Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, May 5, 2011 - Page 2
Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. Click here to submit your questions - please include your name, email address and city/state on the form. Return to the Mailbag homepage.
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Gary (West Hills, Calif.): Would it be possible for the Pistons to trade for the No. 1 pick, trade away some players and start from scratch with a new owner, new coach and new face of the franchise, Kyrie Irving?
Langlois: It might be the type of draft where trading for the No. 1 pick is conceivable, Gary. In years where there is no universally acknowledged transcendent star (or years where there are two great players at the top of the draft, as seemed the case, at least, in both 2007 and ’08 when Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, then Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley were the season-long consensus 1-2 picks), the premium for trading into that spot would more than likely be prohibitive. This year? Perhaps not. Let’s say Minnesota, for instance, draws the No. 1 pick; the odds give it the best chance. As I wrote this week, it might be very difficult for the T-wolves to pick Irving – as long as they still believe in Ricky Rubio, at least – and they might not see much upside in taking Derrick Williams if they view Michael Beasley, already on their roster, as a similar player. So if the Pistons got the No. 3 pick, perhaps the T-wolves would be happy to swap picks if the Pistons gave them their high second-rounder, No. 33, perhaps along with other considerations. I’m not sure it would be doable if the Pistons stay at No. 7, though. If the T-wolves get the No. 1 pick and make it known they’re interested in trading out of that spot, there will be teams in need of a point guard that make attractive offers to land Kyrie Irving.
Jason (Pontiac, Mich.): After watching Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol of Memphis dismantle Oklahoma City in Game 1, I’d like to know who your top five power combos in the league are. To me, Randolph and Gasol are definitely one of the top five power forward-center combinations.
Langlois: That might be underselling them by two or three spots at the moment, Jason. I think you have to start with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol for the way they can dominate at both ends when Bynum is healthy and on top of his game. But Pau Gasol has been the second-best Gasol in the postseason so far. I’d put Randolph and Marc Gasol right behind them at this point; they’ve been the top tandem of the postseason, though OKC got them well under control in Game 2. The Chicago-Atlanta series features two other contenders: Joakim Noah-Carlos Boozer and Al Horford-Josh Smith. To round out the top five, I’ll go Dirk Nowitzki-Tyson Chandler. Portland would have been a serious contender without the devastating injuries to Greg Oden and Marcus Camby alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. And you can make the case that Dwight Howard and anyone – Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass – belongs on the list. Or you can also argue for teams going small – Miami with Chris Bosh and LeBron James and New York with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony come to mind.
Peter (Jackson, Mich.): You and several other writers expect Ben Gordon to be with the Pistons next year and excel. Why? Gordon has been dismal in his two years with the Pistons. He is careless with the ball, cannot get around a screen and hasn’t been a good shooter with the Pistons. If we have any chance to trade that contract, we should.
Langlois: Joe Dumars has fielded numerous trade requests for Gordon. It happened at the trade deadlines in both of his seasons with the Pistons. I have knowledge of a trade offer made to the Pistons that involved a high-profile player coming the other way. Teams believe in the Gordon who for five years was the model of consistency in Chicago. So I don’t know that I’d say I “expect” Gordon to be with the Pistons next year. As part of Joe D’s effort to rebalance the roster, Gordon as a part of a trade package would likely be on the table. That’s a long way from saying the Pistons are looking to trade him, but for the right price, anything is possible. At 28 and with no history of debilitating injuries, there’s little evidence to support the theory that he’s on the downside of his career. The only serious injury of his career was a severe ankle sprain that eventually required surgery to clean up bone fragments; it’s pretty easy to write off his 2009-10 downturn to that. The 2010-11 season is more puzzling. While it’s fair to assume that the Pistons would entertain any reasonable trade proposal for Gordon (or most everybody else, for that matter), they wouldn’t consider any deal that would require him to package Gordon with other desirable assets just to move the contract.
Chris (Ann Arbor, Mich.): I believe the Pistons were a much better team this year than they were the year before. In the end, it’s about improving your team for the future. The Pistons won more games, which indicates to me they are improving. Do you see them being a championship contender in the next few seasons?
Langlois: I think they have the assets in place – and I’m counting on a lottery pick this year as one of those assets – to be a legitimate playoff contender next year. By that, I mean a team that could make the postseason and wouldn’t be a first-round pushover, the way Indiana made Chicago work or Philadelphia did Miami in the first round this season. Beyond that, it depends on how much room for growth the young core – Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye, plus this year’s No. 1 pick, primarily – exhibits and what moves on top of that Joe Dumars can make to fill out the roster. The other group of young vets – Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell – will be critical to the team in whatever direction it goes. They’ll either be the right complementary pieces or they’ll be used as trade chips to land those right pieces.
Ben (Dallas): Do you think Joe Dumars might consider trading our seventh pick to get rid of some bad contracts? I know he almost traded away Rip and our No. 1 pick to Cleveland at the trade deadline. I was thinking about Ben Gordon and the No. 7 pick for Okafor. Does it work?
Langlois: Gordon for Okafor might be a consideration for either side, Ben, but I don’t think the Pistons would toss a lottery pick in for good measure. The contracts are similar – both with three years left, if they exercise player options, Okafor due to make about $2 million more than Gordon. If the Pistons trade Hamilton, they will be less inclined to package an asset this off-season than they would have been at the trade deadline. For one reason, all of Hamilton’s 2010-11 contract has now been paid.
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