Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, June 30, 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.

We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

Elliott (Marietta, Ga.): I don’t understand how the pecking order for who should be the next Pistons coach is viewed. Bill Laimbeer, my personal choice, has NBA experience as an assistant coach, won twice with the Pistons as a player and won three times as a professional coach in Detroit. Yet he is seen as a long shot. Please shed some light on this.

Langlois: Only Joe Dumars and his immediate staff who’ve sat in on interviews and discussed the job with the candidates know what the “pecking order” is, Elliott – and that’s assuming they’ve come to that stage of the process. We don’t know that. They could still be assessing the reported candidates for the position and others whose names have not yet surfaced. When it was reported early that Mike Woodson was considered the front-runner, I cautioned that it was unlikely at that point that anybody was the front-runner – only that Woodson was the most obvious to emerge as a candidate because of (a) his history in Detroit and (b) the experience and success he achieved as head coach in Atlanta. As far as we know, the process of interviews is ongoing. As long as that process is under way, be skeptical of any reports claiming a front-runner.

George (Alma, Mich.): Can a team sign their own unrestricted free agent and then trade him to another team in the first season? And what would have to happen for the league to give the Pistons a trade exception to help trade Hamilton and clear minutes in the backcourt?

Langlois: A team can trade its own signed free agent immediately if it’s done as part of a sign-and-trade deal. Essentially, that happens when a free agent agrees to contract terms with another team and then engages the original team in trade talks. Under the rules of the CBA that expires at midnight, it’s been to the benefit of the original team and the player to engage in sign and trades. The original team gets an immediate return – not merely cap space that might or might not pay immediate dividends – and the player is able to get an extra year on his contract and larger annual raises. But if a team signs its own free agent apart from a sign-and-trade arrangement, it then cannot trade him until either three months have lapsed or Dec. 15 of the following season, whichever produces the later result. As for Hamilton being traded via a trade exception, the only way that would be permissible is if he was being dealt to a team that already owned a trade exception large enough to accommodate his 2011-12 contract. The Pistons would then hold a trade exception equivalent to the amount of Hamilton’s contract. Cleveland has such an exception, to use one example, as a result of the sign-and-trade deal it executed with Miami for LeBron James last July. It will expire, however, one year from the July 8, 2010 signing. Under a new CBA, it will depend if the trade exception still exists and whether or not existing exemptions will still be honored for an agreed-upon time.

Adam (Traverse City, Mich.): With the roster as it’s constructed right now, who is the starting five for the first game of the preseason, if there is one? And who makes the greater contribution next year, Singler or Macklin?

Langlois: Without a coach on board and without knowing what trades or free-agent movement might be in the offing, it’s not worth much, but Stuckey, Hamilton, Daye, Jerebko and Monroe would be my best guess at this point, keeping in mind that Prince, McGrady, Wilcox and Summers are free agents. Singler is the safer choice than Macklin to crack the rotation next season, in part because he has the stronger resume and in part because he has a clearer path to a role with the uncertainty at small forward. But I think Macklin has an outside chance to work his way into the mix, depending on what else the Pistons do up front. Macklin’s 24 – more than three years older than Greg Monroe – and physically ready to compete.

Lloyd (Clinton Twp., Mich.): After adding three draft picks, the Pistons are over the roster limit of 12 players. It seems they need to get rid of at least four players. Assuming McGrady, Rip and Summers are gone, is it possible to keep Prince to anchor the transition? I see enough talent to compete a few rounds into the playoffs, but we still need veteran leadership.

Langlois: The roster limit is 15, not 12; 12 players are active for each game. The Pistons currently have 14 on the roster if you count the two restricted free agents, Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Stuckey. They don’t need to be at 15 until the start of the 2011-12 regular season. Plenty of time to work out the details. Multiplayer trades could alter the roster total. Retaining Prince of course remains an option, though as a free agent the ball is really in his court.

Marvin (Richmond, Va.): Regarding Summers, as far as you know is there any sentiment to bringing him back at a lower salary? When does a decision have to be made on Terrico White?

Langlois: If the Pistons do not extend a qualifying offer to Summers, as has been reported, it’s almost certain he won’t be back. The financial commitment would have been relatively small. Summers will be looking to hook on elsewhere, it figures, if the Pistons do not extend the QO. As for White, it has been reported that the Pistons have until July 18 to pick up his contract for his second season. If a new CBA is not agreed upon and a work stoppage ensues, then the dispensation of White’s contract and others that fall under similar parameters will need to be addressed in the bargaining process. It is possible that the NBA will grant a window to do business that could not be executed during a work stoppage, should one occur, once business resumes.

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4