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My mea culpa for Friday’s Joe Dumars post

Before posting Friday about Joe Dumars’ seemingly conflicting statements on the Pistons’ trade possibilities, I listened to each audio clip several times, trying to consider another way he could have meant what he said. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fine one, and I posted some regrettable things, notably questioning Dumars’ trustworthiness.

I’ve been wrong with other things here, but this is my biggest foot-in-the-mouth moment.

I still think there’s a good chance Dumars misrepresented the state of negotiations in order to appease fans, but I don’t know that. Because of I don’t know his intent, I went way, way too far in my criticism.

I still think listening to the audio of both interviews, the tone was extremely different.

When Matt Dery asked whether a deal was close, Dumars brought up negotiations with two teams and, I inferred they were promising because the GM said he’d take the offer to his owner and coach. Justin Rogers had a similar interpretation, saying Dumars’ comments “gave fans a reason to remain hopeful.”

When Keith Langlois asked Dumars whether there is anything, Dumars quickly and succinctly said no. Unfortunately, the audio on Pistons.com has been taken down, but I invite anyone who heard the audio on before it was taken down to comment with their interpretation.

I think hearing the quotes makes my point stronger, and I said as much immediately after posting.

But that doesn’t make my main point, that Dumars had deliberately misled fans to appease them, OK. There are too many variables – what Dumars meant in his statement to Dery, what Langlois meant with with his final question, how Dumars interpreted Langlois’ final question – for me to know for certain.

I think we can all agree Dumars meant no trade is imminent, and that’s disappointing. But anything other than that, I’ll leave to your own interpretation.

I’m sorry, Joe.

18 Comments

  • Dec 19, 20101:58 pm
    by aaron

    Reply

    Nah, you were right to your opinion.  It’s a blog after all, your opinion is implied.

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  • Dec 19, 20102:21 pm
    by Matt

    Reply

    This is perhaps a bit off topic, but I wonder what everyone takes away from the Orlando trade relative to Dumars’s efficacy. A straight trade of Hamilton and Prince for Gortat and Carter works out salary wise and partly addresses our frontcourt needs while finally breaking with the past. We could then field a team of Stuckey, Carter, McGrady, Gortat and Big Ben (or maybe Monroe) to start and have Gordon, CV, Monroe (or Big Ben) and Daye off the bench. Seems like a shake up with promise. No idea how that would work for Orlando. Nor whether could’ve worked to trade for Gortat and Lewis instead of Carter.

  • Dec 19, 20102:38 pm
    by Matt

    Reply

    Just to quickly follow up with more on this, this from Adande’s assessment of the Magic trade really sticks in my craw:
    “The Phoenix Suns got the size they desperately needed by adding Gortat, plus payroll relief in Carter’s short-term contract, while sending the productive-but-expensive Richardson and high-cost, low-result Turkoglu to Orlando. The Washington Wizards have one less year of a big contract obligation and 3 3/4 less years of Gilbert Arenas. Wizards staffers were saying things like, “It changes the culture of our team and our locker room,” and, “We’ve got to get away from the past.”
    The Pistons may not have Gilbert Arenas grade locker room problems, but it seems other GMs right now are finding ways to address similar needs as ours without breaking the bank. What’s preventing Dumars from making similar moves?

  • Dec 19, 20102:38 pm
    by Dave Dial

    Reply

    I’m sick of the continuous propaganda floating out of the Palace. Whether it’s Joe D or not, he’s responsible.
    Joe has had a couple years now to make trades to try and get the Pistons started in rebuilding. And I have been more than willing to give him time to do so. But it’s been more than 2 years since the Billups trade, and this will now be the third season in a row the Pistons have a team that is not competitive.
    It’s too bad Mr. D’s wishes were not honored, but I sure hope the sale is sooner rather than later. The Pistons need new direction.

  • Dec 19, 20103:42 pm
    by jk281

    Reply

    You were right the first time. I heard both audio clips, with Dery, and then part 3 with Keith, before they took it down, and the whole thing smells real bad.

    I’ve long felt all those interviews with Joe’s “buddies” like Keithe and Matt were all smoke and mirrors. It wouldn’t surprise me if that last part was including on purpose, just to calm down fans thinking that a trade is coming, and take the heat off Joe to come up with a deal, when he really had nothing on the table at all.

    Just more lies and deceit from the Pistons. First, that report of Karen cooking the books, now fake interviews with Joe talking about made up trades.

    This team is a mess.

  • Dec 19, 20106:25 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    @feldman: i think you’ve over-thought this and tricked yourself into second-guessing a logical first impression. i thought you were more than fair, and the spirit i got from your interpretation was nothing to apologize for. there are enough toothless journalists in this town for someone i respect to make an apology like this that’s more strongly-worded than the initial, well-founded accusation.
     
    there’s just one way i can interpret this phantom clip (anyone have it? i’d love to hear it, but i got the gist): dumars was expressing frustration with matt dery for asking a question like that and putting dumars in an uncomfortable position. dumars gave his usual line of bullsh*t about vague discussions amounting to nothing, making them sound like a lot more than they really were. he’s all, “look, matt, you know there’s no trades going on here, and you’re putting me in an awkward position.” i might give joe the benefit of the doubt if the end of that exchange wasn’t so final. dery, langlois and dumars are all in the know. they don’t have to spell everything out for each other, so langlois got where joe was going, and it was that joe felt dery put him in an awkward spot. plus the finality of keith, then he’s reading between the lines as joe hems and haws, saying “so there’s nothing?” and the response, “no. there’s nothing.” it doesn’t get any more definite than NOTHING. not too many ways to interpret that.
     
    there are enough rotten journalists in this town. don’t back down from a solid hunch and apologize when you gave him more benefit of the doubt than he deserved in the first place.

  • Dec 19, 20107:54 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Laser:

    I won’t speak for Dan too much, but I don’t think he’s apologizing at all for posting the transcription of the audio. I think he’s saying as someone not privy to the conversation, he shouldn’t have interjected so strongly suggesting what the meaning was.

    As for the audio, I think it speaks for itself. I certainly understand why the team took it down and why they are going to play, “nothing to see here.” I work in P.R. now. I get it. Big organizations, for whatever reason, just hate to fess up to things like posting poorly edited audio before it was ready to go live. Instead, they prefer to just take it down and pretend it never happened.

    And your analysis of the Dery situation is dead-on. I didn’t read Dumars’ text and immediately think he was trying to deceive fans. But I did immediately read it and think Dumars was pissed at Dery for having the audacity to ask a valid question.

    I respect Dan softening his original strong stance. I also applaud him for posting the audio/transcription and for comparing it to what Dumars said just a couple days earlier. It was valid to compare those stances, even if the second soundbite was never meant for public consumption. It got out there regardless of how it was intended to be used, and it’s fair to question the meaning of it. Reporting unflattering stuff isn’t always popular, but putting it out there was the right thing to do in this case.

  • Dec 20, 20103:27 am
    by Laser

    Reply

    glad we’re on the same page with the dery issue, since it’s something i had to put together without having heard the actual audio. i consider myself a pretty intuitive guy, and that’s the only interpretation i could imagine. that said, joe could have said: “i’m in constant contact with the league, but we have nothing imminent.” so i’m 100% behind feldman’s initial post, and i wish he never second-guessed anything. dumars was deliberately misleading, and feldman’s initial thought were perfectly justified. this is an opinion blog, after all.

  • Dec 20, 20103:43 am
    by Laser

    Reply

    one more thing: when dumars answered langlois, he said: “i talked to matt afterwards, and i said, ‘matt, you’ve got everyone asking me if a trade is imminent…’” which is complete bullshit and unfair to dery. i don’t know the exact wording of dery’s question, but i’m certain it didn’t force joe to be intentionally deceptive. this is on joe, not dery. no matter how you slice it.
     
    and the fact that he even took dery aside and complained implies dery did something “wrong” and is probably very telling about how our trade prospects really look. and it’s not good. so “not good” that it wouldn’t take a great leap to assume that the chances are absolutely non-existent and everybody close to the organization knows it. why else would a question about trade possibilities, which are on absolutely everyone’s mind, be “off-limits?”
     
    i have a second theory that the audio was intentionally leaked so people would leave joe alone about trades. get the word out that no trades are on the way and then make the clip go away quietly. it’s just too weird that after an interview ends, keith langlois keeps the tape going while asking a single “background” question in a similar Q & A style… then it’s edited improperly and posted. i think we can rule out “oversight,” so that leaves just “sabotage” and “intentional leak.”

  • Dec 20, 20108:31 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Laser:
    Judging by Pistons.com having the absolute least search engine friendly headlines of any site I’ve ever read (Some examples: “Big weekend looming” or “Signature win” or “Stunned silence”), I think it’s just as likely that whoever is in charge of getting content online isn’t that attentive. I’ve worked with a lot  of veteran print journalists and, god bless them, it wouldn’t shock me if any of them poorly edited an audio file and posted it online, so although the conspiracy theory is fun, I’m inclined to believe it was more sloppiness than a concerted effort to carry out what you suggest.
    And as you say, at least Dan posted something, regardless of whether he went too strong or not. To me, it’s a legit story that no other outlet wrote about.

  • Dec 20, 20108:36 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    And as for Dery, I have no idea why Dumars was upset at the question. But, since it was on the Pistons’ show, and Dery is not really a “journalist” in his role in that interview, maybe it’s possible that asking about trades is a no-no and Dumars was put on the spot?
    I have no idea. That’s pure speculation on my part. But I do know that NBA players and execs rarely go on the radio or TV to do interviews without okaying what questions are and are not off limits.
    That would explain why Dumars may have been miffed at being asked the question, but it doesn’t explain why he gave such a strong answer to it on the radio. Him just saying, “I’m talking to teams every day,” is honest and it doesn’t doesn’t lead fans to believe anything is necessarily brewing, the way saying, “Two guys just told me they have to go talk to their owners and see if that will work.” That makes it seem like something is on the verge of happening or at least has the potential to happen.

  • Dec 20, 20109:12 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Aaron, we don’t hold ourselves to different standards because of our medium. I said things too strongly for not knowing for certain whether my opinion was valid.

  • Dec 20, 20109:18 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Matt, after the trades, I e-mailed Patrick about why the Pistons didn’t make a similar trade to your suggestion. For one, the Magic’s system is predicated on 3-point shooting, an area where Arenas and Richardson outshine Hamilton Prince. Plus, as Patrick pointed out, the Magic want stars. Arenas and Richardson are stars. Hamilton and Prince aren’t.

  • Dec 20, 20109:20 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Dave, to be fair, it took a couple years to learn the Billups trade wouldn’t jumpstart the new era like Dumars hoped.

  • Dec 20, 20109:21 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    JK, Laser, there is no way that was intentional. None at all.

  • Dec 20, 20109:26 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Laser, I interpreted the audio the exact same way you did. And I still believe that’s the correct interpretation. But I think there’s room for error.

    Langlois asked, “So there’s nothing?” Nothing what? “Nothing in the pipeline” would mean we’re correct. But what if it’s “nothing imminent”? That would give Dumars leeway for answering different questions. Remember, Dery’s question was about being “close.” I think there’s a substantial difference between “close” and “imminent.”

    Like I said, I still think I’m write. But without knowing what Langlois meant and how Dumars took the question, my accusations went too far.

  • Dec 20, 20102:14 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    1) it’s an opinion blog. i’ll admit some people assume you’ve got more inside information than you really do, but i don’t think PistonPowered misrepresents itself in the slightest. i’m more interested in your opinions than in wishy-washy retractions of same, and when you and i have strong opinions on a matter that’s in precise alignment, i bet 99 times out out of 100 we’re right.
     
    2) interpreting this one comes down to reading between the lines. it’s something we have to do with incomplete information, AND it’s something dery, langlois and dumars did on record, because they’re all basically on the same page. we’re just plain right on this one.
     
    these three guys know that there are no serious trade discussions going on. joe deliberately misrepresented this on air. end of story.

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