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Eastern Conference

Bucks’ Thon Maker Downplays Trade Rumors

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Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker is downplaying trade rumors just days after reports circulated saying he requested a trade from the team, citing his unhappiness with his role.

Maker participated in a Q&A style interview with JSOnline’s Matt Velasquez and addressed the rumors while stating his love for the Bucks organization.

“Q: How far in advance did you know that story was going to come out? Did you know it was going to come out?

A: No, no. I’ve been focused on the game, like every single game all year just like I always do. I’m a winner. I focus on the games and that’s all that matters to me. I’ve never just said things recklessly without thinking about it or talking to people about it. I always go back to my people and talk to them about it. I just focus on the game; that’s all I’ve done so far.

Q: For you, does it end up distracting you? Obviously, you’re going to focus on the game, but when something like that comes out I would assume there would be some level of distraction to it.

A: Me, I’m just focusing on the games, man. I love this game so much, I can’t let anything distract me. Like if something happens within a family or something happens to a friend or something like that, I always find a way to focus back on the game. I love Milwaukee. I really want you guys to get this down. I love Milwaukee, I love the fans, the city – it works hard, I work hard and I’ve always done that since the first day I decided to play basketball.”

Milwaukee may not be interested in dealing Maker, but needs to give him more minutes if they believe in his potential, and want to keep him happy.

Detroit Pistons

Pistons’ Dwane Casey Planning Flexibility with Blake Griffin, Thon Maker

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Detroit Pistons’ head coach Dwane Casey has a creative approach in mind when he utilizes Blake Griffin and Thon Maker this upcoming season.

While the Pistons don’t have a true center outside of Andre Drummond, Casey sees opportunities to get creative with his lineups, depending on the situation at hand.

“I see it being very situational,” Casey said, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

“The other guy we haven’t mentioned, we have played Blake at the five. Not good numbers off of that, so I don’t anticipate that but there are scenarios in the game, last two minutes of the game, where Blake could play the five. Looking for really a bump out of Thon, playing him at four/five, whatever it is, but a lot of nights if you look at the league, the rosters have gotten smaller and the traditional five has kind of gone the way of the dinosaur. The flexibility we have with Thon, with Markieff having the possibility of playing there, is really important.”

With Drummond focusing on developing his offense this offseason, the Pistons may lack some defense at the rim, and in the paint.

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Eastern Conference

Heat’s Bam Adebayo Discusses Team Picking Up Option

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Bam Adebayo

The Miami Heat recently picked up the fourth-year option on the contract of center Bam Adebayo, who is thrilled to see further commitment from the team.

Adebayo, the Heat’s starter at center, will make $3.5 million this season, and is now guaranteed $5.1 million in the 2020-2021 season.

“It’s definitely a confidence builder,” Adebayo said, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It’s one of those things that a lot of guys don’t get to see, but I’m glad it happened to me. So we’re going to keep this thing going and see if we can win some more games.”

Adebayo collected 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season for Miami.

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Eastern Conference

Knicks’ Dennis Smith Jr. Out to Prove Something this Season

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While the New York Knicks made headlines as they whiffed on several big name free agents this summer, one of their promising young players believes that a big year is on the horizon.

Knicks’ guard Dennis Smith Jr., who was acquired from the Dallas Mavericks via trade, is looking to make a splash in his first full season with the Knicks.

“It’s just been relentless work. I feel like I’ve got something to prove,” Smith Jr. said, according to The New York Daily News’ Kristian Wingfield.

“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder still, but I’ve just been working. I try to attack each day and look at it as if I didn’t leave anything on the table. I got the most out of my day. … I’m gonna come in, bring that into training camp and be a leader, lead by example, earn my respect from these guys and then carry that into the season.”

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