Pistons Mailbag - Monday, May 23, 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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Adam (Traverse City, Mich.): A lot of mock drafts I’ve read have the Pistons taking Kawhi Leonard with the No. 8 pick. I haven’t seen too much of him and I’m wondering if you have and what you think of his game. In a perfect world, who would the Pistons most covet of the players you think might realistically still be there?

Langlois: I haven’t considered Leonard a strong possibility with the No. 8 pick, Adam. Perhaps that’s short-sighted, because it’s not hard to make a case that the Pistons could be looking for small forward help with Tayshaun Prince and Tracy McGrady both set to become free agents. Leonard struck me as a power forward in a small forward’s body when I saw him a few times at San Diego State, but he reportedly has been working on his perimeter game and making strides. He’s a fine athlete – added bonus: huge wing span and hands – who plays with an edge. He looks like he’ll rebound and defend well for his position. If teams think he can score enough to become a starter at small forward, then No. 8 might not be a reach, after all. I still think the Pistons will look to go big; we’ve talked about the group of big men in their range. If there are three or four among that group they like but one or two they’re not sure about, then maybe somebody like Leonard will be a strong consideration for them if the right guys aren’t there when they go to pick. I’m not sure who the Pistons’ “perfect world” candidate is or, really, who “realistically” will be there at eight. Other than Irving and Williams, as I’ve written, there’s a decent chance any particular player will be there at eight. Kanter intrigues me, but that doesn’t mean – after the Pistons have concluded all of their draft evaluations – that he would be their guy.

Shairon (Detroit): Do the Pistons still have two second-round picks? I’m a little worried because both NBA.com and NBAdraft.net show the Pistons with one selection only.

Langlois: Yes, the Pistons have two second-round picks. They don’t own their own second-rounder, though – that goes to the LA Clippers as part of the 2009 trade that sent Alex Acker to the Clippers to enable the Pistons to get under the luxury-tax line. The Pistons would receive a second-rounder from the Clippers in 2012 – but only if the Clippers are picking 56th or below. The Pistons this year have the No. 33 pick (final payment from Toronto for Carlos Delfino) and the No. 52 pick from Denver. It might still be listed as Denver’s pick because the terms of the trade give Denver the right to convey either its own pick or Portland’s second-rounder. Those two picks are 51 and 52, so the assumption is that Denver will choose to convey the (slightly) less valuable pick at 52.

Eli (Toledo, Ohio): How about trading Ben Gordon, Will Bynum and a second-round pick to Milwaukee for Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut. We could throw in the other second-round pick if necessary. This would allow the Pistons to add a decent frontcourt partner for Greg Monroe. With the acquisition of Jennings, they could then release Stuckey.

Langlois: The Bucks wouldn’t do that trade, Eli, unless they had grave concerns about Bogut’s health status and considered him unlikely to be able to carry the load of a starting center any longer. There’s nothing to indicate they feel that way. Bogut and Jennings are Milwaukee’s two best assets – and by a wide margin. There was a published report coming out of the Chicago draft combine that the Bucks would be open to trading Jennings, though the credibility is unknown. As for “releasing” Stuckey – I assume you mean not making him a qualifying offer before June 30 so he becomes an unrestricted free agent. That is most unlikely. Joe Dumars has made it clear he wants Stuckey back. Is it possible that as a restricted free agent Stuckey will sign an offer sheet that makes the Pistons balk? Maybe. But extending a qualifying offer at least keeps all of their options in play.

Mike (Orion Twp., Mich.): Any word on Terrico White’s progress? He wows everyone at the rookie photo shoot last summer, then gets injured for the whole season. Also, do you see the Pistons moving forward with DaJuan Summers? I see someone with a high ceiling if he can get some experience under his belt.

Langlois: We’ll find out if or how Summers fits into the Pistons’ plans by June 30, as well, Mike. He, like Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko, will become a free agent on July 1 if the Pistons do not extend a qualifying offer. While QOs to Stuckey and Jerebko are virtually foregone conclusions, the case with Summers is less clear. While he has displayed terrific shooting range and hinted at the promise of developing into a top-flight scorer in his first two seasons, Summers hasn’t made gains as a rebounder or defender. He’s stuck behind Austin Daye and Jerebko for now. Perhaps the decision on Summers will be influenced by what the Pistons do on draft day. As for White, while the Pistons have him under contract for next season, second-rounders usually have only partially guaranteed money for their second year or there might be a date written into the contract after which the contract would be fully guaranteed for the second season. White’s rookie year was a complete washout. He broke his foot in the preseason opener and was expected to miss about eight weeks. He wasn’t cleared to return to practice until much later than that, then reported experiencing foot pain shortly after, costing him what remained of the D-League season. If the NBA and its players haven’t agreed on a new CBA before July 1 and players cannot work with coaches – meaning White won’t be able to work out at the team’s practice facility or anywhere else under the supervision of Pistons coaches – then White’s progress will be further hindered.

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