Pistons Mailbag - Monday, June 13, 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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Zak (Fort Wayne, Ind.): What was your impression of LeBron James’ play in the Finals and why Dallas was able to dominate in the clutch throughout the series?

Langlois: I can’t escape the notion that LeBron James has very deliberately made himself the focus of the basketball world’s attention, starting with the drawn-out free agency that loomed over him for more than a year as he threw out vague hints and teases about what his future held, then “The Decision” and the over-the-top introduction in Miami last July where he vowed multiple championships – and now it’s clear the pressure of all that attention has gotten to him. The LeBron James who scored 25 straight points to beat the Pistons – at the time, the mountain the Cavs knew they needed to scale –in the 2007 Eastern Conference finals certainly didn’t shrink from the moment. But last year’s effort against Boston was puzzling and this year’s passive NBA Finals showing against Dallas called that to mind. Something is clearly going on in the 6 inches between his ears. I don’t believe it’s necessary irreversible, but I don’t think you can automatically write it off to inexperience or happenstance, either. The urgency that Dallas felt to win, knowing Dirk Nowitzki and all of them might never have another chance like this one, manifested itself in impassioned play. The urgency Miami felt to make a down payment on the many titles LeBron promised manifested itself in playing scared.

Joel (Amherstburg, Ontario): Tayshaun Prince is already the most coveted free agent this summer because of his ability to guard LeBron, Wade and even Bosh. Ben Wallace is halfway out the door to retirement. Rip is the only piece still hanging on from the days of the Pistons playing into June. What can the Pistons expect in return for Hamilton on the trading market?

Langlois: Prince’s free agency will turn on what the new CBA allows, Joel. If cap exceptions are eliminated, it could be a sluggish market. The vibe on Ben Wallace is that he’ll come back for another year – he even said over the weekend that he was leaning toward returning next season. As for Hamilton’s trade value, it’s hard to gauge at this point. With $21 million in guaranteed money coming over the next two seasons, teams are going to want to be sure he’s still capable of consistent high production. If the Pistons are intent on getting value for value – or at least not having to bundle other assets with Hamilton to realize the cap savings of shedding his salary – they might need to let Hamilton re-establish his place. I don’t believe Joe Dumars will be as likely to sacrifice a future asset – as the Pistons reportedly were prepared to do at the trade deadline last season by trading Hamilton and a 2012 protected first-rounder to Cleveland for the Cavs’ trade exception – at this point.

Praneeth (Rochester Hills, Mich.): Do you think Joe Dumars would hesitate to hire Bill Laimbeer because one day he probably would have to fire him?

Langlois: I don’t believe that would have any influence in his consideration of Laimbeer for the job, Praneeth. Dumars and Laimbeer have a thoroughly honest relationship. I don’t know where Laimbeer stands in the pecking order, but I would bet that Laimbeer knows completely or at least would be able to find out from Dumars where he stands in a heartbeat if he asked him. And if Laimbeer were ever to be Pistons coach under Dumars, issues would be discussed openly and routinely. If it ever came to the point that Dumars would need to let go of Laimbeer, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to Laimbeer.

Nick (London, England): Is it likely that Valanciunas will fall to No. 8? If not, do you think Leonard would be a good addition to the Pistons since Prince will be leaving anyway?

Langlois: Likely for Valanciunas? No. Possible? Yes. I’d put the odds at less than 50-50, but it’s not in the long shot camp. I don’t have a sense of how the Pistons view Leonard as a worthwhile candidate for them. It seems Leonard could go at any of the four spots before the Pistons pick, with Washington and Sacramento mentioned most prominently as potential landing spots for him.

Jasmine (Los Angeles): Keith Benson and Jeremy Tyler are both very promising big men. As a matter of fact, I think they’re more intriguing than some big men in the lottery who are either short or offensively limited. If they’re available at 33, do you think Joe Dumars would still consider them even if he has chosen a big man at No. 8?

Langlois: Sure. Drafting for need is nice, but it doesn’t do any good to take a small forward, for instance, to fill a need at that position if the best small forward left when your turn comes is unlikely to ever make a mark on the NBA. If the Pistons think Benson or Tyler will have productive NBA careers and don’t see the same impact potential in players at other positions, there is little doubt they’d go big again at 33.

Kumayl (Detroit): I just read that Allen Iverson wants to come back to the NBA. I’m not saying the Pistons should get him, but what NBA team do you think would be interested in him?

Langlois: Two off-seasons in a row, Iverson has found NBA interest to be tepid, at best. I don’t think another year on the calendar is going to do much to change that situation. I’d be surprised if we see him play another NBA game.

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