Is Joe Dumars on his way out of Detroit?
After their loss to the Clippers on Monday, the Pistons fell to 17-24 on the season. While they are very much in the playoff picture in the pathetic Eastern Conference, the level of play has not been inspiring on the majority of occasions. Sure they’ve had a few flashes in the pan, like a 107-97 victory over the Heat in early December and a 101-96 win in Indiana later in the month, but they’ve now lost 8 of their last 11 and almost nothing seems to be going right.
Dumars became Detroit’s President of Basketball Operations in 2000 and really started off with a bang. Within just a few years, he brought Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups to the Pistons. Then during the 2003-04 season, he acquired Rasheed Wallace to complete a perfectly balanced starting lineup and the team captured the NBA Championship at the end of the season.
The team made 6 consecutive conference finals appearances from 2003 to 2008. During that stretch, they made the NBA Finals twice, Ben Wallace was named Defensive Player of the Year 4 times, and Dumars was named Executive of the Year in 2003.
But after 2008, Dumars’ executive resume is rather dreadful.
During the opening month of the 2008-09 season, Dumars traded away Chauncey Billups to acquire Allen Iverson and his expiring contract. Losing Billups was detrimental to the franchise and Iverson just didn’t gel with the personnel the Pistons had. After Iverson’s contract was up, Dumars had a ton of cap space freed up for the 2009 offseason. How did he take advantage of it? By signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to a pair of ridiculous long-term contracts. Gordon got 5 years, $55 million while Villanueva got 5 years, $35 million. Also frequently overlooked during that offseason was a preposterous trade where Dumars sent Arron Afflalo and Walter Sharpe to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for a 2011 second round pick. Afflalo is now a borderline All-Star for the Magic and meanwhile the Pistons are in desperate need of a swingman who can extend a defense and hit outside shots consistently - would have been a good fit, right?
While the awfulness of the 2009 offseason won’t be topped by the awfulness of the 2013 offseason, the latter should serve as the final straw in Dumars’ career. Smith’s 4-year, $54 million contract is ludicrous. Jennings is a talented player but not a franchise point guard for a legitimate contender. And passing up on local hero Trey Burke in the 2013 draft in favor of swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was foolish. Had Dumars done just a mediocre job the past 5 years, the Pistons could have a promising nucleus of Burke, Afflalo, Monroe and Drummond with a great amount of cap space. Instead, Monroe will probably be traded soon because Smith’s contract is impossible to move and the two can’t operate properly together alongside Drummond. And Jennings has done nothing this year but continue to prove he can’t be the leader of a successful NBA team.
The Dumars era started off strong, but his ship has surely sailed and it’s time for a new era to begin - how much longer will he last?