Joe Dumars has told multiple people around the league that he intends to resign from his post as Pistons president of basketball operations, reports Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News. He could step down as soon as this week, Goodwill adds. The imminent parting of ways between Dumars and his longtime team is no surprise, as rumors about his job security were circulating even before the Pistons fired coach Maurice Cheeks in early February.
The 50-year-old Dumars has been with the Pistons as a player or executive since 1985. He took over the basketball operations in 2000, securing Ben Wallace as part of a sign-and-trade for Grant Hill in his first major move. Wallace was the defensive anchor of the 2003/04 team that won the championship, but before that season began, Dumars made his most frequently cited mistake, drafting Darko Milicic second overall while Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were all still available. The Pistons nonetheless made six consecutive appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the team disintegrated after Dumars traded 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to the Nuggets for Allen Iverson in 2008.
The following summer, Dumars splurged on free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, who didn’t pan out. The Pistons had another spending spree this past offseason, inking Josh Smith to a four-year, $54MM contract and arranging a sign-and-trade for Brandon Jennings, whose deal is for three years and $24MM. Those moves have been similarly disappointing, and this season, in which Detroit has gone 28-49, appears to have been the last straw. Dumars has reportedly grown weary of criticism surrounding his performance, and soon after Gores ordered the firing of Cheeks, whose job Dumars attempted to save, there was news that Dumars might step down after the season, with his contract expiring July 1st.
Disagreements over the coaching position appear to have been a consistent theme for Dumars and Gores, who bought the team in 2011. Dumars wanted to hire Mike Woodson, now coach of the Knicks, when Gores instead brought in Lawrence Frank that year. Also fomenting difficulty was a period of inactivity mandated by Karen Davidson, the widow of former owner Bill Davidson, who had protracted negotiations to sell the team before she and Gores finally reached an agreement.
The Pistons quickly shot down a rumor in early March that Isiah Thomas would succeed his former backcourt mate as head of basketball operations for the team, but chatter has persisted that Thomas is campaigning for that job. The Pistons also reportedly have their eye on making Billups, still an active player for the team, a part of their front office, although it’s not clear if they envision hiring him as the primary front office executive so soon. Billups, like Dumars, is also a rumored candidate for the front office in Cleveland, where owner Dan Gilbert, a Detroit native, calls the shots.