Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, April 26, 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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Lloyd (Clinton Twp., Mich.): I hear many suggesting the Pistons amnesty Charlie V and Ben Gordon. I think both are pretty good players and the Pistons would be wise to keep them both around. It might be time to unload Austin Daye because he plays a role similar to Charlie. The Pistons do need to get more athletic. I like Thaddeus Young and JaVale McGee. Is there a chance the Pistons can land these two players?

Langlois: Lots to chew on there, Lloyd. Start with this: Teams can amnesty only one contract that was signed under the terms of the old collective bargaining agreement, so the Pistons could not amnesty both players. My guess is they won’t use it at all. Invoking the amnesty clause makes the most sense for teams either (a) looking to avoid luxury taxes or (b) attempting to get far enough below the salary cap to sign a desirable free agent. The Pistons don’t fit either category. Even using the amnesty on Gordon, the largest of their contracts, won’t get them under the cap by enough to put them anywhere near the front of the line among teams with cap space this summer – so unlikely to be players for the free agents you suggest. I don’t think the Pistons would look at Daye the way you suggest – overlapping with Charlie V. But even if they did, what if they find a trade suitor for Villanueva this summer or next season? Daye’s season was undeniably disappointing, but the Pistons still believe in his talent. The lockout and Daye’s subsequent decision to play in Russia, where he lost 10 pounds, set him back. He’d made strides from year one to year two and the Pistons believe that with a diligent off-season workout regimen he can make a similar jump next season.

Louie (San Antonio, Texas): Do you think Ben Wallace will play Thursday night in his last game as a pro?

Langlois: Not much question that he’ll be active and play, Louie, the only intrigue is whether Lawrence Frank chooses to start him. It’s not nearly as likely to be his last game in the NBA as it appeared to be a few months ago, though. Of late, Wallace has at least left the door open to the possibility of another season. I would be surprised if there is any more clarity on the matter anytime soon. His routine in recent seasons has been to take a little time off, then get back in the gym and listen to what his body tells him.

Jonathan (Grand Rapids, Mich.): Will Joe Dumars consider drafting Draymond Green of Michigan State? He would be a great solution for the power forward position and can take the load off of an aging Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince.

Langlois: Answered a few questions about Green during Michigan State’s season, Jonathan. No question Green helped his NBA stock with a stellar senior season, but there are still some major questions that cloud his appeal. On issues of character, sense of team, leadership and ability to perform when the lights are on, Green is off the charts. But he’s probably 6-foot-5 and not blessed with run-and-jump athleticism. He’s a pure basketball player, but he lacks an NBA position. Ultimately, his fit will be coming off the bench where his matchup disadvantages will be easier to disguise and his versatility and basketball IQ can be used to his best advantage. I think that despite the question marks Green invites, there is likely to be one team that drafts him – maybe even as high as the late first round – not knowing quite how they will use him but confident that his smarts and character, under the guidance of a coach creative enough to figure out his best use, will somehow prove an asset.

William (Bay City, Mich.): Assuming the Pistons draft ninth, which of the big men projected to be there do you like best? Also, if Kaman expressed interest in joining the Pistons, would Joe D amnesty somebody if the mid-level isn’t enough to sign him?

Langlois: The Pistons have almost no shot to sign a free agent for something above the mid-level exception, William. If they were to use the amnesty on their biggest contract (Ben Gordon’s) and if Jason Maxiell opted out of the final year of his contract as well, then and only then would they be under the cap by enough to make a competitive bid on a player who is likely to get offers above the MLE. But there are some big questions in there. The Pistons might not know Maxiell’s intentions until free agency opens. Would they then have enough time to exercise the amnesty and get involved with a really desirable free agent? Remember, the best ones go very fast and it trickles down from there. My best guess is the Pistons do not use the amnesty and are very selective in dabbling in free agency this summer, when their salary cap level figures to start somewhere in the mid-60 million range, including Maxiell’s final year plus the cap hold for their first-rounder.

Dawn (Allendale, Mich.): Do you like Jonas Jerebko better at small forward or power forward? While he has a nice 3-point shot, I like him better down low where his defensive energy is contagious. He really seems to have benefited by having Big Ben around to show him the ropes.

Langlois: There will be give and take with Jonas at either spot, Dawn. At power forward, he will get overpowered occasionally by stronger players with larger frames – but he’ll also beat many of those same players down the floor in transition to give the Pistons numbers. At small forward, he might not have the same chances to put the ball on the floor and blow by his defender as he does now but he’s going to be more likely to snare offensive rebounds. As his offensive game matures and if he can add range and consistency on his 3-point shot, he ultimately might be better suited for small forward. Then again, as he continues to mature physically and add strength to better hold post position defensively, his versatility could give him matchup advantages at power forward. Right now, more than any other determinant, where he spends most of his time is really going to depend on the makeup of the roster. This season, with Charlie Villanueva missing so much time early, the Pistons absolutely needed him to be a power forward. And as long as he’s coming off the bench, the matchup considerations are less pressing – there just aren’t that many backup power forwards that teams dump the ball into as post scorers and not that many backup small forwards with the explosiveness and ballhandling ability to overwhelm him defensively.

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