Is the Era of Joe Dumars, Genius, Over?

For a brief period before and after the Pistons' paradigm-shattering NBA title -- the first accomplished without the aid of a legitimate super-duper star in decades, Joe Dumars reigned as the popularly acclaimed best GM in sports. A brief look at the inveterate Piston-hater* Bill Simmons' archive confirms this via relatively feeble protest: ↵
↵⇥He's not a genius. He's a solid GM who made some good moves and some bad ones, and he definitely held on to the 2004 nucleus about 18 months too long. It's OK to lightly question the direction of this team without feeling like an ingrate. Really, it is. You are within your rights. ↵
↵

↵Dumars had just traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. Even though that was obviously a bad move as far as winning stuff went, at the time Simmons' criticisms seemed unduly harsh given that Dumars had assembled a champion from malcontents, spare parts, and afros. Dumars was thinking 17 moves ahead, or something. ↵

↵

↵Back then, the consensus opinion seemed to be "a-ha! Dumars strikes again!" A typical defense courtesy of TrueHoop: ↵

↵
↵⇥Down the road, the Pistons become the driving force of big-time free agency as soon as Iverson's contract comes off the books next summer. The Pistons will combine a winning environment, one of the most respected general managers in the game, and -- depending on salary cap levels that are yet to be set, and extensions that may yet be given to existing Pistons -- likely enough cap space to sign two max contracts over the next summers for 2009 and 2010. ↵
↵

↵The implied emphasis there was on 2010, the summer that LeBron James ↵and a half-dozen of the league's best players find themselves footloose ↵and fancy-free. ↵

↵

↵2009's meager fare was just an appetizer, the ↵opportunity to lock down second bananas in an effort to entice a king ↵banana into an appealing... uh... banana-fest. This metaphor is going ↵great. (Shoals might disagree ↵on an NBA-wide level, but for the Pistons, 2010 was where it's at. ↵Clearly, no one available this year was going to propel the Pistons to ↵the level of contender.) ↵

↵

↵Then Dumars went ahead and blew all of that space on Ben Gordon and ↵Charlie Villanueva. Over on The Baseline, Shoals met this news ↵with a headline about the Pistons " ↵staying ↵in character," but... uh... what? Over the years, the character ↵of the Pistons has been efficiency and length and defense and Eckstein-like ↵grit. And weird hair. Villanueva and his nonexistent eyebrows certainly ↵qualify on that latter point, but other than that the Pistons' offseason ↵moves finish a wholesale makeover begun with the Iverson trade. ↵

↵

↵Those moves over the past year now look incoherent. Richard Hamilton ↵got a sweetheart extension that takes an aging shooter to age 34, but ↵Billups -- whose game is based more on wits and strength and figures to age ↵considerably better -- was shipped out to Denver for nothing more than a substandard Iverson and cap ↵space. That cap space was immediately used to acquire Ben Gordon and ↵Charlie Villanueva, volume shooters who play little defense, thus taking ↵the Pistons out of the 2010 mega-sweepstakes entirely. ↵

↵

↵The Pistons are without a true center or post defender. Their ↵backcourt has three players who need to shoot to be effective, two of ↵whom are getting eight-figures and a third who will need to be extended ↵soon. They have no money via which to acquire anyone else and will be ↵maybe a few million under the cap when the true feeding frenzy goes down ↵next year. They've apparently condemned themselves to years of ↵first-round exits. ↵

↵

↵True Hoop noted this and exited ↵the bandwagon. And, yeah, as it stands the Pistons are over, along ↵with Joe Dumars's status as a genius. ↵

↵

↵But he does have one bullet left: convince Utah, or someone else, to ↵take Richard Hamilton's contract for one that expires next year and ↵hopefully comes in the form of a post. Like, say, Carlos ↵Boozer. That would get the Pistons a max contract under the cap and ↵provide a King Banana with an appealing core of ↵Stuckey-Gordon-Villanueva-Prince to nestle in. Though it looks grim at ↵the moment, it's not quite over yet. ↵

↵

↵*(Not to sound like one of those fans, but Simmons brings up ↵his Dumars/Pistons antipathy enough to get defensive about it in ↵response to critical emailers. The Bad Boys/Celtics wars of the late 80s ↵were clearly a formative experience for Simmons, and that lingers on. ↵Fair play to him-that's what makes him the country's most popular ↵sportswriter.) ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.