No team has had a more disappointing start to the season than the New Orleans Pelicans, but a change could be on the way. Many league executives believe the franchise is close to handing Joe Dumars the reins, according to CBS Sports' Ken Berger.
Dumars, a Hall of Fame guard who served as the Pistons' President of Basketball Operations for 13 seasons, has been out of the league since stepping down from that position in April 2014. He guided the Pistons to one title and six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances, and was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2003.
But the Pistons missed the playoffs in Dumars' final five seasons in Detroit, thanks in large part to his missteps. He went through five head coaches over that span and made a number of poor moves in free agency, such as signing Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Josh Smith to major contracts. He did, however, leave the Pistons with Andre Drummond, whom he selected No. 9 overall in 2012.
Dumars, a Louisiana native, is said to be close to Pelicans owner Tom Benson. Mickey Loomis, the general manager of the NFL's New Orleans Saints who are also owned by Benson, is currently assuming more control over the Pelicans. However, both he and Benson are reportedly looking to hire someone with a basketball background to act as general manager Dell Demps' boss or replacement.
Why hiring Joe Dumars makes sense for the Pelicans
Things didn't end well with him in Detroit, but there's no arguing with his early record with the Pistons. It's not just that Dumars was able to construct a team strong enough to take down the three-time defending champion Shaq-and-Kobe Lakers in 2004. It's that he was able to build a team that sustained its success and that he did so by mining for hidden gems.
The list of previously struggling players who were able to excel under Dumars' regime is a long one. Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton are the three most obvious examples, but there are more. Those players were the core of an incredibly successful run.
New Orleans already has a stud in Anthony Davis, and a new head coach who's respected around the league in Alvin Gentry, though the team no doubt expected Gentry to coax a better performance out his players this season. The Pelicans now need competent and talented secondary players whom Gentry could trust and slot alongside Davis. This is an area where Dumars could help.
Why hiring Joe Dumars doesn't make sense for the Pelicans
Because as good as he was at the beginning of his time in Detroit, that's how bad he was toward the end. There were the crippling free agent deals mentioned above, as well as the inability to find and settle on one head coach. He reportedly didn't open his mind, let alone embrace the analytics that teams can now access. Oh, and don't forget about Darko.
Dumars did a fantastic job building a championship team. He never showed any ability or capacity to come close to building one around a separate core.
That kind of leadership is not what the Pelicans need. This is now Davis' fourth year in the NBA, and New Orleans has yet to hand him a legitimate No. 2 star. Kevin Durant was given Russell Westbrook early on. Davis' current tenure with New Orleans is more reminiscent of LeBron James' first go-around with the Cavaliers.
Given Dumars' recent history, it's unlikely he addresses this issue. Chances are he throws lots of money at some second-tier player.
It's long been assumed that Dumars would eventually take over things in New Orleans. Now Berger is reporting that the rest of the league seems to believe so as well. It seems like this is more of a case of "when" than "if."