Joe Dumars Is on the Hot Seat, But He Probably Won’t Be Fired
Dumars Has Positioned Team Well for the Future
Joe Dumars has not given the Detroit Pistons much of an opportunity to win since the infamous trade for Allen Iverson. A string of overvaluing team veterans, undervaluing his own surprisingly good late-round draft picks, bad contracts and ill-timed, expensive contract extensions have sunk this team for the past four seasons. As a result, Dumars is on the hot seat this year and rightfully so. Many league observers believe that if the Pistons miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season, owner Tom Gores will finally pull the plug on the longtime team icon. However, I think Dumars has bought (quite literally) himself a little more wiggle room than that.
With this offseason’s moves, the Pistons are not only in position to secure a playoff spot, but they also have themselves quite a bit of flexibility. They’ve got roughly $17 million in expiring deals after this season. At the very least, this is cap room that can be used to extend budding star Greg Monroe and still have some money left over to make improvements to the roster. Pistons fans shouldn’t expect another massive signing like that of Josh Smith, but it should be enough money to make a pretty substantial upgrade or two. With this in mind, should the Pistons narrowly miss the playoffs this season, Gores has to like where Dumars has placed this team for the future.
Here is a more in depth look at why Dumars can expect to keep his job even if the Pistons come close but fail to make the postseason.
As they were at last season’s trade deadline, Detroit should be a prime trade candidate for teams wanting a shakeup their roster approaching the playoff push. With several young players showing sizable upside and a couple of expiring deals, the Pistons have plenty on their roster to make other teams interested.
If they want to land another big name they will likely have to give up Greg Monroe, but it wouldn’t be a bad move for the right player. Not only would they spare themselves of having to throw loads of cash Monroe’s way, but they could find themselves with another significant position upgrade without seriously compromising their depth. Andre Drummond and Josh Smith are a formidable frontcourt even without Monroe added to the equation.
If they want to keep Monroe, however, they could still upgrade their roster by trading the expiring deals of Rodney Stuckey and/or Charlie Villanueva to a team looking to bolster their “Tank for Andrew Wiggins” campaign.
Brandon Jennings May Have Been a Steal
The Brandon Jennings signing was a great deal for the Pistons for several reasons. At roughly $8 million per year a player of Jennings’ stature is quite a bargain, and he is a considerable upgrade over Brandon Knight. Jennings, while far from flawless, has shown that he is capable of running an NBA level offense for extended periods of time, something Knight has yet to come close to proving. Even if Jennings doesn’t quite fit with this team, Dumars shouldn’t have too much trouble moving his contract in a trade if he needs to.
Dumars Continually Drafts Well
Joe Dumars has proven himself to be quite an adept drafter, especially with late first-round and second-round picks, and he appears to have lived up to his reputation once again this year by drafting Peyton Siva and Tony Mitchell.
Mitchell was pegged to be a lottery pick a year ago before displaying a lackluster sophomore season at North Texas, and many still believe he could be a legitimate rebounding and block machine in the mold of a young Ben Wallace. Siva, on the other hand, was not on anybody’s short list to make an NBA roster this season. He was sure to be selected with one of the very last picks in the draft, but the general consensus was that he lacked the physical tools and jump shooting necessary to become a successful point guard in the NBA. His showing in summer league has shown he has some potential to eventually become a capable backup point guard if he continues to improve.
Fans Finally Have Something to Be Excited About
There should be plenty more Pistons fans filling up the Palace this season. Over the past four years, attendance in Detroit (er, Auburn Hills) has been average to very poor. This reason alone is enough to fire a GM. While every team wants to put a winner out on the floor, the ultimate measure of a team’s success from a business standpoint is how much revenue is generated. The Pistons have ranked 28th in attendance the last two seasons. Gores cannot be happy about this and certainly has to be demanding an improvement.
With the addition of two exciting players, the emergence of Andre Drummond in the national spotlight, and the return of fan favorites Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace (as an assistant coach), it shouldn’t be as hard to lure folks into seats this year even if the team isn’t playing well. The amount of highlight plays and nostalgia should be enough to entice fans to part with a little dough here and there. While attendance may not return to championship levels, the team should see a substantial uptick in ticket sales compared to their most recent seasons, which should please Tom Gores.
Dumars Has Devised a Good Looking Long-Term Plan
Because of the flexibility and bright future he appears to have provided for this Pistons team, I don’t think Joe Dumars is a lock to be fired if the Pistons fail to make the playoffs again this year. Not only should the team see a dramatic improvement in the win column this season, but the Pistons have a lot of flexibility to make the roster tweaks that will be necessary to continue the team's improvement. If Detroit misses the playoffs by a game or two, I think Joe Dumars has given himself the opportunity to see his new plan through for this team for at least another season. If this team completely busts, however, expect this to be the final season Dumars remains in Detroit’s front office.