You've got to hand it to Keith Langlois- he's probably the hardest working team writer for any NBA team out there. Here's another edition of the Pistons mailbag:
Steven (West Bloomfield, Mich.): Glad to see Ernie Harwell get some love on Pistons.com. He was the best. Great blog by George Blaha.
Langlois: Thanks, Steven. Like everyone who ever covered a Tigers game in the past 50 years, my path crossed Ernie’s a few times. Never forget how genuinely nice he was to me during my first spring training. Unfailingly, that’s what everyone who ever knew him found remarkable about Ernie Harwell. He not only wanted to know about your life, he had a gift for making you feel his interest was 100 percent sincere and well-intentioned. As George said, he was an all-time treasure.
Aaron (Houston): Good news! I played the Draft Lottery Simulator on Pistons.com and out of 10 spins, the Pistons were in the top three a staggering 40 percent of the time and No. 1 twice. It might mean nothing, but maybe it’s foreshadowing from the heavens and Bill Davidson rewarding me for 20 years of Pistons loyalty. RIP, Bo, Bill and Ernie.
Langlois: As I discovered when I tested it 1,000 times, you’ll eventually get where the odds say you should, but for any random spin, or even any sequence of 100, the numbers can be all over the map.
John (Pinckney, Mich.): It seems a lot of people who like to trade Prince this off-season. I would like to keep him and it seems he’d like to stay. Do you think there are teams who would want him at the trade deadline for cap relief and then he could return? That way we could keep him and trade for an asset.
Langlois: Anything’s possible, John, depending on the motivation of the trade partner. The NBA won’t abide prearranged buyout deals. Even though the Cleveland-Washington trade that sent Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Wizards, where he was bought out and returned to Cleveland once the 30-day window lapsed, didn’t really pass the smell test, there was no proof that Cleveland drew assurances from Washington that its intent was to buy out Ilgauskas before signing off on the trade. It’s impossible to project if there will be teams desperate to get under the tax line at next year’s trade deadline, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were. Nevertheless, players bought out under those circumstances usually wind up gravitating toward teams in position to contend for a title that spring. And it’s way too early to project the Pistons being in that position just yet.
Jens (Cologne, Germany): There seem to be a couple of interesting 7-footers in the draft projected to go late in the first or early in the second round - Whiteside, Alabi and Jordan to name a few. What do you think it would take to get an additional low first-round pick and do you think it would be worth the price?
Langlois: I think Whiteside is a potential top-10 pick; I can’t see him getting out of the lottery. Alabi seems to have slipped over the course of the season, but if Hasheem Thabeet went No. 2 last year, I have great difficulty believing Alabi gets past the early 20s. It will be interesting to see if teams picking outside the lottery put their draft pick up for sale. Phoenix has sold its pick on occasion over the years and there are rumblings that Atlanta, which could be flirting with luxury taxes if it retains Joe Johnson, is willing to sell its pick this year. No idea whether the Pistons would be interested buyers. That $3 million doesn’t count against the salary cap, but the first-year salary of the No. 1 pick immediately would count against the cap based on its salary slot. So teams intent on clearing cap space might not be interested in a No. 1 pick in the 20s. Jordan is a player I suspect could be available for the Pistons at 36 if they’re interested.
Rickey (Detroit): What do you think about Tony Ronzone going to Minnesota to become the assistant GM? Do you think this is just the beginning of personnel movement given the uncertainty of the ownership situation?
Langlois: Though the hiring of Ronzone as Minnesota assistant GM has been reported variously, there is no confirmation of it, Rickey. But in general, well-run organizations expect to have their executives courted by other organizations for promotions, and getting a shot to be the No. 2 man would undeniably by a great opportunity for Ronzone or anyone at a comparable level. Scott Perry left the Pistons for a year, going from the No. 3 man behind Joe Dumars and John Hammond, to No. 2 with Seattle before returning as vice president when Hammond was promoted to Milwaukee’s GM. It’s all about climbing the ladder and, beyond that, exposing yourself to another working environment. Ronzone, like the vast majority of front-office employees, wants to run a team for himself one day and if this report proves accurate, then it makes sense for him to add this to his resume.
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