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Drew Sharp: Karen Davidson nixed deals for Carlos Boozer, Avery Johnson

A couple of interesting hindsight notes were in Drew Sharp’s column this weekend regarding moves that Joe Dumars was close to making only to get overruled by the cost-conscious Karen Davidson.

One of those notes I’ve heard before: that Dumars had a deal in place that would’ve sent Rip Hamilton to Utah for Carlos Boozer:

Rip Hamilton wasn’t supposed to remain a Piston following the free-agent acquisitions of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon two summers ago. It’s long believed he was ticketed to Utah in a trade that would have brought Carlos Boozer to Detroit.

But again, Davidson interceded. The deal stalled, leaving the Pistons with an abundance of shooting guards. Even worse, it created the perception that there was no organizational plan, only a willingness to throw anything against the wall in the hope that something might stick.

Now, I’m personally a much bigger fan of contract year Carlos Boozer than regular Carlos Boozer, but no one would argue against his being a major upgrade who likely would’ve had the Pistons in the playoffs the last two seasons if that deal had gone through.

The other note referenced hiring a coach to replace Michael Curry. That coach was apparently supposed to be Avery Johnson.

The Pistons thought they had a tentative deal with Avery Johnson two years ago, but Davidson nixed the deal because she was hesitant about paying a new coach perhaps as much as $4 million annually while still paying off Flip Saunders’ contract and Michael Curry’s parting gift after one season as coach.

Again, I’m not the hugest Avery Johnson fan, but had he been the coach and not Kuester, the organization probably would have at the very least avoided some of the publicly embarrassing displays of player-coach feuds the last two seasons.

There are sure to be people who question the decision to retain Dumars. But if the two above scenarios are correct, and Dumars not only planned to have Boozer and Johnson in the mix, but had agreed to deals to get both, that certainly changes the impression of the job he’s done the last two years some. Gores would be privy to that information, I’m sure, by talking to both Dumars and Davidson, and perhaps he believes that once the sale is approved by the league, Dumars will be able to immediately make a move or two that will improve the team’s prospects.


  • Apr 10, 20111:12 pm
    by Jason


    Look I am so close to telling every detroit writer including yourself its time to admit you guys have been wrong.  You guys have been wrong just by even doubting Dumars.  lol

    But instead lets look at the bright side.  We have Monroe and will have something good in whatever we get out of the 2011 draft. 

    Avery Johnson sucks!

    • Apr 10, 20111:46 pm
      by Patrick Hayes



      That’s a silly comment. I suspect my response will be lost on you, but here’s the response anyway:

      Things that it is fair to blame Joe Dumars for: signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to huge contracts right as free agency opened before any market had been established for either guy; giving away a good, cheap young guard in Afflalo to get more cap space to sign Vilanueva/Gordon; signing Rip Hamilton to a really expensive extension; hiring an unprepared Michael Curry to coach a team that, at the time, was still a title contender before the Billups trade went down; drafting Austin Daye and DaJuan Summers when better players were on the board at both spots.

      Things that are not fair to blame Joe Dumars for: standing pat and not making trades over the last two seasons – as we’ve seen, the ownership situation made that extremely difficult.

      I’ve never once written Dumars should be fired. In fact, I’ve written fairly frequently over the last two years that I’d like to see Dumars get a shot to finish what he started under a new owner. So for you to say you want to direct an ‘I told you so’ at me, all that shows is that you clearly haven’t read/understood/paid attention to much of of what I’ve written over the last two seasons. That’s totally fine, I’m OK with people not reading my stuff. But if you’re going to be critical, at least have your criticisms of me based in facts.

      That being said, it’s ridiculous for anyone to suggest that Dumars hasn’t made some poor decisions during his tenure as GM. I don’t think he’s done enough to be fired for those decisions, but he has to accept blame for them nonetheless, and they absolutely do put him on thinner ice when it comes to turning this team around quickly.

      • Apr 10, 20112:23 pm
        by Jason


        Why do you relax and go compare Hamilton contract with others at his position.  Your the one with the damn website.  You should be able to back-up claim that he is overpaid.  Cause when i take a look if you say he is overpaid then there more than a dozen shooting guards overpaid. 

        Gordon hasnt been able to show you what he is capable of and Charlie V spreads the offense out more than anyone.  But I would assume your not that smart.  Plus he was the most requested person on the team for trades per Dumars.


        Yes Dumars has had trouble with coaches but Davidson was the one who fired Brown not him.

        Dumars is not god but does not deserve your unintelligent critism.  Even though your website is very up to date.

        • Apr 10, 20112:47 pm
          by Tim Thielke


          I’m sure you are right that there are at least a dozen overpaid shooting guards. At a very conservative estimate, every team in the league has 2 of them. That gives 60 SGs all told. The 12 of those that produce the least relative to their contract are almost overpaid by definition. However, I challenge you to name me 5 that are more overpaid than Hamilton. I don’t think anyone is hands down unless you count Arenas as an SG. But fair arguments could be made for Joe Johnson. Vince Carter, and Ben Gordon. I’m sure Hayes could back up the claim that Rip is overpaid, but by now, that is such a well-known fact, people don’t think to back it up. It would be like if I said that Pau Gasol is better than Brad Miller but didn’t back that up.
          Furthermore, you are right that Afflalo wouldn’t fit with the logjam of wings on this team. But people complain about his trade because it was done to make space for signing Gordon, who has played worse than Afflalo. So if he wasn’t traded, maybe Gordon wouldn’t have been signed, and there would be room on the roster for Afflalo. Plus cap space that could have been used in pursuit of David Lee or to get freebies by helping other teams clear space for the 2010 bonanza.
          Finally, Charlie might spread out the offense, but he doesn’t make it any better most nights, And he doesn’t contribute most nights on the other end either. Heck, we could keep playing Daye at the 4 for similar results.

          • Apr 11, 201112:46 pm
            by Jason

            Maybe when I get time I will write you an article with analysis of Hamilton’s contract.   Which would compare his salary to others and show how he is a verteran, scorer, decent at defense, and just a flat out winner. 

            Do you realize you are trying to make a point about something that in reality is not how Dumars planned to have this team.  This is exactly my damn point with comments like yours. 


            Also Charlie V actually was switched to guard Lopez against the Nets and did a good job when everyone else was getting schooled.

        • Apr 10, 20119:50 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          Jason, I’m not going to keep replying to you after this. You clearly aren’t interested in a discussion.

          First of all, you didn’t address my main point: You insinuated that I had been writing that Dumars deserved to be fired, which I never did. Please explain why you drew that conclusion from anything I’ve ever written here.

          Some points:

          - Hamilton or Gordon individually certainly wouldn’t be the worst shooting guard contract in the NBA. There are plenty of bad ones. But when you collectively invest nearly $25 million per season in the SG position and neither guy is a franchise player, even if both are better than they’ve shown this season, it’s clearly a mistake. Now, I think Dumars assumed he’d be able to trade Hamilton. That’s a fair point to bring up. But it’s still a major risk on his part to sign both players first, then assume a trade will happen later. That’s his fault. Doesn’t mean I think he didn’t have a plan, I’m sure he did. But he’s still responsible for both of those moves, and they’ve crippled the team financially and on the court.

          - I never said Villanueva’s contract is bad. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. There are teams who would certainly want Villanueva. I understand this, and I’ve written it quite a few times on this site.

          - Afflalo might be the fourth string shooting guard. But that’s only because the team traded him to sign Ben Gordon. If they’d kept Afflalo and never signed Gordon, they’d be in much better shape right now. First, Afflalo is still on his rookie contract, so the team would have a lot more financial flexibility than it does with Gordon locked in at $12 million a year. Secondly, Afflalo has been damn good in Denver. He plays defense. He’s been among the league leaders in 3-point shooting the last two years. He’s a starter on a playoff team.

          I’m glad you find this website so “up to date.” But if we provided unintelligent commentary here, we wouldn’t have people reading everyday. Dan and I both don’t hide our opinions, but we also both make attempts to back them up with relevant date. I’ve never read one thing you’ve written in comments here that has been backed up intelligently.

          • Apr 11, 201112:47 pm
            by Jason

            Denver has pretty good with Aflalo in the lineup lately.  Just saying!

      • Apr 10, 20112:24 pm
        by Jason


        I meant “why dont you relax and….”

  • Apr 10, 20111:15 pm
    by Jason


    Let me re post on that.

    It was way to early for Detroit to start moaning and bitchin on this team.  Way to early.  The ones who have not can stand proud.

  • Apr 10, 20111:32 pm
    by Brady


    You would be foolish to think that Dumars chose to let this team simmer these last two years rather than try to make a move. He’s not a dumb guy, and he knows how to improve his team. The fact that Davidson axed both these moves, I think, gives all the anti-Dumars people reason to reconsider. Not that those moves would have made the Pistons a championship team, but god knows they were part of an actual plan to get them back.

  • Apr 10, 20111:49 pm
    by DannyB


    Even though this is just speculation on Sharp’s part – you do have to kind of believe that Joe would not have hamstrung the team this badly at the SG/SF positions if he would’ve known he couldn’t trade Rip for Booz.
    That being said, he still extended Rip to the ridiculous extension.
    Now that the shackles are off, so to speak, you give Dumars one more coach to make things right before making a change.

  • Apr 10, 20113:09 pm
    by jayg108


    Not sure if this was cleared up……
    I know it wasn’t a sign and trade, but did Dumars sign Rip to that contract thinking that he was getting Boozer?    if so, then I can understand the big contract was kind of like severance pay for Rip.

    • Apr 10, 20113:12 pm
      by jayg108


      Nevermind, I think I now remember that the trade rumors were a year after the contract was inked

  • Apr 10, 20115:14 pm
    by rick


    My take on the Boozer deal is that Joe should not have signed Gordon first, before the deal Rip-Boozer deal was guaranteed and finalized. It wasnt Karen fault that he signed Gordon. And tbh, why would Karen nix a deal for Boozer that would’ve saved her a whole lot of money? I’m not sure I buy that. Rip had 4 yrs remaining on his deal that summer, and Boozer was an expiring contract.

    I could see if it was the other way around - Karen nixing a deal that would’ve traded an expiring contract for a player with 4 years left, and added $40 mil in salary.

    But why would she turn down an opportunity to save $40 mil?

    Somethig is fishy about that theory, imo.

    • Apr 10, 20115:47 pm
      by Tim Thielke


      because boozer would naturally have been extended and its hard to say what other parts may have moved in such a deal.

    • Apr 10, 20115:56 pm
      by joejoejoe


      Bingo. If you look at the dates and contracts involved…
      11/08 – Rip signs extension
      3/09 – Bill Davidson dies
      6/30/09 – Boozer signs player option
      7/8/09 – Dumars signs Ben Gordon and Charlie V
      7/17/09 – Jazz match Blazers offer sheet to Milsap
      …this story makes no sense. Dumars should have never signed Gordon and Charlie V on the first day of free agency before the market price was set and he really never should have done it if he had a simultaneous deal of two all-stars with an extension in the hopper.
      If Dumars wanted two PFs and one shooting guard going into the 09-10 season, the easy move is keep Hamilton and sign two PFs. Giving McDyess a two year deal at Ben Gordon’s pay makes more sense than signing Ben Gordon and THEN trying to deal Rip.
      The roster composition for the last two years is on Joe Dumars, full stop. If he wants 100% control, then buy a team. Phoenix has constraints under Sarver, OKC is well under the cap, Houston has had to deal with Yao’s injuries. Dumars had constraints under Bill Davidson too.
      I see excuses in this article, not reality.

      • Apr 10, 20116:22 pm
        by jayg108


        joejoejoe doing the due diligence

      • Apr 11, 20116:09 pm
        by Tim


        Signing McDyess at Gordon’s pay? Really?! I like McDyess and all, but that would have been a horrible deal. McDyess was an MLE sort of player, not a $10M player. Gordon was certainly worth a heck of a lot more at the time.
        But yeah, the Gordon and Villanueva signings were bad, especially so soon. Unless you are going after top tier players, you wait a bit for prices to come down.

  • Apr 10, 20115:37 pm
    by joejoejoe


    Veto or not, it was a dumb move to sign Ben Gordon before moving Rip Hamilton. Every other NBA then knows you have a logjam at SG and is going to use that knowledge to make Detroit pay a steeper price to make a deal.

    • Apr 10, 20119:53 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      I don’t think anyone’s denying that it was a dumb move. It was a terrible gamble to take given the instability of the team after Davidson’s death. But if he legitimately thought he had a deal in place that ownership nixed after the fact, it changes the perception some. Still a dumb move, but at least it provides some context as to what his actual vision was when he made all of those bad signings at once.

  • Apr 11, 20115:27 am
    by Jakob Eich


    If this is true, then Joe Dumars really took a huge gamble. We don’t know though how often he talked to Utah or other teams if they were willing to take on Rip. Maybe several teams said they would trade for him and give up a certain player Joe Dumars wanted. The signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were obviously a mistake. I think signing one of them would have sufficed, instead he signed both of them and created a lotf finanical problems for the team. I also don’t think Davidson was too concerned about the 4 years on Rips contract. She knew she wouldn’t own the team for four years, she wanted to sell. Neither one of us expected the sale to take so long, including her. She was concerned with the season and the next ahead and what she would have to pay.
    Quite honestly, I don’t think this team is as bad as most people think. We haven’t had a good coach in three years. That is Joe D’s fault obviously, but he tried to give a young coach a shot at coaching a young team. You think it would be easy to get an elite coach to work with this roster. This isn’t exactly a team most people long to work with all of their lives. If Davidson nixed an Avery Johnson deal, oh well, I don’t think we could have gotten a better coach. The Pistons improved their record slightly this year!!! Think about all the problems the team and the fans had to endure during the season! We still improved! A couple roster tweaks and a good coach could get us back into playoffs. If Rip continues to play at the current level I strongly believe there’s still a market for him somewhere out there.
    My biggest wish as a Detroit coach would be Rick Adelman. I heard Houston wants to let him go and him working with Stuckey and Monroe (Adelman’s prototype big man with his high-post passing ability) would get us at least a .500 record. Coaches are supposed to get the most out of their rosters and Adelman has been very good at taking rosters and make them overachieve. Unfortunately he still has a job, but there’s a rumor at least. Other than that, there are quite a few good coaches out there we could hire.

  • Apr 11, 201110:41 am
    by Ken


    I live in the Houston area now after leaving my home state of Michigan, and I think that Adleman would be a huge asset to the Pistons. He seems to get more out of less with the Houston Rockets teams he’s coached, since Yao has been injured most of the time he’s coached the Rockets, to say the least of T-Mac when he was down here.

  • Apr 11, 20117:06 pm
    by tim


    wow, Jason.  Coming in with passive aggressive insults and the writing style of a 2nd grader.  I look forward to your in-depth analysis about hamiltons contract.
    While I agree that the timing doesnt really fit with this premise, its pretty clear that K. Davidson has not been a positive factor in the organization.  All of the pistons front office/ownership lay claim to some responsibility for this current flustercuck that is the pistons.  But no one deserves more blame than the players themselves.

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