Joe Dumars has finally received another shot at running an NBA franchise, at least temporarily, after being named the executive vice president of basketball operations of the Sacramento Kings. Dumars inherited the title after Vlade Divac, the team’s general manager, stepped down from his role after the Kings were eliminated from playoff contention.
The playoff draught in Sacramento has stretched 14 years. Dumars was hired by the Kings last summer as a special adviser to Divac.
Dumars spent years trying to get back into an NBA front office after stepping down from the Pistons in 2014 when it was obvious owner Tom Gores was ready to go in a new direction. Dumars finally got the opportunity in Sacramento and quickly gained the trust of owner Vivek Ranadive and other executives with the organization.
Media reports indicate while Dumars is running the team on an interim basis he is a serious contender to be named the permanent GM if he is interested in the position.
Dumars spent 13 seasons running the Pistons following his 14-year playing career with the organization. He won the 2004 NBA title, went back to the Finals the next year and his team went to six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals.
He built his reputation as being an affable, no-nonsense executive who was interested in finding cast offs from other organizations and not being afraid to make a bold move. He netted Ben Wallace in a sign-and-trade for disgruntled star Grant Hill. He signed Chauncey Billups to, what is still to this day, the best free agent contract (dollar for dollar) in the past 25 years, and took big swings including almost trading for Kobe Bryant before Bryant decided he’d rather stay in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, in his later years with the organization that early brilliance was overshadowed by the drafting of Darko Milicic (the same year the team won an NBA title) over the likes of Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade) and for handing out truly horrendous free agent contracts.
Uninterested in a full teardown once it was clear his championship Pistons teams had run its course, Joe D. tried to stay competitive and rebuild at the same time. This resulted in disastrous moves like extensions for Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince and big free agent contracts for Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.
His teams also famously struggled to develop young players and/or get traded away for veterans — Amir Johnson, Arron Afflalo and Khris Middleton among them.
The final nail in his executive coffin was the truly stupifying decision to hand the largest free agent contract in the franchise’s history to Josh Smith and slotting him and his declining athleticism at small forward to play alongside no-range players Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the same season Josh Smith finally comes off the books in Detroit, Dumars is out of NBA purgatory and back in charge of a front office.
“Joe has become a trusted and valued adviser since joining the team last year, and I am grateful to have him take on this role at an important time for the franchise,” Kings owner Ranadive said in a statement.