Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida spoke with the Clippers' Chauncey Billups, who said the Pistons might have won consecutive titles after their surprise victory over the Lakers in 2004, if they had drafted more wisely in the acclaimed 2003 draft, in which they picked second.
Pistons general manager Joe Dumars famously drafted Darko Milicic with their second pick (LeBron James was number one, obviously), and bypassed future stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Milicic was a bust, and doesn't want to return to the NBA after leaving the Celtics in November of last year.
Despite pushing the Spurs to a game 7 in 2005, and making six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals dating from 2002 to 2008, those early- and mid-2000s Pistons teams never again won the title. Said Billups (Sulia link):
“If he had drafted either Melo or Bosh, I think maybe that whole team would still be together. We probably would have more championships down the road. But this is the NBA and things happen. But, of course, I always think about that.’’
Dumars took a risk drafting the Serbian Milicic that year, and that's what every general manager is fretting about right now as we come up on the last four days before the 2013 draft. Here's what else is happening around the league before Thursday's action-packed night.
- While speaking with Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com, Raymond Felton said this Knicks team "can win a championship."
- The Nets' new coach Jason Kidd is said to be close to offering Pistons assistant Roy Rogers a place on his new staff in Brooklyn, reports Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter). Discussions with Lawrence Frank continue.
- The former fourth pick out of Iowa State in the 2000 draft, Marcus Fizer, is attempting a comeback, writes Rusty Simmons in the San Francisco Chronicle.
- St. Joseph's shot-blocker C.J. Aiken won't work out for the Sixers on Monday, but will instead work out with the Pistons for the second time that day, reveals Tom Moore of Phillyburbs.com via Aiken's agent Stephen Pina. Aiken isn't expected to be drafted.
- Rumors of trade talks between the Mavs and Cavs involving Shawn Marion may be exaggerated, writes Jodie Valade at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Also at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Terry Pluto writes that if the Cavs select a big man with the top pick in Thursday's draft, it will be Alex Len, and Mary Schmitt Boyer explains why Cavs general manager Chris Grant likes to keep people guessing, but may go in a more traditional direction this year.
- Jeff Schultz at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the pain that ex-Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer is feeling after San Antonio lost the NBA Finals to the Heat on Thursday will have to wait as he prepares for his first draft as the Hawks' head coach.
- The Bucks are again stuck with a mid-tier pick in this year's draft, selecting 15th, after a first round playoff exit to the eventual champion Heat. They had the same pick in 2010, when they snagged shot-blocking sensation Larry Sanders, writes Charles F. Gardner Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Gardner spoke with the Bucks' general manager John Hammond about the team's now-familiar draft territory.
- The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell published a trifecta of pieces on the Bobcats' draft and free agency future today. On the draft, Bonnell writes that the lottery could offer the Bobcats a huge payoff, but the Bobcats also have the money to add a free agent — they just have to find the right one.
- Bonnell also explains how the Bobcats have 16 months to reverse the downward trajectory of their franchise before reforming as the Hornets once again.
- Observer columnist Tom Sorenson is a bit more optimistic about the team's future, writing that with the return of the Hornets in the 2014/15 season, the Hornets/Bobcats will make the postseason.