Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, June 2, 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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Ryan (Hudsonville, Mich.): The latest rumor with Cleveland would be a terrible trade for the Pistons. Hamilton and a future No. 1 pick for Jamison is a much more viable option. Any chance we can swing Gordon and Villanueva to Phoenix for Vince Carter? Jamison and Carter would give Detroit some scoring this year, but more importantly a ton of cap room for next summer.

Langlois: Jamison and Carter – the Pistons would then have to change their primary color to Carolina Blue. Assistant coach Pat Sullivan probably would be interested in such an arrangement – he was on Bill Guthridge’s staff at Carolina when the Tar Heels had Jamison and Carter, the fourth and fifth picks in the 1998 draft. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. If Carter were to be traded, I would have to assume the team that acquires him would do so for the clause in his contract that allows it to buy out the remaining year (at $18 million) for $4 million. That would need to be done by June 30, though. If Phoenix doesn’t trade him by that date, I would expect the Suns to buy him out for $4 million by then. Bottom line, I don’t think anyone is going to pay Vince Carter $18 million next season if they can pay him $4 million. As for Hamilton and a future No.1 for Jamison, I don’t think I’d do that deal. Jamison is due $15 million next year; Hamilton is guaranteed $21.5 million over the next two seasons (his 2012-13 salary is partially guaranteed). So that’s a difference of a little over $6 million – that’s a pretty cheap price to pay for a No. 1 pick, in my view, unless it has ironclad lottery protection. To your larger point, Ryan – trading for expiring deals: It will be interesting to see what effect the uncertainty of a new CBA has on the motivation to make such deals this off-season. My hunch is that it will have a dampening effect. It’s tough to make deals with a salary-cap threshold in mind when you don’t have any idea where that threshold will fall.

Linda (West Bloomfield, Mich.): I’ve read that Tom Gores and Karen Davidson are expected to finalize the ownership transfer soon. Will we see Gores hold an introductory press conference at that time?

Langlois: It’s at 4:30 p.m. today, Linda. You probably couldn’t miss the announcement when you came to Pistons.com. You can watch the press conference live – also on Pistons.com.

Lucious (Indianapolis): Phoenix needs a shooting guard and small forward among other things, so do you think Robin Lopez could be available? Gortat is taking his minutes, so he might be on his way out as the Suns try to fill holes.

Langlois: I think you’re right that Phoenix probably will look to turn Lopez into other assets now that Gortat is on board – though it wouldn’t be a great surprise if the Suns found more enticing offers for Gortat that they spun him off instead. There was a rumor near the trade deadline last year that Lopez (and, presumably, something else) might be going to OKC for Jeff Green, who subsequently went to Boston instead for Kendrick Perkins. Phoenix had a tough time deciding between Earl Clark and Austin Daye in the 2009 draft, so there might be interest in a Lopez-Daye swap from Phoenix’s perspective. Would the Pistons do that? Wow. Tough call. Lopez has had some back issues, which could be worrisome. The Pistons without Daye would also have a need at small forward, where both Tayshaun Prince and Tracy McGrady are free agents. The other possibility, I suppose, would be a trade involving the No. 8 pick. Again, that’s a tough evaluation. The Pistons might like their prospects at 8 better than Lopez – or at least might like it if a certain player or two were to fall to that spot.

Donald (Howell, Mich.): The Pistons of the ’80s had Laimbeer, Edwards, Salley, Hastings, Darryl Dawkins, Rick Mahorn and Jim Rowinski. The 2004 team had Elden Campbell, Darko, Mehmet Okur, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Zeljko Rebraca. Can we win a championship with the current philosophy? What is the plan to replace the big men we have lost?

Langlois: Your point is well taken, Donald, but a few minor points: Rowinski and Dawkins played a combined 54 minutes on the 1989 title team and Hastings played 166 a year later. Rebraca was used in the trade that netted Rasheed Wallace and Darko was a little-used rookie when the 2004 title was won. The search for talented big men is a never-ending quest for NBA front offices, but if you have three you feel comfortable using in any situation you’re incredibly fortunate. The Pistons know they have at least one right now, Greg Monroe. They feel strongly that Jonas Jerebko has a bright future and can be used at power forward. Charlie Villanueva is a gifted scorer who has more to give as a rebounder than he’s shown here. Jason Maxiell, at times over his career, has been a very effective defender who can rebound and score well enough to factor into the rotation. If Chris Wilcox returns, he’s shown that when healthy he can be a force. And Ben Wallace will give them whatever he still has left in the tank. The hope is that the No. 8 pick can provide an upgrade, even if it isn’t immediate. And there’s a reasonable chance that happens. When Ben and Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess were all available here, the Pistons consistently ranked with the NBA’s best and there really was little asked of any other big man. Joe Dumars and his staff know the Pistons’ frontcourt isn’t in that class right now, which is a big part of the reason he’s said the likelihood is that they draft another big man later this month.

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