Category → Mailbag
OK, so if the Pistons don’t immediately salvage another awful early season West Coast trip, they could be exactly where they’ve been the last four seasons — desperately trying to recover from an awful start. Now, awful starts are acceptable when you’re starting Jason Maxiell or when your big offseason acquisition was half of Tracy McGrady’s remaining knee. But when you spend significant money on talent upgrades, when everyone from your team owner on down is full of bluster about making the playoffs and when you play reasonably well against good teams at home early in the season, there isn’t exactly a lot of patience to struggle with figuring out lineup combinations.
For four years, people following the Pistons have watched irrelevant coaches comically ponder lineup shakeups that replace marginal players with other marginal players as if those types of shakeups ever matter on any team. Maurice Cheeks has more talent to work with, but here we are again, with a team struggling a bit and a coach “pondering lineup changes,” whatever that means. Here’s the thing … the Pistons’ top three players — Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith — are pretty formidable. Their fourth best player, Brandon Jennings, is not a bad fourth option when he’s not behaving like a first option. No amount of messing with combinations beyond those four is going to have much of an impact on the season.
Decent teams don’t typically spend a lot of time messing with their supporting players. For all of the complaining fans did (and, admittedly, I was one of them) about the lack of use of bench players not named Antonio McDyess and Lindsey Hunter during the Larry Brown/Flip Saunders days, those Pistons teams wouldn’t have been drastically improved if, say, Carlos Delfino had supplanted Maurice Evans in the rotation. NBA teams are as good as their best players. If Drummond, Monroe, Smith and Jennings figure out how to play with each other effectively, this team will be solid. If they lack cohesion or, in Smith’s and Jennings’ cases, play undisciplined or shoot too much, this team will be disappointing.
That was essentially the debate before the season started and seven games into the season, we’re no close to having an answer — there’s evidence that the season could go either way, depending on which argument you’d prefer to make. The Pistons certainly have plenty of time to figure it out, but based on the team’s rhetoric and playoff talk, it’s certainly reasonable to be impatient with uninspired play that is reminiscent of the past four years rather than a glimpse at an up-and-coming team with a bright future.
So, with that backstory out of the way, let’s get to this week’s questions.
This may just be knee jerk reaction … but I think we should consider benching Dre. He’s been great, no question, but I think it would be better for the team to split the front court minutes between him, Moose and Josh. If we simply had a 3 man rotation all of them could get 32 min and we would never see a drop off in our big men. This would also allow for more floor spacing by playing Singler, Datome, and Stuckey at the three … which in turn opens up more room for KCP at SG. Am i crazy or do you agree?– Mark
You’re not that crazy, Mark, but I think it’s impractical. I don’t disagree with you — there’s evidence supporting that the Pistons are better with two of their three bigs on the court than they are with all three sharing the court. So the obvious answer is to move one to the bench and evenly divide minutes. In theory, that would be a great solution. In practice … not so much. I doubt any of the three would say so because Smith, Drummond and Monroe are all good at giving athlete-speak, non-controversial answers to media, but I guarantee that none of the three would be pleased about not starting, even if it meant the team played better and even if it meant their minutes were not being drastically cut. Starting is hugely important to most NBA players — calling yourself a NBA starter sounds much better than simply ‘NBA player,’ ya know? So who do you pick to go to the bench? Drummond could be a choice because he’s the youngest and seems easygoing enough to take it in stride. But he’s also been their best player this season. So symbolically, do you want to bench your best player, someone who has the talent to develop into maybe the most dominant defensive player in the league? Or do you want to tell Monroe, in a contract year in which he’s trying to prove he’s worth a max deal, that you want him to come off the bench? Or how about Smith, the biggest name and most expensive free agent signing in franchise history who has been a near All-Star for years, who has reportedly had trust issues with previous coaches and how they’ve handled him and who has more playoff experience than anyone on the team other than Chauncey Billups?
I agree with you, the Pistons desperately need to find minutes for Datome and Caldwell-Pope, in particular. I also agree that their lineups have looked better offensively without the supersized lineup sharing the frontline. But I think when the team signed Smith, they committed to starting those three players for better or worse. If they solve their offensive and defensive issues, it’s not going to be by making Drummond, Smith or Monroe a sixth man unless one of the three volunteers to go to the bench Rodney Stuckey-style, and I just don’t see that happening.
Watching J.Smith and Jennings throw bricks after bricks, I fear the CEILING for this team is 2011 Hawks. Agree? – FT33
I dunno … unless they traded for Al Horford, I’m not sure they can even be 2011 Hawks good yet. That Hawks team won 44 games. I think the Pistons, as sad as it sounds, would be thrilled with a 44-win season. Although the Hawks have certainly never been among the league’s elite, they have been a playoff team for six straight seasons (and should make it seven this season) with three appearances in the second round in that stretch. They had a 53-win season in there and won 61 percent of their games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. I share your hope that the Pistons as a franchise have higher aspirations than simply being a team that, best case scenario, can get to the second round every year, but I’m also hesitant to say they’re even at that level yet.
Horford has long been one of the most underrated players in the league, and I don’t think the Pistons have anyone on their roster who is as good as he is yet. The good news, however, is that they have a couple of young bigs in Drummond and Monroe who are both pretty close to Horford-level now and both have significant potential that they’re still yet to tap into. I’m cautiously optimistic that a Monroe-Drummond frontcourt combination can grow into something truly dominant, and if that happens, they’ll certainly be better than those Hawks teams. But I also don’t think it’s close to a given that they’ll get to that Hawks level either.
Billups looks effective some games and just plain old others. Should the pistons consider giving him the old/often injured treatment of sitting one of the back to back games? This would keep him fresh, efficient when playing and open up more KCP time. – Travis
I have no problem admitting that there was nothing I was rooting harder for this season than season for Billups in the twilight of his career like the surprising one Ben Wallace had in his first season back with the Pistons. It’s not going to happen, though. Billups is coming off a more significant injury, he plays a position where speed and athleticism are more of a necessity and I just don’t think he’s going to help the Pistons much on the court this season.
It’s great hearing his name called in the starting lineup at the Palace, but the Pistons just flat out stand a better chance of competing with Caldwell-Pope taking those shooting guard minutes. The Pistons still need Billups’ steadying hand in the halfcourt on occasion with the erratic point guards they feature, but that role should be severely limited. So to answer your question, yes, I would be in favor of a reduced role for Billups. In fact, I think it’s vital if the team is going to progress.
With all the talk of expiring contracts next season and apparent trade rumors of Greg Monroe, is it possible/probable for the Pistons to be in a position to nab Chris Bosh next summer assuming he takes his early termination option on his deal in Miami? — Evan
Anything is certainly possible, Evan (Man … that was a total Keith Langlois go-to line, wasn’t it? Apologies Evan, let’s start over).
Bosh would be an interesting fit in Detroit’s lineup, albeit at age 30, not a long-term solution and likely super expensive. He’d still give the Pistons a frontcourt-heavy offense, but his perimeter-happiness (the merits of which may have been learned from playing with Charlie Villanueva and Andrea Bargnani in Toronto) would help spread the floor. In fact, Bosh has been adding a competent three-point shot to his arsenal over the past few seasons, shooting 8-for-16 from three so far this season. His rebounding has been progressively getting worse (again, perhaps influenced by all that time with monsieurs Villanueva and Bargnani), but that wouldn’t matter much in a lineup with Smith and Drummond crashing the boards. If Bosh’s good shooting continues, he could almost move into the small forward role on offense, move Smith down to the post more and then have them switch positions on defense. I don’t love that lineup, but I could talk myself into an aspect or two of it.
Now, could they afford to sign him outright? With their expiring deals and if they were to trade Monroe for something like future first round picks and take no long-term salary in return, then decline Billups’ team option, they could conceivably be in position to offer Bosh the max-level contract I assume he’d command. The question is, would the want to? He’s possibly a slightly better short-term fit, but he’s older, rebounds worse and, if you’re going to hand out a max contract for a player, why pick Bosh over Monroe? Monroe is still improving, has yet to hit his prime and would probably still have more trade value than Bosh even if both were at max-level salaries. I just don’t see a great incentive for Detroit to pursue Bosh at the expense of Monroe.
Now, an in-season trade could be an intriguing match. I’ve long maintained that I don’t think Monroe is likely to get traded, but if the Pistons struggle, I think his name gets discussed more and it’s possible the Pistons make a panic deal, sacrificing long-term logic to try to win in the short-term. In that case, Bosh could be a possible target. He’s a big name who would add some balance (although the lineup would still have issues) and championship experience to the lineup
I don’t think Miami is likely to explore any in-season trades for any of their big three, but after watching Dwyane Wade game deteriorate because of the physical pounding his body has taken during his career and watching Bosh slowly morph into Villanueva and Bargnani with his plummeting rebounding totals, I’m less certain of my prediction for a Heat three-peat. But I also don’t think there’s much of a chance Miami would blow up that core before they’ve had a chance at a third straight title.
Now with that disclaimer out there, if the Pistons for some reason had serious interest in Bosh and were willing to dangle Monroe … that might be fairly enticing for Miami. Monroe would command a max contract, but the Heat would replace a player who will turn 30 in March with a 23-year-old big man who is a great rebounder, great passer and has a developing post game. There is no doubt that Monroe’s skillset would add a really interesting dimension to the Miami offense, and his youth would give Miami enough of an established transitional building block to perhaps convince LeBron James to re-sign with the team.
So, what would I conclude with this whole exercise? Playing fantasy GM is always fun, but I think Bosh on the Pistons as a replacement for Monroe doesn’t make much sense. If the Pistons trade Monroe — and I still feel like that would be a major mistake under most circumstances — they better do it to acquire an impactful long-term asset, not a veteran, even a good one, who makes them marginally better in the present but sacrifices potential future success.
The majority of questions I received early this week for the mailbag revolved around intriguing Pistons rookie and international hoops veteran Luigi Datome and why he wasn’t in the rotation yet. Obviously, those questions were posed before last night’s loss to Indiana, where Datome got a crack at some early minutes. I received six questions (or, in some cases, outright pleas for Maurice Cheeks to play him), but in the interest of not subjecting everyone to Datome overkill, I’m only going to answer a couple this week. Still though — thanks for all of the questions that have been coming in and remember to keep submitting them to patrickhayes13(at)gmail(dot)com or on Twitter @patrick_hayes.
First thing’s first, though. It seems my column Monday about my first experience taking my son to a Pistons game offended at least one from the inked/goateed sect of our readership. That was certainly not my intent, but here’s a tweet that was sent to Dan Feldman after my column ran:
— C. Max (@Maxplatypus) November 5, 2013
First, apologies to Feldman for costing you a follower, but it’s likely not the first time and, fingers crossed, certainly not the last time I’ll alienate a reader. But as for the point C. Max was making? I wasn’t generalizing solely based on looks. I was generalizing based on a combination of looks (I forgot to add the Tapout shirt one of them was wearing to the description too, a major oversight on my part) AND loutish behavior. For example, I could conclude from a C. Max tweet suggesting that Josh Smith shooting a lot of threes is OK because Kevin Love and James Harden do that J. Max doesn’t know much about basketball, specifically that he doesn’t know why it’s generally bad for a career 28 percent 3-point shooter (and 25 percent so far this year) to take a lot of threes and it’s generally good that career 35 percent or betters shooters take them. Now, that would be a generalization because I really don’t know C. Max or his overall knowledge of the game, but it’s a somewhat informed generalization because I did witness at least one crazy, nonsensical tweet.
I have nothing against tattooed folks and, I suppose, some people can pull off the neatly trimmed goatee look. I’m not one to judge. I was not trying to offend. But the collective body of work of the duo sitting next to me — acting drunk and surly, shouting swear words at professional athletes and looking like they enjoyed a good fistfight — was enough for me, as a typically reclusive individual, to have at least a bit of wariness about asking them to stop saying fuck so much. As I wrote, it was an anti-climactic ending and they were reasonable people who didn’t react by putting me in the triangle choke.
So … what was the point of writing this again? Oh yeah … to remind C. Max that, although there are ways to defend Josh Smith’s tendency to launch threes, comparing his shooting to that of Kevin Love and James Harden is not a winning argument. I hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson here.
Also, I love all of our readers.* Although I occasionally make jokes about the fashion sense/appearance of others, it is always done in a playful way. I’ve made my own unfortunate facial hair/jewelry decisions in the past. I have no room to talk. I would never dream of talking someone out of dramatically storming off in a huff to read content elsewhere — I’m a huge fan of dramatically announcing your intention to quit doing something oblivious to the fact that no one cares about your personal reading/following decisions. But if you think that throwaway line in a story meant to illustrate how even boorish, stereotypical sports fans couldn’t ruin an entertaining in-arena experience was some sort of egregious generalization, well, … you better have a fainting couch ready for when you’re confronted with an actual harmful generalization. Now, on to basketball questions.
* – Most of our readers.
You think we need Rudy Gay? We need a shooter & play maker in that starting 5! Harrison Barnes/Jeff Green? What about trading for & developing Perry Jones III? – Mr. Hoffa Woods on Twitter
Wow, second straight week that a Rudy Gay question makes it into the mailbag. I’ll start there — no, I don’t think Gay helps the Pistons with their critical issue on offense, which is a lack of perimeter shooting. In fact, he probably further complicates things. He shot 41 percent last year and he’s off to an awful start this year at 32 percent. His 3-point shooting for his career has been pedestrian at best and terrible the last few seasons (not Josh Smith terrible, but still not good). Gay is a ball-dominant, volume scorer and I wouldn’t be willing to part with any of the Monroe/Smith/Drummond group to get him. I think both Monroe and Smith are more functional playmakers.
Now, Harrison Barnes is an intriguing name. If the Pistons do decide to move Monroe at some point, Golden State is an interesting match. A package that includes Monroe and expiring contracts for Barnes (or Klay Thompson, though I don’t know if GS would consider that) and David Lee is at least worth not hanging up immediately. I’m not saying I’d do that trade for sure, but I think there are justifications for each side to do it. Monroe’s passing would be a fantastic fit with all of the shooters in Golden State and Barnes is a great prospect on a rookie deal who would fill a position of need.
Jeff Green’s off to a great start this season after a nice return last season (his 39 percent 3-point shooting last year and 40 percent so far this year are particularly appealing). He’s also getting to the line a reasonable amount this season. It would likely take Monroe as a starting point to get him. As for Perry Jones III, I wouldn’t say that him developing into a functional, useful NBA player is impossible, but I would say that the Pistons are not exactly the optimum organization for being patient with raw, young talent. Cheeks has a definite preference for veterans and the Pistons have had a mixed success rate with player development during Joe Dumars’ tenure as team president. Unless the asking price for Jones III was very cheap (like OKC giving him away for a future second rounder or something), I don’t know that he’d be worth gambling on. There’s a very small likelihood that he pans out. He’s looked lost every time he’s seen the court for them.
Having watched all games during the first week of play, it has surprised me to see Luigi Datome still having not played any meaningful minutes (0:16 vs the Wizards). I understand he missed the entire preseason, and there may are some questions about his ability to adjust to the pace of the NBA game, especially on the defensive end. However from all recent accounts from the media and fellow players, the man can shoot the ball lights out. I feel that his shooting could be very helpful in the second half when the Pistons seem to start getting a bit sloppy and start rushing things. My feeling is that he could be a great complementary piece to slowing down the offense, hammering the interior with 2 of the bigs, and serve as the perfect complement on the wing to knock down uncontested 3s. My question is why have we not seen any of him on the court as of yet? I think every Piston fan is dying to see what this guy is made of, and it seems like a shame to waste such an intriguing prospect and instead settling on playing guys like Jerebko who, although has not played horribly thus far , we all kind of know what we’re going to get at this point. – Chris
It does appear that Datome is going to see minutes ahead of Jerebko for the moment, although he’ll need to shoot significantly better than his 1-for-7 performance last night to keep that spot. I honestly expect that backup forward spot to be in flux most of the season. The Pistons have several options to get minutes there, and none of those options are particularly ideal. It was also kind of a revolving door last season.
With Datome, all that is going to matter is shooting. In his game recap, Dan mentioned that Datome’s defense of Luis Scola was stellar, despite being undersized. That’s nice, and frankly expected considering his international experience, but it ultimately doesn’t matter much. Jerebko can play competent enough defense against backup frontcourt players. Datome is only going to separate himself if he provides offense, which Jerebko doesn’t — Jerebko’s spot-up game hasn’t developed much and he’s a train wreck whenever he tries to take people off the dribble or do too much, which is what got him benched last year.
I think Datome will get a few games to try to win that rotation spot. If he doesn’t, it will be on to the next one, which means … *shudder* … probably a Charlie Villaneuva sighting. So, please, Luigi, please win that spot. I wouldn’t count out Josh Harrellson, either. He might have to wait for Villanueva to flame out, but he’s a decent shooter who has played competently in very limited NBA minutes. Tony Mitchell is probably buried on the bench until next season considering Cheeks’ preference to not play rookies, but if the Pistons really do struggle to find good minutes at that spot, Mitchell will have to get a look by default at some point.
Seems like we had an all-athletic team with Josh, Drummond, KCP, Mitchell. I’d like to know if Cheeks is a perfect fit to our group. To me, it seems like George Karl should’ve been hired to take over L-Frank. We lost against Indy tonight. I’m not happy with the way we played on both sides of the floor. Our defense didn’t stop George at all, like there was no resistance. This is Smith’s job isn’t it? We played better against the other bigs, but not that good against their Backcourt. I expect our team to win this game. This is doable. But we need a better coach. – Dominik
To be perfectly honest, no, I don’t think Cheeks is anything more than a seat-warmer until the Pistons get good enough to hire a more accomplished coach. In the past, Joe Dumars has made comments suggesting that he doesn’t think a coach matters all that much if the team isn’t very good — and that philosophy would certainly explain his last couple of hires. I don’t necessarily disagree with it, either — Phil Jackson could’ve coached those rosters the last four years and they still would’ve been lottery teams. So if your talent level isn’t where it needs to be, it doesn’t make sense to spend huge money on a bigger name coach.
Now, this season, the talent level has obviously improved. The Pistons are competitive but not contenders. With another move or two, they could be positioned to vault into the upper-echelon on NBA teams, and when that happens, I think you’ll see another coaching change. It would surprise me if Cheeks lasts more than two seasons. So who would replace him? George Karl would be really interesting from an offensive perspective and Lionel Hollins had great success with a large frontcourt and very little perimeter shooting Memphis, so it’s conceivable he could make sense of this Pistons roster. Those are two “name” guys who would probably be at the top of my list.
As for last night, yeah, there’s not much to say about the defensive performance. It should be noted that Paul George is really, really good and could be in the conversation with James Harden for best shooting guard in the league right now, so guarding him is no easy task. He has to get most of the credit for that performance — he’s really hard to defend no matter who you throw at him. But yes, I agree with you — with Smith, Rodney Stuckey, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and even Kyle Singler, the Pistons have some perimeter guys all capable of giving some different looks defensively and nothing they tried with George worked.
How long will it be before we see Mitchell or Datome on the court? Jerebko is play is uninspiring. KCP’s absence also worries me. Do you believe Cheeks ‘veterans first’ mentality could be a detriment to us trying to build up a young team. Or will it pay dividends once we trade Stuckey this year? Maybe its just me, but I feel that these young kids might be inefficient, but they cant be much worse than what we’re seeing – Jason
I addressed the first part a bit above, but to recap, now that Datome is in the rotation, I think we’ll see that continue for a few games. If he doesn’t play well, I think we’ll see, in order, Villanueva, Harrellson, then Mitchell. It’s possible Cheeks could just go back to Jerebko too, who hasn’t played awful, but he doesn’t really bring the offense the second unit could use.
I share your concerns about Caldwell-Pope and Cheeks’ mentality. I praised Cheeks for going back to Caldwell-Pope in the second half vs. Memphis after he’d made a few mistakes in the first half. I’d like to take that praise back now. Caldwell-Pope followed up his best performance as a pro with a DNP-CD. That’s straight out of the Kuester-Frank Manual of How to Handle Young Players. If Cheeks keeps it up, he’ll soon be reading the Kuester-Frank follow-up edition, “How to landing an assistant coaching job after you get fired.”
Whether Caldwell-Pope’s shaky shooting comes around or not, the Pistons need his size, athleticism and defensive ability in their backcourt. Will Bynum is possibly the worst defensive player in the league. Chauncey Billups is too old to play defense. Stuckey has only occasionally played interested defense in his career. Caldwell-Pope was drafted in the lottery largely because scouts noticed how consistently he defended. So he better play or the Pistons better be prepared to get shredded every time they play a team with a decent shooting guard.
The PistonPowered Mailbag will run every Wednesday. Submit questions to patrickhayes13(at)gmail(dot)com or on Twitter @patrick_hayes. Also, follow me on Twitter … there is no reason Feldman should have like 1,500 more followers than me. He barely even tweets!
In my column on Monday, I timidly put out a request for questions to start a weekly mailbag feature. I was anticipating that it would take a few weeks for the idea of a mailbag to catch on, so I was planning to just answer any questions that came in on Mondays as part of my column. I was pleasantly surprised by getting a handful of really good questions in emails, tweets and comments already — I mean, I’m no Keith Langlois (yet!) when it comes to volume of questions to choose from, but I think we have at least enough to have some good pregame discussion as the season opens tonight. Let’s dive in …
Who will be the Pistons most tough/interesting match up this season? – @CreatorMarvin on Twitter
How the Pistons and their really unique super-sized, athletic lineup that can’t really shoot matches up with virtually every team in the league will be interesting in some capacity this season. There’s a lot of interest in seeing whether Detroit’s strategy — mashing talent together regardless of fit/position — works. They’ll create matchup issues for most teams and, in turn, have matchup problems of their own against some teams. I’ll pick three opponents that I’m really looking forward to seeing Detroit play.
Miami, because duh. No one can defend LeBron James, but Josh Smith is the type of long-armed, athletic, strong defensive player who can at least make things tough for him. They have growing options in the backcourt to defend Dwyane Wade — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was drafted partially for his defensive inclinations, Kyle Singler isn’t the most quick-footed defender but he can competently defend multiple positions (he often gets beat off the dribble, but he’s great at recovering by reaching over players to block or contest shots without fouling once he’s been beat) and Rodney Stuckey, in theory, is strong and fast enough to be a great defensive guard (I’ve written this sentence before each of the last five seasons or so). Combine those perimeter options with a rim protector like Andre Drummond, and the Pistons should have the tools to copy some of the effective ways Indiana defended the Heat with physical perimeter defense, followed by funneling everyone inside to Roy Hibbert to contest shots. And speaking of …
Indiana. Before a stray beer from a moron helped derail things, the Pistons and Pacers were developing a compelling rivalry in the mid 2000s. A combination of fan pummelings, injuries and other issues brought that throwback to the 80s-90s era of two physical teams abusing each other to a premature end, but just under a decade later, the Pacers are once again a very talented, physical, up-and-coming team. The Pistons aren’t as good as the Pacers yet, but I would love to see another inner-division rivalry between these two teams develop over the next couple of seasons. The Pistons need to do their part by committing to defense and finding another shooter or two to add to their lineup, but at the very least, I’m hoping for competitive games this season with Indiana.
Memphis. I’m mainly just interested in seeing how the Pistons match up with arguably the league’s most physical team over the last few seasons. The other element of intrigue here is that the Grizzlies have had great success with a frontcourt-dominant, large lineup that didn’t feature much elite perimeter shooting, so perhaps the Pistons can learn from their model. The first step, though, is finding out if Detroit, one of the league’s softest teams over the past few seasons, can deal with a bullying, tough team like Memphis. If they can, making the playoffs will seem like a much more probable result for this season.
Patrick, can you explain why max contract guys have agents? I’ve never understood this. Is it just about negotiating outside endorsements? Because when your salary is capped and you’re going to hit that cap anyway, why pay someone a percentage to negotiate for you? – tarsier in the comments
Well, I would first of all say that those outside endorsements are a pretty huge deal … in some cases, endorsement deals for max-level players can run longer than someone’s playing career and be more lucrative as well, so having someone who can negotiate good deals for you at the height of your fame and popularity is a pretty big deal.
As for why have an agent negotiate for you when you are surely a max player, I assume it just has to do with the complexity of the CBA — I can barely figure out how to pick the right health insurance plan, so I can only imagine all of the legalese that has to be navigated through while signing a max-level NBA deal, and minus an agent involved, I wouldn’t put it past a team to slip some sort of team-friendly provision or loophole into a deal. Plus, flexibility, or lack thereof, could also be a motivation. You’re paying an agent to represent you, but you’re also paying for their connections. Maybe a player wants a max extension but doesn’t want it from his current team — having an agent to advise how to navigate your way to another team while still getting the money/years you want on your contract would likely be helpful.
Two questions for the mailbag 1) will the pistons regret not drafting Kelly Olynyk? 2) how about Rudy Gay/Demarr Derozan for Monroe/V/Stuckey? – pT in the comments
Hmm … I have a hunch pT is Canadian, with those Canada-friendly questions he submitted. But I actually think he’s fairly serious about both proposals, so I’ll give a response.
First, I don’t think the Pistons will necessarily regret not drafting Olynyk, but I do actually think he’s a better fit with the team now than I did at the time of the draft. Olynyk can play, and though frontcourt isn’t exactly a need, floor-spacing is, so adding a stretch big to the mix who isn’t Charlie Villanueva wouldn’t be a bad move. But do I think they’ll regret it? No. Olynyk would be a nice luxury for the Pistons, but he’s not a necessity. They might regret taking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope if he doesn’t pan out as expected, and they might regret passing on Trey Burke, but they won’t regret passing on Olynyk, even though I think Olynyk is in line to have a pretty good rookie season.
As far as the proposed trade, I’d say yes to that if you remove Monroe as a piece the Pistons would send the Raptors in exchange. The issues with Rudy Gay are well-documented … despite “looking” like a prototypical NBA star with his height and athleticism, he’s never been close to playing at that level. He’d be a fine player to have in your lineup if he wasn’t being paid like he should be the best player in your lineup. DeRozan (DeRoZan? DeRoZaN?) is essentiallyRodney Stuckey — he can get to the line and occasionally score some points fairly inefficiently for you. He can give you highlight dunks. He can’t do much else. Hell, he might even be worse than Stuckey because Stuckey is cheaper, can play two positions, can handle the ball better and occasionally plays defense. DeRoZAn would do nothing but make an already bad shooting starting lineup even worse.
1. Did you know that manic, tweeter Karl you mentioned is a (semi-) famous German soccer player? He was on the national side that won the last world cup (1990) and euro championship (1992) for Germany, so big deal over here. (check him out at wiki, his nickname was even “air,” now he is a NBA nerd, I love it!)
2. Regarding Monroe, does he seem like the type of player to actually leave the Pistons – assuming the money is the same – or is all the trade buzz purely because he might not fit and Gores wants to avoid the tax. How do the Pistons react if the frontcourt meshes enough that some solid shooting from the backcourt solves all the spacing issues and Monroe performs up to max status. Is it still going to be a problem because they don´t want to pay the max? Do you see any scenario in which we don´t trade Moose? — Fabian
HUGE thanks to Fabian for that dispatch from Germany … we’ve heard from enough fans in Europe at PistonPowered over the years to know that the team does have a modest following there, but I had no idea the Pistons had celebrity European fans. I think I might have to reach out to Karl for an interview. Stay tuned for that.
As for your second question, I don’t think there has been any indication that Monroe is particularly unhappy in Detroit or longs to play elsewhere. I think his agent has — correctly — determined that Monroe’s market is the max, and I don’t think you’ll see him sign for less than that with the Pistons or otherwise. I’m not convinced the Pistons want to pay him the max yet, but there also doesn’t seem to be any indication that either side is displeased with the other, so that’s positive.
If everything goes according to plan, if Monroe-Smith-Drummond operate cohesively, and if the roster appears to need only a few minor upgrades rather than a drastic trade of a talented player like Monroe to bring in talent at a perimeter spot, I think it’s perfectly conceivable that Monroe signs a max extension and the Pistons proceed with that front line as their core group for the immediate future. There are only two scenarios where I see the Pistons trading Monroe — a team makes them an overwhelmingly good offer that they can’t turn down or the team underperforms and Joe Dumars makes a panic trade in order to reach the short-term goal of making the playoffs this season. I think both of those scenarios are unlikely, albeit not completely impossible. And the first scenario is certainly far more preferable than the second.
Mo Cheeks recently indicated that he prefers keeping Bynum in his role of coming off the bench, something i agree with. But part of his reasoning was that he liked the way the Bynum has been playing with Drummond. Please, please tell me that Cheeks wasn’t insinuating that Dre is going to be featured on the 2nd unit. This kid needs start and play as many minutes as his fouls allow. – Mark
What better note to close the first mailbag on than a Will Bynum question?
Mark’s question is moot for the moment as, it appears, that Bynum will start with Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings out. As far as what happens when everyone is healthy, I don’t think Cheeks’ comments mean that he intends to have Drummond come off the bench. Cheeks has already said that Drummond will likely be the first big to rest in the frontcourt rotation, which makes sense considering Drummond’s age, his conditioning issues last year and the fact that the Pistons will want him to avoid foul trouble. So the likely answer is that Drummond likely goes to the bench first, then he’ll return to the lineup sometime in the second quarter along with Bynum, who will likely be spelling Jennings.
If Cheeks’ plan were to bring Drummond off the bench, his coaching tenure would be short-lived even by Joe Dumars’ standards. I think it’s safe to assume that Drummond, as long as he stays healthy and can handle the workload, starts and plays 28-34 minutes per game most nights. I do agree with Cheeks though — based on their chemistry, it’s going to be important to find some minutes for Bynum and Drummond to share the court together.