DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 24: Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons prepares to shoot a free throw during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 24, 2022 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Pistons Mailbag - THURSDAY, April 28

The likelihood of adding a second lottery pick, projecting draft prospects and some old-new uniform chatter are on the docket for this week’s edition of Pistons Mailbag.

@CombsGlenn: In your opinion, what is Chet’s floor and ceiling? Can you provide comparable players or a description of each?

Langlois: The working assumption is that Holmgren has a huge gap between ceiling and floor and maybe that’s true, but I’m having a hard time seeing a guy who’s had the success Holmgren has had to this point – playing against elite age-group competition and primarily older players as a college freshman at a top-10 program – being a bust. I get the concern about his frame and maybe it would have been a career killer for him in the NBA as we knew it, but in today’s game – with the emphasis on spacing and skills – I think it’s overblown. Plus, he’s going to benefit from any physical maturity he experiences plus the sophisticated training and nutritional resources available to him at the NBA level. I don’t have a good comp for Holmgren offensively, which is one reason he’s such an intriguing prospect. Legitimate 7-footers with ballhandling and perimeter skills at that level don’t come down the pike very often. I’ve seen everything from Kevin Durant to Pau Gasol to Rudy Gobert to Kristaps Porzingis to Dirk Nowitzki and there are elements of all of those guys rolled into one. I’m more bullish on him than most and if you made me pick today I’d probably go with Holmgren at No. 1, fully acknowledging there’s not a small chance others might turn out to be safer picks and better players ultimately. But if Holmgren hits, the results could be spectacular.

Langlois: It was reported in February, after images of many NBA 2022-23 uniforms were leaked, that the Pistons would be bringing back the ’90s era teal uniforms next season as Classic edition entries – though the Pistons neither confirmed nor denied the account. The Pistons wore red City edition uniforms this season that incorporated elements of many eras of franchise designs, so I wouldn’t bank on another red version coming so soon. The chrome jerseys are the Statement edition line. If the teal uniforms are coming and, indeed, if they’re part of the Classic line, then the Pistons could have five uniforms next season. The standard four that teams wear are City (which usually changes every season or two), Statement (chrome in the Pistons case), Icon (the traditional Pistons road blues) and Association (the traditional Pistons home whites). Classic uniforms are for special anniversary dates, usually in five-year increments. Next season will mark the 65th anniversary of the Pistons relocating to Detroit from Fort Wayne, Ind.

@its_renrut/IG: Are there any teams with a lottery pick besides Portland that would be interested in Jerami Grant?

Langlois: I think you can safely rule out the teams in similar stages of development as the Pistons, the ones that go into the lottery with the best odds at getting the top pick – Houston, Orlando and Oklahoma City. Indiana would also seem unlikely. Sacramento is a wild card. The Kings’ willingness to trade Tyrese Haliburton in the Domantas Sabonis deal indicates Sacramento is out of patience with rebuilding. The Kings probably would be open to trading their lottery pick if they don’t pull a top-four slot. Whether they view Grant as a fit around a Sabonis-De’Aaron Fox nucleus is anybody’s guess. The Kings have been known to pull a surprise or two. The prevailing wisdom on the Knicks is they’re probably keeping their powder dry to make a run at a marquee name or two at some point. They’ve been heavily linked to a run at Donovan Mitchell, though he has three years left on his contract. Nobody else jumps out, but most or all probably expect to be contending for a playoff berth next season, so it’s conceivable they’ll be open to dealing a mid- or late lottery pick for immediate help, but the reality of the salary cap could hamper their ability to do so.

Phil (Auburn Hills, Mich.): We’re at that stage of the postseason where everyone is giving grades on players. How about the coaching staff? What grade would you give them, what are some things you saw you liked (scheme, lineups, development, etc.) and what are some things you hope to see improved upon next season?

Langlois: Dwane Casey doesn’t need me to go to bat for him. His track record in Toronto speaks for itself, taking a young team that wasn’t blessed with multiple high lottery picks to the brink of a championship – something it won the year after Casey was fired as reigning NBA Coach of the Year and, critically, the Raptors swung a trade to add an MVP-level talent in Kawhi Leonard. Casey’s emphasis on player development pushed the Raptors down that championship path and has been a vital component of the story – right there with Troy Weaver’s player-acquisition chops – in the strides the Pistons have taken over the past two seasons. If they’re not evident in the record, they are in the individual progress the players most central to their future have shown. But if you’re asking what Casey’s most impressive achievement was this season, it’s the way he kept the inevitable losing that all teams as young as the Pistons were from causing any hint of discord or despondency. It’s an easy leap for players to start focusing on individual fate when it becomes obvious team success – when measured by the conventional standard of wins and losses, at least – is out of reach. Casey put the focus on individual improvement and, more importantly, on growing together as a team and kept the mood upbeat against all odds. It’s not easy to keep negativity from seeping in when you work in a fish bowl like the NBA and lose 50-plus games. The Pistons – collectively or individually – never emitted the sense they weren’t all in and invested in each other.

Darrell (Detroit): Rumor has it Portland was looking to trade their Pelicans pick for Jerami Grant. Now that Portland no longer owns that pick, do you think it would offer its own pick for Grant if it fell in the 7-9 range? Portland has to try to win now to appease Damian Lillard and I’d be surprised if anyone selected in that range will be better than Grant is at present. If there’s a logjam at power forward after the draft, I can see the Pistons being interested. How do you think the trade would look? Would Portland simply use its trade exception or might it elect to use Eric Bledsoe’s contract which is set at $19.3 million but guaranteed for only $3.9 million. Might they throw in Josh Hart and ask for Kelly Olynyk to hedge against Jusuf Nurkic landing elsewhere? Perhaps they’ll want young talent on favorable contracts such as Hamidou Diallo or Frank Jackson.

Langlois: I’m sure the Trail Blazers felt the gut punch when New Orleans won its play-in game over the Clippers – with Paul George in NBA health and safety protocols – and, because of that, lost out on a lottery pick (as long as it wasn’t a top-four pick). That would have been a valuable tool for the Blazers, who now have one less asset to leverage as they attempt a rapid rebuild around Damian Lillard after dealing away C.J. McCollum, Norm Powell and Robert Covington at the trade deadline. A big key to their off-season plan will be dictated by how tight or loose the purse strings are. If ownership signs off on a big spending plan that could push into luxury tax, Portland could use Bledsoe’s non-guaranteed contract to acquire a good player from a team looking to dump money by trading a similarly sized deal in the $20 million range for Bledsoe, then waiving him and paying only the $3.9 million guarantee. Then they could turn around and ship out the lottery pick for another big contract by using the trade exception you reference of $21 million. But if management can’t spend so freely, then it gets a little trickier. In that case, maybe Portland needs to shed salary in order to take back a big contract in exchange for its lottery pick. If the question is only whether Portland would want more than Jerami Grant for a lottery pick in the seven to nine range, well … good question, no way to know. I would imagine part of the answer is based on the comfort level Portland would have in being able to sign Grant to an extension at an agreeable price point.

@alexbierlein/IG: What do Killian Hayes trade packages look like?

Langlois: The chances he’s dealt this summer are slim to none. The only conceivable blueprint for a Hayes trade if he’s added to larger deal to satisfy salary parameters or to sweeten the pot enough, but even that’s a real long shot. The Pistons believe Hayes is poised to take a third-year leap. He’s 20, two months older than Cade Cunningham, and faced a steep challenge in going from the German pro league to a starting NBA point guard and then enduring the trauma of a hip injury that sidelined him three months. So the fact he’s struggled to find his footing as a scorer isn’t surprising in the least. He’s got the size and tools to be a very high-level defender and playmaker, so there’s a future for Hayes even if he doesn’t mature into a legitimate 3-point weapon. But the ceiling is obviously a lot different for him in that case. In the meantime, the Pistons would be selling seriously low. It wouldn’t seem to make much sense at this point.