Pistons Mailbag - July 2, 2014

by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

The doors to free agency have been thrown open and Summer League is about to tip off. Time for the latest edition of Pistons Mailbag.

Jay (Detroit): There have been numerous scenarios involving Greg Monroe in a potential sign-and-trade deal. My question is can a restricted free agent be traded for another restricted free agent – a double sign and trade, if you will. An example would be trading Monroe to Phoenix for Eric Bledsoe.

Langlois: Yes, two teams can sign and trade their own restricted free agents for each other. Restricted free agents can also be traded as part of a multiplayer deal in which the team that winds up with the RFA also takes back other players from the original team. It does increase the amount of suitors for restricted free agents and the amount of flexibility for players, making restricted free agency slightly less restrictive.

Andy (Pompano Beach, Fla.): I know NBA teams can’t discuss their free-agent signings until after the moratorium is lifted next week, but how much cap space do the Pistons have left?

Langlois: The Pistons were in news on Tuesday, the first day of free agency, being linked to two free agents according to media reports. If the numbers being reported by the media are accurate, then they will have committed roughly half of the $13.5 million that Stan Van Gundy said they would take into free agency. During a pre-draft availability with the media, he said free agent targets could include a veteran point guard, perhaps a No. 3 center type and wing players that add shooting to the roster.

Johnny (Shelby Twp., Mich.): Are there any undrafted free agents the Pistons could be looking at to join the Summer League team? A few I believe could make an impact are Patric Young and C.J. Fair.

Langlois: Young reportedly will join New Orleans in the Las Vegas Summer League, Johnny. I have not seen his name linked to any team that will open play this weekend in the Orlando Summer League. His Florida teammate, Scottie Wilbekin, will play in both leagues for different teams, Memphis and Philadelphia, which is not uncommon. Oakland University’s Travis Bader will play for Philadelphia in Orlando and for Golden State in Las Vegas. Fair will play for Dallas in Las Vegas. It is an incredible long shot for undrafted free agents to make the NBA as rookies, yet it seems one or two make it every year. And then there’s Ben Wallace, who not only made it but went on to craft what might turn out to be a Hall of fame career.

Chris (Brighton, Mich.): Any word on the progress of KCP this summer? It occurred to me that although it might be a long shot that both he and Spencer Dinwiddie could be starting-caliber players, it would make for a pretty interesting backcourt pairing in 2016 if they both develop.

Langlois: He’s in Orlando practicing with the Summer League entry, Chris. I’ll catch up to him very soon to hear how he’s spent his off-season so far. As I wrote on Monday, it’s an important Summer League for all three Pistons 2013-14 rookies – Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva. As a player who figures to be in the rotation and perhaps starting – depending on what happens in free agency and trades, at least – it will be important that Caldwell-Pope consistently demonstrates that he’s a cut above recent draftees and NBA fringe players. He doesn’t have to dominate Summer League, necessarily, but he has to catch Stan Van Gundy’s eye as a player who consistently outperforms players who don’t project as NBA rotation staples for their teams. A big part of what makes Caldwell-Pope an enticing prospect is his defensive ability and versatility. He can check big, athletic point guards, as we saw in the regular-season finale when John Loyer used him to guard Russell Westbrook. Dinwiddie’s size would give the Pistons the potential for a top-notch defensive backcourt.

Marcus (Kalamazoo, Mich.): If you want to pick up an undrafted free agent, Oakland University’s Travis Bader would be a perfect fit for the Pistons team that Van Gundy is trying to build. That would be a perfect move. This dude can shoot.

Langlois: As I mentioned above, Bader signed with Philadelphia to play in Orlando’s Summer League. Perfectly understandable given the state of the 76ers roster and the fact that in the lottery they took two players – the injured Joel Embiid and European prospect Dario Saric – who won’t be soaking up any minutes in Summer League. But there’s an important point to remember: The obligation between team and player ends when Summer League is over. In essence, players who sign to play in Summer League but do not have NBA contracts are auditioning for the entire league, not just the team whose uniform they wear in Summer League. The next step for Bader and all players in his position – players who were not drafted and whose rights do not belong to any NBA or FIBA team – is to earn an invitation to an NBA training camp. It’s even possible, though fairly unusual, for a player who excels in Summer League to earn a guaranteed contract (or partially guaranteed, in many cases) to go to training camp with a particular team. So if Bader impresses in both Orlando and Las Vegas, some team – perhaps the Pistons, even – could offer him a shot to come to training camp with them. Bader had to know that most of the minutes at shooting guard for the Pistons in Orlando would be allotted to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Players who go undrafted – and, really, their agents – choose the Summer League opportunity that gives them the best chance to play and be seen. Philadelphia offered a shot Bader wasn’t going to get with a second-year lottery pick playing ahead of him with the Pistons.

Sir Dominic (@SilkyJohnson22): Do you think we can make the playoffs with the current roster?

Langlois: No, but neither could Miami, considering the Heat’s current roster consists of Norris Cole. The Pistons have work to do. Right now the roster is Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jonas Jerebko, Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva. Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent. They have one shooting guard (Caldwell-Pope) and two small forwards (Singler and Gigi Datome, though Datome has yet to prove he’s a rotation-worthy player and is now playing under a different regime than the one that recruited him to the Pistons), given Van Gundy’s strong statements indicating he sees Smith as a power forward exclusively. I would expect the Pistons to add two or three more wing players via free agency – yes, I’m aware of reports indicating the Pistons have reached agreement with a shooting guard and a small forward already – or via trade. Van Gundy has said he would like to add a veteran backup point guard, which could indicate more shuffling among the guard corps. We should know more in the next few weeks, Dominic.

Ryan (Hudsonville, Mich.): Sacramento still didn’t address their point guard situation and Stauskas and McLemore play the same position. I see a trade possibility with the Kings. How about Smith, Jennings and Datome for McLemore, Terry, Thompson and Williams?

Langlois: They’ve got Isaiah Thomas as a restricted free agent, Ryan. He averaged 20 points and six assists last season. I think retaining him is probably their first priority in “addressing” the position. As I’ve maintained all along with Greg Monroe, the home team has a huge advantage in restricted free agency. As for Stauskas, I don’t think you’ll ever see him lining up at point guard in the traditional sense, but I do believe that once he acclimates to the NBA, adds a little strength and soaks up some knowledge of personnel, it’s possible he and McLemore could play together, as Mike Malone already has suggested. Stauskas has some intriguing potential in pick-and-roll scenarios, given his ability to shoot, put it on the floor and pass.

Jason (Grand Rapids, Mich.): Are there plans to release the games from the Pistons 2003-04 championship season on DVD and Blu-Ray? I know they did that with the 1988-89 season and I really enjoyed watching those games. I would love to be able to watch all the hard-fought games against the Nets and Pacers again.

Langlois: That’s really something that is decided and generated by NBA Entertainment, Jason. We have no knowledge of them producing games from the entire 2003-04 championship playoff run that included the conference semifinals and finals. Had a few questions about that recently, given the 10-year anniversary of the championship.

Ralph (Playa del Rey, Calif.): What do you know about Spencer Dinwiddie’s injury and when he might be able to return?

Langlois: Chatted briefly with Pistons strength coach Arnie Kander about it this week in Orlando, Ralph, and talked at length with Dinwiddie about it this week. Kander examined Dinwiddie at the Chicago draft combine in May and has spoken with the surgeon who performed the January ACL reconstruction and the trainer under whom Dinwiddie has worked in Houston – one he chose because he helped Adrian Peterson’s remarkable recovery from a similar injury. Kander is very encouraged that Dinwiddie will return at 100 percent. He studied Dinwiddie’s stride pattern and believes he’s an ideal candidate for a full recovery. Stan Van Gundy said last week that he has no expectations for Dinwiddie to play in 2014-15, which is an understandably cautious approach. Dinwiddie says he already has full motion in the knee and has put pictures of him dunking on social media. Van Gundy also said the Pistons had targeted five players with the 38th pick and after 33 – when Joe Harris was taken by Cleveland – all but Dinwiddie and one other were off the board. He said if Dinwiddie had been taken ahead of 38, the Pistons were prepared to draft a European player who was unlikely to play in the NBA next season. They had Dinwiddie pegged as a first-round talent. If they were going to wait a full year on an international player, it’s no sacrifice to wait a full year – if Dinwiddie’s rehab dictates that course – for a player they felt would have been taken at least 10 spots higher had he been healthy and ready to play immediately.

Gladys (Waterford, Mich.): Where does Spencer Dinwiddie fit into the rotation with Jennings, Bynum and Siva occupying the point guard spots and also KCP and Billups at shooting guard?

Langlois: Fair to say that Van Gundy, given his recent comments about not anticipating any contributions from Dinwiddie in 2014-15, is proceeding to put his team together as if Dinwiddie isn’t yet Pistons property. The Pistons have until July 20 – after Summer League – to decide whether to guarantee the second year of Peyton Siva’s contract or release him. They had to decide by July 1 whether to exercise their option on Billups and chose not to do so. But Van Gundy also has said the team would like to sign a veteran backup point guard in free agency. Whether Siva’s Summer League performances will have any bearing on that plan remains to be seen. It could also mean Van Gundy has some trade ideas up his sleeve. Stay tuned.

Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. To have your question considered, submit it along with your name, email address and city/state using the form below.

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