Pistons' Luke Kennard 'not worried' about trade rumblings with deadline approaching
Detroit — Luke Kennard in only his third NBA season, but he’s been around long enough to know how the routine works.
Late in January and early in February, the rumors start trickling out on Twitter and sometimes there’s a nudge from a teammate or even a text message from a friend or family member.
NBA trade season often brings some uneasiness because of the thought of changing teams and getting adjusted to a new situation. Kennard has seen several teammates come and go in recent years, so hearing his name in the rumors on Monday night wasn’t a big shock.
“It’s that time of the year. You’re going to see rumors and it’s hard not to see them these days. It’s that time of the year; things come out,” Kennard said after Wednesday’s shootaround. “If your name comes out, it means you’re worth some value. I’m not too worried about it and I haven’t gotten into it that much, really. I’m a Piston right now and that’s what I’m focused on. I’m working to get back healthy and playing.”
Kennard, 23, has been sidelined for the since Dec. 21 because of tendinitis in both knees but he’s been making progress toward a return, presumably after the All-Star break next week. He’s been rehabbing the knees and doing light basketball activities on the practice court.
“It’s going really well; I’m happy with the progress and taking it day by day,” Kennard said. “I’m feeling really good and continuing to work every day to make sure I’m 100 percent.”
Without Kennard and Blake Griffin, who had knee surgery and likely is out for the remainder of the season, the Pistons have cratered to an 18-34 record and are a long shot to make the playoffs. Besides Kennard, other big names are likely on the trade market, including Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson.
The injuries have given opportunities to young players such as Christian Wood and Svi Mykhailiuk, who have made an impression themselves — and also are popping up as teams inquire about some of the Pistons’ young assets.
“(The young guys) played good. We want to win but some of these guys with the opportunities they’ve had with the injuries, they’re making the most of it,” Kennard said. “It’s good to see; even though I’m not playing, I’m still involved and I’m still a voice in their head, trying to give them advice and help them get better.
“I’m excited to get back but we’re continuing to learn and try to win. Everybody wants to win.”
Kennard has had his best season, with 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists, which has drawn interest from teams ahead of the Thursday’s deadline, including the Phoenix Suns, who reportedly were offering a first-round pick plus guards Elie Okobo and Jevon Carter.
Although no deal appears imminent ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline, Kennard is taking all the trade talk and rumors in stride.
“I haven’t brought it up much," Kennard said. "Some people might have mentioned it to me but I’m not worried about it at this time. I’m here right now and that’s what I’m focused on."
Rose isn’t making that homecoming appearance at All-Star Weekend after all. He had agreed to participate in the Skills Challenge on Saturday night in his hometown of Chicago but according to a report by Shams Charania of The Athletic, Rose has pulled out of the event.
Rose, 31, is having his best season since his MVP year in 2011, primarily as a sixth man for the Pistons, but he’s moved into the starting role in recent weeks and has continued his torrid pace, with 14 straight games of scoring at least 20 points, before leaving his last game because of injury. He’s missed the last two games because of a left adductor strain, which could be the major reason for skipping the Skills Challenge.
In recent weeks, Rose's name has come up in trade talk ahead of Thursday's deadline, but the injury concern and the Pistons' desire to keep a veteran or two on the roster for a likely rebuild next season could scuttle any deals unless there's a large return.