Early in his tenure as Detroit Pistons general manager, Joe Dumars made what looked like one of his most inconsequential moves: trading two second-round draft picks for the rights to Zeljko Rebraca in 2001.
Rebraca had been drafted seven years earlier, by the Seattle SuperSonics, traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves and then to the Toronto Raptors. For those seven years, he resisted NBA offers and remained in his native Europe, where he was successful on the court and paid well.
But Dumars convinced Rebraca to sign with Detroit, making the Yugoslavian a 29-year-old NBA rookie. Rebraca became a reliable low-post threat off the bench as the Pistons won a playoff series for the first time in 11 years.
What made acquiring Rebraca so brilliant was how Dumars tapped into an underutilized market. Every year, plenty of teams need centers, but how many general managers did their due diligence on Rebraca in 2001? Dumars did, and he was rewarded.
Dumars has made another understated move this off-season that, hopefully, will pay similar dividends: signing Slava Kravtsov.
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