This morning's headlines:
* * *
Drummond taking it upon himself to improve Pistons -- The Detroit Pistons were one of the more disappointing teams in the league last season, taking a step backward (on offense, in particular) after ending a six-year playoff drought the season before. The play of Andre Drummond wasn't the only issue, but the center is taking responsibility for his team struggles. And after an eye-opening trip to South Africa and surgery to help with his breathing, Drummond is determined to lead his team back a better season. Yahoo's Michael Lee caught up with Drummond this week ...
The Pistons were one of the more disappointing teams in the league last season, following up a 2016 playoff appearance with an eyesore of an encore that included Reggie Jackson struggling with a knee injury and Drummond finding himself in trade rumors for the first time after failing to live up to the first year of a five-year, $130 million pact.
"It was a lot of up and down. We were very inconsistent. It was not the team, who we are. A lot of things happened to us, a lot of injuries. Guys weren't playing to best of their abilities – and it starts with me," Drummond told The Vertical between bites of his birthday cake. "I didn't come out playing the way I was supposed to. I needed to take it upon myself to be a leader this summer, to really take care of myself, take care of my body to make sure my team got better."
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy tried to remedy some of the problems with leadership by acquiring from Boston veteran shooting guard Avery Bradley, one of the league's best perimeter defenders whose offense has steadily improved each season. Drummond is excited about the addition but doesn't want to dodge the responsibilities that Van Gundy empowered him with the moment he handed out that enormous contract.
* * *
James Johnson is enjoying some stability -- After changing teams five times in his eight seasons, James Johnson is happy to be setting down in Miami after a having a break-out season and re-signing with the Heat this summer. The Sun-Sentinel's Shandel Richardson spoke with Johnson about his newfound stability...
With Johnson signing a four-year, $60 million contract in July, it appears the once journeyman has finally found a true home.
"There are things you take for granted that you don't really consider until it's too late," Johnson said. "Just trying to build an empire here in Miami is one of the dopest things I could even think about doing with my family."
After being on the go so much of his career, Johnson is now in a place where trophies and memorabilia hang from the walls of his Pinecrest home. There's even a shrine in the living room full of moments and paintings from his first season in Miami.
"Just to call a place like Miami home is one of the most gratifying things that I can think of," Johnson said. "I was happy to hit those other places. I learned a lot, but I was very happy to find a place like Miami so late in my career. I wouldn't have wanted to come here during those times when I was immature or not focused on what my career was and happened to lose this opportunity. I'm glad I came here at the right time."
* * *
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Will the Knicks regret passing on Dennis Smith Jr. for Frank Ntilikina? ... Prepare for more Boban ... Sergio Llull, one of the best players in Europe and a Rockets draftee, tore his ACL this week ... Why is LaMarcus Aldridge still in San Antonio? ... and Lonzo Ball picks LeBron over Kobe.