Pistons Mailbag - Monday, December 19

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.

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John (West Bloomfield, Mich.): Thereís a good chance Kenyon Martin could be released from China. I think heíd be a perfect fit next to Monroe for a year or two, kind of like what Cliff Robinson was to Big Ben early in his career. He can defend, score enough to keep the defense honest and take some pressure off of Monroe. Plus, thereís the Frank-New Jersey connection. Would the Pistons be interested?

Langlois: Iím sure they would be interested, John, but it will depend on Martinís demands. The most the Pistons could offer would be the mid-level exception. At this stage of his career, I think that would be a reasonable offer for Martin, too. But there will be plenty of teams with the MLE to offer him and a handful or so that probably will make overtures to his agent should he be released from his contract in China. I donít know if the Frank connection would give the Pistons an edge. What usually is the trump card when multiple teams have the MLE to offer is the competitiveness of the team. If a legitimate title contender or certain playoff contender were to pursue Martin, he might find that a more lucrative situation as he nears the end of his career.

Randy (Flint, Mich.): Would you be willing to speculate on our starting guards for the season now that Rodney Stuckey has been re-signed? My hope is Knight at point with Bynum behind him and Stuckey at shooting guard with Gordon backing him up. I think Stuckey will be more effective as a shooting guard.

Langlois: My hunch is that to start the season, at least, itís Stuckey and Gordon in the starting lineup with Knight and Bynum off the bench, a scenario in which Stuckey will wind up playing off the ball plenty as the primary backup to Gordon. I think itís possible, if Knight has the type of impact his early showings suggest is possible to deliver quickly, that Knight and Stuckey will be a frequent backcourt pairing. Gordonís proven ability to score coming off the bench is something to consider. When he signed here, it was with the understanding he would be coming off the bench. Gordon, unlike some players, doesnít bristle at the notion that he would not be in the starting lineup. But Gordon is probably the one guy right now around whom a significant portion of the playbook is built Ė a guy you run plays for and hope he scores 18 to 20 efficient points a night. Thatís why my guess is he opens the season as the starter.

Eric (Raleigh, N.C.): What is the outlook on obtaining a big man like Al Jefferson or Chris Kaman before the trade deadline?

Langlois: Way too soon to say, Eric. If teams donít pull off trades this week before the season opens, they might be reluctant to do much for the first 20 games or so. Thatís the usual pattern, but then again, this isnít a typical season. It makes sense that the Hornets would try to move one of Kaman or Emeka Okafor and it makes even more sense that Utah will try to move Jefferson or Paul Millsap. But the season will have to play out a little while before their intentions will come into focus.

Donna (Southfield, Mich.): Pick one: Ajinca, Fesenko or Humphries. Why donít the Pistons take a shot at one of the first two for a short-term contract. They still need another big. Whatís the holdup?

Langlois: I think itís a fair assumption that Joe Dumars and his staff are fully versed on every available frontcourt free agent. The pickings are pretty slim, however, and the ones left are no doubt weighing their options, as well. In the case of the first two, maybe theyíre waiting on a bid above the minimum or the right opportunity of playing time and a chance to put themselves in better bargaining position in the future. Humphries Ö wow, lots of questions about him. Read on.

Andrew (Farmington Hills, Mich.): Why arenít the Pistons going after Kris Humphries? Last year he averaged over 10 rebounds a game with the Nets and is a pretty dominant shot-blocker. All Kim Kardashian jokes aside, I think he is just what the Pistons need right now.

Langlois: Start with this: We donít know whether the Pistons have gone after him or not. Joe Dumars doesnít spill that type of information. The front office is certainly aware of what frontcourt free agents are out there. At some price point, Iím sure Humphries would be squarely on their radar, though re-signing Rodney Stuckey might mean the Pistons are out of the bidding for another sigifnicant free agent. ďDominantĒ shot-blocker might be a little strong; last year was the first in seven NBA seasons when he managed as many as one per game. Some are skeptical of his rebounding prowess. The 10 he averaged for the Nets last year, they contend, was made possible by the fact Nets center Brook Lopez was a subpar rebounder. Humphries is a solid rotation player, though, and that should earn him a nice payday.

Philip (Arnold, Mich.): What are the details on Chauncey Billups? I know he was bought out in New York. What did he get with the Clippers?

Langlois: Billups wasnít bought out, Philip Ė he was amnestied. The difference is that a buyout is negotiated and usually is for something less than the remaining value of the contract. With the amnesty, Billups gets the full value of the remainder of his contract. The Knicks are on the hook for $14.2 million less whatever the Clippersí winning bid on Billups was in the claims process under the amnesty clause. Reports claimed the Clippers bid was for something around $2 million.

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