Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, June 16, 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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Jasmine (Los Angeles): It’s a pity to see Cheikh Samb out of the league. I thought he had a chance to become a post presence or defensive specialist like Mark Eaton or Dikembe Mutombo. Even if the Pistons drafted Bismack Biyombo or Tristan Thompson, we would still need another post presence. Is Samb an option? Or Patrick O’Bryant?
Langlois: Last I knew, Samb was playing in Iran, among the very lower rungs of professional basketball. He’s been cut by D-League and Spanish league teams, Jasmine. That’s not a good sign for his NBA prospects. It seemed to me that Samb came back a changed player after the traumatic mouth/jaw injury he suffered when the Pistons sent him to the D-League in December 2007. He was a gentle soul and that seemed to take the fun out of the game for him. As for O’Bryant, I suppose it would be fitting if he signed with the Pistons, since it was at The Palace that his draft stock shot through the roof during the 2006 NCAA tournament when he helped the 13-seeded Bradley Braves upend first Kansas and then Pitt – a game in which O’Bryant badly outplayed Aaron Gray in scoring 28 points and grabbing seven rebounds – to get to the Sweet 16. But O’Bryant has never even had promising moments in the NBA, washing out with Golden State, Boston and Toronto. Like Samb, I suspect we’ve seen the last of O’Bryant in the NBA.
Lyle (Jerry City, Ohio): I hope Joe Dumars will strongly consider Bill Laimbeer as the next Pistons coach. He’s a proven winner as both a player and a coach. He would demand respect from players and bring hope back to Pistons fans.
Langlois: Joe Dumars is not going to publicly talk about the candidates or the process of hiring a new coach. Laimbeer is reported to be a candidate for the job. If that were the case, it wouldn’t surprise me this time. I’ve said during past Pistons coaching searches, when asked specifically about Laimbeer, that I thought a necessary first step for him would be to get NBA assistant coaching experience. He’s done that now, having served for two years on Minnesota’s staff. Where he ranks in the pecking order is impossible to say. He has the most unique relationship with Joe D of all the prospective candidates, of course, which can cut both ways. The stigma of having survived two brutal seasons under Kurt Rambis in Minnesota might not be fatal for Laimbeer’s chances of landing an NBA job this time around, but it can’t help. It could be he’ll need to hook up on a more successful staff and be exposed to another system before a wider pool of NBA general managers starts buzzing about Laimbeer to give him the kind of momentum that the current crop of hot assistant coaches – Dwane Casey, Mike Malone, Kelvin Sampson, Mike Budenholzer, et al – has been able to build. I do agree on one point, Lyle: A Laimbeer hire would energize the Pistons’ fan base. Of course, that’s not the issue a GM making a coaching hire should prioritize. Nothing energizes a fan base like winning. I don’t think the Tom Thibodeau hire had Bulls fans dancing in the streets, but that turned out to be a home run.
Cam (Grand Rapids, Mich.): Does Dwane Casey have a “military” style coaching personality? He wasn’t successful in Minnesota, but that style might be effective with the current group of Pistons. Is Dwane Casey a serious candidate?
Langlois: It was considered an out-of-the-blue firing when Kevin McHale axed Casey 40 games into a season in which Minnesota was 20-20 in 2006-07. Nobody thought he deserved that fate. His story is a fascinating one, starting with being the fall guy at his alma mater, Kentucky, for recruiting scandals under Eddie Sutton. He’s been exposed to basketball concepts all over the world and from some of the brightest minds in the business, from Pete Newell to Rick Carlisle to Nate McMillan. When he took over for Flip Saunders in Minnesota, it was clear he changed the mind-set of the T-wolves from offense to defense. Given how the Pistons performed last season on the defensive end, a coach who can communicate to Joe Dumars how he would manage significant immediate improvement even without a roster overhaul would stamp himself as a serious contender. If Casey is on his list and can do that, he’ll get a long look, I would suspect.
Aaron (Detroit): I know we have a lot of guards on our team, but the bigs in this draft don’t really impress that much. What is your take on trying to get Kemba Walker? He’s a leader and I think that’s what we need more than anything.
Langlois: Toronto and Sacramento, picking fifth and seventh, are both possible landing spots for Walker, Aaron. Walker is a tough call if he’s there at 8 for the Pistons. I’m still assuming they wind up drafting a big man even if Walker is there. If you think he’s the next Isiah Thomas – and in size and the ferocity of their play, it’s not an invalid comparison – then you would make the pick without blinking. But the list of 6-foot guards who’ve made that type of impact in the NBA isn’t a long one. There’s a reason for that. What Walker did at UConn as a junior was phenomenal. I just don’t have a tremendous sense of confidence that he’ll be able to carry that over to the NBA.
Scott (Midland, Mich.): Any thoughts on Jeff Van Gundy as head coach?
Langlois: Not many. Given his perch as lead analyst for ABC/ESPN, if Van Gundy were interested in jumping back in it would be well known. We’ve heard nothing about him despite several recent NBA openings. That tells me he isn’t putting out any feelers. My sense is that Van Gundy is biding his time, waiting for the rare opening with a legitimate contender.
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