Pistons Mailbag - Monday, January 9, 2012

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.

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Richard (Las Vegas): Brandon Knight doesn’t play good defense, see the floor or hit the open man. Typical AAU flash, but not a real basketball player.

Langlois: You’re in a decided minority there, Richard. Knight’s defense has been better than anyone expected for a rookie and that’s been a pretty universal assessment. He’s learning what he can and can’t do at this level, just as he had a similar adjustment to make a year ago as a freshman in college, when he took big leaps from month to month. The general reaction to Knight’s first few weeks in the NBA has been that the Pistons have themselves a keeper at point guard. Pistons veterans have been impressed across the board with Knight’s talent, but also with his work ethic and his humility. He’s a quick study and a level-headed kid who has made it clear he’s a team-first player.

David (Lansing, Mich.): With all the talk about Knight for Cousins, what about trading Stuckey for Cousins? I wonder if Stuckey was offered deals from any other teams.

Langlois: Moot point, David. The Pistons cannot trade Rodney Stuckey until March 1 because he was re-signed as a free agent. On the other end, the Kings have fired the coach with whom Cousins was butting heads and stated emphatically that they’re not trading him. Nothing to see here.

Dan (Venice, Calif.): With the Pistons need for size up front, is there a reason why they didn’t go after Marreese Speights, a player Philadelphia seemed to just give away for a second-round pick.

Langlois: There’s a great reason the Pistons didn’t have a shot at Speights, Dan. Philly made it clear they wanted draft picks back for him, not players, and they wound up with two second-rounders. The Pistons could not have engaged in such a deal because they did not have any room under the salary cap to accept a player without trading a like amount in salary away.

Nivar (Gainesville, Ga.): What are the chances of the Pistons landing either DeMarcus Cousins or Michael Beasley?

Langlois: Cousins, zilch, as I’ve maintained. As for Beasley, he has to rank as one of the most likely NBA players to be traded before the season is out. They won big at Washington without him on Sunday – Beasley has a foot injury – and there were some rather blunt assessments made afterward by T-wolves personnel that the improved ball movement might have happened because of Beasley’s absence. The Timberwolves have a logjam at power forward with Kevin Love and Derrick Williams. That’s Beasley’s best spot. If they play him at small forward, he takes minutes from 2010 lottery pick Wesley Johnson. Do the Pistons have interest? He’s a talented scorer, but every team in the league is wary of Beasley’s history. Not sure there’s a talent-for-talent fit, but I don’t think it would take much for Minnesota to part with him, either.

Tom (Northville, Mich.): Last year Stuckey had trouble finishing on drives to the basket, which was frustrating. This year he seems to fail to finish even more. Are the coaches working with him on ways to improve finishing his drives?

Langlois: He works on that aspect of his game often after practice, Tom. Great finishers at the rim are few and far between. The ones who come to mind, like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, are blessed with phenomenal athleticism. Stuckey has great strength and speed – that’s how he can get to the rim with the best of them. What he doesn’t possess that those two players do, perhaps, is great explosion that allows him to soar above defenders, hang in the air, shift the ball from one hand to the other and get a favorable angle to release the ball.

Jason (Flint, Mich.): Since the big man search has turned up dry so far, would Joe Dumars be willing to take a flyer on the NBDL and call up a big man since the team is only carrying 13 players? Somebody like Chris Daniels could at least be serviceable.

Langlois: If there’s somebody in the D-League the Pistons believe could help, there would be little hesitation in giving him a shot, Jason. So far, Lawrence Frank seems pretty content with a rotation of Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace. Would the Pistons love to add a player who represents an upgrade? Sure. Are they likely to find one in the D-League? Not very. They also have Charlie Villanueva waiting to crack the rotation, as well, and rookie Vernon Macklin. With so little practice time available – the Pistons will have only three likely practice days through the end of January – it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to add somebody unless you thought they were better than the players you’re currently playing. If an injury crops up, then maybe you look harder at adding a D-Leaguer.

Saul (Okemos, Mich.): I’ve seen numerous reports that Detroit considers Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight untouchable. Dwight Howard is possibly going to be traded by the deadline. Doesn’t it make sense to offer Monroe and whoever else to balance that deal out?

Langlois: Not if you trade for Howard in March and he leaves as a free agent in July, Saul. There are reports that a few teams – Chicago and Golden State, predominantly – would consider trading for Howard without a demand that Howard sign a contract extension so he could not leave as a free agent after the season. Howard, according to widespread reports, has indicated he would be willing to sign a contract extension with only three teams: New Jersey, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers. And those are the three teams, as Magic GM Otis Smith reiterated just over the weekend, that the Magic have granted permission to speak with Howard’s agent. The Pistons would be devastated to lose Monroe and have nothing to show for it in July.

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