Pistons Mailbag - February 19, 2014

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.

Editor’s note: You can now submit Pistons Mailbag questions via Twitter. Include the hashtag #pistonsmailbag and, as always, your first name, hometown and state or country. Questions submitted via Twitter will also include the questioner’s Twitter handle.

Jordan (New York City): With New Orleans listening to offers for Eric Gordon and needing frontcourt help for Anthony Davis, what about an offer built around Josh Smith for Eric Gordon? Both teams get something they desperately want.

Langlois: Not outlandish, Jordan, but I can see concerns that either side would have. For the Pistons, Gordon simply isn’t the same player he was when he came into the league. Injuries have taken a toll and changed him from a bruising slasher with rare strength and explosion to someone who is more of a perimeter scorer now. Still a pretty good one, but not as dynamic as he was. And you’d really have to worry about his durability at this point. As for New Orleans, I think the Pelicans are looking for a frontcourt partner for Davis who would allow Davis to spend most of his time at power forward. Acquiring Smith would compel them to use Davis primarily at center. He doesn’t have the frame to make that a preferred choice for them.

Aaron (Houston): I think a fair trade that would make both teams better would be Monroe, Stuckey and Charlie V to New Orleans for Gordon, Anderson and Withey. This brings two young good shooters and a solid backup for Drummond and gives New Orleans one of it not the best young backcourt in the league.

Langlois: Have to believe New Orleans would have high interest in that deal, Aaron. Monroe (bonus: New Orleans native) would fit very nicely with Davis, while Stuckey would make a very strong backcourt partner for Jrue Holiday. Anderson would obviously give the Pistons a prototype stretch four to slot next to Andre Drummond, while Gordon, if he can stay healthy, would give the Pistons another perimeter shooting upgrade. Joe Dumars has made it clear that he regards Monroe very highly. It would take a significant return to get the Pistons to consider moving him. Whether your package fits the bill or not, only Joe D knows for sure. Given the magnitude of any deal involving Monroe, I’d be surprised if he gets moved at the trade deadline. Let’s keep this in mind: The trade deadline usually generates 10 times more noise than it merits. The biggest name to move last year was J.J. Redick.

Gee (Clinton Twp., Mich.): Why did the Pistons sign Josh Smith to that big contract if they knew they wouldn’t have enough money to sign Greg Monroe? My husband, son and I keep arguing about it and they keep saying everything is going to be OK.

Langlois: The Pistons have a relatively clean cap sheet, Gee. They’ll go into the summer with about $10 million in cap space even accounting for the $10 million cap hold Monroe commands. That means they could sign free agents to salaries that total $10 million for next season (for instance, one player who’ll make $10 million next year or two players who’ll make $5 million apiece) and then sign Monroe for whatever it takes to land him, even if it exceeds the salary cap, or match an offer sheet he might get as a restricted free agent.

Erik (Otisville, Mich.): The Pistons should trade Jonas Jerebko to Boston for Brandon Bass. Jerebko would give the Celtics a backup defensive small forward while Bass gives the Pistons a tough defender and rebounder off the bench for Drummond and Monroe. It also gives the Celtics a little more cap flexibility at $1.2 million less than Jerebko. The Pistons could throw in a couple of second-rounders since they have plenty of young players to develop.

Langlois: Bass has turned himself into a pretty good player, Erik, and his ability to knock down mid-range jump shots would make him a nice fit next to either Monroe or Drummond. But I’m not sure the Pistons would find enough minutes for him – given the presence of Josh Smith to go with Monroe and Drummond – to justify taking on the additional salary. If they made Bass a true No. 3 big man and gave him something close to the nearly 30 minutes a game he’s playing for the Celtics, it would mean Smith playing almost exclusively at small forward. The Pistons have tried to find ways to limit the time that Smith, Drummond and Monroe are all on the floor. Not sure this would hold necessary appeal for either side.

Ken (Dharamsala, India): Can Pistons management ask their players to report two to three weeks early to training camp in the fall of 2014? It seems that this year’s Pistons have been playing catch-up since the preseason, when injuries surely contributed. I think the Pistons, a young team, have to have more time to understand their assignments, particularly on defense. Defense still wins championships.

Langlois: Short answer: No. Training camp can only begin a set number of days prior to the start of the regular season, as specified by the collective bargaining agreement. A team’s players can independently agree to congregate somewhere – usually at the team’s training facility – at any point throughout the off-season. In a typical off-season, a team’s young players – draft choices and first- and second-year players – will spend nearly all of their summers working out at the Pistons’ practice facility. Veterans cycle in and out to work with Arnie Kander and the coaching staff. Once September rolls around, more and more players find their way to the facility. It’s typical that by mid-September, all but a few senior veterans are in town and five-on-five scrimmages are held nearly daily. But organized workouts, supervised by the coaches, are not allowed. I don’t know that it would be as beneficial as your hypothetical suggests, either. The only cure for inexperience and lack of familiarity is playing games and applying theory and practice lessons in real time. As for “defense wins championships” – yes and no. You simply have to score more points than the opposition. A great offensive team is every bit as problematic as a great defensive team. The Bad Boys were a hard-edged defensive team, but they were also a very good and very versatile offensive team, for one relevant example. The Showtime Lakers of Magic Johnson didn’t ignore defense, but what made them championship worthy was their lethal offense. I’d say pretty much the same for Larry Bird’s Celtics of that era. They dug in and fought you on defense with great competitive spirit, but what separated them from everyone in the East – until the Pistons caught them – was their overwhelming firepower.

Mike (@MikeontheMic79): Have the Pistons recalled Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva because of five games in seven days or due to a possible pending trade of Stuckey or Bynum?

Langlois: Neither. They recalled them because that was the plan – give them another roughly two weeks in the D-League, timed to coincide with the NBA All-Star break so they would continue to get work while their teammates got to cool their heels, and then bring them back to Detroit.

Josh (Ferndale, Mich.): If the Pistons are looking to deal Monroe at the trade deadline would one option be packaging him with Singler for Harrison Barnes and Marresse Speights of the Warriors? Including Speights and Singler would seem to assuage any Golden State concerns about Monroe’s pending restricted free agency and possibly luxury tax concerns.

Langlois: Barnes isn’t having the season expected of him, Josh. His per-36 minute numbers for scoring and rebounding have dipped, as has his field-goal percentage. If I’m dealing Monroe for a small forward, I want more than basically 10 points a game and no other single outstanding quality. Throwing Singler into the deal means you’re giving up two starters. And I like Barnes. He’s a good all-around player with a chance to be more than that. I just don’t like that deal.

Ken (@KenWieczorek): Is there any chance to move Stuckey and Villanueva with their expiring contracts for any youth with upside?

Langlois: Fair to guess that any yield for Villanueva would either be a similar expiring deal on the hope that a change of scenery might work on both sides of the equation or a player with more than one year left on his deal. He hasn’t been able to crack the rotation and has shot well below his career norms when he has played. Stuckey is another matter. He’s been very productive this season and, when not bothered by nagging injuries, a consistent producer. But as has been the case for the past few years, the value of the expiring contract is now mostly a myth. Stuckey would draw interest for his productivity more than his expiring deal. He also has value to the Pistons for those reasons, and in that order of priority.

Ryan (@ryaniframe): Has Loyer mentioned how he will use KCP as Stuckey becomes trade bait? He was underutilized and overpressured by Cheeks.

Langlois: He’s spoken highly of him and expressed his confidence in him. He’s kept him in the rotation. Beyond that, we don’t know much based on three games. Not sure what you mean by “underutilized and overpressured.” Seems contradictory on the face of it. Caldwell-Pope played more than 40 minutes in three games within a week of each other about a month ago. Cheeks often remarked how he could keep KCP on the floor even when he wasn’t scoring as long as he was active defensively and running the floor. He also said he wouldn’t run plays for him, but if that’s underutilized then there are many long-time NBA starters who are also underutilized. (Dennis Rodman’s in the Hall of Fame. I don’t think anyone ever ran a play for him.) It’s just not that rare to be considered a quality player yet not have the offense designed to produce shots for you.

Michael (Ferndale, Mich.): With Carmelo Anthony saying he wants to test free agency, do you think the Knicks might trade him in fear of losing him for nothing? Even if he wants to sign with the Knicks again, I don’t know how much better they can get with their money tied up in Stoudemire, Bargnani and Chandler. Would a trade of Jennings, Monroe, Stuckey, Villanueva, Jerebko and Datome for Carmelo, Bargnani, Felton and Hardaway Jr. would be possible?

Langlois: The only way the Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony is if they are told unequivocally by Anthony or his agent that he will not re-sign with them in free agency. (And, even then, the Knicks might decide to call the bluff.) And the only likely way another team gives up what it would take to pry him away from the Knicks is if Anthony’s agent tells that team his client intends to either (a) not opt out of his contract after the season or (b) opt out but re-sign a max deal with the team in July. All of which makes any scenario where Anthony is dealt at tomorrow’s trade deadline infinitesimally remote.

Rueben (Tulsa, Okla.): There are reports the Bucks are looking to trade Gary Neal. Do you think it would be a good idea for the Pistons to trade for him considering we could use a good 3-point shooter?

Langlois: He’d be more attractive if he didn’t have another year on his contract, I’d imagine. The question the Pistons would have to ask themselves – aside from what it would take to get him from a talent standpoint – is whether what Neal provides from a perimeter shooting standpoint could be enough for him to beat out Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for backup minutes at shooting guard. The most likely player to be a fit in trade for Milwaukee would be Will Bynum (both one more year left on their deals, close to the same dollars, similar spots in the rotation) but the Bucks really don’t need another point guard with Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour and Ish Smith all on the roster.

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