Pistons Mailbag - Tuesday, May 31, 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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Eric (Livonia, Mich.): I thought the Bulls didnít have enough shooters around Derrick Rose and that showed in the conference finals. Could the Pistons pull off a trade this off-season with the Bulls? We have many shooters in Hamilton, Gordon, Villanueva and Daye. All are good 3-point shooters. I donít know who the Pistons could get from the Bulls, but the Bulls need some shooters.

Langlois: No question, the Bulls will need to target a shooting guard good enough to play starterís minutes but particularly someone who can provide scoring Ė whether thatís a knock-down perimeter shooter or someone who can create off the dribble. It was widely reported that the Bulls were prepared to sign Rip Hamilton had he agreed to a buyout with Cleveland that would have allowed the reported Pistons-Cavs trade to go down at the trade deadline. It is already being speculated the Bulls will quietly but aggressively explore the trade market for Carlos Boozer this off-season. With Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik, they have three players capable of manning the two inside spots. None is anywhere near the scorer Boozer has been. But Boozer is due about $60 million over the next four years Ė a whopping contract for a player who found himself mostly on the bench in the fourth quarters against Miami because he wasnít offsetting subpar defense by providing consistent scoring, either in the paint or via his mid-range jumper. I think the Bulls would be naturally interested in Gordon, who enjoyed a high level of success there for five years. Their interest in Hamilton has been already evidenced. The Pistons could certainly use what Boozer at his best offers Ė but it would have to give them pause that an oft-injured player, about to turn 30, did not have the anticipated impact with the Bulls this season. It would be unusual, also, for teams in the same division with the history of the Pistons and Bulls to trade high-profile players.

Marcus (Birmingham, Mich.): How do the Jazz feel about Al Jefferson? I know they just traded for him a year ago, but it seemed like he clashed with coaches and didnít really fit. It seems to make sense for them to draft Kanter at No. 3, then move Jefferson for wing help. Iím thinking that a swap of Jefferson for either Hamilton or Gordon would be a great addition to the Pistonsí frontcourt.

Langlois: I wouldnít be any more surprised by Utah shopping Jefferson than I would be by Chicago looking to move Boozer, Marcus. Utahís trade of Deron Williams netted the Jazz young Derrick Favors from New Jersey. Even if they donít want to rush Favors, they also have Paul Millsap and Mehmet Okur, though Okur still has to prove he can recover from an Achilles tear at 32. Like Boozer, Jefferson comes with acknowledged defensive shortcomings but his post scoring would dramatically add to the Pistonsí offensive options.

George (Grand Haven, Mich.): Is there any truth to the rumor the Pistons are in talks with Cleveland and Minnesota to trade the No. 8 pick just for cap relief? Aside from dumping Ripís salary, what are they thinking?

Langlois: It sure appears that story was generated out of Cleveland, George. My best guess is that the source of the leak laid out a strategy Cleveland believed might work, based on the fact that the Pistons had Ė reportedly, at least Ė previously expressed interest in acquiring Clevelandís trade exception in a deal that would have sent Hamilton to the Cavs. But that deal, as reported, would have been for a protected 2012 pick. It makes little sense that the Pistons would send a known lottery pick for the same trade exception Ė which expires in early July, and unless a new CBA is reached by July 1, then that becomes the effective expiration for the trade exception, giving the Pistons little time to exercise it Ė now, especially because theyíve paid several million more dollars of Hamiltonís contract since the trade deadline. Bottom line: The trade as reported doesnít give the Pistons anything close to fair value for the No. 8 pick. Do not expect it to happen.

Jens (Cologne, Germany): As I was glancing through the Chicago combine results, two stood out against the rest: JaJuan Johnson and Keith Benson. They had 15 and 12 reps on the bench press, not bad for two players whose strength was questioned. Skill set has never been questioned, yet no mock has them in the first round. Why? Donít we have to take a guy like Johnson at 33, regardless of who they take in the first round?

Langlois: It would not surprise me if not just one, but both Benson and Johnson are still available at 33. Not saying that will happen, but other big men like Jordan Williams and Nikola Vucevic seem to be faster risers right now. Though Johnson and Benson are similarly sized and have similar physiques, I donít think theyíre the same player. I think Johnson will find his niche more as a stretch four, in the Charlie Villanueva mold; Benson, I think, will find his as a shot-blocker, perhaps a poor manís Theo Ratliff. I think both are squarely on the radar for the Pistons at 33 and you could be right, Jens Ė the value there could be too great to pass, even if the Pistons find a big man at No. 8. I think, ideally, they would like to find a true scoring small forward at 33, but I donít know that the draft is shaping up to provide one at that spot. Lots of big men with some flaws that push them out of the first round and lots of backup point guard types on the board in that range.

Ash (Melbourne, Australia): The more I read about Enes Kanter, the more I see him being a perfect fit next to Greg Monroe. What are the possibilities of trading up to No. 4, for example, to make sure they can get him? If that isnít possible, should we trade down and go for Kenneth Faried?

Langlois: Thereís no guarantee that trading up to No. 4 would net Kanter, Ash. Itís still possible he could go No. 2 Ė either Minnesota picking him outright or trading the pick to a team that wants Kanter. It certainly seems realistic that Cleveland is willing to deal at No. 4. It was reported, though not confirmed, that the Cavs offered the pick to Memphis for Rudy Gay and was turned down. The Pistons donít have anyone with Gayís combination of youth, productivity and potential outside of Greg Monroe Ė and thatís not happening. Combining the No. 8 pick with assets to move up would open up more possibilities, but then the question becomes how much higher (if any higher) the Pistons regard Kanter than what would be available at No. 8 if they did nothing. Trading down, as Iíve written, is a likelier option but also not a probability Ė especially if most teams agree with the notion that this draft isnít loaded with All-Star talent at the top but has pretty fair depth from pick 10 through 40. If you believe that and you have a pick outside the top 10, there is little motivation to trade up.

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