16. Rodney Stuckey: two years, $17 million12
15. Charlie Villaneuva: two years, $16.6 million
14. Ben Gordon: two years, $25.6 million
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Anyway, I wanted to mention a great NBA "What If?" that’s definitely getting added to my Book of Basketball if I ever write another edition. Recently, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Detroit nearly acquired Kobe Bryant for Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and a couple of no. 1 picks in the summer of 2007, before Buss and Kobe vetoed the trade together and gave the Kobe-Lakers relationship one more chance. Dumars kept his Pistons together for one last Eastern Conference finals run, then sent Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess to Denver for Allen Iverson’s expiring contract, which ruined their 2009 season but gave them enough cap space to sign … wait for it … Villanueva and Gordon.
Had that Kobe trade gone through, the Pistons would have kept competing for titles, and Dumars would have been remembered as one of the great GMs of all time. Instead, he’s remembered for a variety of things: the 2004 title, Rip for Stack, Ben Wallace, the calamitous Darko pick, the Rasheed trade, the Monroe/Drummond picks, that awful Billups trade, those three ghastly signings … he’s all over the map. But one thing we’ve definitely learned: You don’t want to give him cap space. And he has it this summer. So look out, Pistons fans.
Last note: Villanueva has a player option for next season for $8.5 million. When asked if he was picking it up, Villanueva responded, "It’s obvious what I’m going to do. Would you let that money go?" Hey, high school seniors — it’s not too late to make that your yearbook quote.
12. His 2013 numbers: 27.9 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 3.4 APG, 39% FG, 26% 3FG. We’re nearing "Which Chinese team should he play for?" range.
I’m generally supportive of Joe Dumars and the job he has done, but he must own these mistakes. I didn’t like the Ben Gordon signing once his true salary was leaked, and a closer examination should have have revealed Charlie Villanueva’s production with the Bucks was misleading. Signing Rodney Stuckey was a neutral deal at best. These signings are a big reason the Pistons have not rebuilt faster.
So, Simmons’ points are correct, but I’m not overly worried about this summer (though definitely somewhat worried). Dumars appears to have corrected some of the mistakes that led to these bad signings, and those fixes have shown up in a smart trade and wise draft picks. The Pistons are more analytically focused and have an invested owner. There’s no guarantee Dumars will get this summer right, but Stuckey, Villanueva and Gordon aren’t enough to convince me he’ll get it wrong.