Ask any Detroit Pistons fans what their biggest disappointment of the last decade in Detroit was and their response would probably relate to Joe Dumars.
Dumars made mistake after mistake — from drafting Darko Milicic, trading for Allen Iverson, signing Ben Gordon, unloading Ben Gordon on Charlotte and the list goes on.
Amidst the mistakes, one thing he did right was not sign anybody currently on the roster to a maximum contract. A few players like Josh Smith and Charlie Villanueva are especially overpaid. Villanueva was included along with the original disastrous Ben Gordon deal.
To this day, he is the second highest paid player on the Pistons’ roster despite being a bench player.
When it comes to the future, Dumars’ financial ghost will not be the biggest enemy in the Pistons’ camp. Cheapness got him into trouble in Detroit when his unwillingness to pay Gordon cost Detroit this year’s first round pick.
For new general manager Stan Van Gundy, the financial room in Detroit will be his biggest help from Dumars’ ghost. Forward Greg Monroe is a free agent and could leave. Speculation is that Van Gundy will be willing to let Monroe walk and attempt to build the team around young center Andre Drummond.
This could be a better option for Detroit since it would allow Smith and Drummond to breathe. Spacing between three potential big name players was a definite issue for Detroit. Van Gundy could take the money from Monroe’s contract and shop around for another key player.
Some notable free agents that Detroit could sign for cheap include Kyle Lowry and Trevor Ariza, who have championship experience and defend well. If the salary cap increases, Van Gundy will have more ways to shop around and improve his team from the disappointment they have been to the contenders they want to be.
Van Gundy has experience working with big men in the past, working with Shaquille O’Neal in Miami and Dwight Howard in Orlando. Now that he is in Detroit, he has a chance to work with Drummond — one of the league’s premier up-and-coming centers. Still young, Drummond could benefit from the help.
Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.