Many NBA observers considered Detroit Pistons President Of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars, one of the brightest young minds in the Association, just a few years ago. However, the former Pistons guard kick started the franchise’s deterioration, when he traded point guard Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson during the 2008-2009 campaign. The deal reinvigorated the Nuggets, but Iverson was not a good fit in Detroit, they missed the Postseason and their year has ended at the conclusion of the regular season ever since.
The rebuilding process could have gotten a boost when the Pistons had enough cap-space to bring in some great talent that summer, however Dumars spent the money on two players who from the moment the team announced the deals seemed like square pegs for round holes. Detroit signed forward Charlie Villanueva, while they already had a younger version on the roster in Jason Maxiell. The Pistons other acquisition, was guard Ben Gordon, a player who had proven he could only be effective as a starter, while one of the squad’s leaders Richard Hamilton, laid claim to starting at the two-spot.
Although the club’s record this past season did not show improvement, as they finished the regular season with a mark of 29-53, eight games behind the East’s final seed in the Playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks, there was hope heading into the summer. The team has two young players with huge upsides in power forward Greg Monroe and center Andre Drummond. Once again Dumars had enough payroll flexibility, to go after a player he could build the franchise around. Saturday, “The Detroit Free Press” reported that the team has come to terms with the player who apparently was their first choice.
The Pistons have agreed on a four-year pact, said to be valued at $54 million, with former Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith. The 27-year-old forward played nine seasons for Atlanta, after the Hawks took him with a mid first round pick in the 2004 NBA Draft and has averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.2 points per game since joining the Association. The question that now faces Detroit, is whether Smith has strong enough shoulders to carry a team back to respectability?
If Monroe can avoid serious injury, he has shown that he can be a better than average player at the four slot, Drummond has also shown flashes of what the Pistons believe he can eventually become, a dominant man in the middle. Detroit is banking on the hopes that Smith can be that franchise player that will lead a team to glory, although there has never been any indications that his personality and talent are strong enough to accomplish that. Exactly why does Dumars believe that the Free Agent can fill that role in the “Motor City” ?
Smith was never perceived as “The Franchise,” in Atlanta, can he assume that position for Detroit? He has always been more of a sidekick than main guy, however Dumars must have confidence that his new forward is up to the task. If that is not the case, that could be the last major decision Dumars makes for the Pistons.