Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, February 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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Bruno (Sao Paulo, Brazil): Would Phoenix consider a trade of Robin Lopez for Austin Daye and Vernon Macklin? I believe both Lopez and Daye would be much better fits with new teams.

Langlois: See above, Bruno. I think Phoenix is open to a lot of things at this point. Worth remembering that Phoenix debated taking Daye in the 2009 draft but went with Earl Clark instead. Daye went with the next pick to the Pistons.

Jason (Colorado Springs, Colo.): We’ve lost 20 of our first 24 games. The team is way too talented to have such a record. I know Lawrence Frank is highly respected and has a great philosophy and structure, so what is wrong? We show glimmers of greatness, then drop five in a row. Give me something to keep hope.

Langlois: I talked at length with Damien Wilkins last week about his experience in Oklahoma City, where he played during both Kevin Durant’s rookie and sophomore seasons and Russell Westbrook’s rookie year. When Westbrook was a rookie, and Durant in his second season, OKC started 3-29. The next season, they added James Harden with the No. 3 pick in the lottery. Now the Thunder are one of the top teams in the West and no one would be surprised if they wind up in the NBA Finals this season. The Pistons have Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight to show from the last two drafts. Can they become All-Star caliber players over the next three or four seasons? If so, and if the Pistons add another piece to complement them in a 2012 draft class thought to be heavy in star-caliber talent, things could turn around quickly. The Pistons could make a considerable leap next season and a similar one the following season, when Monroe will be in his fourth season and Knight his third. The important thing so far is that in two trips to the lottery, Joe Dumars, from all appearances, made the absolute right choices. That’s the way you avoid getting on the treadmill that keeps you in the lottery for a decade or more. Hope that helps, Jason.

Adam (Seattle): I’m pretty much the only Pistons fan here in Seattle and I followed Terrence Williams all the way back to high school. It’s obvious he can play and the best part is he can handle the ball. Knight is improving but he’s only 20. Why not send Maxiell and a future No. 2 pick to Houston for Williams and Hasheem Thabeet.

Langlois: The Pistons would consider any deal that helps their future or helps their present without harming their future, Adam, but trading Maxiell at this point would leave them perilously thin in the frontcourt and there’s little reason to believe Thabeet – whatever his future might be – could fill his minutes at this point. Williams is intriguing. He finished his rookie year on a positive note, but hasn’t made a dent since then. Everybody loves his versatility and everybody acknowledges he’s a quirky character. In year three, he might be reaching the breaking point where a prospect becomes written down.

Simon (Brighton, England): Chad Ford has Meyers Leonard of Illinois projected as a top-10 pick. Do you think it’s a reach to pick him if we are in the 4-6 range?

Langlois: Scouts see Leonard’s great size and athleticism. Now they’d like to see consistent production. I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that he even enters the draft. He and Indiana freshman Cody Zeller are similar prospects – 7-footers looking very much like lottery picks if they come out, but neither one, Zeller especially, considered a lock to come out. If they declare, they’ll be players that every team picking in the lottery outside of the top three or four will want to bring in for a workout and interview.

Pablo (Mar del Plata, Argentina): I read your last Mailbag about rumors involving a trade for Chris Kaman. Kaman should be a great complement to Greg Monroe, but wouldn’t it be wiser to wait for the off-season when he’ll be a free agent and sign him with the mid-level exception? Kaman plus one high lottery pick would make us competitive again.

Langlois: As I wrote in Mailbag earlier this week, Pablo, it’s hard to see a match with the Hornets for Kaman unless a third team were to get involved. So the Pistons might have little choice but to wait for free agency, if they indeed are interested in Kaman. I think Kaman’s ability to score in the post and command double teams, when he’s healthy, would nicely complement Monroe’s great nose for hunting offensive rebounds. But Monroe’s versatility means there are a variety of players who would serve as complementary partners. It remains to be seen what the Pistons’ cap situation will be in the off-season, of course, and the other wild card is how Kaman fits with whatever team acquires him, assuming New Orleans follows through and finds a trade partner. It’s possible he lands with a team only interested in what Kaman could do for a postseason push this season, but it’s also possible he winds up with a team that is interested in signing him long term. It’s something to monitor, but there are just too many ways this could go to get too excited about it yet.

Tim (Austin, Texas): I saw a quote from Ben Wallace saying some players try to put the load on their shoulders when the team is struggling and it’s not always best for the team. Is this how the Pistons wind up with so many turnovers?

Langlois: Lawrence Frank has said there is no one area that’s causing the Pistons to commit turnovers – it would be easier to solve the problem if that were the case. It’s across the board. But, hey, you’re right – one of the issues that leads to turnovers is players trying to do too much. Tayshaun Prince said when a first option isn’t there – and the NBA is so well scouted these days that first options are almost always shut down – the offense comes to a standstill and the player who finds the ball in his hands is almost forced to go one on one, or one on many. That surely leads to turnovers or to forced shots, which often have the same effect as turnovers. The only way out of it is to keep stressing the need for ball movement and player movement and to find some success with it to give them a comfort zone not very often evident at this point. The ball really zipped around at points of Wednesday’s second half at New Jersey. And it was no accident the Pistons scored 58 points after halftime. That type of tangible evidence – Frank can pop that tape in to show the team what it looks like when the offense is properly executed – is the best way out of the dark.

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