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John Hollinger’s Joe Dumars bashing goes a little too far

John Hollinger (insider):

Overrated: Joe Dumars

Let’s look ourselves in the mirror, fellow media members: We’ve all given the guy a free pass because of his amazing run to six straight conference finals and blithely ignored the fact that he’s screwed up a hundred ways from Tuesday since he decided to whack Flip Saunders after the 2008 conference finals.

Check out the résumé and find me a correct decision. Just one. Fire Saunders? Wrong. Hire Michael Curry? Wrong. Trade Chauncey Billups? Wrong. Extend Richard Hamilton? Wrong. Sign Kwame Brown? Wrong. Go after Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva? Wrong again.

In two years, the Pistons have gone from one of the best teams in basketball to among the worst. They stink, they’re capped out, and they don’t have much in the way of young talent; for all we know, in two years they’re going to be the Pittsburgh Pisces or the Seattle Grunge or something. If Isiah Thomas or Rob Babcock had done this, we’d have buried them alive by now, so it’s only fair for us to point out that regardless of his previous track record, Dumars is on a two-year losing streak of McHalian proportions.

If you’ve read my previous posts, I’m a big believer in Dumars. Let’s go point-by-point with what Hollinger wrote.

Hollinger: “We’ve all given the guy a free pass because of his amazing run to six straight conference finals and blithely ignored the fact that he’s screwed up a hundred ways from Tuesday since he decided to whack Flip Saunders after the 2008 conference finals.”

Me: Sustaining success after a long run of being elite is nearly impossible in the NBA. The core players get old, and there are no young reinforcements because teams get stuck with low draft picks. So, I can’t blame Dumars too much for being in a position many other elite teams have faced:

  • The Lakers had consecutive losing seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94.
  • The Celtics never won more than 36 games between the 1993-94 and 2000-01 seasons.
  • The Pistons had three straight losing seasons after the Bad Boys broke up.
  • Once Hakeem Olajuwon hit 37 and his production fell dramatically, the Rockets missed the playoffs for four straight seasons.
  • In the six years after Michael Jordan retired, the Bulls won an average of 20 games.
  • The Heat when from winning the 2006 title to 15-67 two years later.
  • The Lakers kept have kept it going with half their core in Kobe (minus Shaq), so you can call them an exception if you’d like.
  • And let’s see how the post-Duncan Spurs look.

Hollinger: “Check out the résumé and find me a correct decision.”

Me: Firing Flip Saunders, signing Will Bynum, signing Antonio McDyess, draft Jonas Jerebko, firing Michael Curry, signing Ben Wallace.

Hollinger: “Fire Saunders? Wrong.”

Me: Flip Saunders is a good, not great coach. But he had completely lost the respect of that team. There was no way he could continue in Detroit. Firing him was a no-brainer.

Hollinger: “Hire Michael Curry? Wrong.”

Me: No question, that was a terrible hire. But how many generals managers have the guts to fire their hand-picked and young head coach a season after hiring him?

Hollinger: “Trade Chauncey Billups? Wrong”

Me: In hindsight, I wish the Pistons wouldn’t have made the trade. But it’s not as bad as it looks. Billups was in a rut in Detroit. There’s no way the Pistons could have had the same Billups that Denver does.

Hollinger: “Extend Richard Hamilton? Wrong.”

Me: As I’ve covered here many times, Dumars offered Hamilton the extension before Billups was traded. Dumars didn’t want to go back on his word after the trade. You can still say it would have been a mistake even if Detroit had kept Billups, but it wouldn’t nearly look as bad.

Hollinger: “Sign Kwame Brown? Wrong”

Me: He was signed to provide depth on the front line. How is this a bad signing? He was never expected to be a major contributor, and he was pretty good the second half of last season.

Hollinger: “Go after Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva? Wrong again.”

Me: The early returns haven’t been encouraging, but it’s way too early to label these bad signings.

Hollinger: “They stink”

Me: If the Pistons were healthy this year and  battling for one of the final playoff spots in the East, would Dumars have been included as overrated in this column? I don’t think so. Sneaking into the playoffs isn’t this team’s long-term goal, but it would’ve have been enough to keep a lot of people off Dumars’ back. Injuries didn’t allow that to happen.

Hollinger: “they’re capped out”

Me: They’re over the cap, but I don’t think they have a single player who’s untradable — even Hamilton. I think they could easily position themselves to have cap room in the summer of 2011 if that’s the direction that makes the most sense.

Hollinger: “they don’t have much in the way of young talent”

Me: I’d consider Ben Gordon (26), Charlie Villanueva (25), Rodney Stuckey (23), Jonas Jerebko (22) and Austin Daye (21) young talent.

Hollinger: “for all we know, in two years they’re going to be the Pittsburgh Pisces or the Seattle Grunge or something”

Me: I’ll let Justin Rogers of Full-Court Press take this one.

Hollinger: “If Isiah Thomas or Rob Babcock had done this, we’d have buried them alive by now”

Me: Thomas and Babcock had a nasty habit of compounding bad moves with more bad moves. It’s not like Dumars didn’t make plenty of mistakes during the Pistons’ run as an elite team. But he fixed them.

Darko Milicic, Mateen Cleaves and Rodney White were all notoriously bad draft picks. He turned all of them into valuable assets.

It’s way too early in the rebuilding process to throw Dumars under the bus. Let’s see where he’s going before we freak out. His last plan worked. I’m willing to give him time to let this one unfold.


  • Feb 9, 20108:17 pm
    by xerowattbulb


    I think the only real mistake that Joe Dumars has made is that he built the core of the team of the last decade by chasing down players that had something to prove and were team first guys.  Since assembling that core, he’s gotten away from that approach more and more.  Ben Gordon and Charlie V have nothing to prove.  I really think bringing them in wasn’t a good step forward.  I think bringing in players like Bynum and drafting strong is a better way to build the team.  He signed Billups and traded for Rip and Ben Wallace and Rasheed and drafted Prince, and later signed Mcdyess.  It’s a better approach then spending so much money on Gordon and Charlie V, because now it’s hard to fix the mistake when that much money is involved.  They signed Charlie V, and he’s not even starting, and to hear the coach talk about it, he’d rather have Jerebko start anyway.  It’s a mess, but Hollinger is wrong if he thinks that even this version of the Pistons would have a MUCH better record had they been healthy.

  • Feb 9, 201011:13 pm
    by Chris


    Keep in mind, Xero, that the Pistons have missed 110 man-games due to injury this season.  During ‘the streak’, the Pistons never lost more than 30 for the ENTIRE season.  When you’re a team without a superstar, losing a starter for more than 10 games is rough.
    It’s hard to prove anything if you can’t get your best players on the floor.
    We’re seeing the ugly side of building without a superstar.  Injuries can wreck any team, but it hurts more when you don’t have a Kobe or LeBron or Howard to keep the ship afloat.

  • Feb 9, 201011:40 pm
    by Alex


    His blog was just another example of kicking the Pistons when they are down.  ESPN analysts simply make it a point to give the Pistons and Detroit negative press.  Anyone that really follows the game can point out the flaws in this blog just as Feldman does.  But to the casual NBA fan reading this on ESPN, they get another reason to look down at the Pistons organization.  It’s a shame.  They always bring up selecting Darko too.  Except when they bring it up, they mention how dumb of a pick Dumars made but neglect to mention he was number two on everyone else’s draft board.  When the Pistons were winning all those years, they were ridiculed if they lost, and sometimes bashed even more when they won because they were “expected” to win but didn’t win by enough.  A few weeks back, the Pistons were playing in one of three games that night and pulled out the victory.  The results of the other two games were put under the headling articles section but no mention of Detroit.  Two nights later the Pistons lose on a day when 11 games were played and they were listed as the second story.  Why?  To simply highlight that the Pistons are losing.

  • Feb 10, 20101:51 am
    by The Rake


    I think both John and Dan have valid points, but as we sit here today, I would have to side with Mr. Hollinger.  The FA signings in particular have been bad, CV31 is awful, while BG has been bad luck.  The trade of Billups haunts the Pistons and that is a simple fact.  For Dan to suggest that we couldnt have had the same CB hat Denver has is ridiculous and speculative. As far as I could tell, he was the best Piston when he was here, and is the key Nugget now, (most would say Melo is the best, but alas, where was he without Chauncey?)  Pistons are an absolute mess, and I wouldnt call there roster young talent, more young unknowns and some decent players (like Stuckey and BG).  No stars to be found.  Too bad, but there run sure was fun.

  • Feb 10, 20102:27 am
    by Marcus Taylor


    Both of you make good points, but I do believe things can turn out positively simply by trading away Tay and Rip. The rest of the team is built to run and use dribble penetration by Stuckey and kickouts to what could be an impressive group of shooters once everyone gets used to playing with one another so the roles will be defined. A lot of fans want Maxiell traded, and he is a very good role player that brings some of the same qualities as Big Ben. The only person I thought was a mistake was CV. He just always seemed soft to me, even at UConn. Daye and Summers are unknown, but I love Jerebko. Top 5 PF in 5 yrs. Get a shot blocking, rebounding young center via trade or the draft, and playoff are a realistic goal next year.

  • Feb 10, 20101:32 pm
    by dan j


    Joe D has not done that poor of a job.  He has a team that has too many players at the same position. Stuckey is a shooting guard not a point. I think Charlie V. could do better as a SF. So you get rid of a SF/SG and get a C and  a true PG thru trades and the draft and the Pistons are alright.

  • [...] series with Kings … Kings allow 105.9 ppg … Prince not on US National team … John Hollinger takes liberties on Joe D [...]

  • Feb 10, 20107:48 pm
    by Ponyboy


    Hollinger’s writing style is overrated.  If he hasn’t backpedaled his fair share of times it’s only because he refuses to admit he was wrong.  This is just another example.

  • Feb 11, 201011:45 am
    by pistons life


    Look i could fix the pistons myself not that hard, first i commend Joe D for all that he has done for our great city of Detroit, but I think some stupidity has run off on him.First off Joe D if you such a good talent judge what the hell is Kwame Brown still in the Nba. look Dumars i could hoop better than that 7 foot waste of space. Kwame is the worst player to ever put on an nba uniform and i cant even cheer for the pistons when they have him on the team. and he has the nerve to complain about PT  “You Suck Bro’ retire” anyways. trade hmm let see i would grab T-mac so fast he would have been playing already and maybe we could be a .500 team and he has 22 million dollars comming of the books come on man its a business right idk any smart businessmen that would jump at that idea. last thing we need to start Maxiell he been on are team longer than most palyers and has the most potential out of any big we have why is he not getting 30 min a night just the dumbmest move i have ever seen maybe its the coach. hmmm Plip Saunders Was the man and we lost him what a joke. seems like ever business in detroit is just doomed because people do not think at alllllllll.  MICHIGAN DESERVES BETTER PEOPLE OPEN YOUR EYES

  • Mar 24, 20109:43 pm
    by sebastien3k


    john hollinger is a clown.. i couldnt take anymore of his hooplah..
    lots of rofl’ing ensues..

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