KL: Let’s talk about Will Bynum for a second. If you look back at last year, he was the one really bright spot, the unexpected positive. And he’s more than picked up – I know he’s struggling a little with his ankle right now, but talk about the progress you’ve seen from Will and the contributions he’s making and how even after the addition of Ben Gordon, there still appears to be a significant role for him.
JD: I think what Will has done is solidify himself here as a one of our core guys going forward. He has cemented himself as one of the core members here. That’s how we look at him. We look at him as a long-term guy who’s going to grow with this team. Will was given an opportunity last year, when we signed him and brought him aboard, and he’s one of those kids that got the opportunity and he just grabbed it and took it and never let it go. He’s the poster child of when you get that opportunity, don’t let it slip. And he hasn’t. He hasn’t let it slip.
KL: He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the year and the market for restricted free agents has been really tight for the last several years. Do you expect, with the economy the way it is and the prospects for the cap coming down, that Will will attract some offers or do you think the odds are pretty good he’ll be back?
JD: I think there will be people interested in Will. I think there will be people interested in Will despite what the economics may be. I look at him as a game-changer and whenever you have a player like that, people are going to be interested. But let me be clear, sitting here right now, we have no notion of letting Will walk out of the door. We’ll re-sign him and he’ll be one of the core members here for a long time.
I certainly didn’t expect to hear that from Dumars. In fact, I’ve leaned toward Dumars letting Bynum go in the offseason. I figured his price would be too high.
I saw the similarities to 2004, when Dumars let a younger Mehmet Okur leave in favor of signing the veteran Rasheed Wallace.
Here’s what Dumars told the Detroit News back then:
Dumars said a couple of teams have said they planned to overpay to get Okur .
"The fact that he played minimal minutes in the playoffs didn’t lessen the interest in him," Dumars said. "It’s hard to find 7-footers with that kind of skill. But I am limited in what I can do. We can match, but if teams overpay him, I would have to renounce Rasheed Wallace (in order to have cap space to match), and I won’t do that."
And from a separate interview by Terry Foster of the Detroit News:
Q. Okur is a fan favorite but seemed to lose confidence when Wallace signed. Does he remain a priority to sign, and can you re-sign both Okur and Wallace?
A. We have never wavered on Mehmet Okur and we want him back. Mehmet knows how much we want him. I’m sure Okur was frustrated at times, but that’s not unusual for young guys in their second season in the NBA.
That’s certainly a different tone than Dumars is using to talk about Bynum now. The Bynum talk seems like the type of things general managers just say, but there’s some evidence Dumars is actually pretty sure he’ll bring the guard back.
Of course, another team could offer more than Dumars can imagine now, and he’ll change his mind.
Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva take criticism well
Another gem from the Langlois interview:
KL: You mentioned both of your big free agents, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, and them producing. Talk about what you’ve learned about those guys now that you have them here.
JD: Their talent, their ability to score, are big-time scorers. I think that’s what jumps out at people. What people can’t see on a day-to-day basis is extremely professional. I mean, ultra professional guys. The way they handle their business, the way they go about dealing with things. I’ve seen Q get after both of them, big time, practices and different things like that, and those guys just nod their head, never utter a word, never an attitude. They just pick it up and they keep rolling. On the court, I think people realize these guys are two big-time scores. Off the court, what people may not realize is two of the most professional guys I’ve seen.
Emphasis mine. Maybe I should be discouraged Kuester had to tear into them. Nah, I’ll stick with being happy two of the team’s top players appear to be coachable.