The only thing certain about the Detroit Pitson's 2008-2009 season is that questions will be answered of Joe Dumar's uncertain future for the team.
After winning the NBA title under Larry Brown in 2004 and losing in the finals the following year in a game seven to San Antonio, Dumars hired Flip Saunders, taking the team to three more consecutive conference finals, losing to Boston in 2008, failing to win another NBA title. That sparked the firing of Saunders and the current situation for Dumars.
That current situation raises the questions that will be answered on the court next season. New head coach Michael Curry was the original lead candidate for the job, and it was known Dumars would look for an assistant. Curry has also hired assistants Darrell Walker, Pat Sullivan and Harold Ellis. Can an assistant with a lack of head coaching experience put together a staff that can take this team, or possibly a "new team", back to the same heights it has recently reached?
Curry will certainly have to prove himself as a coach. While the Pistons defeated the Lakers to win the NBA title in 2004 under Larry Brown, Saunders lost to the same Lakers in the NBA finals with Kevin Garnett, now a member of the 2008 champion Celtics that beat Detroit in this year's Eastern Conference finals.
That raises some more questions, some of which could take a little heat off of Curry for the new season. Primarily, Curry might be working with a new product. That "new team". Dumars has already been working with Denver and Golden State on trades. A trade for Carmello Anthony seems to have fallen through, but serious talks continue with Golden State about Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and Barron Davis. A new squad might take heat off of Curry, but it adds some to Dumars. Can the man who put together the team that reached six consecutive confrence finals dismantle that team and put together another that has an equal level of competition? How will fans react if a product that replaced a winning one can't reach expectations?
The questions raise arguments on both sides. There is the idea that with the team Detroit has now, they can compete, but never win another title. The team had four of its starters play in the All-Star game just a few years ago, but age is becoming a factor for players like Billups and Wallace. The team also has seen recent young stars like Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiel.
Ultimately, the question might not be whether to rebuild, but how. If "how" to rebuild is the question, then one can bet that Dumars has the answer. As a team that has had redundant success in the Eastern conference might be falling apart, it was a team that was methodicaly built through good drafting, timely trades and free angent moves. Maxiel, Stuckey and players like Prince and Hamilton are evidence of that. If you now how Dumars put this team together, you can bet he can put together another one, although fans shouldn't expect to see that equal level of competition at first. It just takes time. Like it took time to get a team together to win a title in 2004.
So the only certainty for Dumars is that fans will be anticipating how a new product will affect their expectations. If history is a lesson, you can bet that he'll deliver. If not this season, then one soon to come.