Pistons Mailbag - May 8, 2013
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James (Detroit): I was interested to read in your True Blue Pistons blog on Andre Drummond recently that he said Roy Rogers would be working him out while he’s back at Connecticut taking some college courses. Does that mean Rogers and the rest of the assistant coaches weren’t also let go when they fired Lawrence Frank?
Langlois: It is generally the case that the contracts of assistant coaches run through June 30, which is the end of the NBA’s business year. If that’s the language in the case of the staff that Lawrence Frank assembled in 2011, then those coaches are still under contract no matter what happened with Frank. It is also generally true that a newly hired head coach has the option to fill out his staff, particularly his immediate staff – the three assistant coaches with him on the bench. Frank ultimately wound up keeping Brian Hill – with whom he had a longstanding previous relationship – and Steve Hetzel from the previous staff, as well as retaining video coordinator Ryan Winters. It’s not uncommon for one or more assistants to be retained by a newly hired head coach. It really depends on the makeup of the staff once the new coach brings with him the assistants he feels are essential. Let’s say the new head coach has two or three “must-have” assistants that he brings with him. The rest of the staff will be filled around them to form the most compatible fit. It could well be that the next head coach will be interested in retaining Rogers, for example, because he has worked so closely with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, two players obviously critical to the franchise’s future. But if one of the assistants the new coach makes it a priority to bring with him specializes in coaching big men, then that could lead him to look in another direction.
Marvin (Richmond, Va.): Your blog on Arnie Kander working with Greg Monroe on drills to help him convert to power forward was very interesting. Why do you think Greg is missing so many point-blank shots and is there anything that could be incorporated in his training to help with that issue?
Langlois: When he misses inside, it’s usually for the same reasons everybody misses inside – having to alter or rush the shot to avoid having it blocked. Kander explained how getting stronger will help him create just a little more space that will help him get to his second move for a cleaner look. He also talked about working more on finishing with his right hand. Getting the body stronger, quicker, better balanced and better conditioned helps with everything, of course. And that’s the ultimate endgame of Kander’s summer training regimen.
Davonte (Detroit): Can you see the Pistons moving downtown? Do you think our fan base would be boosted? Should we share arenas with the Red Wings in 2016?
Langlois: I can’t speak for ownership, Davonte, but when ownership has spoken they’ve been pretty clear that The Palace is home for the foreseeable future. The reality doesn’t indicate a move will happen any time soon. Tom Gores bought not only the Pistons but The Palace from Karen Davidson just two years ago and he’s pumped many millions of dollars into renovations and upgrades since then. That doesn’t suggest a move is imminent. He owns the building and controls all the ancillary revenue streams – suite sales, concessions, parking – that come along with sole ownership. There are other concerns, as well, including freedom to control scheduling without regard to a co-tenant. When the Pistons were annual title contenders and appearing in six consecutive conference finals, attendance wasn’t a problem. The economy is rebounding, if not all the way back. If the Pistons, as I fully expect, are in the thick of the playoff chase next season, attendance will begin to rebound, perhaps even dramatically. There might well come a day when logic argues for a move. Gores didn’t close any doors when he was asked about the issue early in the 2012-13 season. But a Platinum Equity spokesman also made it clear, after Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert recently opined that the Pistons should move downtown, that ownership was intent on maintaining The Palace among the NBA’s top venues and keeping the Pistons in place.
Ku (Detroit): With the hiring of Phil Jackson as an adviser, is there any chance that he will be interviewed or hired as the coach?
Langlois: The quotes from Mark Barnhill, a partner in Tom Gores’ Platinum Equity, made it pretty clear, Ku: Jackson, based on his prior relationship with Gores, agreed to serve in an advisory capacity but not to take a formal position within the organization. There wasn’t much room for doubt in the way the hiring was framed. Jackson might be open to the possibility of coaching again, but it is very likely that if it happens it would only be with a team poised for a title run immediately.
Steve (Northport, Mich.): Part of the reason Andre Drummond had a breakout rookie season, I feel, can be attributed to Will Bynum. I hope the Pistons can keep him.
Langlois: I won’t argue against the case that Bynum had the best pick-and-roll chemistry with Drummond of the four Pistons who had the ball in their hands most last season – Bynum, Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Jose Calderon – though Calderon and Drummond didn’t really play together enough to come to conclusions about their fit. This was Bynum’s best season since his first with the Pistons, when he had a lesser role on a team with more accomplished veterans ahead of him. Nagging injuries, particularly ankle sprains that robbed him of the explosiveness that separates Bynum from similarly undersized point guards, held him back those other years. He hit 30 last season and that could give pause to teams interested in adding a reliable No. 2 point guard, given how heavily Bynum relies on quickness that could be diminished by age. But Joe Dumars has long admired Bynum’s tenacity and he has the advantage of familiarity. If the Pistons don’t get positive indications that Calderon will return early in free agency, the odds of a Bynum return likely would pick up. Stay tuned.
Lenon (West Bloomfield, Mich.): I saw that you wrote about Andre Drummond’s plans for the summer. Can you do this with all the returning players because we get so little insight elsewhere over the summer about our players’ goals and what they must work on to help themselves.
Langlois: You might also be interested in this blog on Greg Monroe’s summer plans, Lenon. As the summer unfolds, I’ll have more on the young players on the roster and what they’re focused on to improve their bodies and their games. This is typically a very quiet time around the NBA for teams whose seasons are finished. It will pick back up for the Pistons after the draft, when Summer League unfolds and then their young players and incoming draft picks spend more time at the practice facility. I’ll be in Orlando for Summer League again and we’ll have a better idea at that point – after the draft and with free agency in full swing – what the roster will look like for the 2013-14 season.
John (Hexham, England): In your blog “Playing the Odds,” after discussing the future for Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva, you said the only long-term bigs on the roster appear to be Drummond, Monroe and Jerebko. So where does Kravtsov fit? Does he still have to prove himself or is there some other reason?
Langlois: I should have also mentioned him, John, but you can’t yet move Kravtsov into the category of “long-term” solution, either. Even when Jason Maxiell went down for the season with a detached retina, Kravtsov didn’t secure a spot in the rotation. The Pistons hold an option on his contract for next season, so it’s not yet definite that he’ll be back, of course. But if the Pistons have a chance to add a legitimate No. 3 big man with their lottery pick and that player, in their view, has a more certain NBA future than anyone else on the board at that point, I don’t know that Kravtsov’s presence would deter them from going big.
Ares (Detroit): Will Joe Dumars talk to Jerry Sloan? He is a Hall of Fame coach and somebody who has been there, done that, except for winning it all. Or will he look for somebody like when he found Rick Carlisle? That’s when things did a 180 and two seasons later we were champions.
Langlois: I think it’s clear from the media reports, assuming their accuracy, about the list of candidates either under consideration or already interviewed that Joe D is casting a wide net and open to coaches with a variety of backgrounds – ex-players and those with no NBA playing background, former head coaches, lifetime assistants, et al. I don’t know about Sloan, but I know he’s held Sloan in very high esteem. Given the number of openings already across the league, with the likelihood of more to come, it could be telling about Sloan’s intentions that his name has barely surfaced. At 71, it might be that he’s had enough of a demanding lifestyle.