Someone Needs To Take The Keys Away From Joe Dumars During Free Agency


With the NBA free agency frenzy that took place the past week, there are two concrete things we learned. Number one, NBA GMs and accountants did not learn a damn thing from the most recent lockout if all these contracts they handed out are any indication, so please, spare us the crying poor routine as a league. If you can pay bench players and question marks ridiculous sums for multiple years, you’re doing just fine.

And number two, Joe Dumars is not to be trusted in the free-agency space. Under any circumstances.

Listen, the fact that Dumars inked Josh Smith to a four-year, $56 million isn’t egregious at face value. Smith is a very talented, very versatile, borderline all-star player who is certainly exciting to watch for his defensive prowess, athleticism and insane box score stuffing. But he is also a flawed player who takes too many jump shots that he doesn’t make and is better suited as the second or third best player on a contending team rather than a cornerstone for a youth movement that is looking three or four years down the road.

That’s why this signing him makes absolutely zero sense for the Pistons. Smith is a valuable player who would do a ton of teams a lot of good, but Detroit isn’t one of them. For starters, his poor shot selection and at times disinterested attitude aren’t exactly the type of things you want such a young core to pick up on — and this is coming from a huge Josh Smith fan. Secondly, Smith is much more in the mold of an athletic power forward than anything else, meaning his presence will cut in to playing time for the dynamic, talented and raw young big men the Pistons already have in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

What the Pistons really need is some stability and talent in the backcourt, not a splashy signing for a talented but flawed big man. Brandon Knight has not proven yet he can be the effective point guard they had hoped, and we’re all still waiting for Rodney Stuckey to be even a fraction of as good as he was purported to be. Instead, they tied up $14 million a year in a veteran that probably won’t’ be around when the team is actually ready to take the next step.

It’s the type of signing that brings you back to that infamous summer of 2009, when Dumars lost his damn mind and signed Ben Gordon — a sixth man — to a five-year, $55 million deal and Charlie Villanueva — an OK player — to a five-year, $35 million contract. That was $90 million for what amounted to two bench players. We all saw the results. And truthfully, Dumars hasn’t made a single sound free-agent signing since he hit the jackpot a decade ago, inking Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton in repeat off-seasons — two of the core players on that 2004 championship team.

Here are the free agents Dumars has signed in the decade since Rip Hamilton fled the Wizards for Motown, in reverse order: Josh Smith, Vernon Hamilton, Ike Diogu, washed-up Tracy McGrady, Chucky Atkins, Maceo Baston, washed-up Ben Wallace, Chris Wilcox, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, old Antonio McDyess, Kwame Brown, Will Bynum, washed-up Theo Ratliff, Gerald Fitch, Jarvis Hayes, deceased Chris Webber, Nazr Mohammed, Flip Murray, Ronald Dupree, Maurice Evans, the carcass of Dale Davis, mummified Elden Campbell, Nigel Dixon, Smush Parker, Terrance Shannon, Ronald Dupree, Antonio McDyess, Derrick Zimmerman, Ronald Dupree (yep, three times), Chris Garner, Rod Grizzard, A.J. Guyton, Justin Hamilton, Tang Hamilton and Darvin Ham.

I did not make up a single player on that list. Joe Dumars signed all of these people in free agency. True story.

Now, I’m not entirely saying Dumars should be fired. After all, he was the architect of the early 2000s Pistons, a team that dominated the Eastern Conference and won an NBA title. Since being named president of basketball operations in the summer of 2000, he’s done a lot of good — trading for perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ben Wallace; signing Billups and Hamilton; drafting Mehmet Okur, Tayshaun Prince, Arron Afflalo, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond; trading for Rasheed Wallace, among others. Those were all sound, sometimes brilliant moves — moves that brought home a championship and moves that provided solid young talent moving forward.

But the Pistons have been a laughingstock the past five years, and Dumars has had a big hand in that. Beyond the infamous Darko Milicic pick in the now famous 2003 draft, Dumars hasn’t exactly done much to put Detroit in good standing for the future. Even his draft picks, excluding Monroe and Drummond, have shown very little for the most part. And he hasn’t even made anything you could consider a wise free-agent move since luring Hamilton away a decade ago, unless you want to say an effective if slowed Antonio McDyess following the championship season.

Now with Josh Smith, Dumars made another baffling move. Had another team close to contention shelled out the same contract, I wouldn’t have blinked. Like I said, Josh Smith is a very good, very valuable player on the right team. But Detroit is not that team. The Pistons are nowhere near contention, and Smith only gets in the way of the development of the young bigs the Pistons looked to be building around, just like signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva made no sense a few years ago. Perhaps Smith will go out and prove that he can be the right mentor for a young team, can be the man and help turn things around in Detroit, but consider me skeptical because logically the move simply doesn’t make sense.

It’s been 10 full years since Dumars actually improved Detroit’s future with a free-agent signing. Perhaps it’s time to take his keys away during the NBA’s free agency period.

10 Replies to “Someone Needs To Take The Keys Away From Joe Dumars During Free Agency”

  1. Hamilton wasnt a free agency move, he was acquired from Washington for Jerry Stackhouse… Billups was a free agency move and even back then no one expected to get what they got out of “Mr. Big Shot.” There are plenty of teams you can nitpick with a fine tooth comb over their player acquisitions that havent panned out and it would be a lot worse than the pistons

    Yes the signing is a head scratcher to a lot of Pistons fans and outside observers but thats becaues they are expecting more out of Drummond than they should. Even going into his second year dude isnt ready to be a full blown 40+ minute contributor. Yes he showed some glimpses of what the future could be, but that future is 3/4 years from now not this upcoming season. Dude still is very raw and hasnt shown the ability to do it for long stretches of time, last season he had zero games above 36 minutes. He is still a work in progress and for the times where he doesnt have it, being able to slide Monroe back to the 5 place J. smooth at the 4 is a major upgrade to a team that still was giving Jason maxiel any minutes last season .

    While yes there are some questions in the backcourt for the Pistons there was NO free agent out there that would have solved that issue. I am giving Mo Cheeks the opportunity to see what he can do with BK and dont be surprised if Siva turns out to be a legitimate contributor down the line as a pure point. Drafting Caldwell-Pope and signing the Italian league MVP Luigi Datome addresses their lack of perimeter shooting and add in high flyer Tony Mitchell and an improving Khris Middleton this team could be vying for the playoffs within 2 seasons (if not this season like Sekou Smith predicts)

    Tossing money to players like Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala would have been just as detrimental to the growth of the franchise and because of the fact NBA teams have to be 90% within the cap they had to spend it, and I feel more comfortable giving Josh Smith that money compared to passing it out to 3-4 guys who would have been space fillers.

    Just out of curiosity who should they have spent the 20 million on because its not like they could have carried it over to next year

    1. Rip was signed to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent but yes, you are right, it was a sign and trade for stack. As for who I’d give the money to, I would give it to 3-4 guys to fill out the roster on short contracts, giving the young team flexibility, instead of having the money locked up for 4 years on a team nowhere near contention.

      As for Drummond, maybe he’s not ready to play 40 minutes, but I’d want him out there as much as possible so he does get that experience. That’s just me. Being a Sixers fan, I know how damaging, even with playoff performances, signing a big free agent can be if he doesn’t get you any closer to the prize. That’s my thought process, but admittedly I’m not a Pistons fan.

      I am Josh Smoth fan, though

      1. and no one they are able to attract as a free agent is going to get them on the doorsteps of the championship. that 04 team was very fortunate because just like Josh Smith they had players in Rip, Chauncey, Sheed and even Ben that other teams had given up on but they still had alot to prove and meshed well.

        Every team wont be an OKC who acquired talent through the draft or LA/Miami and be hot spots because of the city, some will have to take risks and just like your Sixers took a risk in trading their best player because they knew he wasnt going to get them to the chip the Pistons know they had to start somewhere and Smith can at least be the guy that gets them back into the playoffs

        like Ed said the D isnt a desired destination for most free agents except for the Tigers and the Wings and it took the tigers winning to get to land Fielder, and the Wings have enough of a championship history that players respect that, but with the Lions and Pistons they will have to overpay or take chances and hope they work out

  2. Good God that list of free agent signings made my stomach turn.

    Personally, I really like the Josh Smith signing. This notion of Andre Drummond all of a sudden playing 40 minutes a night and Josh Smith being locked in at the 3 is absurd. Ideally I think you’ll see JSmith and Monroe out there in crunch time and that’s a nice option to have all three go big when needed.

    Moreover, JSmith is very Westbrook-ish where we focus so much on what irks us about him that everything else is overlooked. JSmith is an awesome player, and I’m not sure who else Detroit thinks they’d be able to get better than him from a talent/skill standpoint. Is he moody? Yeah, but so is Kobe/Rondo/Westbrook and plenty of other players. Does he take egregious jumpers? Yeah, but so do others.

    I’d even go so far to say that this signing by Dumars is the BEST signing he’s made since bringing in Rasheed, so job well done to ole #4.


    1. I need both of you to explain to me how this helps the development of the Pistons. Yes, Smith is automatically the best player on this team … which is actually a problem. A team with Smith as the best player isn’t getting close to contention, especially when the rest of the roster is so green. So what purpose does he serve other than keeping Detroit as an at-best 7 seed-type team for the next four years? I’m still trying to find the actual basketball logic for the franchise and its vision. What am I missing?

      1. Hey man, they got better. That in itself, matters. They drafted some guys, waiting for some other guys to develop, we’ll see. I’m not sure what you expect them to do, because its not like guys are targeting Detroit as a destination. Gotta go pay for what you want.

      2. in a league where good players want to play with other good players having one in Smith makes it attractive to other equal tier players (how do u think they got in the conversation about maybe acquiring Rondo, they are cool with another and instantly became an option)…
        The tigers went through the same thing when they overpaid for pudge rodriguez and when the lions were at vanden bosh front door at the start of free agency a couple years back, sometimes you have to take a leap of faith on a free agent that normally wouldnt fit into your plans for future successes.

        Stars want to see that teams are willing to invest, remember this is the same reason why Lebron left cleveland and Dwight claimed he left Orlando they werent willing to bring in parts to help.

        Look at it this way, say Smith does have a good couple of years and drummond steps up, now you have a trading piece in Monroe (who many feel may have hit his ceiling as far as growth) to acquire another star to take them from that 6-7 seed to a 3-4 or better.

        The pistons already have too many players on the roster to begin with and bringing 3 other guys who stood no chance at improving the team would have clogged the bench and not given them the opportunity to see if Khris Middleton, Tony Mitchell, Peyton Siva have what it takes to be real contributors on the team

        1. Alright, I feel your arguments and can get with it. But seeing the Sixers firsthand sign Iguodala and Brand to huge deals just so the sixers could be perennial 7-10 was brutal. I don’t wish that on anyone, except maybe the Lakers and Celtics.

  3. This move is stunting the growth of Monroe and Drummond. I don’t really understand why they signed Smith, I just call it Joe D being Joe D. Out of all the teams that wanted him I didn’t see this as the place that fit him but we can at least say that Joe D pays cats a la Isiah Thomas style lmao

  4. Rev – I clearly see your point and it’s well taken. It seems as though the Darko signing has cursed Dumars and every decision after that has been less than best.

    However, I salute a team for giving its fans a reason to come out and watch the team. Let’s take your Sixers for example. They traded away an All Star PG to rebuild. They are hoping for lucky ping pong balls and to have a good team three or four years from now. That means a fan who shells out for two $50 per game season tix will spend over $12 grand watching a D-League lineup before he can hope for a playoff berth.

    The Pistons and Cavs are in a similar situation. They can’t attract top free agents who prefer more glamorous destinations. They have to roll the dice with Bynum or Smith and hope.

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