Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, May 31, 2012

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.

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Jon (Wauseon, Ohio): What combination of players and picks would it take to get Portland’s picks at 6 and 11? I would say Daye, cash and our No. 9 pick plus our early second-round pick and next year’s first-rounder and maybe another conditional first. I think if we took best available at 6 and 11 we could be set for years to come.

Langlois: If you want to throw in two more additional first-rounders, you’d have to be set for years to come, Jon. I’m not a fan of throwing future first-rounders into any deal that doesn’t send back players with proven ability to be high-level contributors. Cash would have no appeal to Portland – the Blazers are owned by Paul Allen; they have been notorious buyers of draft picks, not sellers – but the bounty of draft picks surely would. I think they’d jump all over that deal.

Ryan (Hudsonville, Mich.): What are the chances the Pistons move up or down? I would like to see them move up to 6 or trade down with Houston and get two first-round picks. If they can get Drummond or Barnes, they should trade up. If they trade down and get two picks, Moultrie and Terrence Ross would make for a great draft.

Langlois: If they could go in either direction, my guess is their preference would be trading down. The way I see the draft, there are seven big men who are lumped fairly closely together and a good chance that five or six – perhaps even all seven, if perimeter players like Damian Lillard and Jeremy Lamb get taken ahead of 9 – will be on the board at the No. 9 pick. I gave overviews of all seven in the most recent True Blue Pistons blog and there just doesn’t seem to be a great deal separating them at this point, Ryan. But maybe after the evaluation process is over, the Pistons really like only two of those seven. That would make them leery of trading down, but there doesn’t seem to be much incentive in trading up, either. The guy they would likely be targeting if they traded up to 6 would be Drummond, but his production fell so far below expectations as a UConn freshman that it seems an extraordinary leap to trade up to get him. Now, if the Pistons like all seven of those players, they would be reasonably certain that one or two would still be on the board at 14 and 16 – Houston’s picks. The key to the deal would be Houston falling hard for a player who will be available at nine but has no shot to be there at 14. The Rockets, should they decide to trade up, will be shopping for the best deal it can get among many teams, not just the Pistons. Something to watch there.

Junior (Lucena, Philippines): What would it take to get the Hornets to send their No. 1 pick to the Pistons?

Langlois: Forget it, Junior. Not happening. Remember, the sale to Tom Benson isn’t official yet and isn’t likely to be in time for the June 28 draft. It’s very unlikely the NBA would approve any deal that would leave the Pistons with the jersey on their back. Even if the deal was in the hands of Hornets management, it still wouldn’t happen. They’d ask for Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight and a few other assorted assets, as well.

Tiba (Detroit): In 2010, it took Golden State choosing Ekpe Udoh for the Pistons to get Greg Monroe. In 2011, it took the surprise of every decent big man getting chosen before 8 for Brandon Knight to fall to the Pistons. Do you think we will be as lucky in the 2012 draft?

Langlois: There are five players who are as dead-solid certain as can be to be off the board before the Pistons pick this season: Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond. I think it’s likely that Harrison Barnes is gone, as well, because I don’t see him slipping past Toronto if Cleveland passes on him at 4. Assuming those six are gone, then there are only two more who’ll be out of play for the Pistons. My guess is that it really doesn’t matter as much to them this year who those two unknowns are. For the group of players they are focused on – as Joe Dumars all but admitted Wednesday night after the lottery order was determined, when he said, “without getting into any names right now, it’s the names you’ve probably been seeing in that range for quite some time now” – there’s a decent likelihood they’ll be comfortable with one or more players who will be there at 9. There were no more players on the board in either of the last two drafts, beyond Monroe and Knight, that would have left them confident at night’s end in the draft’s results.

Jay (Flint, Mich.): What do you think of trading down with Houston or Boston to get Royce White and Fab Melo?

Langlois: That’s too high to take those guys with Houston’s picks at 14 and 16, in my view, but right about in the wheelhouse for Boston’s picks at 21 and 22. Is it worth it for the Pistons to make an even swap of 9 for 21 and 22? That’s a tough call. I would guess no at this point. Would Houston take an even swap of 9 for 14 and 16? Also a tough call. I’d be intrigued, if the Rockets would do so. It really comes down to the comfort level the Pistons would have that they’d find someone at 14 that they would have been happy with taking at 9. Then the 16 pick becomes a free No. 1 pick.

Cam (Melbourne, Australia): I would like to see the Pistons trade 9 and any combination of players not named Jonas, Rodney, Greg or Brandon with Houston for 14 and 16 and pick Leonard or Moultrie plus Harkless.

Langlois: See above, Cam. The Pistons could even take two big men – perhaps Moultrie and Leonard, or Zeller and Moultrie – at 14 and 16 and suddenly go from an undersized team to one of the East’s biggest, assuming both players prove legitimate rotation pieces. But Houston has to be motivated to move into 9 and there’s no reason to believe the Rockets are at this point.

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