Pistons Mailbag - Monday, January 9, 2012 - Page 2
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Darrell (Detroit): Do you think Utah would be willing to trade Al Jefferson to the Pistons in exchange for Ben Gordon, Jason Maxiell and a couple of second-round picks? Both teams would then have more balance and improved starting fives.
Langlois: Jefferson is most likely available, though the Jazz would have to be sure that rookie Enes Kanter is ready to assume a major role before dealing him. As for what the Jazz would want in return, my guess is cap relief or a young, athletic wing player, preferably both. Gordon wouldn’t really supply that, since his contract runs one year longer than Jefferson’s. Also, the Jazz are high on rookie Alec Burks and might not be interested in adding a veteran shooting guard to plug in ahead of him in the rotation when they already have Raja Bell at that spot and two other veterans, Josh Howard and C.J. Miles, who can swing to shooting guard from small forward, not to mention Gordon Hayward. The Jazz were also very high on Brandon Knight going into the draft. Ultimately, they decided they couldn’t pass up a big man with Kanter’s potential. But Utah’s regard for Knight was legitimate. The Pistons, though, would be most unlikely to consider including Knight in a deal for Jefferson.
Joel (Windsor, Canada): The Pistons really didn’t play a bad game against the Bulls last week. They consistently pushed the ball and got back on defense. Rose just found open shooters and his team never allowed uncontested shots. Chicago is a well-oiled machine and the Pistons are a team still fixing rusty spots. Things are looking up and I think Lawrence Frank has much to do with that.
Langlois: The Bulls were the most impressive opponent the Pistons have played to date, Joel – and they have to play them again at the United Center tonight. Let’s see if the Pistons can close the gap from where it was last week when they met. As I’ve written a few times now, I think there’s little question the Pistons are going to be a better team by season’s end as Frank continues to drill his philosophies into the team and his tenets become second nature to the players over the course of time.
Omar (Beirut, Lebanon): I’m probably about the only Pistons fan in my country and I love the changes in style of play over the last few games, especially the game against Orlando. It seemed like Ben Gordon was carrying the offense and that seems like a very “American” thing in basketball. International teams, European teams in particular, tend to rely less on “go-to” guys and more on a collaborative team effort. In the absence of a real superstar, do you think we might benefit from European coaches or assistant coaches in the future?
Langlois: Welcome, Omar. You’re right that the NBA game is fundamentally different from the European game in its concentration on isolating favorable matchups. The Pistons don’t have a dominant scorer – a guy who’ll get you 25 points a night – but Gordon is their most accomplished one-on-one scorer. Lawrence Frank, like most coaches, preaches ball movement and player movement to prevent the offense from becoming stagnant. The 24-second clock means teams don’t often get past the second or third option and, because scouting has become so sophisticated the first option almost always gets shut down. That puts an even greater value on players who can simply improvise consistently to create offense on their own.
Eric (San Jose, Calif.): I was wondering when online stores would be stocking up on new Pistons gear. I’ve been longing for a Monroe or a Knight jersey.
Langlois: Good question, Eric. I posed it to Terry Adam, in charge of Pistons merchandise, and here’s what he said: “We initially brought in Brandon Knight jerseys after the draft. Once the season began, the Knight jerseys sold out very quickly. After the lockout ended, we placed a large order for many players, Knight and Greg Monroe included, and we hope these jerseys will be delivered within the next two weeks.”
Isaac (Flint, Mich.): Why are people so concerned about a three-guard rotation? We have four good guards. When Brandon is ready to start, Bynum could back up and Stuckey could move behind Gordon. I don’t really see why Bynum doesn’t get more playing time when everyone is healthy.
Langlois: Stuckey and Gordon are two of the team’s best scorers – in fact, they are likely the team’s two best scorers, though Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight could eventually move into that strata. Using them exclusively at one position is probably a luxury a team that is struggling for efficient offense can’t really afford. Is there room in the rotation for all four guards? It’s easier to do it with three. The Pistons tried to find time for four guards last year and it seemed like it made it difficult for any one of them to find a sustained rhythm.
Ryan (Grand Rapids, Mich.): The Pistons seem to be in good shape with the salary cap, but free agents are not going to come to Detroit. So Dumars needs to make trades at some point to support their young core. How about Gordon, Maxiell and Daye to Utah for Jefferson and Miles? Seems to be a fair trade for both parties.
Langlois: We’ve assessed the Utah angle, here and in the past. Yes, I think Jefferson is available. Utah and Detroit’s front offices are two of the most notoriously buttoned-up in the NBA, so any speculation about what either side might be looking for is just that – speculation. My hunch is that Utah, in any deal for Jefferson, would be most intrigued by cap relief. The Pistons can’t offer that. But as to your other point – that free agents won’t come to Detroit – I don’t think that’s the case. Free agents follow the money and the opportunity. All things being equal, they’d rather go to a place where they also have an immediate opportunity to compete for a title, where the sun always shines and were state income taxes are low or non-existent. But all things are rarely equal. There aren’t usually more than a handful of teams with significant cap space in any off-season. The next time the Pistons have significant cap space – it could happen next off-season, but it would be unlikely – I don’t expect they’ll have a difficult time spending the money.
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