Joe Dumars hasn’t made a bad move in more than two years

The Pistons have one of the worst rosters in the NBA. They’re capped out because of under-producing veterans and lack elite young talent. The picture looks bleak.

But flash back to July 13, 2009. The situation was even more dire then, even if we all didn’t know it yet.

That day, Joe Dumars traded Arron Afflalo to the Nuggets for a second-round pick. Dumars preceded the move by hiring John Kuester, signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva and trading Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson.

Here’s the bright side, though: that was rock bottom. As poorly put together as the Pistons were at that moment, they haven’t take a step back since. That doesn’t change the fact that Dumars got the Pistons into this mess, and it doesn’t change the fact that Dumars hasn’t made the Pistons relevant again yet. But it should count for something – because I wasn’t exaggerating.

Since Dumars essentially gave Arron Afflalo to the Nuggets, the Pistons general manger hasn’t slipped once. Let’s look at all his moves between then and now:

Signed Chris Wilcox to a two-year, $6 million contract

Good move

Wilcox played well late in the season, and $3 million per year with just a two-year commitment is a bargain for a rotation-caliber big man.

Signed Ben Wallace to a one-year, veteran’s-minimum contact

Good move

Wallace was the Pistons’ best defender in 2009-10 and arguably the team’s best player that year. He was definitely one of the best bargains in the NBA.

Invited Maceo Baston to training camp

Neutral move

He had no real effect on the franchise.

Signed Chucky Atkins

Neutral move

Atkins surprised everyone by making the team, and he even had his moments during the regular-season. But overall, a team’s 13th man just doesn’t matter much.

Waived Maceo Baston from training camp roster

Neutral move

Expected since the moment he signed.

Waived Deron Washington

Neutral move

“Former 59th pick fails to make NBA roster” isn’t really a front-page headline.

Drafted Greg Monroe with the No. 8 pick in 2010 NBA draft

Good move

Based on draft-night logic, Monroe was an excellent pick, and his great rookie year only reinforced that.*

*I’m tired of people claiming Dumars doesn’t deserve credit for picking Monroe.

Imagine this alternate universe where the Pistons had the sixth, not the seventh pick, in the draft and the first five picks were John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, Wesley Johnson and DeMarcus Cousins. The Pistons drafted Monroe, and today, people argue Dumars deserves no credit for the pick because Monroe was the only logical choice.

If that had happened, few people would question the Dumars detractors. None of the other available prospects held candle to Monroe. Why should Dumars get credit for doing what every other general manager would have done in that scenario?

But that scenario did happen, except the Warriors, not the Pistons had the sixth pick. And, of course, you know what they did. The drafted Ekpe Udoh, not Monroe. So, maybe Dumars’ options in reality at No. 7 weren’t as foolproof as they seem now. There are no certainties in the draft, and it’s not uncommon for general mangers to buck conventional wisdom.

Dumars got it right. He could’ve gotten it wrong, but he didn’t. He deserves credit for that.

Drafted Terrico White with the No. 36 pick in 2010 NBA draft

Neutral move

White’s jumper looked smooth during the summer league, and his athleticism stood out even during a photo shoot. But a broken foot sidelined him for the season, so it’s essentially impossible to grade that pick.

Re-signed Ben Wallace to two-year, $3.8 million contract

Good move

Wallace wasn’t as effective last season as he was in 2010, but he was still capable of starting on a bad team or playing backup on a good team. If his abilities erode further, I suspect he’ll retire rather than come back. For the money, he’s still a bargain – just less of one than on his previous contract.*

*As crazy as it is, Wallace is probably less valuable (production divided by salary) than he’s ever been to the Pistons. And he’s paid barely more than the minimum salary! That just shows how big a bargain he was before.

Signed Tracy McGrady to one-year, veteran’s-minimum contract

Good move

McGrady had a bounce-back season playing point guard for Detroit and definitely outplayed his contract.

Signed Vernon Hamilton to training camp roster

Neutral move

Hamilton was excited, but the move was a yawner.

Signed Ike Diogu to training camp roster

Neutral move

Maceo Baston 2.0

Waived Vernon Hamilton from training camp roster

Neutral move

Even more yawn inducing.

Waived Ike Diogu from training camp roster

Neutral move

Maceo Baston 2.0

Fired John Kuester

Good move

Duh

Drafted Brandon Knight with the No. 8 pick in 2011 NBA draft

Good move

Even if he’s not a lock to become an NBA success, Knight was the best player available at No. 8.

Drafted Kyle Singler with the No. 33 pick in 2011 NBA draft

Neutral move

I don’t think Singler has the talent and athleticism to stick in the NBA, but at least he’ll probably play hard and act professionally. Let’s call it a wash. Besides, I’m not sure a second-round pick can ever be a bad move. Too few of them ever impact the NBA.

Drafted Vernon Macklin with the No. 52 pick in 2011 NBA draft

Neutral move

By this point, the draft had basically run out of NBA players. You have to take someone.

Hired Lawrence Frank as head coach

Good move

He’s hard-working, bright and gives the Pistons a better chance of succeeding than any other coach available when Detroit hired him.

So, that’s the list. By my count, Dumars went 8-0-11.

None of these moves have gotten the Pistons out of the cellar, and there’s still plenty of work ahead. Maybe the rise hasn’t  been as quick as anyone had hoped, and maybe Detroit won’t turn the corner anytime soon.

But, slowly, the Pistons have been headed straight in the right direction, or at least avoiding their journey in the wrong direction, for a long time – 758 days and counting.* I doubt any other general managers have served that long without making a bad move. The feat won’t cause anyone to throw Dumars a parade, but it’s at least something.

*717 days if you want to pause the clock during the lockout.

The next time someone asks when Dumars made his last good move, here’s my response:

When’s the last time he made a bad move?

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Tags: Ben Wallace Brandon Knight Chris Wilcox Chucky Atkins Deron Washington Greg Monroe Ike Diogu John Kuester Kyle Singler Lawrence Frank Terrico White Tracy McGrady Vernon Macklin

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