Joe Dumars steps down as President of Basketball Ops

by | Apr 14, 2014 | 15 comments

For the first time since the 2000-2001 season, the Detroit Pistons will head into their season under new leadership as President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars has stepped down after another disappointing season for the Pistons.

The Hall of Famer Dumars helped assemble the ever popular “Going to Work” Pistons team that made it to the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals for six (6) straight seasons from 2003 – 2008.  Lauded for his ability to put together a ‘team’ that could play well enough together that they could overcome any odds against them in the form of single or double superstar teams, Dumars’ tenure has come to a crashing end from a beginning that lead him to winning the 2002 – 2003 Executive of the Year.  Years of “staying the course” on the championship Pistons teams caused the team to gradually age itself out of competitiveness and it’s mettle being tested after the departure of Ben Wallace to the Chicago Bulls, the disastrous trade of Chauncey Billups to the Nuggets for fading star Allen Iverson, the signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince’s contract extensions, trade of Ben Gordon for a protected #1 pick and then use of Gordon/Hamilton and Prince cap space to sign PF Josh Smith and sign and trade for Brandon Jennings.

Dumars’ failing can easily be identified in player scouting (years of late 1st round picks that fell flat), and his poor use of cap space in an era when so many teams were dumping quality players in order to acquire/sign stars like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony in a league that has slowly changed itself into a star driven league, moreso than a team oriented league.

Dumars will be best remembered for his drafting of Darko Milicic over future All Stars Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony after winning the right to pick #2 in the 2003 NBA Draft after acquiring the pick by trading Otis Thorpe to the Grizzlies for the First Round pick that by the time the 2003 Draft came around was only protected against being #1 overall.  Most NBA fanboys will fill up a comments section of any blog post about Joe Dumars with throwaway comments about how ‘Darko sucks!!11’ or ‘Doomers is the worst’, often forgetting that Milicic was part of the future after Ben Wallace or Rasheed were to re-sign and be too expensive to keep the championship team together.

In recent years Dumars and the front office has improved in the scouting of younger players as they’ve succeeded in drafting 2 quality frontcourt players in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.  Even though both players came highly rated out of High School and College, the naysayers still hammered Dumars for not taking guys who were more statistically inclined to make the transition from preps to pros.

Over time, the league has seemed to pass Dumars and most GMs by.  With the inclusion of statistical analysis along with game tape and other old school ways to gain on opinion on talent, Dumars fought it by saying ‘talent wins out’.  With new owner Tom Gores preaching “playoffs or bust” coming into the season, anything less than a strong showing in a weak Eastern Conference would spell doom for Dumars, and today the gauntlet has been laid down.

Dumars will remain with the team as an advisor, and Assistant General Manager George David and Director of Basketball Operations Ken Catanella step in to lead the Front Office through the NBA Draft and free agency period.  Exciting times are ahead for the Pistons, for sure.


  1. Farid

    Salute to Dumars… wish him well. 30 years of service is pretty awesome when you think about it… He was classy and showed integrity… that cant be debated. bad decisions, yes — but good decisions, yes as well. did he bring in some great young talent, hell yes. not sure as a fan what is happening internally because the Pistons have talent and are not playing towards it…im confused at exactly what is happening but #PistonsFan4Life lol

  2. Motowner

    I haven’t posted much in the last few years but I would like to now. No need in writing something new on each site so I’ll just paste what I posted on PistonPowered.

    “Joe D you were most valuable in the first title, an integral part of the second and mastermind of the third. This is how I shall remember you. If you live for a while in this life you will come to realize that no one gets through it without getting themselves in some problematic situations; and that’s what one gets for being human.

    Thanks man; for helping to bring Motown 3 Titles! 3 more than Atlanta, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Cleveland, Denver, Indiana, LAC, Memphis, Minnesota OKC (sans Seattle), NOP, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento Toronto and Utah; and also for drafting Detroit’s newest Beast of Beasts Bad Boy, Andre Drummond! May good health and good fortune follow you and yours for many years to come Joe D. Go Bad Boys!!!!”

  3. Otis

    Well, I disagree with a few points here. Mainly I take issue with the notion that Dumars took any sort of step forward in terms of scouting for the draft.

    Starting with Monroe: Monroe was not a secret, and he fell to #7 for the same reasons that if we overpay him this summer we’ll regret it. Particularly for a team with a desperate need up front, Monroe was the only player who was even in the discussion when the Pistons drafted, and I don’t think anyone on the planet “hammered” him for the pick. It was an easy, predictable no-brainer. However, if Joe actually used his brain and had this genius eye for scouting, he would have taken Paul George instead. It was a minor miracle that Monroe fell so far in the first place, and I have a real problem patting someone on the back when they didn’t pick the best player available. That’s a failure.

    On to Knight: Kemba Walker is clearly the better player. Knight was a complete bust in this town. Maybe he’ll have a nice career, maybe he’ll eventually surpass Walker, but Dumars took the taller, younger player instead of the one who is better at basketball and a leader. Youth and size are easy, push-button characteristics. If Dumars had any real insight, he would have taken the older, smaller player who is much much better.

    Drummond: That kid was an absolute gift, and like Monroe, nobody was even in the conversation by the time the Pistons were picking. Sure eight teams passed on him, but by the time he slid to us there wasn’t even a ghost of a chance that the Pistons would take anybody else. I might have read one analyst criticize the pick, and that person was an idiot. The overwhelming consensus was that the reward far outweighed the risk at #9.

    KCP: Dumars thought outside the box and passed on rookie of the year MCW and hometown favorite Trey Burke, both of whom would appear to be far superior players. This appears to be a total failure and all of this indicates that Dumars has no real expertise in terms of scouting, and perhaps even no clue whatsoever of what he’s doing.

    I won’t nitpick anything else, but I will add that if Tom Gores lets these assistants handle free agency he’s a bigger idiot than I thought. The draft, MAAAAAYBE. But you need to have a real GM in place by the time you hit free agency. Two and a half months is plenty of time to pick a replacement, especially since Dumars’ ticket was basically punched in February when Cheeks was fired over his protests. So yeah, I sincerely hope you don’t think Gores is going to let these leftovers from the Dumars era handle the entire offseason, or else next season, and perhaps any hope for the next several years, is over before it starts.

    • David

      I agree with everything you said 100000000000%!!!!!

  4. edt

    Last game thank goodness. my dad told me to be a sports fan is to suffer now I get it. if this season was a horse I would have to shoot it

    • Otis

      Cool. Here’s your next lesson: Every year Piston fans celebrate the end of another excruciating season as if next year will be any better, and next year is never better. Joe did not leave this team with enough flexibility to be much better next season, and the first round pick we still owe Charlotte means that the misery will continue to haunt us. This team is going to be bad for a while, maybe forever if they’re dumb enough to match a max contract for Monroe.

      • edt

        if that’s what happens I’ll accept it and still be a pistons fan.

        I know you’ll be gone. What team will you become a fan of instead?

        • Otis

          I don’t know yet. I can’t wait to figure it out!

  5. David

    Joe D will always be one of my all time favorite players. He also helped me forget the god awful teal years. I always said that the real force behind the resurgence was John Hammond. Once Hammond left the decline and poor decisions began. Also the late great Mr. D gave Hammond and Dumas free reign to put together a great team. All of those things happened around the same time and here we are. So while I don’t fully blame Joe Dumas for all of our failures, I also won’t give him credit for all of our successes either. I wish Joe Dumas luck in his future endeavors. Hopefully we do the right thinks going forward. Snatch someone from OKC or San Antone from the exec suite for our new vp of operations and Lionel Hollins or Nate McMillen as our new coach and we are back in this thang!

  6. Bellissimo

    I was only ok with dumars leaving if we could find someone better. When i thought we had a chance at someone like phil jackson i was excited. Basically any GM is gonna set up a team to be like miami. small ball run and gun team. At the very least joe dumars understood having big men is good.unfortunately he didnt put the best team together. he was more interested in talent and building a poor mans OKC. I thought phil jackson would be good cause that was a guarantee big men would be represented here. and im a fan of big men. I expect whoever we hire will see the ouster of guys like Monroe and possibly Smith.

    Also one question. so we have the 8th spot so we are in the draft. but would we still lose it if someone else moved up in the lottery?

    • Otis

      1) Don’t worry, I promise Joe’s replacement will be better. Joe Dumars was the worst executive in American professional sports over the course of the last decade. They could leave the position vacant and it would be an improvement.

      2) The big men you praise Joe for bringing here were absolute gifts that inexplicably fell to him in the draft. Prior to getting insanely lucky in 2010 and 2012, we had the weakst collection of big men in the league.

      3) If anyone in the 9-14 range wins a top three pick, we slide down to ninth and the pick goes to Charlotte. If we keep our pick, next year’s pick (which will be a lottery pick; don’t kid yourself) will go to Charlotte unless we win the #1 pick. The following year, if we somehow haven’t given Charlotte the pick by then, is completely unprotected. Thanks, Joe!

      • Bellissimo

        1. not really a promise you can make. 90% of gms and coaches in the league are terrible. I think joe dumars just got complacent.

        2. i’m tired of people knocking joe dumars draft choices. one thing he did right was draft for the most part. And nobody better mention darko. Darko was a potential draft not a ready now pick. Everyone was going to be willing to try him. And if he did skip over we would of been stuck with Melo. and if anyone tells me melo is good youre opinion is invalid from anything further you say

  7. terry

    I feel good about the way Dumars is going out. I wanted him to have this final year to try to put things right. Unfortunately it led him to make some desperate moves that sunk the team even further, and I think that was the problem with Joe the last like 8 years. After achieving great successes earlier than expected, he got a bit cocky and stubborn, and when things started going more obviously south he started making rash decisions. I was pulling for him because of his history with this team, and I had hoped he learned from his past mistakes and made some wiser decisions in free agency. Alas it was not to be, as his free agency signings were influenced by the new owners “playoffs or bust” decree, causing Dumars to reach and take unnecessary risks. It’s because of that possibility that I was not in favor of Gores overly public mandate, though I like his desire to be successful.

    Overall I think Joe Dumars deserves the respect of all Piston fans. He was a brilliant and classy player, and his ascension to the front office was just the shot in the arm the organization needed at the time. Given the current decline the Pistons have seen let us not forget that with Joe at the helm we saw six straight great years of success, something not many teams fans can say in the new millennium. I personally think that if this wasn’t such a star babying i mean star driven league the going to work crew would’ve reeled in one or two more titles. I also think that if the 2004 series would’ve been closer early on the refs would’ve pushed L.A. over the top, but that’s neither here nor there. It was obvious to me that the league/media did not want Detroit (or any other squad for that matter) in any more finals without a clear marketable super star, an attitude which makes the NBA hard for me to watch sometimes as much as I hate to admit. I go into every nba playoffs wondering who’s gonna get robbed this year, but I digress.

    Ultimately I want to thank Joey D for his decades of service for my favorite team especially for the great defense on a young Michael Jordan, and say that despite his recent failures, he should be treated like the hall of fame legend he is out in the streets of fandom. What I don’t want to see anymore is the disrespect, because I’ve yet to meet a perfect person, and i only know of a small minority of Gms who have even come close to the successes of Joe D’s tenure in the front office. That being said the decision for him to move on is the right one, and I hope he takes the time to relax and enjoy his family. Here’s to the respect of a legend, and looking forward to the future of the pistons organization which is about to undergo probably the most important off season in team history.

    • Otis

      “I wanted him to have this final year to try to put things right. Unfortunately it led him to make some desperate moves that sunk the team even further, and I think that was the problem with Joe the last like 8 years.”

      Spoken like someone who just refused to learn his lesson and had way too much faith in a desperately flawed fallen hero who had long since lost the ability to do his job. Joe’s recent track record virtually guaranteed he would do nothing but hang us with as much rope as he was given.

      “After achieving great successes earlier than expected, he got a bit cocky and stubborn, and when things started going more obviously south he started making rash decisions.”

      Yes, he was very stubborn and foolish and VERY cocky. For a guy who gets so much credit for class and dignity, he’s just about the smuggest sum’bitch I ever saw. A victim of his own success, and staunchly refused to adapt to the role of managing a bad team. Refused to step aside and refused to adapt. A total nightmare borne of all his worst qualities.

      “I was pulling for him because of his history with this team, and I had hoped he learned from his past mistakes and made some wiser decisions in free agency.”

      It sounds like this whole experience should have taught you an important lesson about sentimentality and faith in monsters, but clearly it did not.

      “Alas it was not to be, as his free agency signings were influenced by the new owners “playoffs or bust” decree, causing Dumars to reach and take unnecessary risks.”

      I think I’ve isolated one of the problems in your logic. You’re using the owner’s mindset cloud your judgment on Joe’s decisions. For one thing, if the mandate was playoffs or bust, which was a bad goal, Joe still failed to achieve it (even with a ridiculously low bar). It’s not like we made the playoffs but were worse off for it in the end. Gores wanted playoffs and Joe didn’t even deliver that. For another thing, and this is the more important point: Joe had been desperately trying to make it back to the playoffs ever since the last time we were there. All of his moves have been win-now moves. Every single one of them. There has never once been any sort of rebuilding plan in place that involved coordinated efforts to be good in the future as opposed to now. Joe never once was a seller at the deadline, instead choosing to keep a bad team together and lose assets in the hopes of desperate playoff “attempts.” He squandered every asset he had and wasted every opportunity to build a bright future by dumping players for nothing and squandering assets like draft picks and prospects. It all goes back to Joe’s pathetic pride. He was desperate for the playoffs long before he ever heard of Tom Gores.

      Mostly sounds like you’re desperate to make any excuse for your hero that you can, but that’s basically par for the course with half of this fanbase. At least you’re not one of these people who thought he deserved even more time to destroy the team, so I guess that’s something.

      “It was obvious to me that the league/media did not want Detroit (or any other squad for that matter) in any more finals without a clear marketable super star…”

      Yes, it’s the league’s fault that Joe has been the worst executive in American professional sports for a full decade. Gores’ fault, Karen Davidson’s fault. Everyone’s fault but Joe’s. smh

  8. ocean current energy

    We were googeling for ocean current energy and came across your Joe Dumars steps down as President of Basketball Ops – page. My greatest concern is sustainable energy, unless we end using coal the world is going to be in serious danger.
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    Thank you, Weinberger


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