Pistons Mailbag - May 22, 2013
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Richard (@Dem3triu5): What are your thoughts on the pick in our range at eight?
Langlois: The Pistons know the value of one spot, Richard, so of course there is some disappointment in dropping from seventh to eighth. It’s unlikely they would have gotten Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight or Andre Drummond had they been one spot lower in each of the past three drafts. But there’s a group of players that I think they like well enough and a confidence that one of them will be there at No. 8. It’s not very likely to be anyone who comes in and has the impact as a rookie that the previous three picks did – and I say that in part because with their cap space, the hope is they’ll have the best roster they’ve had since their playoff run ended – but they expect to get another strong core piece. My guess is it will be somebody from a group of Cody Zeller, C.J. McCollum, Michael Carter-Williams, Alex Len or Shabazz Muhammad with a chance that Anthony Bennett slips to No. 8 due to health concerns – not just the shoulder, but an asthma condition and a back injury that should come to some clarity after his Chicago draft combine medical evaluation. In general, as I wrote Tuesday night after the lottery results became known, if there was ever a year that drawing a top-three pick wasn’t a bad thing, it was this one.
Buk (Bangkok, Thailand): Any chance the Pistons take a leap and draft Michael Carter-Williams? I know he isn’t the scorer they covet, but his size and playmaking could make him the sleeper in this year’s draft.
Langlois: Sure. He’s one of the guys I’ll be profiling in my True Blue Pistons draft preview series, Buk. I think there’s a pretty wide gap between Carter-Williams’ ceiling and his floor, and that likely will make him available to the Pistons at No. 8. He calls to mind Shaun Livingston if Livingston hadn’t suffered the devastating knee injury as a Clippers rookie – or at least that’s what Carter-Williams could be if he reaches his potential. I bet Joe Dumars and George David put in a ton of time studying Carter-Williams between now and June 27. Of the top 10 guys, I’d say someone like Otto Porter is about as safe as it gets and a guy like Carter-Williams could be anything from future All-Star to No. 3 point guard.
Daniel (@Dfastesson): What’s the likelihood that Joe Dumars trades up in the draft, most likely for McLemore?
Langlois: He’d probably have to trade up to No. 2 to get him. Cleveland isn’t a credible threat to take a shooting guard with the No. 1 pick a year after taking Dion Waiters at No. 4, Daniel, but he makes a lot of sense for Orlando. If he doesn’t land there, I can’t see him getting past Charlotte at No. 4. I agree that McLemore makes the most sense for the Pistons – he offers a package of the deep shooting and wing athleticism they lack – but the usual cost of moving up is your No. 1 pick plus another equally valuable asset. The Pistons already owe Charlotte a first-rounder. I’m not sure they have the assets a team in a deep rebuilding mode would covet, short of parting with Greg Monroe or Andre Drummond, which is an obvious non-starter. If the Pistons are going to move in any direction in this draft, it’s more likely to be down than up.
Ed (@GOODmusicCody8): Your thoughts on Shabazz? Are the Pistons looking to take a chance on high risk for high reward?
Langlois: Muhammad is a really tough guy to assess, Ed. Teams had a book on him before he set foot on UCLA’s campus, of course, but it’s worrisome when skills don’t translate as expected from one level to the next. I talked to a bunch of people about him in Chicago. He seems himself as a two but most NBA guys don’t see him having the athleticism to match up with shooting guards, which makes him an undersized small forward who doesn’t shoot it particularly well. He has some admirable qualities – he’s tough and he plays hard. But he also sees himself as a star, and sometimes it’s tough for players who see themselves that way to fit in as role players if their talent doesn’t allow them to be stars. If the Pistons believe Muhammad can be a star, they’ll jump all over him at No. 8. If they have doubts, it might be a tougher call.
Keith (@keith_hoek): Should the Pistons tank for Wiggins next year?
Langlois: Because two times in the last 20 years the team with the worst record got the No. 1 pick? Charlotte goes into the 2013-14 season as the odds-on favorite to go into the 2014 lottery with a 25 percent chance to draft Andre Wiggins. They’ll be the Hornets by then. Maybe their luck will turn.
Andrei (Windsor, Ontario): On a scale of 1 through 10, how rigged is the NBA lottery? It seems that every other team has better “luck” than the Pistons.
Langlois: If the NBA was going to put the integrity of a multibillion industry on the line, I think they’d do a better job of it than propping up the Cleveland Cavaliers. I read a lot of similar sentiment. It simply makes no sense. You can believe what you want about the NBA’s ethical fiber, but you’d have to believe its stock of intelligence was incredibly diminished to risk everything on the marginal (read: non-existent) upside of rigging the lottery to get Cleveland a No. 1 pick in a year when the likely choice is a 206-pound center with a torn ACL.
Todd (@LionsFan1977): Will Brian Shaw run the same triangle offense as Phil Jackson did in Chicago and Los Angeles if he’s the coach?
Langlois: Good question, impossible to know. There are reports that Shaw has already interviewed for the job, and he might have. But be careful believing everything you read. There were erroneous reports the last time around about candidates having interviewed when, in fact, they hadn’t. And already in this process, I know of one candidate who has been reported to have interviewed but hadn’t been at the time of the reports. Joe Dumars said last night they’ve talked to other candidates that have yet to be reported. But if Shaw has interviewed, you can safely assume how he would handle a roster built around Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and what offense he would run was discussed at length.
Nathaniel (Ann Arbor, Mich.): Any chance the Pistons change their logo sometime in the near future? I’m a big fan of the ’90s horse logo in the traditional blue and red colors.
Langlois: Have not heard any plans to change the logo, Nathaniel, but that’s the type of announcement that is rarely anticipated. As long as Joe Dumars is running the team, I don’t think we’re going to break from tradition. In retrospect, I think even the people who were behind the mid-’90s change to teal and plum would admit it wasn’t a wise move. It came at a time when many teams were coming up with new color schemes and logos as the marketing of sports apparel was becoming fully exploited for the first time. But a team with the recent history of success the Pistons had enjoyed, winning two NBA titles in the previous decade, probably would have been better off honoring the achievement by continuing to wear the uniform of those who won championships in them. Any redesign at this point, I would expect, would be minor tinkering aside from the possible introduction of an alternative uniform that has been long rumored coming for the 2013-14 season.
Shane (Traverse City, Mich.): I’ve heard some good things about Croatian forward Dario Saric lately as potentially a top-10 pick. Is he a good fit with the Pistons or is he more of a tweener than a true wing player we so desperately crave?
Langlois: Nothing I’ve heard to this point leads me to consider Saric as a possibility for the Pistons in the lottery, Shane. That might run contrary to a few mock drafts, and it’s still possible for Saric to make an impression on scouts. One such opportunity would be at the Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy about three weeks before the draft. But Saric seems like a gamble on a few levels. His production has been spotty and there are some question marks off the court, as well. Teams will do lots of digging. If they like the answers and see a high ceiling and a reasonably high floor for Saric, he might pull himself into lottery consideration.
Kim (Sterling Heights, Mich.): Is there any chance the NBA might change the rule to preclude the Hack-a-Shaq tactics used by teams against poor foul shooters who are not involved in a play? It seems to me such a change would improve the game.
Langlois: There hasn’t been much talk about it lately, Kim. I don’t think the league is very comfortable with the practice, but there are a number of coaches who take the stance that foul shooting is a part of the game and it’s a legitimate strategy to put the game in the hands of poor foul shooters, in the same way they would try to keep the ball away from good shooters and funnel shots to poor shooters defensively. If push comes to shove and the league feels it’s losing fans and TV share because the game becomes unattractive, I think marketing concerns will win out. But that might take something extreme on the Finals stage before action is prompted.
Dave (Lenox, Mich.): If we can’t get Oladipo or Porter, we should trade down and get an extra pick, perhaps with Atlanta. Talent in the middle of the first round doesn’t look that much different than the mid-lottery. Take Hardaway Jr. and Jeff Withey. Hardaway looked great at the combine and you can’t go wrong with a defensive presence off the bench like Withey.
Langlois: Atlanta might be an unlikely trade partner, Dave, if only because the Hawks are one of the few teams in the NBA that will have more cap space to take into the summer than the Pistons and will be looking more for the free-agent market to make their big splash and to the draft for complementary pieces. It all depends on how teams view the draft, of course, but if most teams concur with your assessment – that the talent will be similar at 17 and 18, where the Hawks are picking, than in the middle of the lottery – then there will be little incentive for them to trade two picks for one. Now, if the Hawks are reasonably sure what will happen in free agency and see a player they know will be gone by 17 who they view as an immediate rotation upgrade, then perhaps your proposal would appeal to them. My guess is Atlanta might be looking to deal one of its first-rounders to save itself the cap hold and maximize cap space for a run at Dwight Howard and a second max-level free agent.
Alex (Allendale, Mich.): What’s the word on Jose Calderon being re-signed? He seemed to fit well enough and has enough experience under his belt to help out the young guys.
Langlois: I don’t think we’re going to get too many hints on Calderon, Alex, until July arrives and we know which teams are in pursuit of him. By all indications, Calderon was impressed with the way the Pistons went about their business and their level of appreciation for his attributes as a point guard, leader and teammate. But other teams value those attributes, as well, and Calderon made references to the decision being one that would be made as a family. Who knows what might drive the final decision? After spending the first eight years of his career in Toronto and Detroit, perhaps the family will want a climate that more closely resembles their native Spain. Dallas has been mentioned as a team that could have interest in Calderon. We’ll have to wait until July on this one, I expect.
Brian (Toronto): I read somewhere recently that suggested the Pistons try to trade their two second-round draft picks for a late first-rounder from one of the teams with salary-cap issues. Then the Pistons could give their late first-rounder to Charlotte to fulfill their obligations from the Ben Gordon trade. That sounds like a good idea. Do you have access to suggest it to Joe Dumars or someone in management?
Langlois: The Pistons couldn’t make that move unilaterally, Brian, and I doubt Charlotte would accept a late first-rounder when the Bobcats, conceivably, could wind up with a lottery pick, protected through the first eight picks, next season in what is believed to be a strong draft. There are specific terms to the deal the Pistons and Charlotte agreed to last June with protections put on the pick that both teams negotiated. The Pistons can’t simply dump another first-rounder on Charlotte to circumvent those conditions. I have written about the possibility of combining their two second-round picks, 37 (it would have been 38, but Washington’s leap ahead of the Pistons in the first round means the Pistons pick ahead of the Wizards in the second) and 56, to trade into the late first round with a team that might be facing luxury tax consequences and wishes to avoid the guaranteed salary slot attached to all first-round picks, or perhaps a team looking to clear as much cap space as possible before free agency and wants to avoid the cap hold on a first-rounder.