rivalry between the Pistons and the Bulls, but the one way I could get back at the Bulls once they got over the hump was to affect their skills against the Pistons in NBA Jam,” Turmell said in the interview. “And so I put in special code that if the Bulls were taking last-second shots against the Pistons, they would miss those shots. And so, if you’re ever playing the game, make sure you pick the Pistons over the Bulls.”
From 2005-07, he lived in downtown Minneapolis. Now coaching the Pistons, Casey was at his home in Detroit when he first saw video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. “I knew it was going to be something big,” Casey said in a phone conversation this week. “It was a public lynching. Even with the camera rolling, he had a look on his face that made my stomach turn. I think that’s why you see the uproar around the country, the look on his face as he kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck, as three other cops stood around watching with no remorse that they had this human being on the ground, dying.”
To wit: Weaver was the only candidate to interview with the Pistons’ owner, Tom Gores, according to a person familiar with the search who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. Beyond maximizing the Pistons’ forthcoming high draft pick and some newfound financial flexibility after the February moves to jettison Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, Weaver’s immediate challenges include learning his new terrain and meshing with the various voices in Detroit after spending the last 12 seasons in Oklahoma City. Gores leans heavily on Arn Tellem, the longtime power agent who serves as Detroit’s chairman, and Ed Stefanski, who will remain with the Pistons in his position as a senior adviser to Gores.
To wit: Weaver was the only candidate to interview with the Pistons’ owner, Tom Gores, according to a person familiar with the search who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. Beyond maximizing the Pistons’ forthcoming high draft pick and some newfound financial flexibility after the February moves to jettison Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, Weaver’s immediate challenges include learning his new terrain and meshing with the various voices in Detroit after spending the last 12 seasons in Oklahoma City. Gores leans heavily on Arn Tellem, the longtime power agent who serves as Detroit’s chairman, and Ed Stefanski, who will remain with the Pistons in his position as a senior adviser to Gores.

Storyline: Pistons Front Office
“You have two veteran big-time players that are looking to restore their careers: Blake Griffin, who is a perennial All-Star, and Derrick Rose. Both guys have had some injury history and they’re looking forward to building their careers back,” Weaver said. “That stood out and we’re excited to get them healthy and help us moving forward. “The second piece is the young players on the roster: Sekou (Doumbouya), (Luke) Kennard, Bruce Brown and Svi (Mykhailiuk) and (Christian) Wood. We feel like we have a good mixture of young guys with those two staples to start there.”
Weaver, Gores, Casey, Stefanski and Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem were all on the video conference Monday. “I always recognized Troy as one of the top talent evaluators – you just look at the finished products in OKC, he had a big part of doing that. Not only that, he’s a man of his word,” Casey said. “He’s genuine, he’s real, and I will say this, and in today’s time, with all the unrest, here’s an opportunity for an African American man to be named to this position, and I’m going to credit Tom and Arn and Ed for opening up the door for the opportunity for him to step in.”
Storyline: Pistons Front Office

Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose part of Pistons' future?

A fresh chapter in Detroit Pistons franchise history is set to be written next season, but new general manager Troy Weaver still sees veteran stars Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose as part of the “plans going forward.” Griffin, 31, is coming off left knee surgery after playing in just 18 games this season. “I’m excited about having the chance to work with Blake,” Weaver, a longtime Oklahoma City Thunder executive, said Monday at his introductory news conference. “Obviously, being in Oklahoma City for the last 12 years, I remember Blake quite well, playing at OU and his family being around there, being from Oklahoma City. So, I’m very familiar with Blake.
Blake Griffin’s The Pursuit of Healthiness podcast will launch on August 4 with a roster of A-list guests and has already been renewed for a second season, Audible said Monday. The podcast, announced in October, features Griffin discussing how everyday people can keep their bodies and minds in shape, featuring conversations with some of the most notable figures in the world of sports, entertainment and wellness. Season 1 guests include Michael B. Jordan, Arianna Huffington, Queer Eye’s food expert Antoni Porowski, Deepak Chopra, Chelsea Handler and Karlie Kloss among others.