The search for a coach and the anticipation for the draft lottery are among the hot topics of this week’s Pistons Mailbag.
@ck2art/IG: Will we wait to see where we draft before we hire a coach?
Langlois: Troy Weaver dismissed that notion when he was asked about the lottery affecting the timing of hiring a coach last week. That stands to reason. I suppose if there is a desirable candidate who expresses a preference for knowing where the Pistons will draft, delaying the process wouldn’t be the end of the world. There won’t be a tremendous amount of impact for a new coach to make in early May, in any case. But if I’m Weaver, the candidate who expresses that preference would have to be truly outstanding to warrant such consideration. I’d want to hire a coach who believes in the foundation of the organization regardless of lottery luck. All of that said, there’s no question of how valuable landing the No. 1 pick in a draft that features a projected top pick with the historical impact Victor Wembanyama is expected to have would be. That pick would immediately become the top asset the Pistons own. So, in that sense, you’d have a better understanding of why the field of candidates might be a little different after the lottery. Bottom line, I think Weaver won’t alter his timetable for a hire. But with no real urgency to have a hire done by May 16, it could very easily extend past the lottery results, anyway.
Langlois: Bagley’s under contract for two more seasons and Diallo is due to be an unrestricted free agent. That puts Bagley in far more favorable position to return. He’s a potential trade candidate given the Pistons have three other young big men in Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren and James Wiseman, but Troy Weaver cited beefing up the frontcourt as a motivating reason to pursue the Wiseman-Saddiq Bey deal, so there’s no indication Weaver sees any need to thin out the ranks. Diallo’s an interesting case. He’s a unique player who very well could hold appeal to a contending team lacking the energy and transition panache Diallo offers. If one of those teams – one that doesn’t have many cards to play in free agency, identifies Diallo as a missing ingredient and moves quickly in free agency – makes an offer, the Pistons might not have any chance to retain him. The Pistons are going to have more irons in the fire given the amount of cap space they’ll have and that likely means decisions on role players will be pushed off while the bigger dominos topple.
Darrell (Detroit): Since James Wiseman and Killian Hayes are behind schedule in terms of reaching their ceilings, mostly due to injuries, I believe this favors the Pistons. Both players, along with Isaiah Stewart, are eligible for contract extensions. Although I see no reason for any of the three to not reach their potential, the Pistons can get away with paying them journeyman’s wages. For example, I believe Hayes and Stewart can be extended for around four years and $32 million with a team option in year three. And Wiseman can be signed for around four years and $40 million with the same team option. If these players reach their potential in a couple of years, the Pistons will have them at a bargain. And if they fail to improve, the Pistons can cut bait after two years or use their team-friendly contracts as filler in blockbuster trades.
Langlois: Troy Weaver was asked about the possibility for contract extensions for the three products of the 2020 first-round still on the roster – Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and James Wiseman – when he met the media after the season. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t tip his hand: “We’ll have some discussions to vet that out. Nothing heavy right now, but when it’s time we’ll have those discussions. We’ve got a few guys ready for that.” Every contract signed comes with some opportunity cost. There are only so many roster spots available and only so much money to be spent under the salary cap. The Pistons are blessed with an enviable cap situation at present, so Weaver will be prudent in his decision-making to make sure things don’t go sideways.
@alex.hesano/IG: Who are we looking at for head coach?
Langlois: There have been a number of names floated already by credible sources and I would be surprised if there aren’t a number more that surface before the field is winnowed. I think they’ll cast a wide net with Troy Weaver, who has been around the NBA for two decades and has contacts on staffs leaguewide, having intimate knowledge of who the up-and-coming assistant coaches might be who are ready to step into a top job. That doesn’t mean those who’ve had head coaching experience or some from the college ranks won’t be considered, either. Weaver said he’s looking for a coach who brings discipline, development and defense to the table. That’s the filter through which the job hunt should be viewed.
@goodforhealthbadforeduc…/IG: If Detroit somehow adds another top 20 pick, who is on their radar?
Langlois: I’d say that’s highly unlikely, but then I would have said the same thing about adding a second lottery pick last June and, somehow, Troy Weaver wound up doing so. Last year’s pick was the result of moving the No. 1 pick (Milwaukee’s in 2025) the Pistons had acquired the previous day by sending Jerami Grant to Portland. The only reasonably realistic way to acquire a top-20 pick in this draft logically would be a trade involving Bojan Bogdanovic. But he represents two things the Pistons need critically – 3-point shooting and wing minutes – so it’s a stretch to see them making that trade to add yet another young player to a roster already teeming with youth. Weaver has acknowledged the need for wing players, so adding another high pick would probably mean he likes someone he sees as a long-term fit for the roster at that position.
@darrylld74/IG: If Detroit drops out of the top three, who should they pick?
Langlois: Considering there’s a 60 percent chance the Pistons will pick outside of the top three – a 48 percent chance alone that they’ll pick fifth – Troy Weaver and his scouts are going to have to spend a lot more time kicking the tires on players like Amen and Ausar Thompson, Cam Whitmore, Anthony Black and Jarace Walker between now and May 16 than he will on the consensus top-three of Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller. The good news, I suppose, for Weaver is that most of the prospects considered likely to fill out the top 10 after those three would at least fit a roster need for the Pistons, who have big men and guards but could use some bolstering on the wing.