Pistons Mailbag - April 23, 2014
The search for a new GM, pondering the Bad Boys’ place in history and stuff about the new radio partner for the Pistons all in the latest edition of Pistons Mailbag.
Craig (Marquette, Mich.): Any news on the GM search?
Langlois: Not much, which is just the way ownership intends to conduct it – off the radar, Craig. It was reported last week that the Los Angeles-based executive search firm of Korn Ferry had been retained to facilitate the search as led by Platinum Equity executives Bob Wentworth and Phil Norment. Jed Hughes is spearheading the Korn Ferry team and he helped lead the Toronto Raptors to hire Masai Ujiri last off-season from Denver’s front office. Fair to say they’ll conduct their search among an eminently qualified pool of candidates.
Tay (Detroit): I think the Pistons should look to hire Magic Johnson as the president of operations and go after Stan Van Gundy as their head coach. I think his system would match our team. He helped develop Dwight Howard’s game and maybe he can help Andre Drummond be that same All-Star. Do you think Magic and Stan would come to Detroit?
Langlois: No idea what their interest might be, Tay, other than Stan Van Gundy saying some derogatory things about the Pistons after they let his buddy Lawrence Frank go last year. But you raise an interesting point that probably deserves addressing. I don’t think, as an owner, you can say we’ll take one from Item A and one from Item B and hope it works. You have to choose a business model and let that follow its course. In the case of a basketball team, the traditional model is to hire a general manager (or president of basketball operations if that’s the title chosen) and then let the GM lead the search for a coach. When you’re throwing around names like Magic Johnson and Stan Van Gundy, people of that caliber aren’t going to venture into an operation without a comfort level with both the model and the other party, the coach or the GM. So if the Pistons choose to go with the traditional model, the new GM would lead the coaching search and would be unlikely to accept his job if the terms were anything otherwise. And a coach the stature of Van Gundy would be unlikely to accept his position from ownership without an understanding that he was first choice of the chief basketball executive, as well.
Nick (Brisbane, Australia): As a lifelong Pistons fan from afar and watching the “30 for 30” special on the Bad Boys, it has been further highlighted to me how underrated the team was and, in particular, how underrated Isiah is in the spectrum of all-time greats of NBA basketball. Do you feel Isiah is truly appreciated as he should be as one of the greatest players of all-time?
Langlois: I had a friend, also a Pistons fan, say to me, “I forgot how good they really were” after watching the ESPN special. I don’t think they’ve been given their due, overshadowed on one end by the two most iconic NBA franchises of all-time featuring two of the game’s most dominant players, the Magic Johnson Lakers and the Larry Bird Celtics, and on the other by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. The Bulls won six titles in the ’90s but those teams, in my view, wouldn’t have won any titles in the ’80s. That was the best decade of basketball the NBA has ever seen. And the Pistons were within an eyelash – the phantom foul on Bill Laimbeer in Game 6 of the 1988 Finals – of winning three straight titles at a time repeating was never tougher. They could have even won four straight if they’d have had a little better luck in the 1987 Eastern Conference finals – the soul-crushing games 5 and 7 losses at Boston Garden – and taken their shot at the Lakers a year earlier. I think most with intimate knowledge of the ’80s would say Isiah was among the five highest-impact players of that golden decade. He was a marvel whose greatness had every bit as much to do – and maybe more to do – with his competitive fire as his incredible physical gifts. The Bad Boys were the most unique collection of outsized personalities I’ve been around with more natural leaders than any four or five other teams.
Hevvy (Harper Woods, Mich.): Can the Pistons trade Greg Monroe straight up for a draft pick or picks in this year’s draft?
Langlois: No. You can’t trade a player on an expiring contract, whether he’s an unrestricted or restricted free agent to be, once the trade deadline of the season passes. So they couldn’t trade Monroe, Charlie Villanueva or Rodney Stuckey – all on expiring contracts – and neither could they trade Jonas Jerebko. That’s because Jerebko has a player option on his contract so it, in effect, is an expiring contract for the purposes of trade parameters.
Ku (Detroit): If you were the general manager, what do you do with the current roster and what move would you make concerning Greg Monroe’s contract? Do you think KCP showed he should have been our starting shooting guard all year? I think he could’ve given us tenacious defense and, if he had the confidence all year that he showed in the finale he could have easily produced 10 points from drives, free throws and pullups, not just threes. What are your thoughts concerning him?
Langlois: The finale was an eye opener from KCP, Ku, no question about it. Now, there’s a big leap from one great game to becoming a consistent NBA producer. But the Pistons have felt since they saw the way a little confidence affected his game in Summer League last July that he could become something above an average starting shooting guard. He sure looked the part against OKC. He has a quality that NFL scouts call “suddenness” – the rare burst that gets a guy out of trouble spots in a heartbeat. Caldwell-Pope shows that suddenness when he is on his third jump before most can get to their second, or when he took the ball from the corner against the Thunder and had it dunked before the possibility of getting to the basket had even occurred to the defense. He has high-end potential as both a shooter and a slasher and those are special players. He needs to hone both ends of that equation, for sure, but if it all comes together – as it did in last week’s finale – he’ll be a huge part of the future.
Andrew (@scattdaddy77): I really like the idea of Doug McDermott going to Detroit, but in what way do you see it as an obvious pick?
Langlois: Didn’t say he’d be an obvious pick, Andrew. I said he would be an obvious roster fit given his outside shooting ability. McDermott (along with Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart) was one of two collegians invited by USA Basketball to the national team minicamp last July in Las Vegas. He, like Smart, did not look at all out of place in that setting against some of the best young players in the league. If the Pistons keep their pick at No. 8 – they still could lose the pick to Charlotte if any team from behind jumps them in the May 20 lottery – McDermott would be in a group of candidates under consideration, I would imagine. But at this point, more than two months before the draft, that’s a pretty long list.
Robbie (Lansing, Mich.): I saw the announcement on the new radio station. Do you know if fans outside of Detroit can hear the games on stations in their areas?
Langlois: Detroit Sports 105.1 FM will serve as the flagship station for the new Pistons radio network that will span Michigan and northwestern Ohio, Robbie. You’ll continue to be able to listen to Pistons games on local radio. You’ll also be able to hear 105.1 broadcasts with Mark Champion and Rick Mahorn on-line next year as well as over your mobile devices via either the Pistons or 105.1 apps. That’s a new and fan-friendly feature. I think the programming on 105.1 will be of more consistent interest to Pistons fans, too. Their format makes use of insiders, journalists, sports executives, coaches and players. For my money, that’s when talk radio is at its best. There’s a time and place for opening the phone lines for fans, but to do it exclusively ignores the opportunity to add depth and insight to issues that experts can provide.
De-Von (Indianapolis, Ind.): How hard would it be to sign Lionel Hollins? Get some vet shooters, add a sixth man like maybe Luol Deng, take out Drummond early and do what Phil Jackson did with Pau, Bynum and Odom while still playing Drummond 30 minutes. With shooters and defenders we can become a huge threat.
Langlois: Lots of things to chew on there, De-Von. I don’t think it’s realistic to discuss coaching candidates at any serious level until we see what happens with the general manager search. Luol Deng isn’t anybody’s sixth man. He’s among the top handful of starting small forwards in the league. He’s in line to get a Josh Smith-type of contract this summer. The Pistons won’t have quite that much cap space, but even if they did I wouldn’t expect them to invest it all in one player unless it was an obvious fit. Deng, in my view, would only be an obvious fit if the Pistons had an opening at small forward. And unless they trade one of their frontcourt starters, they don’t have that opening. As for Drummond playing 30 minutes a game, he played 32 this year. That’s in the ballpark. I don’t think you’ll see his minutes come down without some compelling reason to do so. We’ll see what the blueprint for building around Drummond becomes when the new GM is in place, but shooters and defenders is one obvious option.
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