NBA rumors: Suns extend critical weapon, Giannis Game 1 status in doubt, Pistons blockbuster idea

  • What if the Pistons swing for the fences and add an All-Star?
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo's status for Game 1 vs. Pacers 'very much' in doubt
  • Suns sign Grayson Allen to $70 million extension
Grayson Allen, Phoenix Suns
Grayson Allen, Phoenix Suns / Jamie Schwaberow/GettyImages

The NBA Playoffs are here, and they're beautiful. The slate worked out perfectly and there should be plenty of great basketball in the first round. Meanwhile, half the league is focused not on the postseason, but the offseason. The NBA Draft is a few months away, then free agency follows soon after.

It's that perfect point of convergence for the broader NBA fandom. We get to speculate and predict the future, all while watching high-stakes basketball involving the best teams in the league. We can expect the NBA rumors to keep heating up in the weeks to come as more teams fall and the offseason landscape solidifies.

Here are the rumblings worth your attention today.

NBA rumors: Pistons hypothesized as Donovan Mitchell trade destination

There is "growing belief" around the NBA that the Cleveland Cavaliers will have to trade Donovan Mitchell if the two sides can't reach terms on an extension, per Marc Stein. The natural trade destinations are well covered — New York, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Miami. We don't hear much about the Detroit Pistons, though.

It's not hard to understand why, of course. If Mitchell isn't going to re-sign in Cleveland, he probably doesn't want to land in an even smaller and less competitive midwestern market. Still, Aaron Kellerstrass over at PistonPowered believes trading for Mitchell is the exact kind of move Detroit should be looking to make.

"Detroit could put together a competitive trade package. There may be a team that could offer more than young players and a top-5 pick, but Detroit should at least inquire... But this is the type of deal the Pistons have to throw their hat in the ring for, otherwise, why are they hoarding all of this cap space? The Pistons may not even have what it takes to trade for Mitchell, so this could all be moot, but if he becomes available, they have to at least try."

He's right: Detroit has the trade ammo to put together a competitive package. In addition to a top-5 pick in June and several juicy future picks, the Pistons can package one or two of their intriguing prospects — Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart — to pique Cleveland's interest.

The only holdup is the contract situation. There's no point in mortgaging the future for Mitchell if he's not going to re-sign, and it's hard to imagine him earnestly engaging in extension talks with the Pistons. Mitchell and Cade Cunningham are a great fit on paper, and Mitchell would put the playoffs back on the radar in Detroit. But, in the end, the Pistons suffer the same anxieties and uncertainties of every small market. There's a good chance the established stars just don't want to play there.

NBA rumors: Giannis Antetokounmpo status 'up in the air' for Bucks-Pacers Game 1

The Milwaukee Bucks fell to the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with their season finale loss to the Orlando Magic. As such, it's the No. 6 Indiana Pacers on the docket, a tricky matchup for this Bucks squad. To add fuel to the fire of concern raging around the fanbase, Giannis Antetokounmpo's status for Game 1 is "very much up in the air," per FanDuel TV's Shams Charania.

Shams makes note of the 7-footer's "superhuman" ability to heal, saying nobody around the Bucks wants to rule him out. But, it's also a calf strain, one of Antetokounmpo's first "serious non-contact injuries." So, there's a chance Indiana could have an automatic upper hand out of the gate.

The Bucks went 1-4 against Indiana in the regular season, including an In-Season Tournament loss. The Pacers are equipped with one of the best offenses in the NBA, helmed by Tyrese Haliburton, whom the Bucks have little answer for defensively. Milwaukee, meanwhile, is 17-19 since Doc Rivers' arrival. No contender has been more inconsistent, more blatantly in flux over the last few months. Talent advantage or not, the Bucks are a mess. It's hard to put the pieces together in the playoffs.

Rivers' track record in the postseason is well documented. Rick Carlisle, on the other hand, is quite the tactician, the rare veteran coach that has adapted with the times. Indiana has the tactical advantage. Giannis thrived individually against the Pacers this season, but if he can't trust his calf fully, that could limit his impact.

It's safe to say Milwaukee is on the ropes. The Pacers are a trendy upset pick for good reason.

NBA rumors: Suns extend Grayson Allen to four-year, $70 million contract

The Phoenix Suns are keeping the core together. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix has agreed to terms with Grayson Allen on a four-year, $70 million contract to keep the 28-year-old out of free agent waters.

That's great value for both sides. Phoenix prevents the price from ballooning, as it inevitably would have in free agency. New Suns owner Mat Ishbia pushes the Suns' projected 2024-25 payroll up to $206 million, with $104 million in luxury tax penalties. That will be the highest in the NBA. Still, the Suns could not afford to let Allen walk. He has been too important to their success this season.

The majority of the focus in Phoenix has been on their "Big Three" of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal, but Allen has quietly been the third-most important cog in the machine more often than not. He averaged 13.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on .499/.461/.878 splits in 33.5 minutes during the regular season. All career-high marks.

In addition to his absurd shooting, Allen has been a legitimate source of secondary creation and defensive hustle for the Suns. He has developed a contemptible reputation over the years, but Allen is generally a fan favorite in his market. He does the dirty work — some would say too literally at times — and this season, he has elevated the shot-making to a whole new level.

Phoenix's exorbitant payroll will test the limits of the new CBA, but Allen leaving in free agency would have been catastrophic. This is a great move all around.

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