The likelihood of adding a second lottery pick, projecting draft prospects and old uniform chatter are on the agenda for this week’s edition of Pistons Mailbag.
@CombsGlenn: In your opinion, what is Chet’s floor and ceiling? Can you provide comparable players or a description of each?
Langlois: The working assumption is that Holmgren has a huge gap between the ceiling and the floor and that may be true but I’m having a hard time seeing a guy who’s had the success that Holmgren has had so far – playing against elite competition and mostly older players as a freshman in a top 10 program – being a bust. I’m concerned about his frame and maybe that would have been a career killer for him in the NBA as we knew it, but in today’s game – with the emphasis on spacing and skills – I think that’s overkill. Plus, he’s going to benefit from any physical maturity he experiences as well as the sophisticated training and nutritional resources available to him at the NBA level. I don’t have a good composition for Holmgren offensively, which is one of the reasons he’s such an intriguing prospect. Legitimate 7-footers with ball handling and perimeter skills at that level don’t go down the pike very often. I’ve seen everything from Kevin Durant to Pau Gasol to Rudy Gobert to Kristaps Porzingis to Dirk Nowitzki and there’s elements of all those guys rolled into one. I’m more optimistic about him than most and if you got me the pick today I’d probably go with Holmgren at No. 1, fully acknowledging that there’s no small chance others will turn out to be safer picks and better players in the end. But if Holmgren strikes, the results could be dramatic.
Langlois: It was reported in February, after images of many 2022-23 NBA uniforms were leaked, that the Pistons would bring back the 90s teal uniforms next season as Classic Edition entries – although the Pistons neither confirmed nor denied the account. The Pistons wore City Edition red uniforms this season that incorporated elements from many eras of franchise designs, so I wouldn’t bet on another red version coming anytime soon. Chrome jerseys are the Statement Edition line. If teal uniforms arrive and, indeed, if they are part of the Classic line, the Pistons could have five uniforms next season. The four standards teams wear are City (which usually changes every season or two), Statement (chrome in the case of the Pistons), Icon (the traditional Pistons road blues), and Association (the traditional Pistons home whites). Classic uniforms are for special anniversary dates, usually in five-year increments. Next season will mark the 65and anniversary of the Pistons moving to Detroit from Fort Wayne, Ind.
@its_renrut/IG: Are there any teams with a lottery pick besides Portland that would be interested in Jerami Grant?
Langlois: I think you can safely rule out teams at similar stages of development to the Pistons, those entering the lottery with the best chance of getting the first pick – Houston, Orlando and Oklahoma City. Indiana would also seem unlikely. Sacramento is a wild card. The Kings’ willingness to trade Tyrese Haliburton as part of the Domantas Sabonis deal indicates Sacramento has run out of patience for the rebuild. The Kings would likely be willing to trade their lottery pick if they didn’t make the top four. Whether they view Grant as a fit around a Sabonis-De’Aaron Fox core is anyone’s guess. The Kings are known for throwing up a surprise or two. The prevailing wisdom about the Knicks is that they probably keep their powder dry to make a run at a big name or two at some point. They have been heavily linked with a run for Donovan Mitchell, despite having three years left on his contract. No one else is jumping, but most or all are probably expecting to fight for a playoff spot next season, so it’s conceivable they’re ready to hand out a lottery pick halfway through or at the end for immediate help, but the reality of the salary cap could hamper their ability to do so.
Phil (Auburn Hills, Michigan): We’re at that stage of the playoffs where everyone is giving players ratings. And the coaching staff? How would you rate them, what are the things you’ve seen to like (scheme, rosters, development, etc.) and what are the things you hope to see improved next season?
Langlois: Dwane Casey doesn’t need me to fight for him. His record in Toronto speaks for itself, leading a young team that hasn’t been blessed with several lottery picks high on the brink of a championship – something they won the year after Casey was fired as the NBA’s Coach of the Year and, most importantly, the Raptors traded a trade to add MVP-level talent in Kawhi Leonard. Casey’s focus on player development pushed the Raptors on the championship path and was a vital part of the story — right there with Troy Weaver’s player acquisition chops — in the progress the Raptors Pistons have taken over the past two seasons. If they’re not evident in the record, they’re in the individual progress the players most critical to their future have shown. But if you ask what was Casey’s most impressive achievement this season, it was how he prevented the inevitable defeat that all teams as young as the Pistons have from causing the slightest hint of discord or discouragement. . It’s an easy leap for players to start focusing on individual fate when it becomes clear that team success – measured by the conventional standard of wins and losses, at least – is out of reach. Casey emphasized individual improvement and, more importantly, team growth and kept the mood upbeat against all odds. It’s not easy to keep the negativity from seeping in when you’re working in a fishbowl like the NBA and losing 50+ games. The Pistons – collectively or individually – never conveyed the sense that they weren’t all in and invested in each other.
Darrell (Detroit): Rumor has it Portland was looking to trade their Pelicans pick for Jerami Grant. Now that Portland no longer has that pick, do you think they would offer Grant his own pick if he fell in the 7-9 range? Portland need to try to win now to appease Damian Lillard and I’d be surprised if anyone selected from that lineup is better than Grant currently. If there’s a forward lockup after the draft, I can see the Pistons are interested. What do you think the trade would look like? Would Portland just use their trade exception or could they choose to use Eric Bledsoe’s contract which is set at $19.3 million but guaranteed for just $3.9 million. Could they add Josh Hart and have Kelly Olynyk guard against Jusuf Nurkic landing elsewhere? Maybe they will want young talents on favorable contracts like Hamidou Diallo or Frank Jackson.
Langlois: I’m sure the Trail Blazers felt the punch when New Orleans won their playoff against the Clippers – with Paul George in NBA health and safety protocols – and, because of that, lost a lottery pick (as long as it wasn’t a top four pick). That would have been a valuable tool for the Blazers, who now have one less asset to exploit as they attempt a quick rebuild around Damian Lillard after knocking out CJ McCollum, Norm Powell and Robert Covington at the trade deadline. A big key to their off-season plan will be dictated by how tight or loose the purse strings are. If ownership approves a big spending plan that could result in a luxury tax, Portland could use Bledsoe’s unsecured contract to acquire a good player from a team looking to dump cash by negotiating a similarly sized deal. in the $20 million range for Bledsoe, then waiving it and only paying the $3.9 million guarantee. Then they could turn around and ship the lottery pick for another big deal using the $21 million trade exception you mention. But if management can’t spend as freely, it gets a little trickier. In that case, maybe Portland needs to forfeit their salary in order to take back a big contract in exchange for their lottery pick. If the question is only whether Portland would want more than Jerami Grant for a lottery pick in the seven-to-nine range, well… good question, no way of knowing. I imagine part of the answer is based on how comfortable Portland would be with being able to sign Grant for an extension at an acceptable price.
@alexbierlein/IG: What do Killian Hayes’ trade packages look like?
Langlois: The chances of him being treated this summer are slim to none. The only conceivable plan for a Hayes trade if added to a bigger deal to satisfy salary metrics or to sweeten the pot enough, but even that’s a very long shot. The Pistons believe Hayes is on the verge of a third-year jump. He’s 20, two months older than Cade Cunningham, and faced a daunting challenge rising from the German pro league to an NBA playmaker and then enduring the trauma of a hip injury. who put him away for three months. So the fact that he struggled to find his place as a goalscorer is not at all surprising. He has the size and the tools to be a very high-level defender and playmaker, so there is a future for Hayes even if he doesn’t become a legitimate 3-point weapon. But the ceiling is obviously very different for him in this case. In the meantime, the Pistons would sell very low. That wouldn’t seem to make much sense at this point.