Pistons Mailbag - Monday, June 27, 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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Antwane (Clinton Twp., Mich.): I notice Brandon Knight was given No. 7, which has been worn by Ben Gordon. I understand a player has to submit a request a year in advance to change numbers. Either Ben Gordon did that or do you think that can be a sign Gordon could be gone?

Langlois: Gordon submitted his request to change jersey numbers in March 2010, but the NBA did not grant it in time for the 2010-11 season. He will wear No. 8 next season – that’s why Knight took No. 7 after initially requesting No. 0. There is no hard-and-fast date when a uniform number request must be made. Some consideration is given to the inventory of souvenir jerseys held with the old number. I’ve been told that even though Greg Monroe has yet to decide whether he’ll continue to wear the No. 10 that the Pistons retired to honor Dennis Rodman last season – Rodman has given Monroe his blessing to continue wearing it – the NBA is likely to OK a change for 2011-12 if asked, in part, because there is not a huge inventory of Monroe jerseys with the No. 10 on it.

Aaron (New York City): Now that Brandon Knight has been drafted, which player in the backcourt is most likely to be traded?

Langlois: The selection of Knight probably doesn’t do much to change the situation – Rip Hamilton was the player who seemed to be most likely to be traded before the draft and he remains that today. It was widely understood that Hamilton was involved in the drawn-out trade speculation involving Carmelo Anthony and New Jersey. It was also known that the Pistons and Cleveland discussed a trade for Hamilton in February. It doesn’t mean other Pistons guards couldn’t be traded, of course, only that Hamilton remains the most logical simply because of where he’s at in his career and where the Pistons are in their transition.

Anthony (Edwardsburg, Mich.): What will Brandon Knight’s role be next year?

Langlois: That’ll depend on how ready he is to play more than anything. He won’t be 20 until December. The Pistons don’t have the same need for Knight to step into a major role as they did for Greg Monroe to do so when they drafted him, but if Knight shows he has something to offer – even assuming the mistakes he’ll make as he finds his way – that can help the Pistons in a way nobody else can then I suspect he’ll carve out some sort of niche. Joe Dumars is going to leave playing time up to the coaches – he always has – but I suspect, also, that in his search for a new coach he’ll be looking to find someone he feels can integrate young players into the rotation in a way that hastens, not impedes, their development.

Nawaf (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia): David Aldridge of NBA TV is screaming for a trade between the Pistons and Jazz where we get Paul Millsap and Utah gets Rip. With the addition of Raja Bell to balance the salaries, I think he is on to something here.

Langlois: Utah’s frontcourt situation isn’t unlike the Pistons’ backcourt – more players worthy of more minutes than possible. Advantage Utah in that situation, probably, because more teams are looking for frontcourt help than backcourt. The Jazz could be more likely to want to move Al Jefferson than Millsap and Bell simply because he’s still owed $29 million over the next two seasons. If Jefferson is fully healthy, his ability to score in the low post would serve the Pistons well and nicely complement Greg Monroe. There is certainly a fit for both sides to make a deal, whether it involves Hamilton, Millsap, Jefferson or others. The roster situations of each team is well known to the other, so it’s pretty safe to assume they have and might continue to have discussions. One question that bears asking: Utah just spent a lottery pick on Alec Burks, a shooting guard. The Jazz might feel pretty good about a Bell-Burks combo at that spot. Also, remember that the Jazz were thought to be interested in drafting Brandon Knight on speculation that they were not sold on Devin Harris as the long-term answer at point guard. So it could well be that they’re more intent on using their frontcourt surplus to address point guard, not shooting guard. Maybe they want to package Jefferson/Millsap with Harris to upgrade at the point. Or maybe they’re more inclined to look for help at small forward. They have last year’s lottery pick, Gordon Hayward, but some wonder if he isn’t better suited for shooting guard, as well, and in any case Utah probably wouldn’t be ready to hand him a starter’s job without a viable alternative to push him.

Joe (Pigeon, Mich.): Why not more love in the draft for Vernon Macklin? At the very least, he appears to be a Kwame Brown type of player. What’s his upside and what caused most teams to shy away?

Langlois: Macklin’s an interesting case, Joe. Most big guys taken as late as he was (52) have one thing they do well and then a bunch of holes. Macklin doesn’t really have gaping holes. He didn’t rebound at a very high rate in college, but he developed a go-to move in his senior season and he’s a solid post defender. Pretty good offensively, pretty good defensively. That’s more than you expect to find in the 50s for a big guy. I’ll be writing more about Macklin this week on Pistons.com.

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