Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, May 12, 2011
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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Heimir (Reykjavik, Iceland): Is it possible for the Pistons to trade players for draft picks and then get two picks within the top 10 so they could draft both Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo?
Langlois: In theory, sure. If they’re just unloading a player for a draft pick, though, keep in mind that draft picks for trade purposes carry zero dollar value, so the other team has to be able to fit the salary it is taking on under the salary cap. That wipes out pretty much everybody but Sacramento. And Sacramento is highly unlikely to be taking on a sizable contract, given its current circumstances – struggling to make a go of it in Sacramento next year while the future home of the franchise is determined and not in immediate position to contend. Minnesota and Cleveland are marginally under the cap, but not enough to take on a sizable salary. If the Pistons were to trade for a top-10 pick, I would be pretty surprised if it would be to take a guard. The way their roster shapes up – when you consider that Tayshaun Prince, Tracy McGrady and Chris Wilcox are all free agents – the needs are size and a small forward.
Josh (Perth, Australia): I read your True Blue Pistons blog where you said that for the Pistons to have a shot at a big man that they covet, it would do them good if Sacramento and Utah stayed in the fifth and sixth spots and take Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight. But on the possibility of that not happening, and both Walker and Knight are still on the board, do you think the Pistons should draft either player or take the risk of drafting a lower-ranked big man like Tristan Thompson or Marcus Morris?
Langlois: Tough question, Josh. As I wrote, it’s possible that Joe Dumars, in the course of draft evaluation and having seen these guys in person, has a strong belief that one (or both, even) of Walker or Knight has the qualities to become a great guard and leader and, despite the needs of the roster, is too good to pass up. But when you look at the roster, Ben Wallace will be 37 when next season starts and Chris Wilcox is a free agent. That leaves Greg Monroe as the only real big man or someone you would consider a true power player. Jonas Jerebko can play power forward but is more of a hybrid forward. Charlie V is the epitome of the modern-day “stretch four.” I’d have a harder time seeing them take Marcus Morris, because he, too, is more of a hybrid. But Thompson? Yeah, I can see that. He’s got an NBA body already and I believe he’s good enough as a defender and rebounder to help as a rookie in the paint.
Anthony (Bensenville, Ill.): After watching Biyombo play, I consider him almost exactly like a Serge Ibaka – underrated at first, took a year to develop and now leads the NBA playoffs in blocks. He seems like an obvious complement to Monroe and that would open room for Monroe to be thrown the ball to in the offense, right?
Langlois: Not sure how Biyombo would help Monroe on the offensive end, Anthony. He’s not like Ibaka on the offensive end, the way I see it. Ibaka has a pretty nice touch on his jump shot. Biyombo’s only chance to score at this stage will be lobs and put-backs. The comparison to Ben Wallace is more apt, as I see it – but not the Ben Wallace who anchored the Pistons’ defense when they won the 2004 NBA title; the Ben Wallace who came to the NBA and took a few years to work his way into somebody’s rotation. I think Biyombo would be a significant consideration for the Pistons if he’s still on the board at seven. I know they are spending no small amount of time every day looking at the handful of big men who could be in play at No. 7, if that’s where they stay, and weighing Biyombo against Thompson against Vesely, et al. I think you’re right that Biyombo’s athleticism and shot-blocking would be an ideal fit next to Monroe on the defensive end. I just wonder how a Monroe-Biyombo combination would work offensively. I would have the same concerns about a Monroe-Thompson combo, but it might well be that one of those two players is the best fit for the Pistons if they stay at seven. My best guess is that Kanter and Vesely will be gone before that spot, which means the Pistons could have to decide between Biyombo, Thompson, one of the Morris twins or Jonas Valanciunas, who could be pushed down by concerns about his European contract and whether he’ll be able to afford the buyout.
Bob (Detroit): Who are the realistic free agent targets the Pistons should be interested in? I’m thinking Dalembert, Tyson Chandler and maybe Josh McRoberts.
Langlois: The realistic targets will be few and far between, Bob – and that’s if we assume a free-agent system that looks much like the one we have now, which isn’t a safe assumption at all. Chandler is very unlikely to go anywhere unless the new CBA makes it impossible or exceptionally punitive for Dallas to keep him. Dalembert will be a popular target – the Knicks are pretty likely to make a run at him if the new CBA allows it, but, sure, I’m of the belief the Pistons would look at him and at least gauge his interest. But the draft comes first. And if the Pistons get a big man in the draft, then it’s more likely than not that they will devote whatever resources they have to pursue free agents to small forward with both Tayshaun Prince and Tracy McGrady set to become free agents.
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