Pistons, Wizards putting puzzle pieces together
A pair of trades last week resulted in a muddled rotation for the Detroit Pistons. And another addition over the weekend will provide yet another option for coach Dwane Casey to ponder.
The Pistons signed Wayne Ellington after he cleared waivers on Saturday. Ellington was traded by Miami last week to rebuilding Phoenix, which had no intention of retaining the 31-year-old shooting guard.
Ellington could make his Detroit debut when the Pistons host Washington on Monday.
Ellington bounced in and out of Miami's rotation this season, appearing in 25 games, including 12 starts. He averaged a career-high 11.2 points last season and could replace Reggie Bullock in the Pistons' lineup. Bullock was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and key reserve Stanley Johnson was dealt to New Orleans in a three-team swap.
Detroit picked up rookie swingman Svi Mykhailiuk and 7-foot-1 Thon Maker in those deals. Both made their debuts on Friday when the Pistons defeated the woeful New York Knicks 120-103 for their third straight victory.
Mykhailiuk made a 3-pointer in nine minutes, while Maker was scoreless in eight minutes. Casey used 12 of his 13 available players in the first half alone.
"Just trying to find out who can do what," Casey said. "I want to see what Svi can do. I wanted to see Thon and how he fit in. I know who he is. I just wanted to see how he would fit in during a game situation."
Maker likely will remain in the rotation as a reserve power forward who can stretch the defense and block shots. Mykhailiuk might have trouble getting playing time with Ellington, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway and rookies Bruce Brown and Khyri Thomas battling for playing time at the wing spots.
"As players, you've got to trust the front office," All-Star power forward Blake Griffin said. "They know what they're doing. Obviously, we miss those guys (Bullock and Johnson) a lot. I wish them the best. But you hope to get some guys that come in right away and help out."
Center Andre Drummond has helped the Pistons (25-29) get back in the playoff picture. Drummond recorded his league-best ninth 20-20 game of the season with 29 points and 20 rebounds against the Knicks. He's averaging 24.3 points on 75.6 percent shooting, 16 rebounds and 3.7 blocks during the winning streak.
The teams split their first two meetings on the season, with Detroit winning at home 106-95 on Dec. 26 and Washington securing a 101-87 decision on its home floor on Jan. 21.
The Wizards (24-32) have gotten a boost from two players they acquired from Chicago for starting forward Otto Porter Jr. Power forward Bobby Portis is averaging 20 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in two wins since the trade, while small forward Jabari Parker has averaged 13.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.0 steals.
Parker had fallen out of favor with the Bulls, but the Wizards have given him a major bench role.
"He's a playmaker," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Parker. "We're lucky to have him. He does a lot of good things for us. We're going to use him as we have used him the last couple of games."
Parker had 20 points in a 134-125 victory over the Bulls on Saturday night. Starting forward Jeff Green suffered a hip injury earlier in the game and Parker played 35 minutes.
"He's a good fit for us," Brooks said. "It's something that we need. We need bench scoring. We need a guy like that and we found him."
--Field Level MediaHome