Up to Speed

Down time? Joe D’s summer busier than ever

Joe Dumars has used the unique circumstances of the summer to conduct an exhaustive internal review of business operations.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
While the NBA went dark over the summer on many fronts, the lights have never burned brighter over at the Pistons’ practice facility.

“You would think that the workload has lessened,” said Joe Dumars, who didn’t get away for so much as a long weekend with his family over the summer, “but actually it’s gotten heavier because it’s allowed us to do a lot of things we normally wouldn’t get to do.”

Without a Summer League team to put together and observe, a free-agent signing period or a trade market to mine, Pistons executives and coaches have turned to introspection. A perfect storm of factors – the NBA labor impasse, a new ownership group and a new coaching staff assembled – amplified the exercises that Dumars planned to embark upon all along.

“We’ve done an exhaustive review of everything,” said the Pistons president. “What this time has allowed us is to go back and review all of the processes that we use to evaluate and make decisions. It truly has allowed us a chance to regroup and do things you normally just don’t have time to do.

“What we’ve done is gone back and challenged ourselves on everything we’ve done. What could we have done better? Is there something we should change?”

Tom Gores completed his purchase of the Pistons from Karen Davidson and earned NBA approval in early June, about three weeks before the NBA draft. Gores and the two senior executives of Platinum Equity, his private equity firm, that he has charged with oversight of the Pistons, Bob Wentworth and Phil Norment, used those weeks to ask questions and observe the way Dumars and his staff go about their business.

Dumars, in turn, was struck by the quality and quantity of their lines of questioning, a process that has continued to unfold over the summer, through the coaching search that led to Lawrence Frank’s hiring and as his internal review of the organization has played out on a parallel path.

“It’s been great working with Bob and Phil and Tom and it’s a process of everybody getting up to speed,” Dumars said. “Everybody is getting on the same page – how things are going to work – and it really has been good so far. I can tell you I enjoy working with these guys. They’re good people to work with – smart people, common-sense people, practical people.

“You come in and buy a team, the smartest thing you can do is ask a lot of questions. They ask a lot of questions, but they also ask very smart questions. It’s been a very, very good work situation.”

Whenever a new collective bargaining agreement is struck, Dumars believes his staff will be ready to hit the ground running, having fine tuned their processes and enhanced their database of NBA player personnel.

“I feel great about it,” he said. “Whatever situation you find yourself in, you try to take something out of it. What it’s allowed us to do is go back and evaluate every single thing you do. We’ve gone back on every single thing we’ve done – decisions that have worked, decisions that haven’t worked. Why did these decisions work and they didn’t these decisions work?

“One is because of the amount of time we have had. One aspect of it is because we have new ownership and it’s allowed us to go back and put everything together for new ownership to look at. A new coaching staff coming in, you’re getting acclimated with them and with everything that’s going on. With that much going on, every single day, you’re addressing one of those issues. It’s been really busy.”