Pistons Mailbag - Monday, February 27, 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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Raghav (Gurgaon, India): Any idea if New Orleans is interested in trading Okafor? If yes, would a deal of Villanueva and Bynum for Okafor work and would the teams be interested, assuming Charlie V starts playing after the All-Star game and his ankle checks out?

Langlois: Any valid assessment of what would motivate New Orleans to trade must take into consideration the fact that (a) the NBA currently owns the franchise and (b) David Stern was recently quoted as saying there is a front-runner to buy the team and things could be imminent. The trade you propose would save the Hornets money both immediately and in the long term since Bynum and Villanueva’s contracts together are less on an annual basis than Okafor’s and Bynum’s deal only has one more season to run while Villanueva and Okafor’s have two years. So the Hornets would save about $8 million over the life of the contracts and about $2 million next season under the cap. Pretty safe to assume the Hornets would be more eager to do that trade than the Pistons, though I wouldn’t rule out interest from the Pistons, either. Okafor doesn’t look like the same guy to me as he was a few years ago, though.

Tim (Philadelphia): Why is it that based on all articles on Pistons.com, the Pistons seem equally high on Knight and Monroe? Every other media outlet (ESPN, Yahoo, etc.) seems to realize that Monroe is the way more valuable of the two. Personally, I would trade three Knights for one Monroe.

Langlois: Joe Dumars isn’t in the habit of sharing the pecking order of how he values his players as assets, Tim, but he’s been pretty clear that he regards Monroe and Knight as franchise cornerstones. That doesn’t necessarily mean he views one as interchangeable with the other. If he were to take his players to market today, my guess is Monroe would have the highest value simply because he’s a big man who has shown he can consistently compete with other high-level big men. Knight hasn’t yet shown he can produce consistently against elite point guards, but he’s given the Pistons strong evidence that day isn’t far off. I think you’re wild high on your 3-to-1 estimate, so we can agree to disagree there.

Rickey (San Diego): Just wondering if you notice the lack of recognition Brandon Knight has been getting from the media. It seems like they are really pushing Kyrie Irving to be the next big star, along with Rubio, and now Jeremy Lin. It seems like Knight’s season is getting lost in the shuffle among those outside of Detroit.

Langlois: Not surprising that Knight hasn’t gotten the same national play of the three you mention, Rickey. Irving was the No. 1 pick – and not just the No. 1 pick, but the guy seen as Cleveland’s reward for enduring the humiliation heaped on the city by LeBron James’ nationally televised jilting. Rubio has been an international fascination since he was 15 and gained further notoriety by playing for Spain in the 2008 Olympics and then by spending two years playing in Spain after being a high lottery pick – lots of anticipation for his arrival in the NBA. Lin’s story, of course, is nothing short of an epic Hollywood Cinderella tale. Pretty stiff competition for Knight, especially when he’s playing on a team that does not appear on national TV. In the long run, none of it will matter; Knight will get his due based on his production.

Paul (Essexville, Mich.): Any there any extra second-round picks left, such as from Denver?

Langlois: One coming from Houston as a result of shipping a second-rounder to the Rockets for cash in 2009, Paul. The Pistons almost certainly will get that pick this year. It’s top-40 protected this season, but the Rockets are solidly in the playoff mix out West. It’s not very likely they’ll fall far enough to draft in the top 10 of the second round.

Josh (Farmington, Mich.): I’ve been watching a lot of college big men who should be in play in the 7-15 range and I don’t see a big difference between Thomas Robinson and Meyers Leonard. In Leonard, I see a smarter, more skilled, slightly less athletic and less long JaVale McGee. I think he’ll be the steal of the draft if he slips past 10 overall. If the Pistons pick 7-9, do you think taking Leonard would be a reach?

Langlois: He strikes me as one of the toughest to evaluate – if he enters the draft. I think there’s a good chance he does as it appears as if Illinois will be making a coaching change and there was the belief even before the Illini’s season went off the rails that Leonard was more likely than not to at least test the waters. I see a massive difference between Robinson and Leonard: Robinson is as consistently productive as anyone in college basketball and Leonard is all over the map. But Leonard is a legitimate 7-footer and Robinson, though listed at 6-foot-9, might be closer to 6-foot-7. His height and measurements all the way around are going to be among the most scrutinized in Chicago at the draft combine this June. If Robinson is a legit 6-foot-9, coming off the season he’s had, he could be the No. 2 pick. If he’s 6-foot-7, I could see him sliding out of the top five, perhaps putting him in reach for teams picking in the range where the Pistons selected in the past two drafts. What scouts will need to ask themselves about Leonard is if his inconsistency reflects his age (19) and relative inexperience – he didn’t play all that much as an Illini frosh – or something else, basketball IQ and motor, perhaps.

Mike (Grand Haven, Mich.): What is your take on Fab Melo? What kind of NBA player do you think he can be? Where do you think he would go in this draft if he does?

Langlois: Somehow, for as much as Syracuse pops up on TV, I haven’t really seen enough of Melo to get a handle on him. He’s obviously put in some work on his body between his freshman and sophomore years and it can’t hurt his stock that Syracuse has been a better team with him than without him this season. Another guy that will be tough to evaluate – you have to feel confident that things you don’t see from him today will eventually show up on a consistent basis to spend a lottery pick on him.

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