Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, April 21, 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.

We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

Page 1 | Page 2

Glenn (Troy, Wis.): I know this may be irrelevant with the new CBA possibly changing things, but if it stays the same, how much cap space would the Pistons be looking at this summer?

Langlois: The Pistons will have approximately $48 million committed to nine players: Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace, Austin Daye and Terrico White. But that doesn’t include cap holds for Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko, assuming the Pistons made qualifying offers. Stuckey’s cap hold, according to CBA rules, is for 300 percent of his last year’s salary, which translates to a little more than $8 million. That figure will be replaced whenever a new contract is negotiated for Stuckey, assuming he remains a Piston, but it essentially means the Pistons are unlikely to go into free agency with cap space. Under terms of the current CBA, it would be a situation where the Pistons would declare themselves over the cap, even though they technically would not be over since the current cap is $58 million. But teams under the cap by less than the mid-level exception (it was $5.8 million last year) have the option to act as a team over the cap. The idea behind it is that teams under the cap by a few million shouldn’t be less advantaged than teams over the cap – which means they have the right to use the mid-level and biannual exceptions. One of the things expected to be on the table and in danger of not existing in a new CBA is the concept of exceptions. Of course, there is still a possibility the Pistons could make a trade or trades between now and June 30 that would alter their salary structure – a trade to a team that can absorb a salary without sending one back, for instance, which would include teams under the cap or teams armed with trade exceptions.

Isaac (Flint, Mich.): Zach Randolph just signed a four-year extension with Memphis. There are very few other big men worth a look in 2011 free agency. Do you think it would be a good idea to let Tayshaun Prince walk, attempt to give Rip away to a team like Cleveland who will buy him out and allow us to keep the savings and go shopping in 2012?

Langlois: It won’t be a very robust class of free agents in general, Isaac. Samuel Dalembert, Carl Landry, Kris Humphries and Tyson Chandler are among the headliners, but there’s a reasonable chance they all wind up staying with their current teams. The Pistons would have to get creative to land one of them in a sign-and-trade type of deal. Two others who would be attractive have early termination options, David West and Nene. West might not exercise his since teams would be less likely to give him a long-term deal while he rehabs from a torn ACL. Nene probably isn’t going anywhere, either. Yao Ming will be a free agent, but it’s anybody’s guess how that ends – he might not play again. Two restricted free agents, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan, also are unlikely to switch teams.

Ken (Dharamsala, India): I think I know what “Pistons Basketball” is, but I wonder what your definition of “Pistons Basketball” is and if there is any indication the new owner, Tom Gores, knows what it is?

Langlois: Gores would have been a student at Michigan State during the early Isiah Thomas era, Ken, so I’m guessing he has a pretty keen sense of how the Bad Boys were built and what they were all about. People might have a different way of conveying what Pistons basketball means, but I think anybody who watched the two championship eras understands that it embodies a mental and physical toughness, a commitment to defense and a universal instinct to put team interests ahead of personal ones. There aren’t a lot of past NBA champions who would quibble much with that as a blueprint for success. The difference for the Pistons as opposed to every other NBA champion since the Bad Boys era, I suppose, is they managed to win three NBA titles without any of those teams having a player who was consistently in the discussion for MVP awards. The Lakers (Magic), Bulls (Jordan), Rochets (Olajuwon), Spurs (Duncan), Lakers again (first Shaq, then Kobe), Heat (Shaq, Wade) and Celtics (Garnett) all had players who won MVP awards during their careers and were in the running for several. If you said that must mean the Pistons embodied all those qualities to a greater degree than those other teams, I wouldn’t argue.

Lee (Hillsboro, Ohio): Why don’t the Pistons try to get Brandon Bass from Orlando. He’s a good rebounder and can score some. He would do well with Monroe. The Magic could use Tayshaun because Turkoglu is not that good for them. It would also give the Magic a reason to play Ryan Anderson.

Langlois: As Prince is a free agent, it would have to be as part of a sign-and-trade deal, Lee. I suppose that’s possible, but I don’t see Orlando trading big for small at this point. The trade with Phoenix that cost them Marcin Gortat didn’t leave the Magic with much size off the bench. They need last year’s No. 1 pick, Kentucky’s Daniel Orton, to grow into a backup center or else they’ll be looking to pick up another big man. As of now, they need Bass to give them minutes at center as well as anchoring their power forward position. Anderson is a nice piece, but he’s really more of a stretch four than a true power forward. And even if Turkoglu hasn’t been for Orlando in his second tour of duty what he was in his first, it’s tough to see Orlando investing the type of money Prince will command at that position unless they first offload Turkoglu.

Jens (Cologne, Germany): Raymond Felton played terrific basketball with the Knicks this season. I guess he surprised a lot of people. Now he is a backup with the Nuggets. Do you think he might blossom with us again, maybe in a guard rotation with Stuckey, Gordon or Rip, and Bynum. What would it take to get him in the off-season?

Langlois: Felton will be a valuable asset for Denver no matter what the Nuggets decide to do with him, Jens. He’s on a very reasonable contract he signed with the Knicks last summer. It expires after next season. It could well be they intend to go into next season with both Felton and Ty Lawson on the roster – as promising as Lawson’s future might look, his size lends to concern that he can carry the load as a full-time point guard playing 35-plus minutes over a full season – and possibly have Felton as a trade chip, on an expiring contract, at the trade deadline next season. As for the fit with the Pistons, there was a buzz among the NBA grapevine that Felton was very interested in playing for the Pistons as he was approaching free agency. But the timing obviously wasn’t right last summer. The Pistons didn’t have cap space and point guard wasn’t their focus with Rodney Stuckey under contract and Will Bynum coming up on restricted free agency.

Page 1 | Page 2