Tag: Joe Dumars

Reggie Lewis

Toughest guy Joe Dumars guarded not named Jordan? Reggie Lewis.


Because his life and career was cut down in its prime, you can forget just how great an offensive player Reggie Lewis was. The Celtics swingman averaged 20.8 points a game the final two years of his career.

Joe Dumars didn’t forget.

The now Pistons GM sat down with Zach Lowe of Grantland for a Q&A, mostly to talk about Detroit’s offseason (more coming on that in a future post), but Zach ended it with a great fan question:

Who was the toughest guy Dumars ever had to guard not named Michael Jordan?

…it was Reggie Lewis for me. He was long, athletic, smooth, he could raise up over you and shoot. He was a really good defender, too. He was a tough, tough cover. Man, he was a tough guy to guard. He was definitely the one, other than MJ, who was the toughest for me to figure out. He was so long, and you couldn’t really get physical with him, because he was so slim, and it always seemed like I was getting called for fouls. He was a great, great player.

Lewis died at age 27 of a heart condition, at the peak of his career. If you didn’t know about him, you should read the fantastic piece Jackie MacMullan did at ESPN about him recently.

And you can watch this.

Joe Dumars denies Brandon Knight-for-Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings trade talks

Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings

The Pistons talking to the Celtics about trading Brandon Knight for Rajon Rondo or the Bucks about Brandon Jennings in general – not true, according to Joe Dumars. Via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

“Never happened, never even a conversation about Brandon,” Dumars said of the Boston Globe report over the weekend. “And today I saw something about Brandon Jennings.

“John Hammond and I were on the phone talking about our dogs.”

The Pistons have several options at point guard, none of them overwhelmingly appealing. Jennings or Rondo would likely upgrade the position for Detroit, but either would require a larger financial commitment plus giving up assets (though Jennings is a free agent, the Pistons no longer have the cap room to sign him outright, so a sign-and-trade would be necessary).

If the Pistons are serious about making the playoffs, they should be at least exploring ways to get Rondo or Jennings. That doesn’t mean there’s a good trade available, but it’s at least worth investigating.

So, why wouldn’t Dumars talk to Danny Ainge about Knight? And why wouldn’t he talk to Hammond about Jennings? There is no good reason, just as there’s no good reason to alienate Knight over a trade that probably won’t happen.

Dumars isn’t under oath. General managers mislead the media all the time, sometimes going as far as outright lying. Is that the case here? I have no idea, but it’s standard protocol for general managers to deny all trade talks until a deal is actually reached.

Likely, we’ll never find out whether Dumars discussed these options with the Bucks and Celtics.

Though he’d be a marginal upgrade, Jennings isn’t a great fit with a frontline of non-shooters in Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, and Jennings would cost much more than Knight, who has two years remaining on his rookie deal.  Rondo would be a much bigger upgrade, especially defensively, but again, his lack of shooting doesn’t mesh well. A Rondo trade might change Detroit’s need for backcourt shooting if the deal involves Drummond (really doubt the Pistons does that) or Monroe (possibly workable) going to the Celtics. But a deal based on Knight for Rondo? I can’t see how Ainge accepts that.

At best, these were probably discussions that went nowhere. Or perhaps, Dumars is being completely forthright. Either way, the result will be the same.

Pistons have nothing to do with Chris Paul trade, but do re-sign Prince and Jerebko

Tayshuan Prince, Gerald Wallace
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From the AP:

DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons are attempting to rebuild by keeping at least a couple key players.

Tayshaun Prince and Jonas Jerebko will re-sign with the Pistons, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because the deals have not been announced.

Prince, an unrestricted free agent, is expected to sign a four year, $27 million contract. Jerebko, a restricted free agent, will be back for a $16 million, four-year deal.

The re-signing of Prince, a 31-year old swingman known for his bizarre-yet-effective shooting stroke, extremely long arms, and quality defense, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense for a rebuilding team like the Pistons — why pay $7 million a year over four years for a solid starter on the tail end of his prime who will become far less effective as he gets less athletic? Prince was there for the Pistons’ championship season and some other great playoff runs, but it may have been imprudent for Detroit to keep Prince in this situation.

Assuming that Jonas Jerebko can come all the way back from the torn Achilles tendon injury that caused him to miss all of last season, his signing makes far more sense for the Pistons than the Prince one did — Jerebko is young, plays with a lot of energy and heart, and has some good all-around skills that should only improve as he logs more time in the NBA.

Still, the Pistons have just committed a total of $11 million a year over the next four years to two role players who will likely never be anywhere close to the All-Star level. After effectively destroying his team by overpaying Charlie Villenueva and Ben Gordon in free agency, you’d think that Joe Dumars would have learned the dangers of paying for mid-level free agents by now, but apparently that’s not the case.

What the Pistons should do when the lockout ends

Toronto Raptors v Detroit Pistons

This is the latest installment of PBT’s series of “What your team should do when the lockout ends.” Up next is the Indiana Pacers. You can also check out our thoughts on other NBA teams here as we work our way through all 30 squads.

Last Season: Other teams lost more games. Other teams had worse injuries. Other teams dealt with worse schedules, worse luck, worse in-game coaching, worse management and worse personnel. No one had a season as bad as the Pistons.

With a few rare, glorious exceptions, nearly every fan, coach and player will endure a few terrible seasons. Ones you just want to forget. Losses pile up, injuries, bad chemistry. But the kind of locker-room disasters that the Pistons organization and their fans sat through last year are the stuff of legend. It started with head coach John Kuester, who lost the locker room nearly the minute he entered it. There’s not a definitive story. But the players bristled and revolted at his leadership from the start, and last year it became unbearable. The veterans on the Pistons, the guys who had been part of championship teams and who knew the ropes of how to be a professional, came unhinged under Kuester. One player acts ridiculous, it’s a personal issue. But when an entire team of guys who coaches have raved about in the past go haywire, there’s a problem at the top.

It doesn’t excuse the behavior, particularly the midseason revolt by several players of boycotting practice. Regardless of your circumstance, you need to be professionals and set an example for the younger players and the league. That’s the same for any job in the country. But if you’re senior management and you have that many employees exhibiting that kind of behavior under one supervisor, you can’t just toss them out as rogue elements. Something drove them there. And so, Kuester was fired after the season, eventually.

The situation was exacerbated by two elements. Rip Hamilton, one of two Pistons who had remained in Detroit the whole time since the championship team, wanted out. Badly. It was time to move on, he could go join a veteran contender (Chicago would have eaten their left arms, or Kyle Korver, to get Hamilton after the deadline). But he didn’t want to give up any of his remaining salary, or at least not a reasonable amount. He wanted his cake and to eat it, too. After what he’d done for the Pistons through the years, after how he was treated (in his mind) by Kuester, maybe he thought he was owed. The fact remains that multiple reports indicated a deal was on the table for Hamilton to walk away, and he declined over the money. Instead, he facilitated a revolt.

Which would have been fixable. Ownership could have likely spit off the money to get rid of him, it would have made the team better, opened some room for the younger guys, been the best thing for everyone. Except the Pistons were locked. Ownership was in the process of selling the team, and as such, movement was restrained. Finances needed to be settled and options were put on hold.

Unhappy players, a failing coach, a struggling team, a withering fanbase in an area leveled by the economy (over the past thirty years, not just the most recent downturn), a dysfunctional locker room and a frozen ownership.

So, no, the Pistons did not have a very good year.

Since we last saw the Pistons: New owner! With the untold riches of a Los Angeles (Laker fan!) owner, comes the promise of hope. Off the bat, Lawrence Frank was hired, a defensive minded coach with good experience who is a hard-nosed guy but someone the players will likely respect, at least more than Kuester (granted, they’d respect an actual pizza guy more , but still).  Those have been the big changes, and the rest will come after the lockout’s over, when Joe Dumars and management can start to get the house in order. Because clearly, there’s a realization that things have gone awry in Denmark.

Whether that means paying off Hamilton, trading Tayshaun Prince, trading Ben Gordon, trading Charlie Villanueva, or some combination will have to wait to be seen. But we do know that the Pistons acquired Brandon Knight in the first round, a scoring point guard, which could pave the way for Rodney Stuckey’s departure. Signs seem to indicate major changes are coming, but we’ve sensed that for two years with no consummation. Waiting is not fun.

When the lockout ends, the Pistons need to: Cut bait.  It’s time for a new era, and the crazy part is, if the Pistons will commit to it, they have a really exciting future ahead of them.

In the summer of 2009, the Pistons signed two big free agent signings. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Villanueva, despite being a worse player, actually made quite a bit of sense. The Pistons needed a power forward with range who could score. They needed scoring, pretty badly. Gordon? Gordon was mystifying. They had Rodney Stuckey. They had Rip Hamilton. They had Will Bynum. The last thing they needed was an undersized two-guard pure scorer. Yet, there went $55 million.

Gordon’s still a decent player. His drops can be attributed to coaching, system, and personnel changes. (That’s right, Vinny Del Negro to John Kuester was a step down. I’m not trying to kill Kuester here, I think he’ll be a great assistant in this league and possibly a better head coach next time out, bu the facts, they are not comforting.) He also suffered a wide variety of injuries. Villanueva was pretty much what was expected. He’s actually surprisingly not dramatically overpaid. He makes between $7.5 million and $8.5 million over the next four seasons. Bench role player who can score some, not bad. Not great, but he didn’t sign a $13 million per year deal.

But both of these players have to go. Along with Tayshaun Prince (unrestricted free agent) and Hamilton ($12.5 million guaranteed left on his deal), Rodney Stuckey (restricted free agency), and Tracy McGrady. It’s time to blow it up and start over. Thing is, they’re already halfway there.

Very quietly, Dumars has drafted exceptionally well over the past few years. Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe, and Brandon Knight. You throw in a superstar wing after a year of spectacular sucking (hello, Harrison Barnes!) and you’ve got something cooking there. Fill it out with free agency after a purge and you have a real shot at building something.

It should be noted I have a soft spot for most of these guys which belies their production. I see a higher ceiling than they’ve shown, and I always tend to catch their better games on League Pass. Daye is a 13.0 PER player who shot .518 TrueShooting% and doesn’t rebound or assist well. So naturally, my confidence in him is a little nuts. But really? He’s got the tools to get there under the right leadership. Monroe has already shown he can be a top flight center in this league. Whether that’s because of the abject void of quality centers outside of the top five or his actual ceiling is yet to be determined, but he’s a safe bet for a quality starter. Jerebko lost most of last season due to injury, but he’s a hustle junkie who thrives on contact and makes all those plays you want him to make. Knight has a terrific jumper. He’s going to turn the ball over so much it will make you cry, but there’s an ability there to develop into the guard of the future.

There’s a core, buried beneath all the veterans mistakenly assembled for a late-seed playoff run. The Pistons just have to commit themselves to it. When the lockout ends, there’s work to be done. But it’s not a total detonation, not a house cleaning. Just a severe remodeling.

Report: Frank reaches contract terms with Pistons

Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks
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We’ve known for a week that Lawrence Frank was going to be next coach of the Pistons. Detroit fans are restless about this — they badly wanted Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer to get the gig — but Frank was the guy who blew everyone away during the interview process.

Of course, there was still that little matter of coming to terms on a contract. Well, they reached those terms Friday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

The Detroit Pistons have reached agreement with Lawrence Frank on a four-year contract to become their head coach, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The fourth season of Frank’s contract is a team option that could become fully guaranteed based on incentives. Frank is expected to sign the contract early next week in Auburn Hills, Mich., where the team plans an introductory news conference.

While the people in Detroit don’t like it, I still think this is a good hire. Frank is a basketball lifer who understands the game, what it takes to rebuild a team (which is what the Pistons must do) and has been in the big seat previously. And before you say he blew that chance, look at what the Nets ownership did to the roster during his tenure — you can’t win without talent. Frank has been an assistant in other places and watched how Doc Rivers interacted with players up close. He has earned another shot.

One other interesting tweet from Woj:

From start of interview process, Frank was clearly Joe Dumars’ choice to replace John Kuester. Ownership agreed. No close second in process.

This is different than earlier reports, which had Mike Woodson as Dumars preferred choice, albeit slightly as he liked Frank also, and new owner Tom Gores preferring Frank. You can take the above comments as truth or post-hiring spin, depending on your mood.