Joe Dumars busted the bank open last summer, hoping to land significant improvements on the top free agents while everyone else was waiting on 2010. The results have been an absolute disaster. Ben Gordon, even when he’s healthy, is not the dynamic instant-offense he was in Chicago. Charlie Villanueva has not flourished with a different roster. The Pistons have talent, just not enough.
So now Dumars is faced with trying to remake the team twice in a year.
The Detroit Free Press touches on a comment Dumars made last week discussing his planned use of the Mid Level Exception, which allows for a team to sign a player for an average NBA salary without regard to their cap situation. The Lakers used theirs on Ron Artest, for example. It’s a nifty way to add talent while maintaining flexibility.
The idea for Dumars is that while other teams are throwing out money for the top free agents (LeBron, Wade, etc.), the Pistons can use the MLE to attract a veteran like Marcus Camby looking for a long-term deal.
The MLE will certainly help, but it’s still rearranging deck chairs unless Dumars pulls the trigger on what he’s been waiting on. He’s traded Chauncey Billups and allowed Rasheed Wallace to head for greener (no pun intended) pastures. But Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince remain on roster, despite limited production and restrictive contracts. Dumars can seek to add quality talent in the draft and through the MLE, but he needs to pull the trigger on the rest of the 2004 Championship core if he really wants to start over.
Of course, closing his eyes, crossing his fingers, and wishing on a star to undo the contract to Gordon might not be a bad idea, either.