Central Notes: Cunningham, Sykes, K. Martin, Caruso

Hoops Rumors

Cade Cunningham will have his first game as a pro when the Pistons begin Summer League play tonight, but James L. Edwards III of The Athletic cautions that fans shouldn’t expect too much right away. The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft went several months without playing five-on-five before Detroit’s team started practice this week. Edwards expects him to adjust to the situation gradually rather than try to dominate right away.

“I don’t want to come in and force anything,” Cunningham said. “I want to get a flow for the team. I want to get a feel for everyone on the team. I know what the No. 1 pick perception is coming in, so I think the biggest thing for me is coming and reassuring the team that I’m about playing winning basketball and not living up to the hype or whatever. I want to be able to blend in.”

Summer League may be crucial for Sekou Doumbouya after two up-and-down seasons, Edwards adds. The offseason additions of Kelly Olynyk and Trey Lyles will mean fewer minutes available in the front court, and Doumbouya may need a strong performance this week to show the Pistons that he should still be part of their future.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Summer League veteran Keifer Sykes hopes to show the Pacers that he’s worthy of a spot on their roster, writes Jonathan X. Simmons of The Indianapolis Star. Sykes reached an agreement on an Exhibit 10 contract this week, shortly after hitting a game-winning shot to wrap up The Basketball Tournament. “This is my fourth time in summer league, so I’m really excited after last year with COVID and we didn’t have it,” Sykes  said. “I’m just excited to continue to show people my game, and to continue to have endurance in my pro career while I’m getting into my prime.”
  • The guarantee date has passed for Pacers small forward Kelan Martin, so unless the two sides quietly agreed to push that deadline, Indiana will owe him $1.7MM this season, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Martin played 35 games for the Pacers last season after starting his career with the Timberwolves in 2019/20.
  • Due to NBA rules regarding Base Year Compensation, the Bulls‘ trade exception in the deal that sent Daniel Theis to Houston will be his 2020/21 salary of $5MM instead of his new outgoing salary of $8MM+, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. That means Chicago will have to sign Alex Caruso outright, rather than arranging a sign-and-trade with the Lakers. The Bulls will presumably use their mid-level exception for Caruso, adds K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

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