First off, Fish and Oleh have been big on pegging New Orleans getting Joe Dumars as their next general manager. Always seemed like a foregone conclusion to them, while I've always been skeptical about it. Then, CBS Sports' Ken Berger report that with Saints general manager and Pelicans vice president Mickey Loomis taking a larger role in operations with New Orleans, that hiring former Pistons GM Joe Dumars, or at least, getting Dumars back into the fold, seemed like an inevitability.
I always felt like the Pelicans were going to hire someone to oversee all of New Orleans' basketball operations, largely because Loomis has almost no real experience running a basketball team. Someone like Danny Ferry, who I mentioned previously, made sense to me, because of all the things he did in Atlanta. If the Pelicans were to go down the basic general manager route, I thought a new age GM - one that believes strongly in analytics and building - was ideal.
However, before doing any real research, the link between Dumars and New Orleans seemed awful to me. From 2009 to 2013 - Dumars' final five seasons at the helm - the Pistons won more than 30 games one time, a 39-43 season in 2008, but never finished in the top five of any lottery. They were worse than terrible, they were irrelevant. In the same run, Detroit had five coaches, including the immortal John Kuester, who the Pistons players run a mutiny against him in his final season.
And his free agency moves have been infamous or non-descript since 2008. The Pistons signed Ben Gordon for $55 million over five years and Charlie Villanueva for $35 million over five years, both moves to set the franchise back. Add the contracts of Gordon and Villanueva to Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton, the latter on the downside of his career, and the Pistons had close to $42 million locked up without an ideal number one or two option. This piece by Detroit Bad Boys sums up the disappointment of the summer of 2009 succinctly.
The Pelicans are entering a tough period for the franchise. With Quincy Pondexter now out for the year, additional help to the roster would have to come in a trade and their biggest need, a 3-and-D wing, is one of the more tougher talents to acquire. Anthony Davis is a top seven player in the league, and while I stand closer to the "trade" side with Jrue Holiday, his performance against the Clippers shows you how much of an impact he can have when he's 100 percent.
Other than that? Everyone else gets an "Ehhhhhhhhh" from me, which is a problem because Anthony Davis' extension kicks in and it only adds to the pressure of building a contender. Do you really trust Joe Dumars to correctly build around Davis and Holiday and create a team that can contend - let's say make a handful of second round appearances and sneak into a WCF - and contend long-term? I honestly don't think Dumars can, based on the recent information we had.
On the other hand, how much value or stock do we put into Dumars' past? When I wrote my Danny Ferry piece a few weeks ago, one sentiment from it was that the Pelicans fans wanted someone who has "championship experience." Dumars did just that in 2004. He did that in 2004 with little to no help from his 2003 first round pick, Darko Milicic. He drafted Tayshaun Prince in the first round and Memo Okur in round two, signed Chauncey Billups after he shuffled through several teams early in his career and traded for Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and Rasheed Wallace. Throw in coaching genius and vagabond Larry Brown and the Pistons turned into one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
From 2001 to 2007, the Pistons won 50 games seven times, made the Eastern Conference Finals six times, the NBA finals twice and won it all in 2004. One of the more impressive, and underrated runs in recent memory as they went from Rick Carlisle, to Larry Brown, to Flip Saunders (R.I.P) and never missed a step. It took the rise of LeBron and Dwyane Wade, plus the new Boston Celtics big three from making it to another finals.
And while excellent may be strong, Dumars was good at drafting. Without a top five pick after 2009, the Pistons drafted Chase Budinger, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler, Andre Drummond, Khris Middleton, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Even as Detroit saw their window close, the Pistons still took Amir Johnson in 2006 and Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo in 2007. All of those are in the league, some are playing well, two got max contracts and Drummond will get a max contract this upcoming summer.
I wonder how those young guys would've worked out if they had a coach who can emphasize development. Still, not a bad list for someone who didn't pick higher than seventh in the first round.
That could be a good thing for New Orleans. If the Pelicans decide to trade pieces off for future assets, perhaps Dumars could use the draft picks in a good way. Even the 2016 first round pick, something the Pelicans need to hit on badly. Dumars failed on Darko Milicic, but A) Darko was a prized prospect and B) the Pistons got something of value for him when they traded him for a draft pick that became Rodney Stuckey.
Adding Denver's 2016 second round pick and Philadelphia's 2017 second rounder gave New Orleans additional assets for the future and guys like Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans could help them net another one. The name Dumars doesn't invoke much hope, but based on his track record, perhaps he'd use the draft picks in a positive way, and when you hit on young talent, you can sign other players to build around them.
I'm still not sure that Dumars should be the next general manager of the Pelicans, but it seems like one way or another, he's going to be brought back into the fold. There are better options inside of basketball, ready to move into the position of building around one of the best building blocks in the league. However, if Dumars is a foregone conclusion, then the best bet would be giving Dumars some assets in the form of draft picks to try to hit on, then looking to add veterans around that.
In other words, making this move in order to win now, probably isn't the way to go.