Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 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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Jon (Rochester, Mich.): What will the Pistons do with Jason Maxiell at the end of this season? Heís playing well, but I donít see him as the answer at power forward. Will they re-sign him or let him go and look for help elsewhere?

Langlois: Thatís not an either-or answer, Jon. The Pistons will sit down at seasonís end and decide what number, in terms of years and average annual salary, they will be comfortable at in an offer to Maxiell. (And this assumes Maxiell decides to become a free agent this summer.) Thatís going to be a tough decision for the Pistons, but it wonít be an easy one for other teams, either. Maxiell has played very well as a starter since becoming one in early February, playing starterís minutes, too. If he opts out, heíll want a multiyear deal, but will he also want a higher average salary than heís currently making? Will he want to be paid as a sure-fire starter? Iím sure the Pistons would love to have him back at a price they feel comfortable paying, but will there be another team that is willing to go higher? Weíll see. When a player other than a slam-dunk superstar hits free agency, there is always risk involved Ė for the team, but also for the player. Once that initial wave of money is spent and all teams have left to spend is the mid-level exception Ė and teams are almost universally more guarded about committing the full MLE to anyone than they were four or five years ago Ė there are sometimes bargains to be found. Does Maxiell want to risk falling into that category? Tough call for him to opt out, tough call for the Pistons if he does.

Brian (East Lansing, Mich.): Any chance Joe Dumars considers taking a guard in the upcoming draft like Bradley Beal? Or with the logjam of guards is it predetermined he will draft someone to help on the frontline?

Langlois: Absolutely, thereís a chance, especially if you consider wing players like Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the mix, Brian. No guarantee any one of those enters the draft, of course, but itís a given that the Pistons will have done their homework just as extensively on them as any of the big men projected as lottery candidates. Thereís probably still a significantly better chance they go big simply because it better addresses roster need and it remains the strength of the draft, though with players like Andre Drummond, Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger all underperforming or not erasing question marks it isnít nearly as certain as it once seemed.

David (Sterling Heights, Mich.): What do you think about Jeff Withey from Kansas in the second round? Heís a good shot-blocker and rebounder and could develop into a nice player off the bench.

Langlois: I like Withey Ė apparently, I like him more than NBA scouts. I defer completely to them, by the way Ė I havenít seen a complete Kansas game all year and I donít watch those games specifically to assess specific players as much as I do to enjoy watching a basketball game. But he looks like a legit 7-footer with a solid frame and apparent athleticism. Yet I see heís not projected very highly by some of the more reputable services, so who knows? No matter what happens in June, a 7-footer is always going to be given a chance to prove he canít play by NBA teams. The Pistons certainly know they need depth and a talent upgrade in the frontcourt, so you can rest assured they know everything they should know about Withey at this point. If heís in the draft Ė which is unlikely if his draft projection is accurate Ė then theyíll do everything at that point, including interviews and workouts, to get an even fuller picture of him.

@JG_Hollywood (Johnny, Sterling Heights, Mich.): The way the Pistons are playing now, what do you think is the best possible off-season move?

Langlois: It will hinge on what happens in the draft, JG. Thatís the first domino to fall Ė probably. Joe Dumars did remind us last week that once the Pistonsí season ends Ė and if they do not make the playoffs, then April 26, barely a month away, is it Ė they would be able to make trades at that point with any other non-playoff team. Trades at that point of the season arenít commonplace, but itís possible. I think the most obvious free-agent target will be Chris Kaman, for the obvious reasons Ė a Michigan native at a position of need who has expressed interest in coming home.

Joe (Detroit): What direction do you think the Pistons will go in the upcoming draft? Is there serious interest in Chris Kaman? If so, what are the chances of the Pistons signing him?

Langlois: Hit these points separately in above questions, Joe, but the Pistons remain most interested in fortifying the frontcourt, though I donít believe they will pass up the best player if they think a guard at their draft spot has a decided edge over any of the big men left. As for Kaman, it makes too much sense that both sides would be interested in exploring a fit to think they wonít be in touch on or shortly after July 1.

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