Commentary

The Nets are darn right to like Dumars

The Pistons' president/GM has proved he can build a winner, even without a superstar

Updated: July 5, 2010, 5:36 PM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

If the New Jersey Nets were ever able to pry Joe Dumars away from the Detroit Pistons, it would be a wonderful hire.

Dumars says he hasn't interviewed with the Nets, but an NBA source says the Nets are very interested in him.

[+] EnlargeJoe Dumars
AP Photo/Paul SancyaDumars is one of the most respected executives in the NBA.

Dumars -- the Pistons' president/GM and the 2002-03 NBA Executive of the Year -- clearly knows how to put a team together without breaking the bank. Under Dumars' watch, the Pistons have been able to win and still be consistently in the middle of the pack as far as player salaries are concerned.

With Dumars at the helm, the Pistons went to six consecutive Eastern Conference finals between 2003 and 2008, reached two NBA Finals, and won it all in 2004.

Dumars, one of only three people to win a championship as a player and as an executive, built the Pistons from a bad team -- they couldn't even give away tickets -- to a championship team in just four years.

For sure, Dumars was second-guessed every step of the way until his team defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to shock the NBA in 2004. And most of the questions centered around the fact that Dumars believed he could win without a one-name superstar, and with players basically discarded by other franchises.

When Dumars took over the Pistons in 2000, star forward Grant Hill bolted for the Orlando Magic via free agency. Most people would have been discouraged, but not Dumars, who took the blow as a challenge. Dumars did a sign-and-trade deal with Orlando for Hill and landed center Ben Wallace, a cornerstone of the Pistons' championship run.

Dumars also drafted Mehmet Okur in the second round in 2001 and Tayshaun Prince with the 23rd pick in 2002. Both wound up being key contributors to Detroit's success.

And Dumars signed well-traveled point guard Chauncey Billups in 2002, who wound up being the NBA Finals MVP in 2004. At the time, people questioned the signing. After all, Billups had been with five teams in six seasons.

The best part about Dumars is his working credo: It's not about being right; it's about getting it right. That's how Dumars works as a general manager. It's so refreshing.

If Dumars makes a mistake, he isn't afraid to own up to it and do what he needs to do to correct the situation.

Dumars has traded players he drafted in the first round, including Darko Milicic, Mateen Cleaves and Rodney White. Most GMs, trying to save face, would order a coach to play the players the GM drafted. But not Dumars. His ego never seems to get in the way. That's a good trait if you really are trying to win a championship.

If anyone doubts Dumars' ability, he should look around the league at the recent good teams that have never won a championship, including the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks. Few teams have won as many regular-season games as those two squads in the past decade. Yet, at the end of the day, both have wound up championship-empty.

Look at the general manager wasteland out there in the NBA right now. Steve Kerr is out in Phoenix after his team went to the Western Conference finals this past season. Despite the Cleveland Cavaliers' having the best record in the league the past two seasons, Danny Ferry and the Cavs agreed to go their separate ways. And Kevin Pritchard, who put together a killer roster in Portland, was canned on the day of the draft last month.

It's a tough business, especially when you don't win. If the Nets want to win, it would make sense to hire a guy who knows how to. That's Dumars.

Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.

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