The Sacramento Kings announced Joe Dumars as the interim executive vice president of basketball operations on Friday after Vlade Divac stepped down as the general manager.
Though there are question marks swirling around how long Dumars may remain in the interim role, for the time being he appears to be the person in charge of making basketball decisions for the franchise. Dumars joined the Kings last year as an advisor to Divac.
Unlike Divac, Dumars does have experience as an NBA general manager. He spent 14 years as a player with the Detroit Pistons (where he won two NBA championships) and then another 14 years as the general manager, during which he won one championship.
Let's take a look at his tenure in Detroit.
Building The Title Team
After he took over in Detroit in 2000, Dumars began putting the pieces in place for the championship Pistons team. He landed the team's defensive anchor in Ben Wallace in a sign and trade that sent Grant Hill to the Magic. He brought on Rick Carlisle to coach the team in 2001 and a year later, drafted Tayshaun Prince (23rd) and signed Chauncey Billups, who was a free agent.
He also traded Jerry Stackhouse, a two-time All Star at the time, to the Washington Wizards for Richard Hamilton.
The Pistons won 50 games in 2001-02 and in 2002-03.
He replaced Carlisle with Larry Brown in the summer of 2003. And at the trade deadline in 2004, he landed Rasheed Wallace to stretch the floor for a future first-round pick, Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, Bob Sura and Zeljko Rebraca. ESPN ranked it as the best trade deadline deal of the decade.
The Pistons won 54 games in the 2003-04 season and took on the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. Using great team defense and an unselfish offense, they won the title in five games. Billups was named the NBA Finals MVP. The Pistons would go on to return to the NBA Finals the next season, but lost the San Antonio Spurs. They would be a playoff team for four more seasons.
Dumars was named executive of the year in 2003.
In 2008, things began to unravel as Dumars never fully committed to a true rebuild and ran through a litany of coaches. (Though it was made worse by his 2003 decision to draft Darko MiliÄiÄ second overall ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade.)
In November 2008, Dumars sent Billups to the Nuggets for Allen Iverson, which didn't work out. That same month, he gave Richard Hamilton a three-year, $34 million extension. The following season, he gave Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon hefty contracts (Gordon got $55 million for five years and Villanueva got $40 million for five years). Between the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons, the Pistons would win no more than 30 games. In June 2012, the Pistons traded Gordon to the Charlotte Bobcats for Corey Maggette. Tayshaun Prince signed a four-year, $27 million deal in 2011.
In 2013, Dumars spent $25 million on a three-year deal for Brandon Jennings (he sent Khris Middleton to the Milwaukee Bucks to get Jennings). That same year, he signed Josh Smith to a $54 million, four-year deal, but he was released by the team the following season. The Pistons were still paying him last year.
The Pistons would go on to never win more than 29 games the rest of Dumars' tenure, which ended in April 2014 when he stepped down as president of basketball operations.
In 2017, Dumars spoke about his time in Detroit, including his decision to trade Billups for Iverson.
I thought that the Iverson deal was really a money deal. His contract was up after the season, Chauncey had a much longer contract.
So it was that as much as anything else, Dumars added, and that's all a part of trying to do it on the fly. Okay, we make this move, in the summer we'll have a lot of money, and then maybe we can make a couple hits that will get us right back on track.' So that was the basis for the whole deal.
In the same interview, he discussed the decision to draft Milicic.
We probably didn't do well, I know we didn't do as good a job as we should have on background, just (as far as) personality, Dumars admitted. This is not to disparage him, but from that point on, man, our background checks were tremendously extensive in terms of who the person was. Are they going to fit? Will they be able to make this transition to play in Detroit? Who we are, who they are those things came into play in a major way after that.
He also admitted that he should have tried to go through a true rebuild. (The team never had a top-5 lottery pick in his tenure, other than the MiliÄiÄ No. 2 pick in 2003.)
When you're trying to rebuild on the fly, you're probably putting yourself in a position to make decisions that have more risk in them. If you completely break it down, it's easier to make decisions that you know don't have to manifest themselves in six months or a year. You're looking at three, four years (in terms of) what it needs to look like. When you're doing it on the fly, you're looking for immediate returns, right now, because you don't have time to wait.
The success came under three coaches: Carlisle, Larry Brown and Flip Saunders. From 2008 to 2014, Dumars went through Michael Curry, John Kuester, Lawrence Frank, Maurice Cheeks and John Loyer.
The Draft Picks
Some of the highlights of Dumars draft history beyond Mehmet Okur (37th pick in the second round) and Tayshaun Prince (23rd pick in the first round of the 2002 draft) early in his tenure, include:
- Aaron Afflalo with the 27th pick in 2007;
- Rodney Stuckey with the 15th pick in 2007;
- Greg Monroe with the 7th pick in 2010;
- Brandon Knight with the 8th pick in 2011;
- Khris Middleton with the 39th pick in the second round in 2012;
- Andre Drummond with the 9th pick in 2012;
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the 8th pick in 2013.
This is a big transition point for the Kings with Dumars assuming power. He certainly had his missteps in Detroit that can't be ignored, but the good news is the team hired someone with general manager experience who has NBA championship experience under his belt.