The Pistons announced Monday that longtime president Joe Dumars will step down after 14 years as the franchise's top basketball executive.
“It’s time to turn the page on a wonderful chapter and begin writing a new one,” Dumars said in a prepared statement. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great people throughout the last 29 years as both a player and executive, and I’m proud of our accomplishments. Tom Gores and ownership is committed to winning and they will continue to move the franchise forward.”
Detroit's draft preparations will be run by director of basketball operations Ken Catanella and assistant GM George David, while the franchise finds a replacement for Dumars, who spent his entire 14-year playing career with the Pistons before transitioning into a front office role in 1999. Dumars will remain with the organization as an "advisor to the organization and its ownership team."
Reports began leaking out last week that Dumars was planning to resign after another disappointing season. The Pistons will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, and their 2013-14 season saw the firing of coach Maurice Cheeks just a few months after hiring him. Cheeks' replacement, John Loyer, is Detroit's sixth head coach during the last seven seasons.
Dumars' tenure as an executive splits pretty cleanly into two categories: the glory years and the wasteland. The Pistons reached the Eastern Conference Finals six consecutive times from 2003 to 2008, winning the 2004 NBA title, the franchise's first since 1990. That championship team -- led by Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace -- will be remembered as a balanced, team-first group that overcame the star-studded Lakers through defense and unity.
Since that streak of conference finals trips ended, the franchise has spun its wheels thanks to a series of poor decisions in the draft and free agency. The selection of Darko Milicic with the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft -- directly ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade -- will always be the go-to argument for critics, but that miss was only one of many. Big-dollar deals for Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in 2009 trapped the Pistons for years afterwards, and Dumars made another round of ill-conceived spending last summer, when he inked Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith to large contracts. Dumars' plan to go huge in the frontcourt with Smith, Greg Monroe and franchise center Andre Drummond never panned out this season, and Detroit ranked No. 20 on offense and No. 25 on defense even though Dumars handed out more than $90 million worth of contracts last summer.
A six-time All-Star during his Hall of Fame playing career, Dumars teamed with Isiah Thomas to win back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. Dumars has spent 29 years with the Pistons since he was selected as a 1985 first-round pick out of McNeese State, and his No. 4 jersey has been retired by the organization.
"Joe Dumars is a great champion who has meant so much to this franchise and this community," Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. "We are turning the page with great respect for what he has accomplished not only as a player and a front office executive, but as a person who has represented this team and the NBA with extraordinary dignity." Detroit is 29-52 this season.