Pistons Mailbag - Monday, April 4, 2011

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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Denise (Waterford, Mich.): I attended Fridayís game for the Dennis Rodman ceremony and was happy to see my favorite Bad Boy have his number retired. What was the general reaction to the evening?

Langlois: It was well-done and well-received, Denise. Rodman was visibly moved by the gesture and I think that resonated with fans. They loved him when he was a Piston, of course, but I think many might have wondered if those years and those memories were as special for Rodman as they were for them as fans. More than anything, Friday nightís ceremony affirmed for people just how special those days are regarded by Rodman, despite everything else heís experienced in his life since then Ė the three championships with the Bulls and the circus that his personal life has sometimes become. For all of that, I think the way his return to The Palace and the embrace of his former teammates and Pistons fans moved him surprised even Rodman a little bit. There might have been a time in Rodmanís life, in the aftermath of leaving the Pistons in disillusionment as Chuck Daly left to coach another team and some of his teammates were sent elsewhere, when the very special feelings they shared were dimmed for him. His return seemed to bring to life for him the memories of the good times that preceded those days.

Colleen (Ann Arbor, Mich.): The tribute to Dennis Rodman was fantastic. The Worm did not disappoint. It was great seeing the Bad Boys. How we miss that era. What left me uncomfortable was the booing of Karen Davidson and Joe D. That really hurt. Neither deserved it. In an otherwise beautiful ceremony, the ďfansĒ who displayed such inappropriate behavior truly marred the ceremony.

Langlois: Iím sure it wasnít fun for Karen Davidson to be on the receiving end of those boos, Colleen, and it would be difficult for anyone thrust into that position to take it less than personally. But, of course, it wasnít personal. Iíd wager that anyone who booed has never met her and knows almost nothing of her. I interpret the boos for her as frustration Ė with the fact the team is struggling and, with it having been on the auction block for nearly a year, with the perceived paralysis it has caused the franchise. Thatís largely beyond her control Ė even if she was OK with dumping the Pistons for well below market rates, the NBA would not allow such a transaction for the damage it would do to the value of other franchises, including the one the NBA currently controls in New Orleans. As for Joe D, I have to admit, I did not think they were boos at the time I heard them. Anyone who lived through the Bad Boys generation, dating to its genesis in the Silverdome days, remembers Masonís predecessor, Ken Calvert (who came back to the PA microphone that night to toss it to emcee George Blaha), and his exaggerated pronouncement of every Dumars basket: Joe Dooooooo-mars! Iíll assume a large number of fans who came to Rodmanís retirement ceremony spent many nights in the stands at the Silverdome and then The Palace during that era and remember well Calvertís trademark Dumars call. I assumed they were replicating it when Blaha introduced him. Is it possible that newbies who werenít familiar with that call heard it and interpreted it as booing? Or heard it and joined in with boos of their own? Sure. And that, too, would be an expression of frustration with the situation to a greater degree than blanket disapproval of the job done by the man who rebuilt the Pistons into champions four years after assuming control of a paper-thin roster.

Hudson (Fenton, Mich.): Right now the Pistons have a 4.3 percent chance to win the lottery, which isnít that much. They will likely get the No. 7 pick. Can you tell me why players like Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette arenít being considered as prospects for the Pistons?

Langlois: Who says they arenít? If youíre getting that from mock drafts on various websites, that means nothing. Even the best-informed sites (and there are more that are laughably inaccurate than spot on) are mere amalgamations of opinions culled from scouts across the NBA and then guesswork applied on top of that regarding team needs. Walker is projected as a likely lottery pick, perhaps a top-10 pick, and if that assessment is accurate then you can bet the Pistons have thoroughly vetted him already. Fredette flirted with the draft a year ago, so all NBA teams are well aware of him, as well. If the Pistons wind up picking where you suggest, thatís higher than Fredette has been consistently projected to go Ė perhaps late lottery to the 20s. But it doesnít necessarily mean the Pistons donít hold him in higher regard than the consensus opinion and it certainly doesnít mean they donít have a thick dossier on him already.

Erik (Marquette, Mich.): With Chauncey Billups being a free agent next year, any chance he might want to end his career in Detroit?

Langlois: The latest word is that the Knicks are undecided if they will exercise the option on Billupsí contract for next season or buy him out for $3 million. If, in fact, they do pick up his contract, then Billups wonít be a free agent until the end of the 2011-12 season. And there are simply too many variables in play to project what might happen with Billups or the Pistons at that point. Is Rodney Stuckey still a Piston next season after hitting restricted free agency this summer? What other moves happen between now and then? At what level is Billups, who will be 36 when the 2012-13 season opens, still producing? Check back a year from now, Erik. The only thing we know is that the door is certainly open for both parties. There were no bridges burned when the Pistons traded him to Denver.

Drew (Detroit): What do you think about the possibility of Isiah Thomas someday coaching the Pistons? He wasnít a good GM but he was a good coach with the Pacers.

Langlois: At the heart of that possibility is a simple question that only Joe Dumars and Isiah could really know and itís not something they would publicly air, presumably. They were peers as players and they forged a close bond through the shared experience of competing for and winning NBA titles. Can they now work together as executive and coach, where the executive has ultimate call on the coachís job security? In the abstract, thatís not an easy call to make. Only they know if they could put it into practice.

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