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3-on-3: Dissecting Joe Dumars

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1. Is Joe Dumars’ departure best for the franchise?

Dan Feldman: Yes. The Pistons’ problems are not all Dumars’ doing, but too many of them are, and he has not shown an ability to overcome outside setbacks. Dumars has achieved no success with Tom Gores, and though that might the former’s fault, Gores isn’t going anywhere. The Pistons need a general manager who can work with Gores, and they need a general manager who is not overly attached to this flawed roster. It’s time for a fresh start.

Patrick Hayes: It’s best for business. It’s not fair to blame Dumars for all of the Pistons’ failings since he deconstructed a team that was still contending, but it’s fair to blame him for most. He’s overseen two major (and expensive) attempts to retool the franchise, and his wild spending on Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings this summer shows he learned nothing from his splurging on contracts to Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in 2009. That’s … a problem. The organization needs a new direction and Dumars will get another opportunity to run a team somewhere else if he chooses. Hopefully, that fresh start will help Dumars rediscover the attributes that once made him arguably the league’s best GM.

Brady Fredericksen: At this point, yes. Dumars has been given chances to revive the franchise since its downfall began in 2009, but a string of failed coaching and personnel moves have put him in this position. If he was named Phil Smith and he was given the Pistons’ job in 2009, he would have already been fire — that’s how badly the past five years have gone. Sure, the freeze during the Davidson-to-Gores era didn’t help, but he really hasn’t done himself any favors since. The league has evolved and Dumars hasn’t been able to keep up; it’s time to find someone who can.

2. How do you grade Dumars’ tenure as general manager?

Dan Feldman: A-. Am I weighing Dumars’ successes more heavily than his failures? Absolutely. The first-round exits of the mid-90s were preferable to the dreck of the last few seasons as I’ve lived each era, but in the long run, I won’t remember either fondly. They’ll just blend together in the abyss of forgettable seasons. But the Goin’ to Work Pistons brought such joy, I won’t soon forget those. And Dumars single-handedly assembled those peak teams. I just don’t see much value in a general manager producing a mediocre, rather than bad, team. But forming a contending team? That’s a hugely important accomplishment.

Patrick Hayes: B+/A-. The championship and sustained success for much of the first half of his tenure were incredible, but let’s not forget, he had opportunities to keep that team competitive even longer. He never sufficiently implemented a talent development system for young players on the bench like Carlos Delfino and Amir Johnson (both of whom could’ve helped the veteran core immensely) and he held onto and over-valued limited veterans like Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince rather than flipping them for younger assets when they’re value was higher.

Brady Fredericksen: I’ll give him an A- too. Do you know how many active GMs have won an NBA title? Only six. How about reaching multiple NBA Finals? Just six, again. Dumars has not been a good GM in the past five seasons, but he was a truly great GM the previous  nine seasons. Pistons fans are spoiled by the success the franchise saw under Dumars. He built a title team and sustained it by reaching six consecutive conference finals. He took a franchise losing its best player (Grant Hill) and had a 50-win team three years later. Fans are going to be happy he’s finally gone, but I just hope the general assumption isn’t that whoever the Pistons hire is automatically going to be way better;  GMs capable of building title contenders are tough to come by.

3. What will be Dumars’ legacy with the Pistons?

Dan Feldman: Champion. Dumars has been instrumental two all three of the Pistons’ championships, two as a player and one as a general manager. Everything else will fade in time. Honestly, Darko might serve Dumars’ secondary legacy, and that was the most reasonable of all his mistakes.

Patrick Hayes: As a champion and one of the most beloved figures in franchise history. A poor track record over the course of the last five years is certainly enough justification for a change in direction. However, it doesn’t discount the immense contributions Dumars has made to the organization as a player and executive. Those things will be far more enduring than the forgettable last five years.

Brady Fredericksen: That he’s one of the greatest Pistons of all time. We live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society, and unfortunately for Dumars, lately things have been pretty terrible. My thing is that the good of Dumars far outweighs the bad. Proof is in the pudding, Dumars was really, really bad near the end, but he’s still damn near the top of the Pistons’ Mount Rushmore. There are no NBA titles in Detroit without him — no Bad Boys, no star-less champions.

It’s time for change, and I hope they find the next great GM. But while fans celebrate his departure, good luck finding another person in basketball who has provided as much collective joy and success to one franchise as Dumars has to Pistons fans over the past 29 years.

39 Comments

  • Apr 8, 201411:48 am
    by Haan

    Reply

    A fond farewell to Joe. I’m glad the contributors focused on the positives of his legacy (without denying the negatives).  And I do see him getting another chance, maybe in Cleveland.

  • Apr 8, 201411:57 am
    by BigDogg

    Reply

    Great work that Joe did for the Pistons his for 10yrs on the job. I believe that is when the billups move was made.  To me that was his greatest mistake, Billups was the leader at the time and the team became rudderless after that.  No Direction.  I believe Billups cld have prevented some of the “Coaching Mutinies” and kept players inline.  HOWEVER, the Good far outweigh the bad in Dumars tenure as we did have a lot of success, so much success even the fans became complacent with constant E. Conference finals appearances and 50+ win seasons.  So Thanks Joe!
    NOW on to New business….Who is gonna be the next GM?  I believe Gores will look to an Analytic s guy, it seems that is the way he runs his other business as a Venture Capitalist. 
    So at the end of the season as perspective GM’s look at our team what do they see? What are the Strengths and Weakness of this current team as constructed?
    Strengths:
    Drummond, Monroe, about 10mil in Cap Room this Summer even after signing Monroe, Draft Pick in this loaded draft(hopefully we keep it),young rotation guys Singler & KCP, Gores who wants to spend money to win (Just bought a D-League team), Tradition of Winning with 3 Championships
    Weaknesses:
    J.smith contract and what to do with him, Jennings erratic/inefficient play and what to do with him(contract only has 2yrs at $16 left so didn’t think that was too bad), Perception of CONSTANT Coaching turnover which may make some coaches hesitant to come here, Gores a is he a “Meddler”?(both coaches Frank hiring & Cheeks firing seem to be from him, not the GM), Fan Apathy because of the constant losing the last 5years
    Any Strengths or Weakness i missed?

    • Apr 8, 201412:04 pm
      by Tim Thielke

      Reply

      BG, CV, Rip, Afflalo, and Amir were all significantly bigger mistakes than the Billups trade.

      • Apr 8, 201412:58 pm
        by BigDogg

        Reply

        Tim its OK to have a difference of opinion, but to me the 1st Domino was billups.  The moves you talk about were After the billups move.  That is how they were able to sign cv/bg, reason why they traded Afflalo.  I totally DISAGREE with the Amir being bigger bad move than Billups.  Is amir even close to all-star level? Because Billups was a two time all star AFTER he left Detroit.  

        • Apr 8, 20141:13 pm
          by Tim Thielke

          Reply

          Not all these moves were necessarily more costly or injurious than the Billups trade. But they were worse moves because they were stupider moves. I can live with well-reasoned gambles that don’t pay off.

          The Billups trade was absolutely the first domino. But unlike an actual line of dominos, which ones fell next were not inevitable at that point. Dumars had a tremendous opportunity. He could have let Rip and AI walk and then used his boatloads of cap space not to sign the lackluster FAs available, but to absorb all sorts of contracts other teams were trying to get out of in anticipation of 2010 free agency. If he had taken on a ton of bad contracts with draft picks attached, the Pistons would have had about three down years in which they picked near the top of every draft and they were bringing in several other picks. They could be looking at a complete core right now. Or maybe they could have traded for a Paul or a Harden.

          • Apr 8, 20141:21 pm
            by BigDogg

            Not sure if they were stupider.  BG was the top rated FA that year and CV was top 3 Big man FA.  You cannot say that you saw the complete and total fall off of BG coming?  CV yes, not BG especially coming off that playoff performance against the celtics.  So not sure that was a “stupid” move, just another bad move.  Afflalo was a salary dump for more cash to sign these guys, so another bad move, but there was reason behind it, not just blind throw the darts at the wall stupid.  I think each move can be looked at with reasons behind them.  Hell, even with the Rip extension they paid CV & BG a TON of money.  So i would just use the words bad moves that did not work out.  Like Darko pick? Not stupid but bad.

          • Apr 8, 20141:34 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            I was actually less pleased about the BG signing than the CV signing. The moment I saw Gordon’s playoff series against the Celtics, I hoped the Pistons wouldn’t sign him because his price tag had just been elevated because one flukish hot spurt happened to be in the postseason. He’d had lots of hot and cold streaks before and this was clearly just another, but people act like it is a better future predictor when the games matter more? That’s inane.

            The BG and CV contracts were objectively horrible. Nobody, myself included, could predict how poorly those players would decline. But they both would have needed to take significant leaps to justify their deals and there was no reason to expect that.

            There were reasons for all of these moves, but they were stupid reasons. I could see giving Rip an extension, but you only give an aging player an extension early if you can get a discount. Instead, Dumars overpaid. I can see letting Afflalo and Johnson go, but only if you’re getting decent assets or you have a good plan for that space you’re clearing. Clearly, the 2009 FA market didn’t have anyone worth spending on. I can see the argument for getting what you can while you have money to spend. That’s not a great strategy, but I can see it. But if you’re doing that, clearly you don’t want to throw assets away just to clear more space.

            No, all the moves I referenced were flat out stupid. There’s a big difference between having a reason and having a good reason.

          • Apr 8, 20141:28 pm
            by Birdman84

            BigDogg, that playoff performance was exactly why Gordon was overrated. Yes, it was a great series. But looking at the entirety of Gordon’s career would have shown that it was an anomaly. And it made no sense given Rip’s (terrible) extension.

          • Apr 8, 20141:53 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            And the other funny thing was that even that playoff series wasn’t particularly great play from Gordon. it was just that he made some memorable buckets down the stretch. Overall, he put up 20 ppg and 5 combined rebs+asts per game on 39% shooting. Hardly a world beating performance.

          • Apr 8, 20143:14 pm
            by BigDogg

            NOT saying because of the playoff performance to give him the money, but he was the no. 1 rated FA that year and that playoff performance helped elevate his stock.  I dont think we can dispute that.  Now Tim i TOTALLY AGREE that giving BG the money years etc, was not a good move, but to say signing the no.1 FA of the class is stupid, i just disagree with that.  Was it a good move??? Obviously in hindsight not and i did not agree with that move when it happend, BUT i think he was going to move RIP when he signed BG but because of the ownership situation and not being able to make moves he couldnt trade rip.  
             
            But my main point again was the worst decision was trading Chauncey.  Just think if he kept chauncey traded rip for iverson would that have made a better team? If iverson didn’t work out and signed BG w/ chauncey is that a better team? YES on both accounts.   Basically im saying with Chauncey and to make the same moves after that, the team would have been better.  PLUS All-Star PG’s are a premium in this league. 
             

          • Apr 8, 20143:45 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            I’m pretty sure Rip for Iverson wasn’t on the table. And “signing the no.1 FA of the class is stupid” if there are no good FAs in the class. Because the top one will almost inevitably get overpaid. Kinda like it would be smart to sell the farm to get the first overall pick in a draft when Duncan or LeBron is there. But in 2000 or 2013, not so much. Where players rank relative to some arbitrary class is much less relevant than how good they actually are.

            Also, Gordon was considered top of that free agent class because of that playoff run. Otherwise, it would have been David Lee (and the Pistons needed a big man, not a perimeter player at the time).

          • Apr 8, 20143:49 pm
            by BigDogg

            AGAIN, THE WORST MOVE WAS TRADING BILLUPS.

          • Apr 8, 20143:56 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            I’d say “agree to disagree” but you’re just wrong. Keeping Billups would not have kept the Pistons in contention. It might have kept them in the playoffs for another season or two. But that’s all.

            Trading Billups was not only far from the worst move, it wasn’t even a bad move. It just opened the doors to make several more moves that could have been good or bad. Dumars happened to choose the latter without fail.

          • Apr 8, 20145:00 pm
            by BigDogg

            Elite PG’s are more valuable.

          • Apr 8, 20145:08 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            Besides lacking an antecedent and making no grammatical sense, your comment fails to address any of the matter being discussed.

            And, just for good measure, it overlooks the fact that the trade was a swap of borderline elite PGs. Or are you trying to argue that a player who averaged 15 and 5 for his career and 17 and 7 the previous season is more of an elite PG than a player who averaged 27 and 6 for his career and 26 and 7 the previous season?

          • Apr 8, 20149:05 pm
            by AYC

            At the time, many people thought that Billups would age poorly, given his body type, whereas Rip would stay productive into his mid-late 30s given his build, skill set, and exercise regimen ala Reggie Miller.  Nothing in analysis is guaranteed and this one where it proved to be wrong.  Maybe in another world we keep Chauncey and he tears his Achilles, while Rip goes into a stable, well-coached system and gets coaxed into a Ray Allen-type role.  The point is that at the time, it was a sound decision, especially given the fact that AI was after all, a 25+ PPG scorer.
             
             

          • Apr 9, 201411:35 am
            by BigDogg

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            What I am saying Tim, is that a elite pg is tough to come by as Chauncey was.  What makes it the worst move was basically the team cut off its own head.
             Chauncey was the leader of those teams, he kept rip and sheed inline. That team was billups sheed rip prince mcdyess.  With those personalities you switch out Chauncey for Iversons personality?? Wow!  You lost the culture, the Smarts at the end of the game, clutch play and the guy to lead your young guys like Stuckey. Imagine if Billups were his mentor all these years.  I believe Iverson only played 27? More games after leaving Detroit?  While Billups played in two all star games after leaving Detroit and was voted in by coaches in the tough west.
            Signing bg cv were Horrible deals and it brought in soft selfish players.  Bad deals, horrible deals. Dealing afflal for cap space bad deal. Amir in my opinion played 5-6yrs with Detroit and that’s plenty, sometimes players have to go somewhere Else to blossom. 
            But that chauncey deal started the domino down.  Who was supposed to lead those teams Rip? Sheed? Prince?  Who was leading those locker rooms?? That’s a scary thought. Yes, I rate chemistry and leadership vey highly and I think this is where Dumars lost his way.  He began just looking at numbers, guys that put up numbers. Iverson, BG, CV in his contract year, b Jennings , josh smith. Any of those guys leaders?? Who we hitching our wagon to in that mess?  Lotta character guys there, huh?   
            Billups was the better player than the guy he was traded for.  This trade decimated the leadership, character and culture of the team.  This trade seemed to “change” the philosophy of Dumars, going from tough character guys, too soft numbers guys. So these are MY reasons, I totally understand YOUR points on those other moves, but too me they were just part of the downward spiral Started by the Billups deal. 

      • Apr 8, 20141:04 pm
        by Rich

        Reply

        None of them was made in a vacuum.

        The Chauncey trade and the Rip extension happened on the same day, and each made the other a worse decision.  Either you were blowing it up or you weren’t.  Trading Chauncey (the far better player) and extending Rip should have been mutually exclusive.  And without the Chauncey trade, there is no BG or CV.

        • Apr 8, 20141:07 pm
          by BigDogg

          Reply

          YOUR LAST SENTNCE SAYS IT ALL RICH . “And without the Chauncey trade, there is no BG or CV.”

        • Apr 8, 20141:30 pm
          by Birdman84

          Reply

          Absolutely agreed, Rich. Dumars got rid of the best players on the Going To Work team, Ben and Chauncey, while keeping (and overpaying) the least important starters in Rip & Tay.

    • Apr 8, 201412:31 pm
      by Huddy

      Reply

      Agree with Tim.  Billups may have prevented some locker issues, but he certainly wasn’t going to keep the team in contention alone so either way something needed to be done.  The reasoning behind moving him was sound.  Try out an all star player in Iverson and regardless of how likely anyone thinks he is to work out he will expire and leave the team with a plethora of cap space to use on someone else if he doesn’t work.  Using that space to sign guys that didn’t work out caused the problem.  He created an opportunity and didn’t capitalize on it, but I would say the lack of capitalizing is a bigger mistake than creating the opportunity.

      • Apr 8, 20141:04 pm
        by BigDogg

        Reply

        Agree Huddy what the reasoning was to make the move, HOWEVER it was still a bad move.  I would have tried to move hamiton for iverson, but imo you never move the leader of your team.  Chemistry and locker room issues have been the problem since Billups left.  Everyone says hes a coach/gm in waiting, that is what the team needed in making the rebuild/reload.  Again Billups was the 1st domino in the bad moves and imo the worst. 

        • Apr 8, 20144:30 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          I have a fundamental disagreement in how you are judging if a move is good or bad. If the reasoning is sound then that trumps how it all turned out, it was still a good move. If the reasoning was terrible and it somehow worked out then it would still be a bad move. That is the way I evaluate decisions by GMs because the ability to make good decisions at the time the move happened makes them more likely to make good decisions the next time around.

      • Apr 8, 20141:09 pm
        by Rich

        Reply

        The problem with the move was that Chauncey had a crap-ton of trade value at the time, and Dumars made a glorified salary dump.  Iverson was never going to work – this isn’t hindsight, they traded a PG for a shooting guard and a great player for a not great one.  The Billups deal was always a salary dump.  Dumars isn’t stupid – there’s no way he honestly believed Iverson was a short term upgrade over Billups.
         
        Dumars gave up his best asset to go all-in on a bad free agency class.  The reasoning was not sound.  He gave up his gold for magic beans.

        • Apr 8, 20145:00 pm
          by Tim Thielke

          Reply

          “Chauncey had a crap-ton of trade value at the time, and Dumars made a glorified salary dump”

          Chauncey had trade value, but so did Iverson. We’re talking about a sure thing HOFer coming off arguably the best season of his career.

          “there’s no way he honestly believed Iverson was a short term upgrade over Billups”

          I’m pretty sure he did. Iverson looked like the superior player but the inferior fit. It was a toss-up to me.

          • Apr 9, 201411:40 am
            by BigDogg

            Iverson played approx. 27 games after leaving Detroit, NO QUESTION he is a first ballot hall of famer.  But NOT for his work in Detroit.  Chauncey was the better player then.
            http://espn.go.com/nba/player/stats/_/id/366/allen-iverson. 
             

          • Apr 9, 201412:08 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            Oh, obviously after the trade, Billups was the vastly superior player. But at the time of the trade, that info was not available. What was available was data showing a very good Billups starting to decline vs a very, very good Iverson coming off arguably the best season of his career.

            Similarly, you can say now that Billups was holding everything together. But at the time? The Pistons were one of the most respected, veteran organizations around. The idea that removing one player would make it all fall apart would have seemed absurd.

          • Apr 9, 201412:56 pm
            by BigDogg

            Well that is the GM’s job to know who is holding the team together, etc. etc.  Not for us as fans looking in from the outside.  Did Dumars look at his team and say “Well im bringing in Iverson so he can lead us”? Who was Dumars looking at to lead this team? Isn’t that his job? All those factors have to be weighed when you make ANY move.  Look at Joe now over the last few drafts where he says how much NOW they put into background checks, character checks etc.  So my guess they weren’t doing a whole lot of that in the past.
             
            Again ALL trades, signings, drafts can be looked at w/ hindsight of which moves were bad and good, my point was that the Billups trade was the most destructive to the team, making it the worst.  They chopped off the head and are still looking for a leader.

        • Apr 8, 20149:07 pm
          by AYC

          Reply

          Great Player for not a Great One?
          Uhm, isn’t AI a potential Hall of Famer?

          • Apr 8, 20149:24 pm
            by Tim Thielke

            no potential about it, he’s a sure thing

  • Apr 8, 201412:15 pm
    by JR

    Reply

    Why the hell are people treating this situation like a funeral.  Joe Dumars won us 3 titles, but he’s clearly lost control of the Pistons.  We need to move on.  Throw him a parade or something, but lets not ignore how bad the Pistons have been for half a decade.

    • Apr 8, 201412:32 pm
      by Brady Fredericksen

      Reply

      because the impact Dumars’ made far exceeds the past five years. would you take the first ten years if it meant you also had the past five? I think most would.

      • Apr 8, 201412:37 pm
        by Birdman84

        Reply

        I’d be more sad about Dumars leaving if I thought there was any chance he’d get back to his early successes. He’s been on a steep downward trend for the better part of a decade, making bad decisions that were obviously bad at the time, not just in hindsight. Dumars being replaced is good news for the franchise. We can celebrate his past while being pleased with the change.

  • Apr 8, 201412:42 pm
    by Birdman84

    Reply

    1. Yes, of course it’s best for the team. Dumars has been terrible for years.
     
    2. B-. Great decisions early, terrible decisions late.
     
    3. His legacy as a general manager will be one where the good outweighs the bad, agreed. I don’t think it’s as vast a gap as Brady does, but I think in time the horrendous decisions will fade from memory more so than the championship.
     

  • Apr 8, 20141:06 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (predicting a strong finish)

    Reply

    I thought I would have to defend Dumars but I actually agree with the writers….i will say that Ben Gordon just was a disappointment, he wasn’t a reach this guy had the potential to be one of the elite scorers in the league I don’t know what happened to him but he was just never the same player he was in Chicago….and the same with Iverson….Josh Smith and Jennings were talent upgrades…it just sucks when it doesn’t workout 

  • Apr 8, 20142:41 pm
    by gordbrown

    Reply

    In retrospect Dumars should have quit when L Franks was foisted on him. I doubt if it would have improved things any quicker for the team but it would have helped his legacy. And maybe it would have smartened Gores up so that his next hire won’t be the diaster I fear it might be at this point.

  • Apr 8, 20146:08 pm
    by koz

    Reply

    Ben Gordon was overrated, CV had a ton of talent he was simply too soft, lazy, etc. Billups was an elite level point guard-coach on the floor that was irreplaceable and to hear you guys malign him is indeed an arrogant, conceited, idiotic opinion. Might as well diss Duncan while you’re at it. He was the key to the franchise run in the 2000′s and well I guess he’s not Lebron so chuck him out with the garbage you phony, crappy. self-glorifying know-it-all nobodies.

  • Apr 9, 201411:36 am
    by BigDogg

    Reply

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    What I am saying Tim, is that a elite pg is tough to come by as Chauncey was.  What makes it the worst move was basically the team cut off its own head.
     
     Chauncey was the leader of those teams, he kept rip and sheed inline. That team was billups sheed rip prince mcdyess.  With those personalities you switch out Chauncey for Iversons personality?? Wow!  You lost the culture, the Smarts at the end of the game, clutch play and the guy to lead your young guys like Stuckey. Imagine if Billups were his mentor all these years.  I believe Iversons only played 50? More games after leaving Detroit?  While Billups played in two all star games after leaving Detroit and was voted in by coaches in the tough west.

    Signing bg cv were Horrible deals and it brought in soft selfish players.  Bad deals, horrible deals. Dealing afflal for cap space bad deal. Amir in my opinion played 5-6yrs with Detroit and that’s plenty, sometimes players have to go somewhere Else to blossom. 

    But that chauncey deal started the domino down.  Who was supposed to lead those teams Rip? Sheed? Prince?  Who was leading those locker rooms?? That’s a scary thought. Yes, I rate chemistry and leadership vey highly and I think this is where Dumars lost his way.  He began just looking at numbers, guys that put up numbers. Iverson, BG, CV in his contract year, b Jennings , josh smith. Any of those guys leaders?? Who we hitching our wagon to in that mess?  Lotta character guys there, huh?   

    Billups was the better player than the guy he was traded for.  This trade decimated the leadership, character and culture of the team.  This trade seemed to “change” the philosophy of Dumars, going from tough character guys, too soft numbers guys. So these are MY reasons, I totally understand YOUR points on those other moves, but too me they were just part of the downward spiral Started by the Billups deal. 

  • Apr 9, 201411:36 am
    by BigDogg

    Reply

    Sorry not sure what that mess is at the top of my comment, formating or something. 

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