Pistons Mailbag - Monday, April 11, 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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Kumayl (Detroit): With Tom Gores buying the Pistons, will they stay in Michigan or will he move them?

Langlois: As Palace CEO Alan Ostfield said on Friday, thatís really a question only Gores can answer, but the overwhelming expectation is that they remain at The Palace. Gores bought more than the Pistons Ė he also bought The Palace. And while there is year-to-year uncertainty for the bottom line of any professional sports team, owning The Palace outright Ė and controlling all the revenue streams, from parking to concessions to suite leasing and ticket sales Ė gives the person who owns both a cushion. But thatís only true if the building has an anchor tenant, in this case, the Pistons. Besides, where would Gores possibly move them? If the Sacramento Kings move to Anaheim, as seems likely, that would give the Los Angeles market Ė where Gores, with Michigan roots and a home still in the area, makes his year-round home Ė a third NBA team. The overwhelming reason that pro franchises move these days is an unfavorable arena/stadium lease arrangement. Thatís a non-issue for the person who owns the Pistons and The Palace.

Anthony (Bensenville, Ill.): Now that the Pistons are sold, what happens next? Does everyone keep their job? Or do they all get replaced?

Langlois: The next step is formal approval by the NBA. That could take several more weeks. David Stern has indicated that while Gores will be introduced to the Advisory and Finance Committee to the Board of Governors this week when owners convene for their previously scheduled meeting, itís not expected that they will formally vote to approve the transfer of ownership at this time. It is possible that wonít happen until the CBA expires on June 30. At any rate, I doubt Pistons fans will see or hear anything substantive from Gores until that process plays itself out. That includes any definitive statements from him regarding personnel moves.

Richard (Las Vegas): Let the wild rumpus begin. If this season was as low as it gets, thatís not all bad. Now we need a strong hand at the tiller to fight our way back to the top.

Langlois: Your comment, Richard, suggests a question Iíve been asked over and over for the past year: What has been the effect of the ownership uncertainty on the organization? On day-to-day matters, very little. Everyone, from players to ticket sellers to custodial staff, has gone about their business. On a broader scale, itís a little different. Just as it would be in any business when ownership is changing hands, employees are faced with uncertainties and challenges. It will remain to be seen what type of owner Tom Gores becomes, but the fact that there is finality to the search for a new owner is likely to energize everyone under The Palaceís umbrella. Itís the first step that was needed to allow the heavy lifting of elevating the Pistons back to NBA elite status.

Tony (Roseville, Mich.): I donít think itís a coincidence that the Pistons have been inactive on the trade front during the ownership flux. Do you think Joeís hands have been tied to some degree?

Langlois: Joe Dumars never spelled out the details of the parameters that governed what he could and couldnít do regarding financial ramifications of potential trades, the prudent thing to do. Why shut down potential avenues of exploration? In general, NBA teams that are in the midst of ownership changes are very unlikely to make any moves that significantly add to future commitments. I suspect it was a case-by-case basis for the Pistons. If a trade came to him that would have added money but clearly would have made the Pistons a healthier franchise, I donít think it would have been rejected out of hand. But, letís face it. Deals like that donít come around very often. Players with big contracts that get dealt usually come with risk, whether itís health or emotional baggage or something else. But I think itís fair to say that the change in ownership will open up the possibilities for Pistons transactions exponentially. Of course, the looming June 30 expiration of the current CBA is likely to make teams very cautious to deal leading up to that date. So I donít know that there will be any headline-grabbing acquisition, other than the June draft, made until a new CBA is put in place.

Ash (Wayne, Mich.): What do you think will happen, if anything, to Ben Gordon, Tracy McGrady and Charlie Villanueva this off-season? Should I expect all three players to be gone by next season?

Langlois: McGrady, Tayshaun Prince and Chris Wilcox are unrestricted free agents, while Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko and DaJuan Summers will be restricted free agents. That makes McGrady the least likely of the three you specify to be back, but I donít know if that makes it any less than 50-50 that McGrady will be back. I wouldnít ďexpectĒ any one player on the roster to be gone, but on the flip side, I wouldnít be shocked if anyone other than Greg Monroe was involved in a trade. Joe D has spoke a number of times this year about Monroe, Jerebko, Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey as four core young pieces. I donít think heís going into the summer looking to deal any of them. (And as restricted free agents, there are limited possibilities to deal Stuckey or Jerebko.) But unless thereís a name involved that isnít likely to be traded, Iíd be surprised if those four arenít back. After that, all bets are off.

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