Joe Dumars’ replacements in Detroit have really nice things to say about Joe Dumars

Joe Dumars is the guy that put together a championship team. He sustained a winner in Detroit that made it to six consecutive Eastern Conference finals. He worked as an executive for 14 years, and as the head honcho for 14.

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He’s also the man that drafted Darko Milicic. He extended Rip Hamilton, twice, crippling the Pistons’ salary cap potential. He spent gobs of money on Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, and Josh Smith – all major free agents signings, and three guys the Pistons had to pay to get rid of.

Joe Dumars contains multitudes. Could the better half of Dumars’ executive career earn him another job running a team?

Detroit coach and president Stan Van Gundy, the man who essentially replaced Dumars with the Pistons, thinks so:

“Joe is a class guy who did a great job and had a ton of success,” Van Gundy said. “Anytime you get good people in the league it is good for the league so yeah absolutely. Joe has a good track record. Hopefully if that is what he wants to do he will get another opportunity.”

SVG was asked about Dumars’ prospects after Detroit News scribe Terry Foster followed up on a months-old statement from Ric Bucher at Bleacher Report, reporting that the New Orleans Pelicans could turn to the Louisiana-born Dumars in the offseason to take over their front office.

Pistons forward Greg Monroe, a Dumars draftee from 2010, also had nice things to say about the 2003 NBA Executive of the Year:

Forward Greg Monroe believes Dumars deserves a second chance.

“I mean, yeah,” Monroe said. “He put together a championship team. Obviously he knows what it takes to get it done. For a stretch he had one of the most successful teams in the league. Obviously he is good at that job. I don’t see how that would be a problem to get back.”

We’ve been routinely critical of Dumars’ time in Detroit here at BDL, and for good reason. The Milicic selection was a bit of a blip, just about every NBA team was lusting over Darko back in 2003, and while most wouldn’t have taken him ahead of Carmelo Anthony, many would have considered it and all would have taken the 17-year old ahead of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade with the next pick. Dumars did sound, chance-y work on his Pistons’ roster and coaching staff in the months that followed, building an eventual champion along the way.

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Dumars’ team, however, just about gave up on Flip Saunders as coach in 2007, and a series of follow-up coaching hires failed the franchise while former ownership pinched pennies in anticipation of an eventual sell. This doesn’t excuse Dumars’ repeated missteps in the years that followed – dealing for Allen Iverson, needlessly extending Richard Hamilton, whiffing in free agency – and by the time Detroit finally let their beloved former Piston go in 2014, it was safe to conclude that Dumars had received one chance too many.

With that in place, the same spark that led Dumars to act ahead of the curve in his first few years with the team – taking on reclamation projects and taking advantage of teams looking to cut salary and start over – could return in a new gig.

It’s fair to say that Danny Ferry more or less wasted his shot at building a champion around LeBron James in Cleveland, but in his second stint with Atlanta he’s built the East’s best basketball team (until James and the Cavaliers eventually trounce them in May). Larry Bird has done well in his second go-round with Indiana, the highly-regarded Jeff Bower is on his second chance working Dumars’ old job in Detroit, and Washington’s Ernie Grunfeld … well, they can’t all be success stories.

Detroit, working at 28-45, will need years to get out of what Dumars left them with, but they’ll also be attempting to rebuild with three cornerstones that their former GM put in place: Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe (after some consternation), and Brandon Jennings. Joe Dumars’ tenure in Detroit had its faults, but it doesn’t mean he can’t turn it around with another team.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Why don’t casinos take bets on NCAA tourney brackets?

Bettors wait in line to place a wager on the NCAA college basketball tournament in the sports book at The Mirage in Las Vegas Thursday, March 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher)Every year, the faithful journey to Las Vegas to lay down March Madness money, and every year, they target their own schools and perhaps that fabled 5-12 upset. But why don’t Vegas casinos, the heart and soul of gambling in this country, offer up some kind of overall bracket challenge?

You’d think a full bracket game would be an easy way for casinos to make money, given how many brackets get busted like eggshells by the tournament’s first Friday. Heck, if the guy over in Human Resources can whip up a pool with a copy machine and a coffee can, surely a multimillion-dollar casino operation could do so. No-brainer, right?

Wrong, as it turns out. The limitations are both logistical and technological, according to Jay Rood, VP of Race and Sports at MGM International.

At the moment, MGM does not have the software capable of handling thousands of complete-bracket bets. Think about what’s involved in entering a single bracket – 63 different games – then consider thousands of similar brackets all hitting the system at once. It’s a technological hurdle MGM hasn’t yet cleared.

“Grading the brackets is a nightmare,” Rood says. “We’re upgrading our system in the fall, and we may be capable of handling more.”

Plus, there are simple logistical challenges.

In Vegas, you have to place your bet in person, which is far trickier than banging out 63 picks on a Yahoo bracket ten minutes before the first tip-off. A significant percentage of March Madness casino-goers arrive after the first games have tipped off – Friday is one of the busiest sports days of the year – making them ineligible to deliver a pre-tourney bracket.

“So many of our customers are transient,” Rood says. “Only a small number get in on time.”

That said, there’s the possibility that bracket picking could be in play soon. Some smaller casinos in Vegas, primarily catering to locals, do a version of a round-by-round bracket challenge. Gamblers pick the first round, compile point totals, then return to pick the second, accumulating points along the way. But again — this is an option not available to non-Vegas folk. Legal gambling on the internet remains a murky-at-best prospect.

Still, it’s clear the interest is there. Where there’s interest, there’s money, and where there’s money, there’s a solution. Rood said he’s tinkering with the possibility of offering various odds for various point totals after each round – getting 25 of 32 right pays out at a certain rate, and getting 30 of 32 pays out at a better one, for instance.

A Vegas payout for bracket acumen would be a wonderful thing. For now, though, you’ll have to content yourself with beating everyone in your office.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Adam Morrison sporting different look as Gonzaga video assistant

When the college basketball world last saw Adam Morrison on a big stage, he was weeping on the floor in the closing seconds of a heartbreaking and career-ending loss to UCLA in the 2006 Sweet 16.

Fast forward almost 10 years and Morrison is again in the spotlight during a Gonzaga run, albeit far from front and center. The school’s all-time leading scorer and one-time national player of the year is currently a video assistant on Mark Few’s team and he got a little bit of screen time during Sunday’s Elite Eight game against Duke in Houston.

As you can see, Morrison is sporting quite a different look from his shaggy and mustachioed college days.

Is that Steven Seagal taking in the game?


Morrison also looked a lot less emotional than last time …

Morrison was drafted No. 3 overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2006 NBA draft and famously bombed out of the league, though not before winning two rings as a little-used reserve for the Los Angeles Lakers. After a few years of playing overseas, Morrison is now back stateside and trying to get a coaching career jump started at his alma mater.

He’s been trying to keep things low-profile with limited interviews, though his involuntary appearance on CBS certainly goes against that approach. We can’t speak for how much Morrison has contributed to the Zags’ success this season, though he’s certainly looking the part on the bench.

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Kevin Kaduk is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kevinkaduk@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Hamlin holds off Keselowski, survives wild Martinsville race

Denny Hamlin does a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, March 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)There are literally billions of dollars at play in today’s NASCAR environment, but for a few laps on Sunday, you could have been watching a good old small-track race in the middle of nowhere.

Well, technically, you were; Martinsville is one of the most remote tracks on the circuit. But you get the idea: for all the money and fame these drivers and race teams accrue, sometimes it comes down to two drivers, two cars, one prize. And on Sunday, it was Denny Hamlin who outlasted Brad Keselowski in the closing laps of the STP 500 to notch his first win of the season and fifth at Martinsville overall.

Hamlin had driven one of the best cars all day, but one by one his top challengers dropped back in the pack, either victimized by bad luck (Joey Logano got collected on a spin by Michael Annett) or their own mistakes (Jeff Gordon suffered a critical pit road speeding penalty with less than 40 laps remaining). As with last week, it then fell to Keselowski to sneak in and challenge Hamlin for the victory. Turn after turn in the closing laps, Keselowski got close enough to touch Hamlin’s bumper, but couldn’t get inside for a pass.

On the final turn of the final lap, Keselowski took one last shot at Hamlin, hitting him hard directly in the bumper, but Hamlin could hold on for the final stretch to the checkered flag.

“I did everything I could other than wreck him,” Keselowski said afterward. “I hit him pretty good a couple times, so he did a good job, and he chose not to wreck, which I’ll give him credit for. But it was fun.”

Hamlin, for his part, credited team owner Joe Gibbs for getting fiery at a competition meeting earlier this week. “Joe raised his voice, which doesn’t happen very often, told us to get off our tails and go to work, and we all did it, and great result for this race team,” Hamlin said. “Sometimes you need a leader like that to kind of put things in perspective. Not that people weren’t working hard, but it just takes that extra 10 percent out of everyone to get to that next level.”

“Everybody is frustrated and kind of expressed their feelings,” Gibbs said. “But I will say this:  We’ve kind of charted a course for us to work on.”

Early on, it didn’t appear Hamlin had much of a chance at victory, not after a loose-tire penalty that buried the 11 car deep in the field. But Hamlin’s expertise took him back to the front, and breaks at the right time kept him there,

“I’m just happy that it looks like our short track stuff is starting to turn the corner and kind of hopefully will get back to where its heyday was in 2009 and 2010,” Hamlin said.

Kevin Harvick saw his streak of first- and second-place finishes end at 8; he finished eighth. Danica Patrick finished a spot ahead of him, tying her career-best finish. Gordon ended up in ninth. Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who never really got going before wrecks consumed them, ended up 35th and 36th, respectively. Chase Elliott, making his first career Sprint Cup start, ended up 38th.

The series now takes a week off for Easter before reconvening at Texas for the Duck Commander 500.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Reports: Texas fires Rick Barnes after 17 seasons

Head coach Rick Barnes of the Texas Longhorns reacts in the second half against the Butler Bulldogs during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 19, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.The Rick Barnes era is reportedly over at Texas.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Barnes has been fired after 17 seasons with the program. Barnes, the winningest coach in Texas history, went 402-180 during his tenure and led the Longhorns to NCAA tournament appearances in 16 of his 17 seasons with the program, most recently losing to Butler in the first round last Thursday. The Longhorns also reached the Final Four in 2003 and made two Elite Eight experiences under Barnes.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, athletic director Steve Patterson informed Barnes of the school’s decision to let him go.

The Austin American-Statesman is reporting that school officials “reached their final decision” on Saturday and “plan on making an announcement either Sunday or Monday.” Additionally, the school hopes to hire Barnes’ replacement “within a week,” per the Statesman.

The Statesman also reported that Patterson met with Barnes in person “at least twice” since the Butler loss and asked Barnes to make changes to his staff.

Goodman pointed toward VCU’s Shaka Smart and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall as potential candidates. Marshall has also been connected to the opening at Alabama in the past week. NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster also named Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams as a potential candidate.

After a 24-11 campaign in 2013 (which earned Barnes a two-year contract extension), expectations were high for the Longhorns headed into this season. However, the team was plagued by inconsistent play and finished 20-14 overall and finished sixth in the Big 12 with an 8-10 conference record.

Barnes was the head coach at Clemson, Providence and George Mason before his time at Texas. He also served as an assistant at Ohio State, Alabama, George Mason and Davidson. 

According to NBC Sports, Barnes could be a candidate for the opening at Tennessee after Donnie Tyndall was fired on Friday. 

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!