Opinion: The First Round — Cleaning up after Dumars and Gordon

Cleveland has done it again.

They have somehow managed to win the NBA lottery once again, yet disappoint a city full of thousands of fans in a matter of seconds.

This time, I am not even talking about Cleveland fans. They have enough problems. And poor Pistons fans wince at Cleveland’s luck this time.

The Detroit Pistons finally have a new president and head coach. Joe Dumars still works for the organization, but he is not in a position where he will be able to exercise true power over the franchise. Last season’s horrors are finally over. And with the proper personnel in place, the Pistons can prepare fully for the upcoming draft.

New head coach and president Stan Van Gundy has an uphill battle ahead. In the June 26 draft, Van Gundy will have to contend with a disastrous Dumars mistake which cost the team its first round pick this year.

Seasons ago when Dumars wanted to avoid paying Ben Gordon, they shipped away Gordon along with a protected future first round draft pick to the Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte improved, Detroit did not.

The whole point of refusing to pay Gordon was so Dumars could use the money Gordon would have received – in his final two years in Detroit — to shop for a free agent that would dominate the court the way Gordon did not.

Who was that savior of Detroit basketball? Fans looked to none other than the brick machine known as Josh Smith.

With one year down and three seasons left on his fat Pistons contract, Smith was the second worst shooter on the team. Brandon Jennings, another questionable trade result that appeared in Detroit last season, was the only starter with a worse shooting percentage.

Charlotte ended up waiving Gordon’s contract in March so they would replace an underperforming player with a second first round draft pick.

Charlotte indisputably got the better end of this deal. Pistons fans clearly got the worse end. Knowing that unless the Pistons win the lottery next season, they will lose another first round pick to Charlotte, a good reason to stop tanking is all Pistons fans have as a pick-me-up after last season. Winning the lottery is too much to gamble a season on, unless you are Cleveland apparently.

Last season’s first round draft pick was lottery protected from Charlotte, meaning the organization was rewarded for a bottom-14 finish. This year, the team needed a top-eight first round pick in order to preserve it. Though the odds were in Detroit’s favor, the Cavaliers’ rare good luck ruined that dream.

Van Gundy is probably second-in-line for most negatively affected by the ripples from the Gordon trade. Last season, fans all saw how short a coach’s career can be in Detroit. Since Van Gundy is the president of basketball operations and head coach, and all fingers will be pointed at him. His work is cut out for him.

In addition to missing out on his most precious draft pick, Greg Monroe’s free agency must be dealt with as well. Hopefully for Van Gundy’s sake, owner Tom Gores will have at least a little patience knowing that Van Gundy is a janitor cleaning up after a hurricane.


Colin Jackson is a multimedia reporter for Impact Sports.


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