Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - Page 2
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Dan (Dearborn, Mich.): Is there any chance we trade for Josh Smith this off-season or trade up in the draft if we don’t get a top-three pick?
Langlois: Tough to read what way Atlanta will go. Smith is a big part of that team, right there with Al Horford. Joe Johnson’s contract might make it impossible to significantly alter the team without trading one of Smith or Horford, though – Johnson would be very tough to move – so it’s possible the Hawks move him. But what would the Pistons have to offer? Would they really trade Greg Monroe for Josh Smith? Well, maybe if they were to get the No. 1 pick and draft Anthony Davis, but in that case I would think they’d be thrilled to pair Davis and Monroe and feel terrific about their next decade plus. I don’t see a fit for the Pistons and Hawks in a Smith trade. As for trading up if they don’t get a top-three pick, I don’t see that happening. In fact, if the Pistons were to pull a top-three pick (but not a No. 1 pick) I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were interested in moving down. There will be three or four big men, at least, in range at No. 9. There is no consensus No. 2 or 3 player in this draft. Put those factors together and there won’t be many teams looking to trade up into that range, at least not teams looking for frontcourt help. If there are teams desperate for a wing player – perhaps targeting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes or Bradley Beal – then they might want to trade up. Would the Pistons target one of those players? That’s what the next seven weeks will allow them to decide.
Don (Genesee, Mich.): The Pistons are real close to seeing results from their rebuilding process. One or two more key pieces and we can be contenders. Who stands out to you in the draft that would benefit us the most?
Langlois: I’m as convinced that the Pistons will show progress next season as I was that they would be a better team by season’s end than they were at the beginning of this year, as I wrote often during the tough start to their 2011-12 season. Unless a franchise gets a windfall of good fortune – example: Chicago, one season removed from a 49-win year, wins 33 games in 2007-08 and then beats 1.7 percent odds to win the lottery and get Derrick Rose – the surest way to rebuild is consistent incremental gains. Joe Dumars has hit home runs with his last two lottery picks, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, and if the Pistons get a similar-impact player out of this draft, they’ll be nearer to the type of breakthrough you’re sensing, Don. As for who stands out in this draft to me, I admired the toughness and effort of Thomas Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the impact they had on their teams’ success at Kansas and Kentucky. I think they’d be ideal fits from a character standpoint and help advance Lawrence Frank’s ideal of a team filled with players who put in a good day’s work every time out. But there might well be other players who exude the same qualities and didn’t have the same opportunity to reveal them due to circumstances less ideal than those at Kansas and Kentucky. That’s what the predraft process – the individual workouts and the interviews teams conduct at the Chicago draft combine – is designed to tease out. The Pistons won’t have a shot at Robinson or Kidd-Gilchrist without landing a top-three pick, in any case. Joe D and his staff are attacking the next seven weeks with the full understanding of how critical it is that they get this pick just as right as they did with Monroe and Knight, so they’ll be asking every tough question of the candidates for their pick over that time to make sure they do.
Alex (Lucerne, Switzerland): I think it’s going to be tough to make the playoffs next season with only internal improvement. I don’t see any team that made the playoffs this year slipping next season. I know it’s a process, but what’s your take on what is needed to make the playoffs?
Langlois: It’s tough to look that far ahead for that many teams, Alex, but there could be some volatility in the East. Boston, for one example, has Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett headed into free agency – not to mention Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling, Ryan Hollins and potentially Brandon Bass among players who contributed this season – which could lead Danny Ainge into major rebuilding mode. The Pistons were a .500 team over the season’s final 42 games. If they played .500 basketball over a full season – not an unreasonable leap – that would have been good enough to make the playoffs in the four seasons before the one that just ended. And when we talk internal improvement, among the assets they already have are another lottery pick, two second-rounders that could provide help and the reasonable possibility of Kyle Singler arriving from Spain. That’s going to make for a more competitive environment without consideration for the possibility of trades or free-agent additions.
Clark (Santa Cruz, Calif.): What do you think is the likelihood of Chris Kaman coming to the Pistons for the mid-level exception vs. chasing a championship with a team like Miami or Boston?
Langlois: Tough to assess, Clark. Is there a team willing to give Kaman the full MLE? Is there a team, perhaps, willing to give him more than the MLE? As I answered in response to Leon above, my expectation for the Pistons in free agency will be that they seek a good value of players who fall through the cracks. I don’t know if Kaman will get that far. But if he does, then he’d be one to watch.
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