Pistons Mailbag - April 30, 2014
What might be in store as the Pistons search for a new general manager and the upcoming draft are among the topics in the latest edition of Pistons Mailbag.
Deborah (Detroit): Is there any way the Pistons will keep Rasheed Wallace?
Langlois: It’s not unusual for a few holdovers to be retained in the wake of a managerial or coaching change, Deborah. Brian Hill coached under John Kuester and was retained by Lawrence Frank, with whom he had a longstanding prior relationship. John Loyer coached under Frank and was retained by Maurice Cheeks, with whom – again – he had a longstanding relationship. Rasheed Wallace has been around the league for nearly 20 years and has crossed paths with a lot of coaches. I’ve never heard any coach who spoke of him not praise his basketball intellect. I think some might have questioned whether he would be willing to put in the endless hours of work that goes with the job of assistant coach – a question asked of all players, particularly ones of a certain stature – but he put that issue to bed in his first season. His players universally seemed to love his prodding and insight. Decisions on staff will be well down the road, I suspect, with the hiring of a general manager likely coming first and then a head coach after that. If the head coach wants to retain Wallace, unless the GM exercises veto power, he’ll be back. It can’t hurt his chances that he’d get a big endorsement from Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
Jason (Los Angeles): I think I’ve figured out a win-win scenario: Let Stuckey go. Re-sign Monroe. Trade Bynum (and the No. 8 pick, if necessary) for Harrison Barnes. It gives them the veteran backup point guard they lack and the salaries match. I still believe in Barnes and he will never thrive there now that Klay Thompson has stolen his thunder. Trade Josh Smith for Danilo Gallinari. Then sign an underrated point guard who can keep Brandon Jennings on his toes (my vote goes to Greivis Vasquez). Now you have four players who can play at least two positions between guard and small forward, the shooting has improved exponentially and your entire starting five is 26 and under. Should I apply for the GM position or am I missing something here?
Langlois: Aside from the fact that you don’t get to make trades unilaterally? The other team has to want those deals, too, you know? Stuckey’s gone, or at least he’s an unrestricted free agent. That means the ball is more or less in his court. Somebody has to make him an offer, of course, but he’s free to go anywhere. The Pistons have no control over that process. Would I give up the No. 8 pick in this draft for Harrison Barnes? Not sure. Probably not before the draft unfolds and I see who’s available. But I like Barnes very much, despite the disappointing season. I don’t think he’s being crowded out in Golden State. There are surely enough minutes to go around for four quality perimeter players, especially when the Warriors aren’t shy about going small and stealing minutes with Barnes at the four. The Warriors would probably be very intrigued by the No. 8 pick, but whether Will Bynum interests them when they have Steve Blake is hard to gauge. Blake will be a free agent this summer, but it seems like a good fit for him there if the Warriors want him back. Smith for Gallinari? If Gallo is healthy, his skill set would be a pretty ideal fit for the Pistons. Whether Denver management would be scared away by the extra year and approximately $17 million additional they would have to commit to Smith as opposed to keeping Gallinari, I can’t begin to predict. Vasquez is a restricted free agent. Prying him away from Toronto wouldn’t be impossible, but you’d have to offer a pretty big number to scare the Raptors away, I suspect, after he’s carved out a niche in their rotation.
James (Kirkland, Wash.): Watching “30 for 30” made me wonder how the young guys on the team right now see the Bad Boys. I sat there hoping some of the current team got together to watch it and get a sense for just how hard it is to fight your way to the top. Do you know whether any of the players watched it and, if so, any reactions you’ve heard from them since?
Langlois: Great question, but because of the timing of ESPN’s airing – it premiered on April 17, the day after the season ended – the players had already scattered. I suspect that all (or close to it) watched it simply because of their identity as Pistons and their connection to Joe Dumars, the person responsible for bringing each and every one of them to Detroit. As some players, the younger ones in particular, start to filter back to town next month, I’ll try to track them down and get their reaction to the documentary. What you mentioned, James, about getting a sense of how hard it is to fight your way to the top resonated with me because I think that also would have been a benefit of making the playoffs this year, even if they had found themselves paired with Miami and been swept, as Charlotte was. I don’t think you’d find anybody associated with the Bobcats – from Michael Jordan to Steve Clifford to Kemba Walker – who wouldn’t vow that the experience of successfully qualifying for the playoffs and actually participating in them won’t benefit them going forward. So watching the video and getting a better sense of not only the level of commitment required to get to the top but also the connection the Pistons have with their community would be insightful for current Pistons. But nothing beats firsthand experience, either.
Josh (Ida, Mich.): With the Pistons’ season ending disappointingly, I can’t help but think with some good draft picks and a young team with a new GM coming into the picture, the future looks bright. I believe this season’s woes had to do with a certain lack of team chemistry, inexperience and the coaching change. But with KCP growing and potentially becoming a starter, an early draft pick and with the young team already in place, how do you see next year’s season being turned around?
Langlois: Too many unknowns to speculate with any credibility, Josh. We need to see who the new GM is and the blueprint he maps out. Will he start with the belief that a few moves to balance the roster are all that’s required to chase a playoffs berth now? Or will he believe a more serious recalibration is in order that might make less season more about a retooling than a playoff chase? If he chooses the first course, then it will depend on how much he can get accomplished in one off-season. But, fundamentally, I agree. The Pistons have a huge piece in place in Andre Drummond, at 20 already a consistent impact player with vast growth potential. They have several other promising players, none more important than Greg Monroe if the new GM is intent on retaining him as a restricted free agent rather than negotiating a sign-and-trade deal with prospective suitors. The 2013-14 Pistons never came close to achieving a necessary level of chemistry, but that’s now the good news. There is significantly more talent in place than there was two, three or four years ago at this time. Now it’s about making that talent coalesce into a team – or spinning some of it off for more complementary parts.
April (Traverse City, Mich.): Looking at the mock draft, nobody has us taking Doug McDermott. If we need to space the floor, wouldn’t he be ideal? What are your thoughts on how he would fit with our present team?
Langlois: There are a million mock drafts and when you add them all together at this time of the year – before the Chicago draft combine and before teams have held a single meaningful individual workout – they add up to next to nothing of importance, April. The consensus is that No. 8 is a little high for McDermott, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he winds up going before that ultimately – or somewhere in the late teens, either, for that matter. As I’ve expressed previously, I was impressed with McDermott in what I considered a meaningful setting – the USA Basketball minicamp held last July in Las Vegas. He shot it very well there against a tremendously athletic group of wing defenders. I don’t think McDermott right now is a better player than Kyle Singler, but his potentially elite 3-point shooting skill will give him a shot at playing a significant role with any team that takes him.
Antoine (St. Claire Shores, Mich.): Is Bill Laimbeer being considered for the coaching or GM job here in Detroit?
Langlois: Don’t know. First, I doubt there is a “coaching search” ongoing right now. It has been reported that the Pistons have engaged an executive recruiting firm to assist in the search for a general manager. If ownership opts for a traditional organizational structure, then a coach likely won’t be hired until after the GM is in place, at which time that person will lead the coaching search. Until the GM is in place, it’s not very likely there’ll be any news on coaching candidates.
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