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Didn’t like the Ben Gordon and and Charlie Villanueva signings? Joe Dumars inadvertently explains why you’re right

 From Keith Langlois’ recent Q&A with Joe Dumars:

KL: Your peers, many of them, have been positioning themselves for a couple of years for this summer’s free-agent class. Eighteen months ago, they were positioning themselves with the idea that the salary cap would be something more than $60 million. Now it appears it could be $10 million less than that. Unless something happens by the trade deadline, you won’t be in a position to be major players in free agency this summer. But do you have a sense of what the free-agent market will be like based on the cap coming down?

JD: I think the top-tier free agents are always going to command and always going to have the leverage. Once you get beyond that, it always becomes a buyer’s market after that. I don’t see that being any different this year. The top-tier guys are going to command what they command. They’re going to dictate and control where they go and how much they sign for, then after that history has shown us that you can cut some pretty good deals.

Here are the five free agents who received the most guaranteed money last summer:

  1. Ben Gordon, Pistons ($58 million, five years)
  2. Hedo Turkoglu, Raptors ($53 million, five years)
  3. Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers Cleveland ($42.5 million, five years)* UPDATE: Thanks to Steve Kays for pointing out $4 million Varaejao’s final year are guaranteed.)
  4. Charlie Villanueva, Pistons ($37.7 million, five years)
  5. Marvin Williams, Hawks ($37.5 million, five years)*

*resigned with current team

So, Joe Dumars says the top free agents can dictate their price. He says the next-level players can be bargains.

He also signs the No. 1 and No. 4 free agents in terms of guaranteed money.

  • Did Dumars not learn this until last summer?
  • Did he not understand the market and think Gordon and Villanueva were second-tier free agents?
  • Did he think Gordon and Villanueva were good enough to supersede the rule?

Something doesn’t add up. And that’s coming from someone who liked (but didn’t love) both signings.


  • Jan 27, 20106:37 am
    by Matt W


    The timing was also surprising — not only did he throw the most money around, he also spent it before anyone else.

    • Jan 29, 20103:16 am
      by Dan Feldman


      Well, he did the same thing with Chauncey Billups, and that obviously worked out well. If you think you have a good deal, you have to lock it in before another team drives up the price.

  • Jan 27, 20109:20 am
    by brgulker


    Joe blew a big wad fast. Sounds like a personal problem, if you ask me.

  • Jan 27, 201011:31 am
    by Kyle


    joe was like a lonely boy before prom. ready to throw himself and his money at the first person to bat their eye lashes at him. villenueva makes a little sense considering we need a post threat, but the gordon signing baffled and continues to baffle me. he may be a better three shooter than rip, but he’s worse and virtually everything else related to basketball.
    i hate to say it, but the last few years have seriously damaged my view of dumars as a gm. how many gm’s have made three decisions as terrible as darko, ai and mciafi?

    • Jan 29, 20103:30 am
      by Dan Feldman


      Kyle, you have to be a good GM to have a chance to make so many bad moves. GMs who only make a couple bad moves are fired before they can make another. So, Dumars has made a lot of great decisions to make up for his mistakes.

  • Jan 27, 20101:46 pm
    by Marcus Taylor


    I thought signing Gordon was a dent move, but Charlie V. wasn’t a good fit with the rest of the players around him. With a defensive presence inside and a penetrating PG he would fit fine, but it would also need to be an uptempo team. With the signing of Gordon, I thought for sure Rip would be traded for an athletic defensive presence in the paint. If Bynum is healthy prior to trade deadline, Bynum, B. Wallace, and Rip to the Wizards for Haywood, McGee, and James would help both teams. Haywood shouldn’t be too hard to re-sign next year, McGee has a ton of potential.  Get a young combo guard in a trade for Tayshaun, and this could be a team with potential.

    • Jan 29, 20103:38 am
      by Dan Feldman


      Marcus, I don’t think finding players who were a perfect fit was Dumars’ priority last summer. I think it was just adding talent, and I’m OK with that. A lot can change between now and when the Pistons are ready to contend. Get as many assets as you can, and adjust later.

      As for the trade, I don’t think the Wizards want to add Hamilton’s long-term contract — especially when they’re giving expiring contracts and a young center who’s paid very little. Also, I don’t think the Pistons will trade Wallace without his consent (barring an extraordinary offer). This trade isn’t extraordinary, and I doubt Wallace wants any part of the mess in Washington.

  • Jan 27, 20106:33 pm
    by The Rake


    I was hesitant with both signings at the time, but with the logic that they toss AI and Sheed to the curb for Gordon and Villanueva sounded good to me.  People get too focused on how much people are making.  Everyone in the league is overpaid.  Look at the player and their production only, makes it easier on us all. That being said, Charlie V sucks and Gordon gets an incomplete right now.  The Pistons simply dont have a the right mix of talent on this team to be any good with the current roster.  That is why someone from the Rip, Tay, CV, Stuckey or Gordon camp HAS TO GO, and perhaps two of those.

    • Jan 29, 20103:41 am
      by Dan Feldman


      The Rake, I think you’re right that the talent doesn’t mix. But how do we know? They haven’t played together yet.

  • Jan 27, 20107:04 pm
    by DJ


    Joe took his 3rd & 4th options. He made a mistake & I think he realizes that. I am sure his plan was to remove Tay or Rip or both for a high impact player before the trade deadline, but with both hurting, no one was biting. I am sure both players may have milked those injuries. CV was a great pick up, no he is not Sheed, not too many players are, but what he is, is a guy who can take the other teams big out of the paint. He spreads the floor. Signing BG was decent only because of what he can do off of the bench, but we already have Will Bynum & Stuckey who also create their own shots. What we need to do is package some of our combo people. He tried to build a team of combo players. Like Suck & BG plays both G spots. Rip & Daye play the 2/3, Tay, JJ, & Summers play the 3/4 & Max, Big Ben, CV, Wilcox & Brown all play the 4/5 depending on match ups. We have no alstars, no one to take over at the end of games, no low bost presense, no defensive stoppers, no identity. We have a team full of role players with upside. We’re not going to when as is.

    • Jan 29, 20103:46 am
      by Dan Feldman


      DJ, Gordon and Villanueva being his third and fourth options makes sense given his comments. But who would have been his No. 1 and No. 2 choices?

      I’d say Ben Gordon can take over at the end of games. And Ben Wallace is a defensive stopper.

      What’s wrong with having versatile players?

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