Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, May 10, 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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Dave (Sterling Heights, Mich.): I read your article on the lottery and the merits of tanking games. Unfortunately, the current system encourages it. Equal odds for all teams that don’t make the playoffs. That would fix the problem and force teams to address their shortcomings with organizational remedies as opposed to competing for last place. Would the NBA ever let it happen?

Langlois: Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if there’s a change to the draft system coming in a reasonably short window, Dave. I don’t think the NBA can be very happy with the way some franchises were fielding shadow teams over the final few weeks. I think you would probably find significant sentiment for a return to a lottery system in which at least all non-playoff teams would have an equal chance at drawing the No. 1 pick. There are lots of ideas out there. It’s understandable that the issue was tabled while the more contentious issues of the collective bargaining agreement were debated. But with that now out of the way, the commissioner’s office should be able to plot a course to new lottery guidelines with relatively little resistance. It might have to wait, though, until they settle the larger issue of whether to adjust the age limit of the draft.

Kevin (Royal Oak, Mich.): Do the Pistons plan on changing their jerseys, logo or colors?

Langlois: No plans afoot to change logo or colors that have been publicly advanced, at least. A Pistons official did publicly state more than a year ago that alternate uniforms were being considered for the 2013-14 season.

James (Detroit): Why is it that a lot of guys who play the four or five lack a true back-to-the-basket or face-up game – let alone a second, third or even a go-to move? Pay Hakeem “The Dream” a summer visit, one of the best who has ever done it.

Langlois: I know Dwight Howard spent time with Olajuwon in the summer of 2010 and credited him with helping his offensive game, though Howard’s offensive game remains light years removed from Olajuwon’s in refinement. If it were as easy as hanging around with former greats, everybody would be doing it. Olajuwon’s “Dream Shake” was a thing of beauty, but I’m not sure it’s easily teachable or transferable. There were a lot of moving parts in the move that only a player as athletically gifted as Olajuwon could hope to master. You don’t have to be a Hall of Famer in order to be a great teacher. There are many coaches who don’t feel it necessary to even have a big man on staff to work with his post players. Lawrence Frank did not subscribe to that theory. He specifically wanted ex-NBA first-round pick Roy Rogers to work with Pistons big men. Rogers drew high marks from players like Greg Monroe and Jason Maxiell. He also did some really good work with Vernon Macklin, who also was the special project of assistant coach Charles Klask. Klask had drawn praise in Orlando for his work with Daniel Orton last year.

Leon (Boston): What specific players do you think the Pistons should pursue in free agency?

Langlois: Keep in mind the cap situation, the list of free agents and the likelihood that the Pistons will go into free agency living Tom Gores’ creed that he’ll pay for value. My guess is if the Pistons dip into free agency, it will be after the first and second waves – the first wave being the big-ticket guys and the second wave players who can coax mid-level exception deals. Is it possible the Pistons would jump in on that second wave? Maybe. If there’s a great value available for a mid-level deal, I think they would give it consideration. But the greater likelihood is they’ll wait for the dust to settle and then look for a great fit for a part of the MLE on a relatively short-term deal. Look at the frontcourt and look at wing athletes as their likeliest priority. Remember, there are only so many free agent slots available – a finite number of mid-level slots, a limited number of teams with cap room. As those slots are filled, then the free agents left waiting will look for a landing spot that they view as favorable – meaning a place they can crack the rotation, willing to take a salary they view as below market for the chance to re-establish their value. I don’t know who’ll be left out of the first and second waves, but some of the possibilities among big men: Ian Mahinmi, Kris Humphries, Chris Kaman, Carl Landry, Daniel Orton, Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Green (unique circumstances, coming off a heart condition) and Brandon Bass (if he exercises his option). Among the wings: Marquis Daniels, Mickael Pietrus, Dahntay Jones, Matt Barnes, Carlos Delfino and Sam Young. I didn’t include any restricted free agents, since they’re always long shots.

Glenn (Elkhorn, Wis.): Is it safe to call this the All-American draft? I haven’t seen hardly any internationally hyped prospects this year. Why the lack of foreign talent?

Langlois: It was a given more than a year ago, once the 2012 draft field was set with international talents like Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely, Donatas Motiejunas, Enes Kanter, Bismack Biyombo, Nikola Vucevic and Nikola Mirotic all deciding to come out last year, that the 2013 international field would be comparatively barren. There are a few players who will be considered for the first round, including French wing Evan Fournier, Czech guard Tomas Satoransky and Turk big man Furkan Aldemir. But it’s possible there won’t be any international first-rounders this year. Some of it is nothing more than the cyclical nature of the draft – the 2009 draft was rich in point guards, this one is almost bereft – but some of the international drought is merely the fact so many decided to be a part of last year’s draft.

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