So I’ve hesitated posting about this because I hate when people bring up Darko Milicic and the #2 pick that Joe D. whiffed on (Here is a reminder of what happened in the 2003 NBA Draft). I’ve defended the pick by saying that several NBA GMs had interest in Milicic, it wasn’t only Joe D. that liked him. Add that defense to the rumors of the Denver Nuggets possibly selecting Milicic at #3 if Detroit would have chosen Carmelo Anthony and well, we all see a clearer picture of what kind of potential others around the league thought Milicic had. When LeBron James and Chris Bosh both left their teams last week to go to Miami, to play with Dwyane Wade, it got me thinking:
If Detroit drafted Dwyane Wade, could he or would he have recruited the other 2 guys to Detroit?
The immediate answer is no, because with the way the Pistons managed the contracts of players following the 2004 championship run, Cleveland and Toronto likely would have not wanted to do a sign and trade for anything the Pistons would have had on their roster this offseason. Add that to the fact that Miami tanked a season between their 2006 title run and this offseason, and it allowed for guys with minimum contracts to come and go and contracts to expire while young and underpaid players remain behind.
Sure it would have been nice to see D. Wade bringing the ball up the floor with LeBron on the wing and Bosh working at the high elbow in the paint, all the while wearing the Pistons red, blue and white but… it’s highly doubtful that the chips would have fallen the way they did in Miami, for Detroit.
Don’t get me wrong here guys, this is not me bashing on Joe Dumars. He’s a well respected Executive and one of the better GMs in the league right now. Sure, he might have kept the core group from 2004 together a little longer than I would have liked but, no matter how much respect and experience Dumars has, he’s not as good at being a snake like Pat Riley. Dumars would have never buried it into LeBron’s head that every team in the league should retire Jordan’s #23, only Riley has that much respect for Jordan. If you’ll remember, Dumars was the only one in the league who could slow Jordan down, and there’s no way Dumars would sell himself to LeBron by pushing that idea on him while also playing up to his needs and requirements for him to join the team.
The same goes for Bosh. Bosh, a player who I openly lobbied for Detroit to go after this offseason at the beginning of last season. I saw how dirty he did the Toronto fans by simply reading his twitter feed during the whole process leading up to July 1. Tweets like “alright followers, where should I go next season?” and then at midnight July 1 talking about it was going to be so tough on him even though he had a reality TV crew following him around while he made a mockery of the entire process.
And for all that above? I’m not happy that Detroit likely won’t make the playoffs this season however, I am happy though that the organization did not back down from their experience from previous winning seasons. It’s more about team and making the pieces fit than it is about 1 player and selling your team’s soul just to keep 1 out of 15 players happy. Look at what Dan Gilbert ended up with in Cleveland. Look at what Toronto ended up with. They did all they could to keep their marquee names happy and what happened? Those guys ran away to play 3 on 5 basketball for the next 6 seasons. It will be an alley oop fest next season in South Beach. Miami doesn’t have enough season tickets to satisfy the demands. But at the end of the day, you look at the wreckage of the Raptors and Cavaliers roster and you have to think to yourself “sure, it would have been nice to not give Hamilton such a big contract but really… at least the roster is balanced and not leaning so heavily on 1 guy that just left”.
I’m satisfied that yeah, Joe D. whiffed during the 2003 Draft but they still legitimately competed from 2003-2008, than I am with “well yeah, we got D Wade but we’re worrying about what sort of bit players we can put around him so he won’t get mad at us and leave”. If you want to see what DetroitBadBoys and this site would look like after having D Wade, LeBron or Bosh leave? Check out a Raptors or Cavs blog. Fans are bitter and angry, if they’re even commenting at all anymore. In some cases, it’s like a ghost town on the lesser known blogs.
We all know what the Pistons shortcomings are this season: a lot of money tied up in older players who aren’t going to be a part of the rebuilding process, a small frontcourt, and a coaching staff lead by an inexperienced Head Coach. Those 3 previously mentioned shortcomings are nothing like what the Cavaliers have to go through just to field a competitive team next season. The Cavaliers are in the same position that the 2004-2005 Detroit Tigers were in. They’re going to have to overpay a couple of free agents to come in and show the rest of the league that Cleveland isn’t such a bad place to play. They’re going to have to nail their drafts over the next couple of years to develop their own young talent just to show other players in the league that Cleveland is an up and comer once again.
Call me a hater if you want. I don’t hate any of those 3 guys who are members of the Miami Heat now. Good for them. Maybe they’ll get rings, maybe they won’t. It doesn’t mean 2 of them didn’t do their teams dirty by flirting with the fact they were going to be free agents this summer while their GMs scrambled to acquire guys, with their input, who would make that 1 player happy.