Friday, February 20, 2009

Dumars: The Pistons' Landlord Who Should Live In His Own Mess For A While

In the movie "The Super", Joe Pesci played an unscrupulous slumlord named Louie Kritski who was, by the courts, sentenced to live in the squalor that he had overseen with such arrogance and callousness.

Joe Dumars is not arrogant. He's not callous, that I know of. But right now he's a bad landlord.

It's tempting to call for the ziggying of rookie coach Michael Curry, with the Pistons 27-26 and an unsightly 14-15 at home, including 2-10 in their last twelve at The Palace. It makes sense, in a way, to look at the arrival of Curry and the onset of the Pistons' decline and figure that it's more than just a coincidence. And it might be. This was never an easy bunch to coach to begin with, and when you place "rookie" in front of the title "coach", it's that much tougher.

But it's Dumars who placed Curry in this position. And it's Dumars who has given him this roster and said, "Have at it."

It says here that Dumars should, indeed, can Curry, but with one caveat: that Dumars himself take over as coach. He should be the Pistons' Louie Kritski.

It would be both a sentence of judgement levied against Dumars, as well as the satisfying of a curiosity that I have: whether Joe Dumars is the only coach out there who can truly coach the Pistons for longer than the usual two-to-three seasons.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is considered one of the best in the game, and with good reason. In fact, he's so good and has accomplished so much as a coach that it's easy to forget that during the 1996-97 season, Popovich was a President/GM like Dumars, before he decided to fire his coach, Bob Hill, and take over on the sidelines himself. Popovich continues to hold the dual title of coach/President of Basketball Operations. He's won four NBA titles as coach.

Dumars should give that tactic a try in Detroit.

Dumars might be the best coach out there; only one way to find out

Since taking over in 2000, Dumars has hired and fired four coaches. Curry is number five. That's an unusually high number of coaches, considering the Pistons' current (and soon to end) streak of appearing in six straight conference finals. So it can be argued that Joe D's fetish for changing coaches has worked, to a degree. This is the first real dropoff in performance the Pistons have encountered since the 2000-01 season.

It doesn't appear that Curry, with just one year as an assistant under his belt, has the acumen to be a successful NBA head coach. Perhaps that's an inaccurate assessment, but we don't have much to go on, do we?

Dumars should give it a whirl. Coaching, I mean.

Frankly, I'd love to see it, but more out of eagerness than out of a desire to punish. Everyone knows that Dumars might lean toward the micro-managing style of GM-ing. There's been a sneaking suspicion for several years (at least with Flip Saunders) that Dumars has more influence than most GMs over who plays and who doesn't. So why not give Dumars the coach's seat, too, and see how he fares?

Dumars might be the only one to possess the ingredients that he never seems to find in his coaches. There's always something missing with somebody. Usually, it's been accountability --whether for the coach (Larry Brown Era), or the players (Saunders Era). Sometimes it's toughness (Saunders) or compassion (Rick Carlisle).

I just have this gut feeling that if Dumars were to take over, the Pistons would be a better basketball team. It's not like he hasn't given the other way a fair shot. You might disagree with all the coaching changes, as it doesn't provide for consistency, but you can't say that if Dumars were to make himself coach, that he'd be doing so impetuously. He's been the top dog in the front office for nine years now.

Of course, the only person who can truly do that, aside from owner Bill Davidson, is Dumars himself. And if he hasn't done it by now, then maybe he doesn't have such a move in him.

But it sure would be fun to see.

The Pistons are coming upon a crossroad in their journey back to the NBA Finals. That elite free agent class of 2010 is sure to send shockwaves throughout the league. Dumars is sure to be a big player at that table.

It's another unsolicited opinion from another bottom feeding blogger and ink-stained wretch, but here it is: let Curry finish this season, give him maybe half of next, and if there's still no improvement, Dumars should ask the coach to step aside and say, "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, I guess."

Joe Dumars -- the next Gregg Popovich?

I'd love to see it.

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