Pistons Mailbag - Thursday June 2, 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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Jake (New Baltimore, Mich.): In the last Mailbag you talked about the reported proposed trade of Rip Hamilton to Cleveland at the trade deadline when discussing the Bulls’ lack of scorers. Were the Pistons really about to give away our first-round pick just to dump Rip’s salary or was the trade of our picks under discussion? Also, you’ve said that trades between teams in the same division are rare, yet Rip to Cleveland contrasts that belief.
Langlois: I said rare, not non-existent, I said high-profile players being traded for each other was rare – as opposed to quasi-salary dumps – and I was speaking about the speculation of Chicago looking to move Carlos Boozer and how that would be a fit for the Pistons, extrapolating from the reports of Chicago’s interest in acquiring Hamilton via buyout that the Bulls had already indicated they were comfortable at Hamilton’s fit within their offense. I’m pretty sure Joe Dumars wouldn’t back away from any deal he thought would benefit the Pistons just because the trading partner was a division rival, but there are GMs who would prefer to not expose themselves to that type of risk. As for what the Pistons would have received in the reported trade, they would have taken on Cleveland’s trade exception, acquired when LeBron James signed with Miami, for roughly $14 million – meaning the Pistons could have taken back another player from a different team with a sizable salary. It’s conceivable the Pistons would not have chosen to exercise the trade exception or been able to find a trade partner, but that’s an important consideration in evaluating such trades.
Ben (Grosse Pointe, Mich.): What would happen with the current cap situation if Rip Hamilton were bought out, as has been speculated in various media accounts regarding an amnesty clause? With the expiring contracts on the roster, would Rip’s buyout give the Pistons an additional $12.5 million in cap space?
Langlois: Buyout talk for anyone is premature until a new CBA is signed, Ben. There has been widespread speculation that one provision of a new labor agreement – as a one-time tool – would allow teams to buy out one contract. The player would get all of the money owed to him under the terms of the contract; the benefit to the team would be to have that salary erased for purposes of computing the total on its salary cap. And for teams that are in danger of exceeding the tax line – the Pistons would not be motivated by such concerns – the real benefit is avoiding luxury tax. If a team is, for instance, $12 million over the tax line and has a player under contract due to make $30 million in equal installments of $10 million over the next three years, it would still have to pay him that $30 million – but it would avoid the $10 million in tax payments each year it would have come in over the line. But nobody really knows if that will be a part of the final agreement reached by owners and players. As to your second question, when a contract comes off the books, it doesn’t mean that a team now has that amount under the salary cap to spend. It depends on the total of its other outstanding commitments. Even if only one salary were to come off the books – Hamilton’s, in this case – and even if the team was exactly at the salary-cap figure in the preceding year, you can’t assume it would now be that amount under the cap the following year even if the cap figure didn’t move. Automatic raises are written into many contracts for as much as 10.5 percent. Cap holds on contracts for restricted free agents – Rodney Stuckey, for instance, in this off-season – cause another adjustment.
Scott (Ferndale, Mich.): What are your thoughts on the Pistons taking a chance on either Yao or Oden? Is it possible to trade a shooting guard and the No. 8 pick for one of those players?
Langlois: They’re both pending free agents, Scott – Yao unrestricted, Oden restricted as long as Portland extends a qualifying offer by June 25. Under Rich Cho, the Blazers had indicated they were likely to extend the QO. Under acting GM Chad Gallagher, their intent is uncertain. Regardless, the Pistons could not trade for either player now. Sign-and-trade deals would be allowed if free agency follows the same guidelines under the next CBA, but that’s all up for negotiation.
James (Bridgeport, W.V.): What is the current status on the debate about Bismack Biyombo’s age? I see that his agent has offered X-ray studies of Biyombo’s wrists to NBA teams for review. Any word on whether the Pistons are one of the teams reviewing the studies? I watched Biyombo at the Hoop Summit and it looks like he learned to count birthdays at Greg Oden’s house.
Langlois: Biyombo’s age was a topic of conversation last month at the Chicago draft combine, but the bottom line is nobody is 100 percent certain how old he really is. There is no credible birth certificate documentation. Yes, the story about Biyombo’s camp having X-ray documentation is true – but I don’t know that anyone would swear that the X-rays they’re viewing are actually of Biyombo’s wrist. The difference between what Biyombo is and what he can become might be pretty big in the eyes of some if he’s 18 as opposed to 21 (or older, even), but that aside, there is going to come a point in this draft when somebody says even if he doesn’t have a ton more upside than what he’s shown now, he’ll be a surer thing than the next best player available. Whether that point comes at No. 8, where the Pistons pick, or before or after that, is something that every GM in the league will have asked themselves by the time June 23 rolls around. As for whether the Pistons specifically have reviewed those X-rays, I don’t know. They don’t discuss medical information as a matter of policy. But it is likely they’ll have the opportunity to ask questions when they travel to Treviso, Italy, next week for the Adidas Eurocamp, at which Biyombo is scheduled to be available to some degree. There are strong whispers that Biyombo will make himself available for interviews, but not in Treviso – in Spain.