After losing an 11th straight game and sustaining yet another injury to one of their top perimeter players (Rodney Stuckey), perhaps it is time that Joe Dumars start thinking more about the future, even at the expense of this season. Head Coach John Kuester has done an excellent job as a rookie head coach, but all the injuries are more than any coach could overcome.
The good news is that this team has a lot of young, talented players with their best years ahead of them, and not as many bad contracts as some would have you believe.
However if there is one contract that Joe Dumars wishes he did not sign, it would be Jason Maxiell’s contract extension which began this season. This is not to say that he is a bad player, but $5 million for each of the next three seasons is a bit heavy of a price to pay a non-core player when you are in a building mode.
Perhaps a team in a better situation would be willing to take Maxiell’s contract along with his tough defense and above-the-rim play if the deal also included Richard Hamilton?
It might serve the Pistons' interests to not look for a certain amount of talent back. If the Pistons could take Hamilton and Maxiell's combined salaries off the books over the course of the next two summers, it could free them up some of the flexibility it will take to add more core young talent, and resign their own (Will Bynum 2010, Jonas Jerebko 2011, Dajuan Summers 2011, Rodney Stuckey 2012).
We can expect Joe Dumars to be active on the phones leading up to the trade deadline. Standing pat is not going to be an option for him when the team has struggled this much. But he is not going to make a move simply for the sake of making one, and not for short term success that will cost the team later.
Had the Chauncey Billups trade not taken place last season, the Pistons would have won more than fifty games, but they would have not beaten the Orlando Magic, or for that matter the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their championship run was over, no matter what Billups and Antonio McDyess will tell you.
Imagine if this team did not add all the young talent it did this past offseason. This team would be better than it is now, but they would be getting worse. Today’s Pistons are young, talented, and on their way up instead of down.
Joe Dumars has never been one to miss the forest for the trees, and that will factor into whatever moves he does or does not make. Hopefully Pistons fans will see the bigger picture too during these trying times.