Pistons Mailbag - Monday, January 2, 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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Boris (Troy, Mich.): The Pistons’ lineup needs more big men. Are there any indications that rookie Vernon Macklin will work himself into the rotation?

Langlois: Macklin’s nine minutes in the second preseason game at Cleveland were cause for optimism, Boris. He grabbed five rebounds and appeared to be pretty active and sound defensively. Lawrence Frank grinned when I asked him about Macklin in camp and said they keep him on his toes during practices. Macklin told me Frank frequently stops practices when Macklin is on the sidelines observing – when he’s not part of the five-on-five action, in other words – to ask him questions about what he should be doing if he were in the game. My takeaway from that is Macklin might still have some catching up to do to be assignment sure. But Macklin has a lively body and frontcourt athleticism is something the Pistons can use. If he proves a quick study, and if the Pistons continue to have problems rebounding, Frank might decide it’s worth living with a few rookie mistakes to get what Macklin can provide into the rotation. But with Charlie Villanueva’s return from suspension, and Jonas Jerebko playing very well in the early going, it will be tough for Macklin to find a spot in the rotation as long as everyone ahead of him stays healthy.

Jim (Algonac, Mich.): Wasn’t it two years ago when, after the last game of the year, Joe Dumars made the comment that “no one is safe” or something like that. Apparently, everyone but Rip was safe. I just don’t understand that after the turmoil of last season how Joe D came back with basically the same team with everyone locked into multiyear deals.

Langlois: It was three years ago, after the Pistons lost in the conference finals to Boston, Jim. The Chauncey Billups trade came a few months later, creating the cap space the Pistons took into the summer of 2009. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva haven’t had the impact the Pistons anticipated, but Gordon is off to a pretty good start in his third season and Villanueva is enthusiastic that Lawrence Frank’s system will be good for him. At their ages, there’s no reason to think they can’t return to the levels of production they achieved before coming to the Pistons. As for the relative lack of activity coming into this season, the lockout froze all transactions. There simply hasn’t been enough time to do much about it to this point. Under a new coach, whose influence might have affected Joe D’s thinking on certain players, it can’t hurt to let some of the season play out to either (a) see if players perform at a higher level under Frank or (b) re-establish trade value.

Steve (Lincoln, Neb.): Any chance the Pistons would grab Antonio McDyess out of retirement for some inside help for at least one year?

Langlois: If McDyess decides to come out of retirement, the San Antonio Spurs still hold his rights. He signed a three-year deal with the Spurs when he chose them in free agency in 2009. Nice thought, though. McDyess definitely would give the frontcourt a boost with his scoring, rebounding and defense.

Byron (Detroit): With the Pistons needing a good defensive big man, I think they should try to sign Joel Przybilla. He’s a good shot-blocker and would bring much-needed size at 7-foot-1 and 245 pounds. Do you think this is possible and do the Pistons have the money to try to sign him?

Langlois: The Pistons have all of their mid-level exception to use, so money isn’t an issue. Przybilla appears contentedly retired, though there are plenty of rumblings about contenders interested in adding him as frontcourt insurance. He’s injury prone and probably best suited for a role where he plays spot minutes at this stage. If Przybilla comes back, my guess is it’s with a top-four team in either conference.

Joe (Lake Worth, Fla.): What would it take for the Pistons to get Tyrus Thomas from the Bobcats?

Langlois: Charlotte has a dearth of frontcourt options, Joe. Hard to see them parting with Thomas, though it’s possible the thrifty Bobcats would like to move his contract, which has four years and about $33 million remaining on it. The most obvious salary match on the Pistons would be Charlie Villanueva, a move that would save Charlotte almost $10 million since Villanueva’s contract only has three seasons to run including this one. But, again, the Bobcats are starting Boris Diaw – at center! – and are playing Byron Mullens, acquired from Oklahoma City after spending his first two years in the league rooted to the bench. It would be tough for them to part with Thomas without getting another interior player in return. Charlie V is more of an inside-outside type, though his scoring would be attractive to the scoring-challenged Bobcats.

James (Detroit): Now that Joe D is no longer handcuffed by the franchise being up for sale, I fully expect him to scour the globe and return with another big man the caliber of Zeljko Rebraca. Remember him? That was one of Joe D’s best big man signings that no one talks about. He wasn’t an All-Star, but he was one of the early cogs for Joe D’s Pistons. Agreed?

Langlois: Zelly was a talented guy who would have had a very nice career if he’s taken a little better care of his body and had better luck with injuries. He had a very nice first season with the Pistons, but history will say that the most important thing he did for the Pistons was help bring Rasheed Wallace to Detroit in time for the 2004 NBA title run. As for scouring the globe, the Pistons have a full-time European scout, based in Istanbul, and the top three members of their front office, Joe D included, have made more than a half-dozen combined trips to Europe and elsewhere within the past year. If there’s an NBA-caliber big man with a pulse out there, they’ve heard of him. I was talking in Indiana last week with a member of the front office staff when he took a phone taking and began making notes on a 6-foot-11 international player who’s off the radar.

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