Pistons Mailbag - Monday, April 9, 2012

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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Mike (Detroit): Do you honestly think Tom Gores will give Joe Dumars room to make free agency pickups? I feel we can’t play conservative again, especially if Gores wants to make money.

Langlois: I don’t think there’s any question Tom Gores is willing to spend. That doesn’t guarantee they’ll be especially active in free agency, though. For one thing, they have to have cap space to do anything more than use their cap exceptions. For another, there has to be a good value available. Gores was very clear on that point and Pistons fans should take heart – he’s not going to spend money just to answer questions about whether he’ll spend money. In a league with a salary cap, there are dire consequences for allocating cap space disproportionately with production. Gores spent a ton of money to expand the Pistons’ locker room and make upgrades at the practice facility. Those are things that don’t directly translate into wins and don’t draw more fans to The Palace. They’re long-term investments that pay off, it is hoped and believed, in creating a more player-friendly environment that both makes current players more productive and spreads the gospel around the league to put the organization in a favorable light. The takeaway for Pistons fans, though, is that the owner will spend money to support a better product.

Frank (Canton, Mich.): I just read your article on Charlie V and his rehab. Why can’t Charlie get time at small forward? He’s lost weight and was already called soft. We don’t really have a capable backup to Tayshaun, either.

Langlois: I asked Frank a while ago about the possibility of giving Charlie V spot minutes at small forward. He didn’t rule it out. He said it the matchup called for it, he wouldn’t hesitate. But, let’s face it, there aren’t many teams these days that are playing primarily power forwards at the small forward spot. The trend, in fact, is the reverse. Looking ahead to next season, if Ben Wallace retires as anticipated, there could be one frontcourt opening. If Jason Maxiell opts out of the final year of his contract, there could be another. If he comes into training camp healthy next season and maintains his current level of conditioning throughout the off-season, I’d be surprised if Charlie V doesn’t make a strong push for a spot in the rotation.

Donna (Southfield, Mich.): The pool of bigs toward the bottom of the lottery is looking smaller all the time. It seems unlikely that Cody Zeller or James McAdoo will come out this year. If we end up with the eighth or ninth pick would it be out of the question to reach for another big? Arnett Moultrie seems to have a lot of skill and played well this year. I’m tired of seeing the Pistons dwarfed at every other position – we need size! Notice I did not mention Fab Melo or other end-of-first-rounders.

Langlois: He’ll be one of the more interesting players to follow in the predraft process, Donna. He’s probably someone who can really boost his draft stock with impressive workouts and interviews. His draft combine measurements will be closely studied, too. He’s a wild card right now. Wouldn’t surprise me if he winds up being talked about as a potential lottery guy, nor would it surprise me if he doesn’t go in the first round.

Tyler (Valparaiso, Ind.): I’m on the record saying Thomas Robinson will be a Piston. Now why would we want Chris Kaman? He’s big but isn’t athletic.

Langlois: If they can get Kaman at a reasonable price – and it would be optimal if they could get him with the mid-level exception, though what exceptions the Pistons will have will depend on where they are with payroll relative to the salary cap – why wouldn’t they? He’s a 7-footer who can score with both hands and rebound. That wouldn’t preclude them drafting Robinson. But they won’t have a shot at Robinson unless they draw into the top three on lottery night, Tyler. I asked an NBA personnel guy in Atlanta last week to give me his best guess as to which players would not be available to the Pistons if they wind up drafting eighth or ninth. The only names he said for sure wouldn’t be there: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson and Cody Zeller, if Zeller is even in the draft.

Tim (Atlanta): With the development of Jerebko and Maxiell this year and Macklin’s performance in the D-League, assuming we sign Kaman, do you think it would be better to use the first-round pick, if it’s around No. 8, on a two-guard like Beal or Lamb?

Langlois: With Brandon Knight entrenched at the point, it means Rodney Stuckey is going to play the bulk of his minutes at shooting guard, most likely. With Ben Gordon signed for two more seasons, shooting guard won’t be a priority, for sure not in free agency or trade. But as I’ve repeatedly said with regard to the draft, you have to take the player you believe has the best NBA future. I still think it’s more likely than not the Pistons wind up with a big guy, but I wouldn’t close the door to the possibility of Beal or Lamb being the pick if they’re on the board.

Nick (Harrison Twp., Mich.): It doesn’t look like the Pistons will be drafting in the top five, but outside of that who are some players who have the potential to be longtime starters or even stars outside of the top five?

Langlois: It’s unclear to me who the top five will be, Nick. A few questions earlier, I listed the players one NBA personnel executive said would be out of reach for the Pistons if they were drafting eighth or ninth – Davis, Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller. Perry Jones and Andre Drummond are classic boom or bust types – they could be stars or they could be failures. Terrence Jones could almost be lumped in with them. Jeremy Lamb or Bradley Beal could be very good players. John Henson could, as well. It’s a deep draft. There are probably a half-dozen or so players in this draft who would have been lottery picks a year ago, players like Robinson, both Joneses, Henson and Lamb.

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