Kevin, I wanted to responded to a recent post you made categorizing Joe Dumars as a bad GM. You claim he's a bad judge of talent and inept at developing a team strategy. I disagree. I think he's gotten a lot more cautious after making a few bad mistakes, but continues to evolve and is getting better as a GM.
I really appreciate how he built the 2004 Pistons. He made lemonade out of losing Grant Hill, remember? That deal brought us Ben Wallace. He signed Chauncey Billups as a free agent. He traded for Rip Hamilton. He drafted Tayshaun Prince. He traded for Rasheed Wallace. I give him credit for bringing back Lindsay Hunter, getting Mike James too, and putting other pieces of the puzzle together as 27 other GM's also are trying to do.
The efforts he made trying to keep the Pistons in the hunt for another championship may have been somewhat reckless and taking Darko Milicic will go down in the annals as one of the worst picks of all time, but if we had had a different head coach and developed Darko differently, who knows what kind of player he might have turned out to be.
Joe has also shown guts trading Chauncey in an attempt to push the team up a notch during a narrow window of opportunity to move the team back into championship contention. Allen Iverson's acquisition proved to be a disaster, but you have to give Joe credit for not being satisfied with an also-ran good team. Jack McCloskey pulled the trigger on trading Kelly Tripucka for the same reasons. Everyone loved Tripucka, but the team seemed stuck. Fortunately for McCloskey Joe Dumars came along to save the day and helped to take the team the rest of the way as a player.
Perhaps it could be said that Joe has been his best when he's been patient, not over-reacting, or over-reaching. Ben Wallace came to us that way. More recently, patience has brought Detroit Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and now Andre Drummond.
I had rated 'Dre's potential high enough to rank him as the second best player but figured we'd have no chance to draft him unless we made a deal to move up to about the 5th pick. Joe waited, perhaps he was just lucky, or maybe he knew it was simply smarter to wait it out - 'Dre isn't a ready-to-go starter. There's a risk he won't pan out, but with the 9th pick the scales balanced for all concerned.
Another patient move, that may prove to pay big dividends, might soon be revealed with the arrival of Kyle Singler.
I think Joe's learned about signing free agents too. Most thought Ben Gordon would be a solid player, and he's been given time to show that. Charlie Villanueva seemed so promising in many ways too, but the fit hasn't proven to be right - until maybe, just maybe this year.
The trade of Ben Gordon wasn't a quick decision. I like how long it took in some ways for Gordon to be moved. I think the integrity that Joe has demonstrated in giving players time to fit in will merit some reward down the road. And, rather than Amnestying either Gordon or Villanueva, I think the decision he's made to trade Gordon now makes perfect sense.
I think he needed to wait it out to have viable players to step in. Now this trade makes sense to allow for Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight to take another step forward in their development. And, I wouldn't be surprised to see Corey Maggette provide a boost to the team's scoring by being able to play a more dynamic wing or slasher role on this team. With a player like Maggette, Charlie Villanueva might finally be a fit too. (You need a Mr. Inside to go with a Mr. Outside)
The post I wrote about Joe giving the team a homegrown flavor that is unique in the league was meant to be a compliment. I think speaks volumes about him having a real strategy. Getting everyone on the same page has to be tricky, but there is a method to the way he's shaping this team and how Lawrence Franks is putting the pieces together on the floor. The article about "No Reclamation Projects," wasn't intended to say no outside players should be added, but rather no substandard players should be, and most older veterans simply aren't a good fit with the young nucleus Joe's assembling, or they would simply steal time from them.
From my point of view this Pistons team really has a promising future, and Joe D should get a lot of credit for what he's putting together. I think he's matured as a GM - he's patient, doing more homework, and putting players and coaches that fit his players all together.
In the mean time he's got to dodge the bullets from all of us that are impatient and over anxious. So, I'll defend him against anyone that says he doesn't judge talent well, or have a strategy. I've made mistakes about players too, and all you can do is get better at doing more homework and putting the right staff in place to support and develop the players you believe in. I think he's doing this really well, and I tip my hat to him!