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Joe Dumars’ season-wrap-up press conference leaves too many questions unanswered – and unasked

I was listening to the audio of Tuesday’s Joe Dumars press conference (hat tip: Packey of Detroit Bad Boys), and I was fairly impressed with Joe Dumars’ candor.

Of course, he dodged some questions. Anyone in his position would. When someone directly called Charlie Villanueva soft, Dumars said it’s not just about Villanueva. When asked about trading for the 76ers’ No. 2 pick and Elton Brand, Dumars didn’t tamper. And the whole press conference was filled with clichés about toughness and grit.

But he provided a lot more depth in his answers than most general managers do.

Still, I was very disappointed in what was revealed at the press conference – and given Dumars’ relative openness, it’s because the question-askers failed to get better information. So many times, they didn’t ask follow-up questions that needed to be asked.

Maybe Dumars wouldn’t have answered, but you (usually) don’t know until you ask the question. Here’s what I wish the assembled media had asked (and I’m just limiting these to relevant follow-up questions, not topics they missed addressing completely).

Who are Dumars’ bosses now?

At one point, Dumars addressed the ownership situation. And although, “You make it work,” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, there was no way Dumars was going to throw Karen Davidson or any of her underlings under the bus here.

But somebody asked whether Dumars needed permission to sign players or make other moves now. Dumars said he always had to go through somebody, noting it was Bill Davidson before. It’s just a different group now.

How did nobody ask whom he answers to now?

With limited flexibility under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, how do the Pistons move forward?

Dumars spent a lot of time talking about “the profile” of the type of player he wants. He threw out key words like “grit” and “toughness.” When pressed about who on the team now fits that profile and who doesn’t, Dumars said he would spending the offseason evaluating not only which players fit it, but which could fit it.

But given the Pistons owe a some players a lot of money, it’s not that simple.

What does Dumars do if he identifies a player on the team who doesn’t fit that profile, but that player makes so much money, he can’t easily be traded?

Did this season alter the Pistons’ plan?

All the talk about grit and toughness doesn’t sound anything like the talk last year’s buzz about stretching the floor and scoring from all five positions.

Obviously, you’d love to have both. But you know what you call a player has toughness and grit and can score like crazy? A superstar. None of those are walking through the door.

So, had this season made Dumars rethink (or, I’d argue revert back to his previous) priorities, or are these just different circumstance for a different team with different needs than last summer?

Does Dumars have the right goal?

Dumars talked about always trying to win right now. In fact, he almost sounded like he was bragging that he has never discussed a five-year plan.

But can that lead to decisions that, although designed help the team in the short run, hinder it in the long run? (Any guesses what I’m alluding to?)

What position will Rodney Stuckey play going forward?

When asked to evaluate Stuckey, Dumars made a point to emphasize Stuckey’s success at shooting guard this season. Was Dumars saying he sees Stuckey as more of an off guard than a point guard?

Dumars later says he doesn’t look at backcourts in terms of having a point guard and a shooting guard. He looks for two players who can play well together. So, if he used that line to dodge the question, ask, “For a player who you think would be ideal next to Stuckey, would other teams consider him a point guard or a shooting guard?”

Does Dumars know how to build a team in the new NBA?

Dumars talked about how the game isn’t as physical as it used to be, so he wants players who can get to the free-throw line.

Why bring it up in an offense-first way? If the game isn’t as physical, isn’t it easier to get to the line? What about getting players who can defend without fouling? Isn’t that a more valuable skill in the new NBA?


I finished the audio shaking my head and without nearly enough answers.

It’s not like I think Dumars is doing a terrible job. I’ve defended Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, and I’ve been in favor of a one-year plan.

But Dumars needs to answer for his decisions. He put himself in front of a room of reports to do that.

It’s a shame he wasn’t asked to.


  • May 27, 20107:57 pm
    by jay wierenga


    Excellent evaluation.  I didnt have a chance to hear the audio, but upon review you really nailed it.  The Pistons beat writers have always seemed a little timid in the face of dumars; too bad they couldnt get some of that grit that dumars talks about or that the lions beat writers seem to exude.
    That being said, I think Dumars had the same reaction to last year’s squad that most of us had-disgust. I think he rightfully sees this latest version of the ‘stons as a betrayal of true deetroit basketballll.
    sure, the game has changed.  but i am watching a boston squad that looks an awful lot like detroit did defensively, and they seem to be doing just fine.

    • Jun 1, 20102:26 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      It’s really tough to gauge what Dumars is thinking. This team goes against a lot of what he says he believes. Is there a method to this madness, has he changed his mind, or does he just see things a lot differently than the rest of us?

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  • May 28, 20109:58 am
    by Larry


    These were great points, especially about the one year plan.  Considering that last year’s theme was all about scoring and this year’s theme was all about “grit”; Joe is giving the impressing that he is reacting rather than planning.  I wish he had been questioned about this.

    • Jun 1, 20102:27 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Hopefully, he develops his plan based on this reaction, not last year’s.

  • May 28, 201012:07 pm
    by David


    Dumars knows how to run a great system. for the past ten years he has put up 50+ wins in each season except for the last two. I also think that trading for elton brand with the number two pick would be a great trade. I would trade rip hamilton and tayshaun. We have ben gordon, we have austin daye, and the secondpick would have us get evan turner to put at small forward or john wall to put at gaurd, and have stuckey at 2

    • Jun 1, 20102:29 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Yes, Dumars usually knows what he’s doing. But he’s obviously far from perfect, and he should be questioned.

      Also, I don’t think Philadelphia would take Prince and Hamilton. That would defeat some of the point of shedding Brand’s contract.

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