Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, June 23, 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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Martin (Burlington, Ontario): Who do you think the Pistons should draft? The Morris twins? Valanciunas? Biyombo? Or someone else? If one of the Morris twins, which one? Is it possible to snag both?

Langlois: I spend most of my time from November through the NBA Finals watching NBA basketball, Martin, but I catch as many college games as sanity (and my family) will allow. You form opinions about college players in the course of that process, but I have too much respect for the job full-time NBA personnel evaluators do to feel remotely qualified to say who the Pistons should draft. Iím amazed at the strength of conviction many fans feel about one prospect over another when logic says they know about 3 percent of what NBA scouts with far more access to information and a track record of talent evaluation have at their fingertips. From the standpoint of the person charged with generating copy for Pistons.com, itís hard to not root for the great story that Bismack Biyombo represents. If he fulfills the high end of what scouts feel he could become, Biyombo would not just help transform the Pistons defensively but generate huge amounts of fan interest. But if he comes closer to the low end of expectations Ė more Joel Anthony than Ben Wallace Ė then it will retard the process that all Pistons fans want to see: a return to postseason prominence. As great a story as Biyombo represents, nothing generates fan interest like winning, and the only way to win is to acquire a bunch of really good players. Tim Duncan is about as vanilla in personality as it gets, but the Spurs have been a great story since the day they drafted him. When I write about the draft, Iím injecting as little of my personal opinions of players Ė culled from isolated college viewings, not from full-fledged scouting assessments Ė as possible and putting out information Iíve collected from a variety of professionals whose opinions Iíve come to respect in 25 years of covering NBA basketball. So Iíd be fascinated by Biyombo or Valanciunas because of their stories, but if Tristan Thompson or Kemba Walker or someone else is the best player then Iím rooting for that to be the pick. As for nabbing both Morris twins, I think the odds are minute. Charlotte has a chance to do so if they take Marcus at nine and hope Markieff is still there at 19, which is unlikely. But if the Pistons were to trade down Ė itís been reported Houston is dangling picks 14 and 23 in hopes of moving into the top 10 Ė then Markieff Morris would be a possibility.

Wilfred (Paramaribo, Suriname): Each current NBA coach and assistant is known by the NBA fraternity with regards to performance and capability. So why does the hiring of a coach take so much time with many deliberate interviews?

Langlois: Given the size of the investment, Wilfred, I think it takes far less time than might be expected in the business world. The average coach makes north of $2 million a year. Some make far more than that. Thatís on par with the CEO of a fairly sizable company, and Iíll bet the process of hiring an external candidate to fill one of those positions takes a lot longer than the average NBA coaching search. You say every NBA coach and assistant is well known within the NBA fraternity, but thatís simply not the case. Yeah, if you have an opening that would interest Phil Jackson or Jerry Sloan, you know what youíre getting, the interview wonít be much more than a casual lunch and you wonít be talking to any other candidates. But of the reported names involved in the Pistonsí search, Joe Dumars would want to sit down and ask probing questions of all of them, even the two (Mike Woodson, Bill Laimbeer) with whom he has a prior relationship. Itís important to understand how the coaching candidates view the current roster and to explore their philosophies on everything from the structure of practice to ideas on both offense and defense to who theyíd have in mind to join the coaching staff and on and on. Also, remember that itís probable that the new owner, Tom Gores, will at least want the chance to meet the finalist or final few candidates for the job, and that will take a fair amount of time to set up those meetings. One other thing to consider: Whatís the rush? There are no games to play until late October. There is some urgency, presumably, in hiring the CEO of a firm that does business essentially 365 days a year. But most NBA head coaches are away from the team most of the summer, anyway. Iíd take all the time I needed to feel as comfortable as possible with this hire.

Andrew (Macomb Twp., Mich.): Josh Smith would be a perfect fit. Itís being reported that the Hawks are looking to trade him.

Langlois: If that report has merit Ė and I heard from several credible sources as soon as Atlanta matched the Memphis offer sheet for Smith, then a restricted free agent, three years ago that the Hawks would be shopping Smith at some point before that contract expired Ė then you have to assume the primary motivation for the Hawks is cost savings. Have to believe theyíll be looking for a large expiring contract to go with a young player they can plug into the rotation. Thatís a tough fit for the Pistons. Ben Gordon? Nope Ė he has one more year on his deal than Smith. Rip Hamilton? Not very likely Ė the guaranteed portion of Hamiltonís 2012-13 deal puts him at about 80 percent of what Atlanta owes Smith; I doubt so little in the way of savings prompts Atlanta to deal. I think Atlanta would have interest in Charlie Villanueva, but the Pistons would have to throw in another contract to make it work and Ė again Ė it wonít provide Atlanta with significant cost savings since Charlie Vís deal has three years left to Smithís two.

Roger (Flushing, Mich.): Given the way Chris Wilcox played the last 20 games or so, it appeared he had a rebirth and could be a dependable starter while the No. 8 picks gets seasoning. What are your thoughts?

Langlois: Heís a free agent. You never know who might throw more money at him than the Pistons would be willing to spend, so you canít go into the draft believing his return is anything more than a possibility, Roger. You have to believe that if the Pistons made Wilcox a fair-market offer, heíd be interested in staying put after the success he had playing next to Greg Monroe. But Wilcoxís inability to stay healthy for long stretches will concern any suitor. One big question: Will Wilcox expect to be paid like a starter?

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