When things were going good for the Pistons, Joe Dumars was never a guy who spoke to the media a lot or craved the positive attention he received, so I’ve felt that the criticisms of him for not talking more or saying more in the few interviews he does give have been a little unfair.
In a wide-ranging Q and A with Bob Wojnowksi of The Detroit News, Dumars speaks more candidly than I can ever remember. He doesn’t get into specifics on personnel decisions or direction, but there are some useful tidbits in there, like this:
Q. Are you talking draft or trade?
A. I’m talking both. And my mind is also on the summertime and free agency. I look at trades strictly from the standpoint of, if the guy doesn’t fit here long-term, or the acquisition doesn’t help us long-term — like a one-year guy who can give you cap space — then we don’t need to do it.
That certainly sounds like Dumars isn’t interested in moving either of his onerous long-term contracts to Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva simply for an expiring contract. This could just be Dumars playing things close to the vest as usual — obviously he’s not going to publicly say that he’d give away a player for cap space. But he might still believe those two players have trade value that should net assets beyond just cap space in return.
UPDATE: Actually, reading that comment I excerpted again, Dumars could mean the exact opposite of how I interpreted it on my first read. He could either mean that an expiring contract doesn’t help the team long-term, so he wouldn’t trade for one, as I originally interpreted, or he could mean that he is thinking about free agency as a way to improve the team and, thus, a big expiring contract is something he would look to acquire. That’s really a classic Dumars answer right there. Well played, sir.
UPDATE 2: Thanks to Wojo for clarifying that Dumars meant he would take a one-year player just for cap space. –D.F.
Dumars received criticism for not using the amnesty clause in the offseason. It doesn’t sound like he’s closed the book on that by any means though:
Q. Some quick issues. Why haven’t you used the NBA one-time amnesty yet to get rid of a big player contract?
A. We have time to use it. You don’t want to just use it, then not have a plan for it. So we keep it at our disposal. It can be applied to whoever was on your roster at the time the CBA got done, so it’s not like it’s gonna run out in six months.
As I said above, it’s an interesting conversation. If you’re in the anti-Dumars camp and nothing is changing your opinion of the man, then this probably won’t do it either. But if you find yourself like me, hating a collection of Dumars’ moves but still highly respectful of him for his playing career, his executive career and the classy person he’s always been, this is a nice glimpse at a guy who has always been hesitant with the media and quiet about his personal life. Dumars even talks a bit about the personal tragedies he’s dealt with — he not only lost Pistons owner William Davidson, who was a mentor to him, but he lost his two older brothers unexpectedly in a six-month period as well.
The interview is worth your time no matter where you fall on the Dumars spectrum.