Report: Joe Dumars to resign as Pistons general manager

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Joe Dumars is the NBA’s longest-tenured general manager.

He’s one of just six active general managers – along with Pat Riley, Donnie Nelson, Mitch Kupchak, Danny Ainge and R.C. Buford – who’ve won an NBA championship in that role.

And he’s soon to be out work.

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Dumars has told multiple sources within the NBA that he plans to resign — possibly as soon as this week

Dumars became the Pistons’ president of basketball operations in 2000, tasked primarily with re-signing Grant Hill.

It didn’t work.

Hill spurned Detroit for the Magic, leaving Dumars to pick up the pieces just months into the job. Dumars settled for a free agent role player named Ben Wallace, ultimately acquiring him in a joint sign-and-trade for Hill.

Next, Dumars ridded the roster of its hefty contracts, creating flexibility. But the moves cost the Pistons on the court, and they lost 50 games in his first season.

Then, Dumars’ reputation rose meteorically as he took the Pistons to new heights.

Dumars acquired overlooked assets, forming a hard-working team that won 50 games under Rick Carlisle’s leadership and defensive system. The Pistons won a playoff series for the first time since the Bad Boys, when Dumars still played.

He took chances, turning over the roster from scrappy to talented. In came Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. Larry Brown, already a Hall of Famer, became head coach. Considering the Pistons had just surpassed any expectations, the talent influx was daring.

One of Dumars’ most-conventional moves in this period was drafting Darko Milicic No. 2 overall in 2003. Nearly every NBA team would have drafted Darko in that situation, but obviously it remains one of the biggest blemishes on Dumars’ record.

Detroit won the 2004 championship, reached Game 7 of the NBA Finals the next season and reached six straight conference finals in all. It was a historically great run.

Then, almost as suddenly, Dumars deconstructed everything he had going.

He traded Billups for Allen Iverson, practically gave away Arron Afflalo and Amir Johnson, signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to big contracts, traded a potentially valuable first rounder to dump Gordon a year early and then used the money on Josh Smith. His latest coaching hires – Maurice Cheeks, Lawrence Frank, John Kuester and Michael Curry – all flopped. The Pistons haven’t won a playoff game in six years.

Along the way, Dumars drafted Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, giving the Pistons real hope to rebuild – hope that still exists. But under new owner Tom Gores, rebuilding was never the goal. Gores wanted to reach the postseason, and Dumars failed to deliver.

That’s why he’s on his way out, whether it’s this week or when the regular season ends next week. Dumars’ contract expires after the season, and ever since Gores stepped over Dumars to fire Cheeks mid-season, it’s been apparent this would be Dumars’ final year with the Pistons.

Whether it’s framed as a resignation, mutual parting or ownership-mandated change doesn’t really matter. Change is happening.

Dumars’ championship and remarkable run as an executive should have gotten him a long leash, and it did. His glory days as a Pistons player probably gave him even more leeway, which is not a courtesy that needed to be extended.

But time has, justifiably, run out. Few general managers would have survived the mistakes Dumars has made the last few years, and now he won’t.

Now, it’s just a matter of it becoming official.

Kobe Bryant says LeBron James has earned the right to take a rest (VIDEO)

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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.

Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.

Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”

Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.

Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.

“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.

The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.

Phil Jackson’s reaction to Kristaps Porzingis getting turned upside down feels about right

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New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise, so any time he’s upended and nearly lands on his noggin it’s a cause for concern. To say the least.

That’s what happened on Monday night, as Porzingis got turned upside down during a play near the basket during a game against the Detroit Pistons.

Porzingis was OK on the play, and Detroit big man Andre Drummond did his best to help catch him so nothing too scary happened.

Still, Knicks president Phil Jackson had a pretty hilarious reaction to the whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when you watch your basketball life flash before your eyes.

Porzingis was unhurt and played a full 37 minutes. New York beat Detroit, 109-95.

Jimmy Butler won’t pick LeBron over Durant as toughest matchup in NBA, and for good reason

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Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler is a smart dude. He’s spent years of offseason work turning himself into a max-level player, and that shows he knows not only how to work but how to attack the game of basketball.

He’s also smart enough to know he shouldn’t go poking the bear when it comes to two future Hall of Fame players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

When asked whether the Cleveland Cavaliers star or the Golden State Warriors scorer was the toughest matchup in the NBA, Butler made sure he wasn’t adding any kind of blackboard material to rile up either player.

Via Twitter:

The best way to defend LeBron or Durant: don’t make them angry.

Smart move, Jimmy.

Likely top-10 pick Dennis Smith Jr. of North Carolina State declares for draft

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This had long been expected, but now it is official.

North Carolina State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. has declared for the NBA Draft. He made the announcement on ESPN saying playing in the NBA is his dream, reports the News & Observer.

“It was definitely an obtainable dream for me,” said in an interview on SportsCenter. “I knew I would chase it with all of my might.”

Smith is considered a top-10 pick (DraftExpress.com has him going seventh currently).

Smith had missed his senior year of high school ball with an ACL injury, but was named ACC Freshman of the Year after averaging 18.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He had two triple-doubles as a freshman. He was also inconsistent. Smith had brilliant games and ones where he looked disinterested.

Smith is unquestionably explosive and athletic, and that makes him a threat both in the open court and getting to the rim off a pick-and-roll. He’s got good handles, he knows how to draw fouls, and you can see his potential to get buckets at the next level. His jump shot needs to be far more consistent to thrive at the next level, however. The questions about Smith are more about his ability to make good decisions and be a floor general. He knows how to survey the floor and create for himself, but can he figure out when to pass to set up teammates? Can he defend consistently? He needs smooth out the rough edges of his game, but the potential to be very good is there.