It’s Make or Break Time for the Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons

It’s Make or Break Time for the Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons

Ever since Joe Dumars whiffed in the 2003 NBA Draft (selected Darko Milicic with Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade available, amongst others), there have been constant clamor about his NBA Draft flops in the years since. Initially, the Milicic selection did not derail the Pistons, as they won the NBA Championship in the season that followed the 2003 Draft. However, the inability of Dumar to replenish the roster in the following years became evident, as the team began holding a fire sale of the players who comprised the 2004 NBA Championship squad. Starting with F/C Ben Wallace, G Chauncey Billups and later, F/C Rasheed Wallace and G Richard Hamilton, the team was broken down piece by piece when it was evident that they would not be able to make another run following a loss in the NBA Finals in 2005, and bowing out in the following two seasons. The lack of drafted talent made it difficult for the Pistons to compete in the Eastern Conference for years, and as such, the team has missed the NBA playoffs entirely for four straight seasons.

The Pistons may finally be turning the corner. They have compiled promising talents such as F Greg Monroe, C Andre Drummond, and G Brandon Knight – who had a rough rookie season in Auburn Hills. The bright side for the Pistons is that they are finally getting out from underneath several very bad contracts. Hamilton’s contract comes off the books, along with F Corey Maggette’s $11 million salary. Additionally, F Jason Maxiell – the ultimate “tweener” – comes off the books, which enables the Pistons to spend money to upgrade at the small forward/power forward positions. One big question is the decision that faces G Jose Calderon, who is an unrestricted free agent. It was alleged that Calderon liked his time in Detroit following a three-team trade that sent him to Detroit from Toronto (as the Memphis Grizzlies received F Tayshaun Prince and F Austin Day from Detroit, while Memphis sent G/F Rudy Gay to Toronto). Calderon may find it favorable to remain in Detroit with the promising talents of Monroe, Drummond and F/C Jonas Jerebko. However, if Knight is indeed the Pistons’ future at PG, Calderon may opt to return to Toronto (where he was adored by fans). If Calderon opted to stay in Detroit, Knight could easily slide to off the ball and form a backcourt of two good shooters who can run the point whenever necessary.

Ultimately, this draft will determine whether or not the Pistons will finally obtain and develop the type of talent and depth that they need to contend in the Central Division and make the playoffs in 2014. The Pistons have the 8th pick in the draft, and they will have their choice of a decent rookie who can help bolster their bench with the current core of players. Additionally, the Pistons have well over $20 million in cap space and will be able to make a run at one or two top level free agents. Dumars is getting the mulligan that he needed 10 years ago. If he blows it this time, this could be his ticket out of town.

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