Pistons Mailbag - Monday, March 19, 2012

by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

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.

We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

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Ryan (Grand Rapids, Mich.): Houston has waived Terrence Williams. Any chance Joe Dumars makes a run at him? I seem to remember he was on the Pistons’ short list when they drafted Daye. If he played well over the remainder of the season, it could give Detroit the ability to amnesty Gordon without hurting their depth.

Langlois: Williams is an interesting case, Ryan. He has always been acknowledged as a talented guy, one of the most versatile players to come out of college basketball in years. But the pre-draft buzz on him was that he was one of the most quirky personalities to come out of college basketball in years, as well – and “quirky” was the kindest word used to describe him. He didn’t do much early in his rookie season, finished strong, but hasn’t made a dent since and has now burned out with two NBA teams. He’ll almost certainly get another chance if that’s what he wants. I don’t know about a “short list” with the Pistons going into that draft. He was picked four spots ahead of Austin Daye and it was no surprise that he was gone when the Pistons picked. I think they saw the full picture – very talented guy, some questions about character and how he’d fit in anybody’s locker room. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t give him a look now, necessarily. Interesting side note: Within the past week, Houston has parted ways with four of the top 11 picks from that 2009 draft: Hasheem Thabeet (2), Johnny Flynn (6), Jordan Hill (8) and Williams (11). If that doesn’t serve as a reminder of the nature of the NBA draft, nothing will. The Pistons have come away with Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Daye (present struggles aside, a player they still think has a shot to be part of their future core), Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight from the past five drafts.

Dylan (Louisville, Ky.): I took a nap and had a crazy vivid dream. The Pistons signed Greg Oden and Terrence Williams. Arnie was stretching out Greg and Terrence was taken under Tayshaun’s wing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Bill Davidson was speaking to me through my dreams! What are your thoughts on Oden and Williams?

Langlois: As for Williams, see above. Lots of questions on Oden – lots – which I fully anticipated. I think it’s safe to say Joe Dumars will have a conversation with Arnie Kander, as every GM in the league will discuss Oden with his medical staff. I wish Oden the best. From everything I’ve heard from him or read about him, he’s a terrific young guy. When I first saw him at Ohio State, I had the same reaction almost everybody did. At worst, it looked like he would be a defensive force in the Dikembe Mutombo mold; at best, he would be a perennial All-Star and future Hall of Famer. It’s a shame his body has betrayed him the way it has. It’s not like he’s had a broken wrist here and a shoulder problem there and then a knee injury. He’s had three microfracture knee surgeries, two to one knee. There are concerns also about potential chronic back problems, which – and I’m sure Kander could offer insight here after a brief evaluation of Oden – might be at the root of his knee problems. If Oden wants to continue his career, I’m sure he’ll get the opportunity to prove his knees are healthy. At that point, somebody will give him a shot. The Pistons are as likely as anybody to be that team.

Chris (Brighton, Mich.): What’s the cap hit if we sign Oden off of waivers? His situation reminds me of Antonio McDyess. We know how that turned out.

Langlois: Oden was on Portland’s books for $1.5 million this season, Chris, an amount they renegotiated after initially agreeing to a higher sum before further damage was discovered and Oden required a third microfracture procedure. But the question is moot now because he cleared waivers on Saturday and is an unrestricted free agent. According to his agent, one team already has inquired about him. As for the McDyess comparison, it’s similar in that McDyess also had multiple procedures but different in that McDyess’ injury was to his patellar tendon. Eventually, he underwent a procedure where they grafted the tendon to a part of McDyess’ hip that was removed from the opposite leg. That sounds pretty complicated and serious – and I’m sure it was – but at least McDyess still had his cartilage intact, the shock absorber of the knee, and Oden’s had cartilage issues with both of his knees. That doesn’t bode well for career longevity.

Dawn (Allendale, Mich.): I would have tried using Will Bynum to take the ball to the basket against the Clippers last night. He is always ready to play and clearly Stuckey was struggling with his foot injury. Why not try it?

Langlois: Can’t speak for Lawrence Frank on that topic specifically, Dawn, but in general coaches aren’t fond of throwing players cold off the bench into a tight game unless there are few other alternatives. When Frank decided he’d seen enough from Stuckey – that he was clearly not able to play up to his norm and that the pain in his foot was affecting his play to the point it was hurting the Pistons, especially on the turnover where he couldn’t move to meet the pass in the first minute of overtime – he went back to Jonas Jerebko, taking the Pistons out of the three-guard lineup they had been employing late in the game and back to a more conventional lineup. It would have been a lot to ask of Bynum, who has not played since the late February loss to Philadelphia, the first game back after the All-Star break, to throw him into an overtime game on the road and expect him to be sharp.

Darrell (Oakland, Calif.): Why is Greg Monroe sitting so much in the fourth quarter? For what it’s worth, he’s our franchise player. We should win or lose on his shoulders. It’s a troubling trend to come up short with our best guy sitting for an extended time.

Langlois: “Franchise player” is a media creation, Darrell. There are precious few players in the NBA who’ve earned the right to be on the floor for the final five minutes of close games regardless of what’s happened in the first 43 minutes. Monroe has been an NBA starter for a little over a year. He is, unquestionably, at the heart of the Pistons’ future. He’s going to continue to get better for the next two, three, four seasons and beyond, most likely. But Ben Wallace has proven a few things in his 16 years, too, and he’s been on the floor to close out a lot of big games over that time. He isn’t everything he used to be and Monroe isn’t everything he will become. There are going to be games yet when Monroe, based on the first 43 minutes, doesn’t automatically give the Pistons the best chance to win in the final five. Those nights are going to become increasingly rare. Eventually they will disappear. But it’s no insult at this stage of his career to occasionally step aside and let a potential Hall of Famer finish up for him.

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