Pistons Mailbag - Monday, January 2, 2012

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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Jerry (Novi, Mich.): With recent reports that DeMarcus Cousins might be on the trading block, do you think the Pistons will make a run at him? A package of Prince to Sacramento for Cousins and Francisco Garcia might match up salary wise.

Langlois: Tons of questions about this, Jerry. First things first. The Kings told Cousins to stay home from Sunday’s game with New Orleans and issued a statement from coach Paul Westphal. (I found that odd on its face – a statement from the head coach and not from the GM. It indicates to me, perhaps, that the organization is clearly showing the dispute is between coach and player.) Cousins’ agent denied the trade demand. It’s a big leap from there to Sacramento actually shopping Cousins, but it’s certainly not out of the question. Ownership, though, was quick to say Cousins is not about to be traded. He’s been a handful in his two seasons in the NBA. As for the Pistons, it was no secret that they hoped they could land Cousins in the 2010 draft, but he went two spots ahead of them. I don’t believe Cousins’ run-ins with Sacramento management would scare the Pistons away, but I question whether the Pistons would ante up what Sacramento would want in trade. If the Kings shop him, there will be a very healthy market for Cousins, his emotional issues notwithstanding. Talented 7-footers are basketball’s most precious commodity. The Pistons have three trade assets and Sacramento would very likely insist that at least one of them be included in any trade: Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and their 2012 No. 1 pick. I’d be surprised if the Pistons would consider trading Monroe for Cousins. Knight might be closer to the same status after doing nothing but impressing since training camp opened. And a No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft could yield a superstar. If the Pistons were to put that No. 1 pick in play, I suspect they would push for top-10 protection or something of that ilk. As for Prince, the Pistons cannot trade him – or Jonas Jerebko or Rodney Stuckey – until March 1 at the earliest due to the fact they signed as free agents.

Faris (Dearborn, Mich.): Do you believe the Pistons would be in the mix for a trade with the Kings to get DeMarcus Cousins without losing Greg Monroe or Brandon Knight?

Langlois: As I responded to Jerry, my strong hunch is the Pistons wouldn’t entertain any possibility of trading Monroe for Cousins. Knight might be close to the same status. Besides, if the Kings really move ahead with a trade for Cousins – and I think that’s unlikely unless there’s something more to this than we already know – after losing Samuel Dalembert in free agency, it’s unlikely they would do any deal that doesn’t return to them a ready-made replacement up front for Cousins. I think the Kings would be intrigued by an offer of the 2012 No. 1 pick, but I don’t think the Pistons would do that unless the pick had some lottery protection on it. Again, I think the likeliest outcome is Cousins staying in Sacramento. If they decide to trade him, it probably won’t be until March. That will give them another few months to assess the situation. Also, free agents that were signed since last season ended cannot be traded until March 1, so the pool of trade candidates would widen considerably for the Kings at that point.

Jack (Kitchener, Ontario): I know you’re not too fond of talking about the draft this early in the season, but has Joe Dumars expressed any interest in picking up at least one more pick – hopefully a first-rounder – in this stacked draft? With our pick we could get the best big man available and go for the best player available with a second first-rounder.

Langlois: I’m sure he’d be very interested in adding another first-round pick, Jack. But every front office in the league knows it’s a very good draft. I think even teams that make the playoffs as one of the lower seeds and are picking in the late teens are going to expect to get a very good player this season. That might make them less inclined than in other years to deal a pick in this year’s draft for veteran help at the trade deadline that solidifies a playoff drive. They might be more willing to offer a future draft pick with only limited lottery protection, for instance, than to deal a pick in this year’s draft.

Bill (Charlestown, R.I.): I followed Brandon Knight at Pine Crest as he attended with my goddaughter and was wondering how he is finding life in Detroit? Did any family members follow him up?

Langlois: Knight has said he has been a little amazed and appreciative of the reception he gets as he makes his way around the metro Detroit area, but he really hasn’t been in town very long and the pace has been hectic and non-stop since camp opened. I don’t think his family is relocating. He said they did not come to town for Christmas because the Pistons were traveling out of town on the holiday to play Indiana in the season opener the following day.

Tony (Roseville, Mich.): Will Bynum seems like quite a luxury as a third-string point guard. Could he be the bait that lands the Pistons more depth inside?

Langlois: Well, he’s more than a third-string point guard. With the Pistons really carrying only four guards – though both Austin Daye and Damien Wilkins are capable of giving them minutes at shooting guard – Bynum is more than just a luxury. He has a unique enough skill set that I do think he has trade value, especially if a team loses a point guard to injury and needs some immediate help. But teams don’t usually trade big for small on an equal talent-for-talent basis unless they’re in a bind. With Charlie Villanueva back, Jonas Jerebko playing very well and Ben Wallace and Jason Maxiell established as bench depth, the Pistons might not feel pressured to do a deal for just another journeyman.

Frank (Canton, Mich.): After his performance against the Pacers on Saturday, has Jonas Jerebko secured the starting power forward job?

Langlois: It’s his job to lose, Frank. I thought going into 2010-11, after he had a very productive summer that included a star turn on the Swedish national team, that we were going to see dimensions of Jerebko’s game we didn’t see in his rookie season. But when he had to miss the entire season, I thought it would take a big chunk of this season for him to get back to that point. So far, he’s showing that won’t be the case, exhibiting a much-improved shot with greater range. If Charlie Villanueva can play consistently at the level he played at for the first month or so of last season, the Pistons’ frontcourt situation will suddenly look pretty solid.

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