Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, April 28, 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 | Page 3

Alan (Warren, Mich.): When is the draft lottery?

Langlois: The lottery will be held May 17, Alan. The NBA draft combine, held in Chicago, starts the next day. Before the lottery is held, another key date is May 8 – that’s when college players who have declared for the draft must pull out if they wish to return to college, according to the NCAA. June 13 is the date – this one set by the NBA – for international players to pull out of the draft. And, finally, the draft is June 23.

Joseph (College Park, Ga.): If Dwight Howard opts to become a free agent, do you think the Pistons have a chance to sign him?

Langlois: Useless to speculate about their chances without knowing what the new collective bargaining agreement will dictate, Joseph. So far, there have been heavy rumblings that Howard would like to play for the Lakers or Knicks. Not sure how either team could squeeze him under the cap, though the Knicks could again get under the cap for the summer of 2012 if they again pare down their roster.

Ray (Macomb Twp., Mich.): When Jonas Jerebko comes back next season, do you see him as a starter or will he come off the bench? Is he going to play as a power forward or a small forward?

Langlois: Unknowable at this moment, Ray. Much will depend on factors still to be determined, and the least of them is Jerebko’s return from Achilles tendon surgery. The Pistons have every reason to believe he’ll be back as good as new – and stronger for the muscle he’s added over the past year. But what the rest of the roster looks like will be a factor. If the Pistons draw into the top three picks and wind up with Arizona’s Derrick Williams, he would be a candidate to start at power forward. If they stay at No. 7, power forwards like Bismack Biyombo or Jan Vesely would be candidates to compete for that spot. If both Tayshaun Prince and Tracy McGrady leave as free agents and the Pistons don’t target that position in free agency, it could well be that they throw the spot open to competition between Jerebko and Austin Daye. No matter what position he plays or whether he starts or comes off the bench, Jerebko factors prominently in next season’s plans – assuming, of course, he returns to the Pistons from restricted free agency.

Jason (Houston): If the Pistons want to become a 50-plus win team again, they need to make some trades in the off-season to clear cap space. They need to give up Rip, Maxiell and Bynum. That should clear enough cap space to sign two good players and hopefully bring us back in the playoff picture.

Langlois: That’s easier said than done even in more certain times, Jason. It will be even more challenging, it figures, after a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, as most expect that rules governing the cap will be more restrictive – making it less likely that many trade partners will be looking to take on salary without sending a commensurate salary back. But even if your suggestion could be accomplished, it would still require the Pistons to find players who could fit their roster and contribute more than the ones you’re sacrificing and do it while fitting them into their own salary structure under those new cap rules. Your suggestion also raises a dilemma that confronts GMs across the league. They really can’t plan strategies like yours until they know what the new rules dictate.

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3