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For better or worse, Rodney Stuckey and Joe Dumars will forever be linked

It’s impossible to do #JoeDumarsWeek without looking at the relationship between Dumars and Rodney Stuckey, the young player teeming with so much potential that Dumars moved quickly to open a spot for Stuckey to get major minutes early in his career. Dan and I decided to put a Dumars-Stuckey post on the list for this week, but there was only one slight problem: I’d already written so much on the topic in my book, Piston Devotion, that there isn’t much new ground to cover that I haven’t already written about. So instead, we are going to run the Dumars-Stuckey chapter from the book, slightly updated. And, if you like the type of longer form posts we’ve done this week and would like to read more stuff in a similar format, and if I’ve never insulted you in the comments, you can purchase the book here or in Kindle form through Amazon here. And I was kidding … you can totally still buy it even if I’ve insulted you in the comments. If nothing else, it will give you more fodder to hate my writing. So here’s my slightly tweaked take on the long, strange Stuckey-Dumars journey. — P.H.

The transition from NBA star to successful personnel evaluator is often a difficult one.

The list of stars who had sustained excellence in an executive role is an easy one: Jerry West. The list of star players who struggled as execs includes some of the greatest players of all time: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird (although Bird finally seems to be getting things right in Indiana), Elgin Baylor, Isiah Thomas.

Those former players all had something in common: they had a ‘guy.’ The former-star-as-exec assuredly will bring the same ego to the job that made him a successful player, and one thing this ego consistently pushes them to do in the front office is try and discover some hidden gem — take an obscure player and mold him into a star.

The concept’s origins are simple: we’re a highlight culture. Legacies, we’re taught, aren’t built by the insane amount of hard work star players have to put into becoming great. They are built with ‘moments.’ Michael Jordan isn’t the greatest because he added, throughout his career, a dominant post-game, a long-range jumper, great defense and an unselfishness that allowed him to occasionally defer to lesser teammates in big situations. He’s the greatest because he pushed off on Byron Russell that one time in the Finals and hit a great shot or because he single-handedly kicked the city of Cleveland in the nuts with the shot over Craig Ehlo or because FLU GAME!.

Those moments are great for fans, but the players themselves buy in as well, and often seem to take that approach to their GM job. They’re not going to be great GMs by being patient,  putting in long hours, drafting players who fit their systems well, signing undervalued free agents and making sensible trades. They’re going to become legendary by finding an outlier, being the GM who discovered the hidden talent that everyone else was too negligent to see. I understand why stars-turned-GMs often look for these types of players, but it rarely works out.

Michael Jordan did it when he selected high schooler Kwame Brown No. 1 overall as an executive with the Wizards. Brown, of course, was a failure with Washington and Jordan had no idea what to do with him. Yes, he even tried resorting to homophobic slurs with no success.

Elgin Baylor’s ‘guy’ arrived in 1998 when he picked a late-blooming center named Michael Olowokandi out of tiny Pacific No. 1 overall. Olowokandi was big, strong and athletic, but still new to basketball. Baylor would pick him, teach him the finer points of the game, and in a year or two, he’d have the next great big man. It obviously was a disaster, but because Baylor had an inexplicably long career as a GM, it was far from his only disaster.

Isiah Thomas wanted Eddy Curry so badly as an anchor in his frontcourt with the New York Knicks that Thomas not only signed Curry to a gigantic contract after Curry’s heart condition and allergy to rebounds were both public knowledge, he gave up four draft picks to trade for him. Ironically, those picks ended up being LaMarcus Aldridge, Joakim Noah, Jon Brockman and Kyrylo Fesenko. Thomas’ trade amounted to a pretty good frontcourt rotation for a man who once sat on an aerobic ball and caused it to explode.

Larry Bird’s ‘guy?’ How about Austin Croshere? As a coach with the Pacers, Bird loved Croshere and actually used him pretty effectively. Based on back-to-back seasons watching Croshere average 10 points per game, the Pacers paid him like a star. No subsequent coach got similar production out of him, but Croshere made more than $45 million to average six points per game for his career thanks to Bird.

Joe Dumars was on his way to obliterating the previously low standards for great player-turned-GM early in his career for one simple reason: he never had a ‘guy.’ His Pistons won a championship in 2004, and they did it with his two best players, Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace, making less money combined per year than Antoine Walker, who was an out-of-shape bench player on the Dallas Mavericks in 2004 when the Pistons were champions.

Dumars was a master of the lopsided trade. He acquired an efficient shooting guard in Rip Hamilton who could score nearly 20 points every game without ever having to have the ball in his hands more than a couple seconds per possession for a shooting guard in Jerry Stackhouse who could only score when he had the ball in his hands for about 22 seconds every possession.

He gave up a soon-to-be overpaid energy guy (Jerome Williams) and a never-was big man (Eric Montross) for future Sixth Man of the Year Corliss Williamson.

He convinced Boston to inexplicably take the remaining years and money on Chucky Atkins’ contract (thanks to another player-turned-executive, Danny Ainge), and also give up defensive stopper Mike James for the trouble, in order to free up enough salary to bring Rasheed Wallace on board for something called a Bobby Sura.

The Wallace trade was a shining example of how Dumars did things: always with cost in mind. He didn’t overpay players. He constantly maneuvered so that his team was always below the luxury tax threshold, yet was still able to give deserved raises to core players and keep them in Detroit. If he wanted to trade for someone expensive, like he did with Wallace, he cleared out enough salary to keep the team within his budget parameters.

He didn’t seem to let emotions or attachments get in the way of personnel decisions. When the Chicago Bulls offered significantly more to Ben Wallace as a free agent than Detroit thought he was worth, Dumars wished Wallace well and didn’t make an attempt to up his own offer, despite the fact that Wallace had been the heart and soul of a championship team.

In a word, he was sensible. He had a system and culture in place, he worked within a budget, and he went out every year, lived by those disciplined parameters and wasn’t afraid to make difficult decisions.

The Pistons followed up their championship with a near-miss in the Finals the next year and then three more Eastern Conference Finals appearances until something happened to Dumars. An enchantress named Rodney Stuckey walked into his life, changing Dumars and the course of Pistons history forever.

Infusing youth

When he was first drafted, Stuckey added a needed dimension to the Pistons. Entering the league out of small Eastern Washington University, Stuckey was a strong guard who could handle the ball and loved to attack the basket. And it’s a good thing he loved to attack the basket, since he couldn’t shoot (27 percent from three as a senior at EWU).

As a rookie, though, he was immediately a good pickup because he was an energetic, fast guard who could come off the bench. The organization had watched All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups wear down and struggle to contain quicker guards in two straight postseasons. It was clear that the Pistons needed a talented player who could spell Billups and reduce his minutes during the regular season, and then potentially be used as a situational defensive replacement in the playoffs.

The Pistons had also tried every Maurice Evans-like scrap heap wing who hit the free agent market at their backup two and three spots each year, never having any of the spare parts become consistent rotation contributors. As a combo guard, Stuckey could potentially provide valuable minutes subbing for Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince off the ball.

From the start of his career, Stuckey showed the makings of a great find in the middle of the first round of the NBA Draft for Dumars.

It was in the playoffs that rookie year when Stuckey would have his coming out party, scoring in double figures in six of 17 playoff games off the bench. Of course, he did shoot less than 40 percent in three of those six games.

The real reason the Pistons needed him was for a deep playoff run. When they faced Boston in the Conference Finals in 2007, Stuckey had been through two hard-fought playoff series, he’d shaken the rust off after breaking his wrist in the regular season, and he was ready to help the Pistons finally get back to the Finals. Then, with the series tied 2-2, Stuckey would shoot 4-for-14 in the final two games of the series, both Pistons losses. Meanwhile, Billups, whose supposed playoff flameouts were a constant source of criticism, put up the following stat-lines in those final two games: 26 points/6 assists/5 rebounds and 29 points/6 assists/6 rebounds.

This series was the most heart-breaking of the Flip Saunders era. Before it started, it felt like this would be the last chance the Pistons as constructed would have at a title. That Boston team bullied everyone through the regular season after pulling off trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, they seemed destined to win a title and Detroit was good enough to beat them. They were the only team physical enough to match Boston. They had defenders who could bother Boston’s shooters. They had depth for the first time in three straight playoff appearances, and they still came up short.

This was so frustrating, it led to one of the most candid quotes of Dumars’ always close-to-the-vest era as Pistons team president.

“There are no sacred cows here,” Dumars said. “You lose that sacred-cow status when you lose three straight years.”

The implication, however, was that there was one sacred cow: Stuckey. In fact, Stuckey was so sacred, that just days into the 2008-09 season, Dumars dealt Billups in a trade for Allen Iverson, effectively handing the point guard spot and the future of a team that was one of the top four in the league for six straight years under Billups to a player who didn’t even have a full 82 games on his resumé at the time.

And very clearly, that trade was made first and foremost with Stuckey in mind. Here’s what ESPN’s Chad Ford reported after interviewing Dumars post-trade:

“Dumars believes Stuckey is the point guard of the future in Detroit. Billups has four more years on his contract, and Dumars didn’t want Stuckey playing a sixth man role that long.”

Dumars traded an All-Star, a point guard who at the time was one of the four best point guards in the league, a player who had put down roots in Detroit and was signed to a reasonable (by franchise player standards) contract, to hand the team over to a guy whose career per-36 minute stats at the time were: 14.5 points/4.3 rebounds/5.3 assists/2.6 turnovers and 40 percent shooting. He also was not a perimeter threat, attempting only 16 three-pointers all season and hitting just 19 percent of those. Stuckey was a promising young player with upside then. He was far from a finished product and far from ready to ascend to such an important role on a veteran team that still had serious playoff aspirations.

What did it do in the locker room?

There’s no way things in the Pistons locker room were easy for Stuckey after that trade.

Billups was a beloved teammate, unselfish and the unquestioned team leader. ESPN’s Tom Friend wrote an in-depth profile of Billups upon his trade to Denver where Billups recounted how Hamilton and Prince came to his hotel room after the trade and the three of them just talked and cried together. Is there anyone who legitimately believes that those two, along with Rasheed Wallace, simply just walked back into the Pistons locker room thrilled that their great friend and teammate had been replaced by a kid who’d done nothing to earn his spot except for make a low percentage of high percentage shots?

It wasn’t only the Pistons veterans who experienced just how divine a sacred cow Stuckey was that season. Allen Iverson was technically the biggest ‘star’ the Pistons have ever had, even if he was at the end of his career when he joined the the team. Iverson became the league’s most popular player through the early 2000s. I won’t debate his effectiveness as a player or his personality. Those are different topics. He clearly was a shell of his former self by the time he got to Detroit. But I will categorically say that he’s one of the most culturally significant athletes the NBA has ever had, he’s still, despite all of the legacy-murdering he’s done the last few years, hugely popular and respected among players and when the Pistons acquired him, he was coming off a very good offensive season, statistically at least.

Now, starting Stuckey over Iverson might not have been the immediate plan. Stuckey did go to the bench initially, with Iverson and Hamilton starting. But an injury that caused Hamilton to miss eight games in late December/early January of the 2008-09 season quickly put Stuckey back into the lineup. When Hamilton returned, guess who wasn’t going to the bench? Then-coach Michael Curry elected to bring Hamilton off the bench, a slap in the face to a player who had led the team in scoring every year he’d been in Detroit.

Then Iverson got hurt and had to miss time in February, so Hamilton got his spot back. When Iverson returned, guess who wasn’t going to the bench? Instead of asking Stuckey, the logical choice, to come off the bench, the Pistons elected to tell Iverson, an icon, a former MVP and a sure Hall of Famer, they wanted to bring him off the bench. Iverson, uh, let’s just say declined the opportunity to back up Stuckey, effectively ending his Pistons career.

But we all know Iverson had declined by that point and had not had a good season, right? Stuckey was probably just out-performing him and had won the job, right? They were actually putting up pretty similar (i.e.: not very good) numbers.

Stuckey (per-36 minutes): 15.1 points/5.5 assists/2.5 turnovers/3.9 rebounds/1.1 steals, 43 percent shooting, 104 offensive rating, 110 defensive rating, .073 win shares/48 minutes, 14.8 Player Efficiency Rating (PER).

Iverson (per-36 minutes): 17.2 points/4.8 assists/2.5 turnovers/3.1 rebounds/1.6 steals, 42 percent shooting, 102 offensive rating, 109 defensive rating, .065 win shares/48 minutes, 15.9 PER.

I’m not saying I’d be thrilled with either of those statlines from my starting point guard. But in less than 200 games of, at-best, league average production, Stuckey had been anointed a franchise savior and hastened the departure of two All-Stars in Billups and Iverson from Detroit because of Dumars’ belief that Stuckey had the makings of an elite point guard. Stuckey out-played neither of those All-Star players to earn that distinction. Dumars had previously built his team on the foundation of guys who, in some cases, had to fight just to have a NBA career. Making things so easy for Stuckey to ascend to a starting job and primary role was extremely damaging to Detroit’s previously well-known chemistry and helped create a young players/veterans divide that was evident through last season.

The fallout

A series of events that spiraled out of control because of an over-reaction to a loss against a Boston team that was favored in the conference finals anyway has helped tarnish Dumars’ formerly pristine executive legacy. Over-committing to Stuckey too soon was a mistake.

Dumars, for better or worse, is forever tied to Stuckey. Worse than the Darko Milicic pick, worse than letting productive players like Carlos Delfino, Amir Johnson and Arron Afflalo go for next to nothing, worse than taking small forwards with all three of his picks in the 2009 NBA Draft, Dumars made a major mistake with Stuckey: he went against the harmonious environment where minutes and reputation are earned through winning that Feldman wrote about in his post yesterday. That was the first and biggest domino to fall in Detroit’s locker room going from one of the league’s best early in the decade to arguably the league’s worst last year, based on the number of squabbles and incidents that leaked out.

On some levels, Dumars’ being enamored with Stuckey made sense. Stuckey is a big, strong guard from a tiny college who became an unlikely first round pick by an already good team. Dumars was a big, strong guard from a tiny college (McNeese State) who was an unlikely first round pick by a team, led by Isiah Thomas, starting a long run of playoff success. That’s what it took for Dumars to get his ‘guy.’ Maybe he looked at Stuckey and he saw a young version of himself, a guy he could mold and help become a really good NBA player and player who rival GMs would look at when he’s a finished product and say, “Man … that Joe Dumars is a genius for finding Rodney Stuckey.”

Stuckey was given a team that other players felt was theirs. He wasn’t yet mature enough to handle that responsibility. That’s not his fault. The organization and, consequently, fans, expected him to develop into an All-Star. He hasn’t, but he has far exceeded the performance of most players picked where he was in the draft. He’s a good player. He’s not an All-Star or franchise player, and that’s not his fault either.

After four seasons in the league, Stuckey has incrementally improved (notably, he gets to the free throw line more). He’s a guard who has never developed the matching basketball IQ and requisite point guard playmaking ability to match his immense athletic gifts. He still barrels into traffic, often forcing up a bad shot or realizing too late that he’s taking a bad shot only to kick it out to someone else with a bad pass. He still does not give consistent effort defensively. He still hasn’t developed a jump shot that can be described as reliable (although he seems to finally be making progress on that front in this fifth year in the league). He still shoots too low a percentage for a guard who gets a lot of shots in the paint. Stuckey was benched twice for disciplinary reasons stemming from his fights with Kuester in 2010-11 and he lost both the starting point guard job and starting shooting guard job as a result of those discipline problems in the span of the 2010-11 season.

Billups played for five teams in five years. There was a time that it looked like he wouldn’t make it in the league before he made the most of an opportunity as a backup in Minnesota. He fought his way into the T-Wolves rotation, eventually became a starter when Terrell Brandon got hurt, he signed with the Pistons and made himself into an elite point guard, he won a championship, he won a lot of games and the second he went to Denver, he helped transform the Nuggets from a fringe playoff team into a team that advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals and gave the eventual champion Lakers a tough series in 2009. Billups is the guy everyone wants to follow. Billups instills confidence. When he tells people to keep working or gets on players for being in the wrong spots or not playing hard enough, he has credibility because he’s been through virtually all of the highs and lows a NBA player can experience.

There is a reason why one of those two players is considered simply a solid NBA player and the other is considered a leader of men in the league. Billups has clout and confidence and inspires others. Those were qualities that Dumars didn’t properly assess when he traded him and they were qualities he didn’t properly look for in his replacement.

The responsibility for Stuckey’s Detroit tenure rests with Dumars. It became clear early on in Stuckey’s career that he was Dumars’ ‘guy.’ And as we’ve seen with other GMs, when they have a ‘guy,’ their career becomes tied to that player.

Stuckey is still young. There’s still a shot he can reach those All-Star expectations the organization unfairly placed on him at a young age, although it’s a shrinking possibility at this point in his career. Dumars and the organization did Stuckey no favors by setting the bar so high. Stuckey’s failure to attain those lofty heights will, in the long run, be something Dumars ultimately deserves more blame for than Stuckey.






  • Feb 9, 20121:11 pm
    by Dynamizer


    Good post PH. Lots of interesting info. I particularly like the angle of Billups having to earn his way while Stuckey was handed a spot, basically.

    But there may be some comparisons you make that may be a little mismatched or characterized unfairly. For example, At Billups 5th year was he really considered a leader of men? He might have given some hint that he was able to do that but to really say that he’s a leader of men you need to look at his whole career imo. Stuckey this year and next should be taking that step (if he does at all). But I’m not sure it’s entirely valid to compare Billups entire career to Stuckey’s first 4.5 years.

    Also, while I understand the comparisons to Croshere, Brown and Curry based on the situation not turning out ideally; Stuckey has already arguably proven to be a better player than all three of those guys and still has a decent shot of sticking around with the team through the rebuilding. 

    But again, thanks for the post, was a fun read.

  • Feb 9, 20121:19 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    Thanks. A couple points:

    - On the leadership thing, Billups developed into a leader because it was such a struggle for him to get a fair opportunity to earn a starting job in the league. I was just making the point that Stuckey didn’t have to struggle and claw to get a starting job on a contending team. I think that ultimately proved detrimental to his potential to be a strong leader. He was just handed that job overnight, and I don’t think he had an appreciation for what it took his predecessor to get to that same point.

    - The comparisons to the other guys were simply comparisons to the situations, not the outcomes. Yes, Stuckey is a far far superior player to those guys. My point was just that when you invest so heavily in a player who doesn’t work out the way you envision, that player is forever tied to you, the way Brown-MJ, Bird-Croshere, Curry-Isiah, etc. are. Dumars lucked out in that Stuckey is at least a decent player whereas those other guys who were invested in were terrible. But Dumars clearly believed at one time that Stuckey was a franchise player in the making, and they built the team around him accordingly. Stuckey turned out to be a decent player, but not the player Dumars was banking on, and that has had a detrimental affect on the franchise (which is not Stuckey’s fault at all, BTW).

    • Feb 9, 20121:26 pm
      by Dynamizer


      Ahh, I gotcha. 

      I guess both those points make sense then.

  • Feb 9, 20121:37 pm
    by gordbrown


    Again, we don’t know what would have happened had Iverson and Hamilton stayed healthy and maybe there was a point at which they could have been effective starters together. By I remember long and unending debates over the wisdom of moving Iverson back to the point at the time. Also Iverson’s career was cut short with the Pistons over injury. There was a lot of speculation at the time that the only injury there was his ego. But I remember the last game he played and he was moving so awkwardly it was just painful to watch. I also remember when he played his biggest problem with the Pistons was that he could get into the paint at will but whenever he tried to pass to the big whose man rotated to him the ball would careen off that man’s hands right of bounds (Kwame cake hands). Oddly enough that’s been a major problem with Stuckey’s development as well. Of course, Stuckey haters (not the writers on this post but we all know who they are) blame this on the “rotation of the ball” not the fact that the bigs sucked at catching the ball. Again I don’t think Stuckey will ever be a franchise cornerstone. I do think he can still be a starting caliber guard on a championship competitive team. But in the whole time of Curry-Kuester the offense was never built around Stuckey. Most of that time it was built around Hamilton (with Gordon stepping into Hamilton’s place when Hamilton was otherwise not available). As far as I’m concerned, the nose dive the team took is entirely on Hamilton. The mistake was not trading Chauncey, it was extending Hamilton and then not trading him while he still had some value. But that has also been debated on these pages ad infinitum.

    • Feb 9, 20121:42 pm
      by gordbrown


      Of course I will concede that Hamilton’s decline was both related to age and to his upset at losting his pal in Chauncey and having to play with (and at one point behind) AI. So that point of the this post makes perfect sense.

    • Feb 9, 20121:47 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      There are so many things that, had they gone differently, might have made Stuckey a different player. Personally, I think him getting and keeping that starting job too soon sent him the wrong message. I also think he would’ve benefited from playing another season behind Billups. But who knows? Maybe Billups wouldn’t have been as ready to mentor his replacement as he was with Ty Lawson in Denver. Maybe the coaching staff wouldn’t have played Stuckey enough, considering they didn’t really play any young player enough. A lot of variables with his Detroit career, that’s for sure.

  • Feb 9, 20121:40 pm
    by neutes


    I would argue Tayshaun Prince is Dumars’s “guy”, but he’s definitely tied to Stuckey as well. People assume he passed on Melo for Darko because Prince was at SF. Darko turned into Stuckey via the trade and draft pick. And Prince might be here longer than Stuckey, he’s signed for one more year at this point.

    • Feb 9, 20121:44 pm
      by gordbrown


      Has it occurred to anyone the other parallel between Prince and Stuckey? Both got opportunities to play because of injuries in playoff series. And does this speak to the Pistons player development?

      • Feb 9, 20121:48 pm
        by Patrick Hayes


        Stuckey was playing more than Prince did as a rookie though. Stuckey missed time b/c he broke his wrist, then steadily made it into the rotation by the end of that season, even if Saunders was a little inconsistent with his minutes. Prince didn’t leave the bench as a rookie, except in garbage time.

    • Feb 9, 20121:50 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Yeah, it’s hard to argue Prince isn’t the guy now.

      But I was approaching it more from the rebuilding/youth standpoint. Dumars is loyal to Prince as a result of knowing him/having him on the team for so long. He was a Stuckey believer right off the bat and didn’t miss an opportunity to tell media/fans how great Stuckey was going to be. Stuckey is really the only young player that got that kind of treatment/respect from Dumars so early on.

    • Feb 9, 20122:47 pm
      by frankie d


      great point, and i think you are definitely correct on a key issue.  if tay isn’t here, dumars may have drafted melo and there would have been no darko to orlando trade and no stuckey.
      stuckey was probably going to be picked mid-first that year, as there were reports that gm’s other than dumars had started to become very interested in him.   if detroit doesn’t have orlando’s pick, they don’t get a shot at drafting stuckey.
      i also think the entire situation has been complicated, in dumars’ head, at least, because darko – his worst mistake – morphed into stuckey by virtue of the trade, and therefore stuckey’s hoped-for success has always been a way to turn his worst mistake into a triumph. 
      BUT, even if tay might be joe’s guy, he’s never made catastrophic moves specifically because of tay.  certainly you can argue that passing on melo, wade, et al, was catastrophic, imho, getting darko did not have to turn into the fiasco it turned into.
      i know i am in the minority, but i’ve always thought that given proper nurturing, or “royal jelly” as david thorpe would put it, darko could have turned into a very good nba frontcourt players.  the fact that he’s had a mediocre career after such a disastrous beginning in detroit, imho, gives a clue to what he could have become if he’d been handled with more care here in detroit. 
      and even after drafting darko, detroit thrived for another 6 years.
      so while tay is definitely a thread in the entire narrative, he’s not the main character.
      stuckey is definitely THE player who was at the root of the series of moves that have caused the team to fall so far, so fast.  
      stuckey’s rise, chauncey’s trade and the subsequent turmoil are the reasons the franchise is at this low point.
      tay is relevant to that story, but he’s part of the prologue.

  • Feb 9, 20123:14 pm
    by Laser


    I’ve wondered for a while if Dumars’ almost sexual interest in Stuckey has to do with the fact that Stuckey is what he got for Darko. Dumars and Darko will forever be linked, that’s for sure. Something tells me Joe wanted to atone for Darko, got a very good value pick at #15, and got excited about the prospect of redemption. If Stuckey was indeed the begotten son of the Lord and the second coming of Christ, as Dumars originally thought, suddenly his reputation isn’t so marred by Darko, because the return he got for Darko helped carry the franchise into its next golden era and lead us all through the Apocalypse.

    Turns out he was wrong, and the fallout from wildly overcommitting to Stuckey seems to be the ruination of the franchise for the recent past and foreseeable future. The ghost of Darko looms large.

    • Feb 9, 20123:26 pm
      by neutes


      “The ghost of Darko looms large.”


  • Feb 9, 20123:51 pm
    by frankie d


    very well put…
    the ghost of darko…
    he has haunted the franchise for a long time now.
    it took a while, and it certainly did not have to happen the way it did – lots of points where he could have gotten off this ruinous road- but drafting darko did ultimately lead to disaster.

  • Feb 9, 20127:28 pm
    by Max


    Your repeated insults wouldn’t stop me from reading your book, since reading about the Pistons is like getting to eat candy, but as the description says the essays regard the modern Pistons, I’m just wondering how far back you go because modern could be defined very differently by different people.  I guess more specifically, do you cover the bad boys?

    • Feb 9, 20129:24 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Yeah, Bad Boys through present. Specifically, there are Bad Boys-related chapters on Laimbeer, Rodman and Isiah.

  • Feb 9, 20127:49 pm
    by Max


    I actually agreed with most of this article even though I think Stuckey and the team have been hurt more by the decline of the bigs than anything to do with the guards, but isn’t is possible that some years from now that Moose will be the guy?   I mean, some Pistons fans seem pretty hopeless now but if Dumars can mount another great run of years around Moose and Stuckey remains and is a big contributor or not, won’t the negative emphasis shift and can’t the image of Dumars become framed differently?    I remember thinking Danny Ainge was the absolute worst GM in the league before he acquired Garnett and Allen and now I’ve all but forgotten his first few years in terms of remembering his bad moves with the exception of such occasions as this when it comes to mind.

    • Feb 9, 20129:26 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Sure, that’s the one thing Dumars still has going that some of the other GMs I mentioned don’t: Stuckey is still a functional player who just didn’t hit the ceiling the organization felt he had. If Dumars stays on the job, Monroe continues to be the guy and they had more pieces and Stuckey stays and continues to be a contributor, there is certainly a redemptive potential here for how that Stuckey-Dumars marriage plays out.

      • Feb 9, 201210:39 pm
        by frankie d


        even if the team turns it around with dumars, that is likely to happen not next year, but at the earliest, the year after. and an optimist could expect that the team might win a playoff round.  assuming that optimistic outcome, one could then reasonably expect, most optimistically, a challenge for the conference finals in another 2 years.  
        so effectively, the team would have endured 6-8 years out in the wilderness, after being one of the league’s elite teams. as a direct result of joe’s gamble on stuckey.  at that point, i’ll certainly applaud the progress and enjoy a return to prominence, but those 6-8 years would represent a long period of bad basketball and failure.  
        i went back to the post-chauncey trade chad ford article linked in the previous post, what is stunning is the fact that almost  all of the potentially negative things anticipated actually happened, while none of the possibly positive things anticipated  happened.
        in other words, the trade essentially failed on just about every issue it was designed to address.
        what is clear, going back and reading the  contemporaneous reports – like ford’s- at the time of the trade, is that the trade was a spectacular failure, even according to the terms that dumars set out, as criteria to be considered.
        so, yes, it will be nice if joe d finally turns things around in a few years with a bit of hard work and luck, and there certainly is potential for redemption,  a long time in coming, yes, but redemption, none the less. but this period cannot ever, imho, be looked at as anything but a spectacular failure of leadership and judgment on dumars part.  no matter what ultimately happens 2-3 years down the line.

      • Feb 10, 20121:20 am
        by Max


        I wrote it about in the development of the Stuckey thread where I was much more clear, but the Dumars-Stuckey marriage could end very soon and still be redemptive analogous to how Ainge seasoned and traded Al Jefferson–and this has nothing to do with the fact that Stuck is not as good as Jefferson.

  • Feb 9, 201211:08 pm
    by Max


    Twenty years from now, which half of Paul Pierce’s career is going to be remembered and which will be largely forgotten?–or am I wrong in thinking the early half will have little to do with his ultimate legacy?

    • Feb 9, 201211:44 pm
      by frankie d


      his early half – when he had much success, but not as many wins – will undoubtedly be looked at as a contrast to his later success, as a champion. 
      pierce is not a good comparison, as pierce always had lots of individual success, while his team’s fortunes went up and down.  a player is judged by his individual accomplishment and his team’s success.
      an executive is measured only by the wins and losses.
      that is going to be dumars’ legacy.
      unfortunately – or fortunately, perhaps – the only other gm/former player who’s had his success and the person he’ll invariably be compared to is jerry west.  and the comparison is not a good one.  except for a short slump caused by the premature retirement of his franchise player, magic johnson, west’s teams enjoyed almost constant success over a 20 year period.   
      what makes the pistons’ fall totally dissimilar and so damning for dumars is that detroit’s fall from grace can be tied directly to a failed gamble.  
      no retirements…no injuries…no free agent leaving…no, his own decisions and his disastrous gamble led to the team’s failures.
      not a pretty part of his legacy no matter what happens in the future.

      • Feb 10, 20121:10 am
        by Max


        Well then I guess he’ll never become the new logo.  He’ll never be as good as Jerry West.  I’m glad you enlightened me. This is almost as bad as when he wasn’t as good of a player as Michael Jordan.  However will he live down the disgrace?

  • Feb 10, 20121:48 am
    by frankie d


    he was in very exclusive company before his recent screwups.
    now, he’s definitely putting that at risk.
    mike tyson was in very select company before his problems.
    i’m sure he’d prefer to have his initial legacy untarnished, rather than being able to say, yea, i was one of the baddest men on the planet…once upon  a time… before i screwed up.
    no one wants to take that kind of fall.  even if the perch is pretty lofty, and the fall not as catastrophic as it might be for a lesser mortal.

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