Pistons Mailbag - October 7, 2020
Luke Kennard’s trade market, Jordan Bone’s future and Sekou Doumbouya’s development are on the docket in this week’s edition of Pistons Mailbag.
Derek Moore (@SportsLunatic): Will Luke Kennard be moved via trade before the season opener?
Langlois: I’d bet against it. I get why there is so much speculation about Kennard’s availability and trade value. It all has to do with the circumstances. He’s a productive young player with an elite and coveted skill as a 40 percent 3-point shooter who can get that shot off on his own to a degree. Couple that with the fact he’s entering the final year of his rookie contract and playing for an organization at something of a crossroads, the Pistons having declared with last winter’s trade of Andre Drummond that they were hitting the reset button. But the reasons Kennard would be attractive to any number of teams also makes him valuable to the Pistons. They need shooters and playmakers just like anybody else. Because of the rebuilding aspect for the Pistons, there’s a tipping point past which the return for him – some combination of draft assets and existing talent – might make a deal too sensible to pass up. Whether that type of deal presents itself for the Pistons is a significant unknowable. The other major variable is how the economic impact of an interrupted season – one completed without fans and taking place at an unfamiliar spot on the calendar – will affect the free-agent market and what the spillover impact of that will be on the trade market. If teams are more restrained than usual in free agency, then it could mean they’ll more actively look to satisfy their needs via trade. We are about to enter the great unknown, the first step of which will be whatever guideposts the owners and players establish when they sit down to amend the collective bargaining agreement to acknowledge their current reality.
Paul (Phoenix): I think Jordan Bone has a lot of good qualities – tremendous speed and tremendous athleticism if not necessarily great size. But that might not matter much. I remember Lindsey Hunter, who had great foot speed and coordination and was one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. Bone can score driving to the hoop and showed better 3-point ability in the G League last season. If the Pistons don’t retain him, I can see him being picked up quickly by organizations that see his potential.
Langlois: It sounds like Bone had a strong showing in Pistons team camp. Dwane Casey said he saw Bone learning how to better use his great gift of speed to his advantage, changing gears and varying his pace more, and also said he saw him becoming more of a true point guard. Bone said when he was drafted by the Pistons that he felt some of the things he did best were things he wasn’t asked to do at Tennessee, which ran a structured offense and funneled it through NBA draft picks Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. The floor is much more spaced in the NBA than in today’s college basketball and Bone’s speed, in theory, should be a more effective tool than it was for him in college. If Bone left the same positive impression on new general manager Troy Weaver as he did on Casey, I would expect the Pistons to find room for him on the roster for 2021. But that’s a decision that might not be cemented until after the draft and free agency when roster needs and fit become a little clearer.
Lucas Quakkelaar (@yolucasboi): How is Sekou Doumbouya developing? Is he good enough to play on an NBA roster or should he spend more time developing in the G League?
Langlois: I don’t think it’s out of the question that he could spend more time playing in the G League, even if it’s just times that don’t take him away from Pistons games. It will depend primarily on Doumbouya’s progress and how big a role he establishes with the Pistons. By all accounts – Dwane Casey’s telling and reports from several of his teammates – Doumbouya has had a productive off-season. He’s gotten stronger and in better condition and he’s worked on his shooting and his ballhandling. He’s still a relative newcomer to basketball, keep in mind, and there are areas he needs to improve – decision-making, foremost – that really can only be enhanced by playing actual basketball games. If he can put his strengths into evidence often enough that his mistakes don’t limit his playing time, then he probably sticks with the Pistons almost exclusively. But if Doumbouya’s inexperience means minutes are hard to come by for him with the Pistons – or he has a steady role but not one that affords him quite enough exposure to maximize his growth – then it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him get a little more seasoning in the G League.
Milt (Canton, Mich.): Please don’t sleep on Kira Lewis out of Alabama. I can see a little Ja Morant and Dennis Schroeder in him. I believe he could be a steal.
Langlois: Duly noted. He’s one of the players we’ll profile on Pistons.com as a candidate for the Pistons to take with the seventh pick in the draft. That would be higher than the general consensus of Lewis’ draft value – he’s generally considered back end of the lottery to the mid 20s – but in this draft, where the separation at the top is less pronounced than most years, we could see a few players with similar rankings wind up going 10 or so spots higher than the consensus view.
Kevin (Las Vegas): Can you explain what the job scopes or duties of Arn Tellem, Troy Weaver and Ed Stefanski are and who has the ultimate final decisions on what?
Langlois: Let’s start with this: Pistons owner Tom Gores is a fundamental believer in the power of collaboration and of the process determining outcomes. That said, he also made it clear when he announced the hiring of Troy Weaver over the summer that Weaver was the general manager and in charge of personnel decisions. So that means on matters of the draft, trades and free agency, Weaver will be the one to take the room’s temperature and make the call. Stefanski was hired as senior adviser to Gores and that’s still his role. As an NBA veteran of five front offices and more than two decades, his experience and insights have helped Gores make key organizational decisions – including the hirings of Dwane Casey and Weaver and the decision to trade Andre Drummond to facilitate a reset – since he came on board 2½ years ago. Tellem, as Pistons vice chairman, is primarily responsible for the business operations of the Pistons and all that that entails. He’s also Gores’ emissary in carrying out a key objective of the role he sees as an owner of a public trust, the Pistons, in building bridges to and enriching the community where Pistons fans live and work, the city of Detroit foremost. Tellem’s decades of experience as a premier player agent, of course, is invaluable to Weaver, Stefanski and their basketball operations staff as they execute the due diligence of their jobs.
Quinn (San Antonio): If LeBron James wins this NBA championship, is he the second-best player right behind Michael Jordan?
Langlois: Magic Johnson still has my vote, though I acknowledge that in the court of public opinion it is now and likely forever going to be Jordan. You can make a strong case, I think, that nobody has ever had a longer run as the game’s pre-eminent player than James. He’s pushing the bounds, at 35, of what we believe to be a player’s window for elite performance. The way he’s performed this season, can anyone say with any degree of confidence that he won’t still be in the MVP discussion at, say, 37 or 39 … or 40? That’s remarkable. We aren’t too far removed from the day when players – other than the occasional great 7-footer – were on the down side when they hit 30.
Jay (@JayBeeQue): How’s D-Rose’s jumper looking?
Langlois: I haven’t seen it since March 1, the last game Rose played, spraining his ankle that day in Sacramento. He did not take part in the recent Pistons team camp as both Rose and Blake Griffin, as established veterans with peerless work ethics and considerable injury histories to consider, were excused to continue their diligent personal off-season regimens. Dwane Casey knows both players will come to training camp in optimum condition given their circumstances and wants to save the tread on their tires for when it matters most. That’s the biggest thing with Rose. If he’s healthy when it’s time to resume play – whenever that might be as the NBA keeps an ear to the ground with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic – then that’s all that matters.
(@_WODKIDZ): Will the teal jerseys ever return?
Langlois: Maybe? It could turn up as one of the City Edition uniforms one season, I suppose. There’s also the throwback uniforms that teams are allowed to break out to commemorate significant anniversary dates. The next possible opening for a throwback uniform for the Pistons would come during the 2022-23 season, the 65th anniversary of the franchise’s move from Fort Wayne to Detroit.