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.
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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