Pistons Mailbag - December 18, 2019

by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

Lots of talk about point guards – Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose, Bruce Brown and Jordan Bone – at the heart of this week’s edition of Pistons Mailbag.

Charles (Redford Twp., Mich.): Can Josh Smith’s stretched contract be included as part of a larger trade?

Langlois: No. Any waived player – and when you stretch a contract, which merely allows a team to spread the payments and the cap implications of a contract over a longer period of time, it starts with the waiving of that player – cannot be included in trade. Once you waive a player, he becomes the same as any other player not under contract to your team. You could no more include Josh Smith’s contract in a trade than you could that of a player from another NBA team.

Ahmen (San Antonio): It seems we are seeing Derrick Rose back to his old self. It would be a great accomplishment for him if he ends up winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.

Langlois: He’s got a chance, but you have to wonder how much his minutes restriction will limit his ability to put up the numbers he’d need to stand up to other front-runners. Lou Williams, the reigning winner, averages 20 points and more than 30 minutes a game for a Clippers team that can afford to have his scoring off the bench with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George anchoring the starting unit. His teammate, Montrezl Harrell, averages 19 points and more than seven rebounds in nearly 30 minutes a game. They might cancel each other out, to some degree, but they also figure to benefit from the fact that the Clippers should wind up winning 50-plus games. Dennis Schroder is averaging 17 points a game and 30 minutes for Oklahoma City. Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie’s candidacy might swing on Kyrie Irving’s health. If Dinwiddie returns to his role coming off the bench, he’s going to have the numbers to be firmly in the discussion. Miami’s Goran Dragic has an All-Star pedigree and should also benefit from Miami’s strong record. There are a few others who could factor into the race, too. The more the Pistons win and the more games Rose plays, the stronger his candidacy becomes. He’ll benefit from his stature and from the fact that he’s often the guy at the end of games the Pistons call on to make plays. As long as Rose stays healthy, I would expect he’ll be among the top five candidates for the award at season’s end.

Michael Howard (@mgh50): When will Jordan Bone be in Detroit?

Langlois: Barring further injury to thin out the point guard grouping, 2020-21. Signing him to a two-way contract was the tell that the Pistons saw Bone – a player they rated as a first-round pick, motivating them to trade back into the second round to pick Bone at 57 when there was a chance at that point he’d have gone undrafted and they could’ve attempted to sign him outright – as part of their future beyond 2019-20 but not during it. He’s having a promising season for Grand Rapids in the G League, but the best thing for him is to soak up a lot of playing time there to learn what it takes to be a point guard in the NBA. He’s operating amid a far different offense with vastly different requirements of him than he experienced at Tennessee. He’s not going to take minutes from Bruce Brown or Derrick Rose – and Reggie Jackson’s return shouldn’t be too far away – so there’s not much point in having him with the Pistons at this time. He’s limited, regardless, to 45 days with the parent NBA team by the parameters of two-way deals.

Boony Merryweather (@merryweatherbo1): Where is Reggie Jackson? I’m excited for the Pistons to be healthy, but I have not heard one thing about Reggie.

Langlois: Dwane Casey gave an update on Jackson on Tuesday. He said Jackson would return to Los Angeles to see a specialist for his back injury sometime in the next week or two. “I think 12 weeks is what his target was,” Casey said. Twelve weeks from the diagnosis would put Jackson’s potential return somewhere in the first 10-14 days of January, perhaps, if he continues to progress on schedule.

Snooty (@cl0wn_sn00ty23): When will they trade Rose?

Langlois: There’s no indication they will. That said, will a player with Rose’s background and capabilities have appeal to teams looking to solidify their playoff status or bolster and diversify their roster for a postseason run? Of course. If the Pistons get to a point where they decide their record, negatively affected by the wave of injuries that washed over them in the first few months of the season, won’t enable their own playoff push – and they’re one game out of the playoffs as of this morning, so we’re certainly not there yet – then Rose would become a target for other teams. He’s under contract for next season, as well, so that on its face would seem to reduce the number of teams who would pursue a deal. But he’d have value. Whether it would be enough for the Pistons to give up 1½ years of a valuable player’s services is another matter.

Isaac W. (@izzy_t): With Derrick Rose playing at an All-Star level and Bruce Brown being more than a capable second banana at point guard and shooting guard, we have Langston doing his thing … where does Reggie Jackson fit on this team now? What’s his trade value?

Langlois: His trade value is probably negligible until he gets back on the floor and establishes it. Where he fits is another matter. If Jackson quickly shrugs off the effects of his layoff and can play to the level he reached in the second half of last season, then he fits exactly where the Pistons expected he would prior to the October back injury: as their starting point guard. Bruce Brown goes back to shooting guard and Luke Kennard probably comes off of the bench, increasing the potency of a second unit that has scoring punch from all five spots. If he isn’t that player, then Dwane Casey has to figure out how best to get him back to that level. The Pistons can’t afford to ease him back in given their record and playoff standing. If Jackson looks like himself, he plays and probably starts soon after his return. If he doesn’t look like himself, then he’ll face the same situation all players out of the rotation face: working to get back to his previous level while waiting for an opportunity to get playing time and taking advantage of it when it comes around.

Shokyoth (Totowa, N.J.): Which team is likely to end up with a worse record: Golden State or New York?

Langlois: Golden State, though it depends in large measure how soon Steph Curry returns and whether or not Klay Thompson comes back this season at all. It’s still probably tougher to get wins in the West and Golden State surely has more organizational cover to punt on a season than do the Knicks, where management likely is motivated by job survival to keep pursuing wins. The Knicks cast their lot last July when – after it became clear the big free-agent fish were passing on their baited hooks – they pursued a bunch of second-tier players with big short-term deals. Those were not the actions of a team intent on chasing lottery odds. To fail so resoundingly – to date, at least – has to reflect poorly on management. They’ve fired their coach already, too, another indication that they never intended to tank. Golden State isn’t under any discernible organizational pressure. I’m sure a 60-loss season in the team’s first season in its new arena wasn’t what anyone imagined, but the Warriors have earned plenty of cushion from their fans for assembling one of the greatest rosters in NBA history and winning three titles in a four-year span while playing in five consecutive Finals. Steve Kerr isn’t coaching for his job. I don’t think they’re going to intentionally lose games, but their injury/cap situation has boxed them into a dark corner for this season.

Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. To have your question considered, submit it along with your name, email address and city/state using the form below.

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