Joe Dumars Press Conference Quotes

Monday, June 5, 2006

Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars

Joe just your general thoughts on this season?
“You know I've heard some of the players and some of the descriptions of what our season was this year, and I guess if I had to make a description of how it ended, I would say 'Very disappointing, very disappointing season.' Our goal was simply to win the championship. It wasn't to have the best record in the NBA, it wasn't to get back to the conference finals, it was to win the championship. And so when you set a goal like that and come up short, there's no other way to describe it other than disappointing. I've seen the words 'failure' and 'collapse' and all that. I would not term it that. What we've done over the last 5 years and what we did this season can't be termed a failure. But if you want to call it disappointing, I'm with you 100% on that. We're extremely disappointed that it ended the way it did Friday night. Very disappointed.”

What do you think changed in the last month?
“As we got going with the playoffs, from the very first series, the Milwaukee series, I told Chauncey yesterday that probably the most impressive win we had in the playoffs was game 4 in Milwaukee. A game where you're supposed to go in and take care of business; we did, on the road, You go up 3 - 1 and you come back and close them out. I told Chauncey that's the last time I thought we were very impressive in the playoffs - game 4 in Milwaukee. From that point on, I just don't think that we sustained the type of energy that you need in the playoffs. I'm not going to sit here and give a bunch of reasons why because when you start giving reasons why you didn't have that energy, I mean, it's excuses. That's the absolute last thing that I want to come out of this. There are no excuses. The bottom line is we didn't get it done. And anything anybody says beyond 'We didn't get it done' is an excuse. When you start talking about pointing at this or pointing at that, I just don't accept excuses. The bottom line is: we said we wanted to get it done and we didn't get it done. It's on us and we have to make it right.”

Where do you go from here Joe?
“You keep adding, really. You look at your team and what you don't do is just evaluate your team over the last 2 weeks or the last few weeks. You can't build a team like that. You can't build a special sports franchise by judging a team just over a 2 or 3 week period. I have to judge the team from October 1st until this past Friday night. And I'm looking at our team, even when we're winning 64 games, I see holes. During the regular season I see holes. So when we get to this point at the end of the season, it's summertime now, it's not like all of a sudden I'm looking and saying, 'Okay, what do we have to do now?' I've been looking all year, and the holes that were there during the regular season are still there. So that doesn't change for me. The changes or whatever we need to add, didn't just come to me over the weekend because we lost Friday nlight. I saw them in February, in March.”

What are some of those holes that you were seeing throughout the season?
“Well, I think that we have to add a couple more people. I think when McDyess is your only veteran proven scorer coming off the bench, and gotta put points on the board, that becomes an issue, because if he's not scoring coming off the bench you really don't know where it's going to come from. It may come from someone else, but you really don't know where, and that has to change. We have to get more proven people that we know that can step in and give it to us. And just other stuff, little stuff, people who can break (down) the defense a little bit more, get us easier shots, somehow score more points in the paint. I thought we depended on jump shots way, way too much.”

Do you anticipate bringing the same top 6 guys back or is anything a possibility?
“I expect to bring the same 6 back. In terms of Ben, one thing you can't forget about Ben's situation is that Ben is an unrestricted free agent. So at the end of the day, it's going to be Ben's call. I'm going to do what I need to do to get him to come back, but at the end of the day, it's going to be his call what he wants to do. So my intentions are to bring the top 6 guys back, but I don't have the final say.”

Is there a time frame you've kicked around with Ben Wallace?
“Not really. I have not sat down with Ben and talked about a time frame. We talked Saturday, and just briefly my thing to him was, 'How do you want me to deal with this with Arn (Tellum, Ben's agent)?' and he said, 'Man, look just try to get it done.' I said, 'Cool.' and that was the end of the conversation. It was really simply that quick.”

How does the 'Arn factor' change how you approach this process?
“I don't really know, because we haven't started negotiating yet. I don't know what the 'Arn factor' is. Once you start negotiating, that's when you know if there's a factor or not. Until then, I don't know. I don't know what the parameters are for them. I don't know what their goal is. I'm not sure, I don't know yet. Once I get into the first conversation though, I could probably answer that question a whole lot better. Right now I haven't had that conversation.”

Joe, how important is Ben for this team going forward?
“Well he's very important. The continuity of who we are and what we've been able to do over the last 5 years has been spearheaded by him and what he brings to us as a team. When we lost to Boston in the second round 5 years ago, I looked at the team then and knew that, we have to make major changes if we want to compete at this level. Watching us over the last month or so in the playoffs, it wasn't the fact that we couldn't compete at this level, obviously we could. Obviously we competed all year at the highest level, but sometimes you need more help. Sometimes the ability just to count on your 5 or 6 guys runs out and you need to add to that. We have to rely less on just the top 5 guys, 6 guys carrying everything. That can only go so long. At some point you've got to start adding to that list. And not just periphery guys. No, not just a ninth or tenth guy. A significant guy who's going to be in that mix where when you talk about them, you talk about that guy also. We've relied on this starting 5, top 6 whatever, for a while now. So that has to change too. We can't just rely and say, 'Well the starting 5 will get it done'. At some point you have to change that.”

What kind of flexibility will you have to be able to add pieces?
“Well, at the end of the year when I sit down at these sessions, I always talk about the 3 areas that you can improve your team in: trade, free agency, and draft. Obviously we don't have the first round pick, and very rarely do first round picks come into these kind of teams and make an impact anyway. So it would be irrelevant, even if we did have a first round pick. But free agency, trade, all those things are on the table for me. I'll explore all of those things in terms of improving our team.”

How close are the 3 rookies to making an impact on the team?
“We've talked about implementing one maybe two of those guys on the active roster next year. This window that we have right now is not closed by any means, so you have to maximize that as much as possible. And you have to be careful about adding too many young guys to your team. We've looked at having some young talent come in, but it has to be at the right time. My job is to look at our team and to be able to determine 'Have we gotten all we can out of this group and is it time to make that transition'? or 'How much more can we get out of this group before we have to'? So that's my job: to sit and just try to look and figure out how to come to an idea of 'is it that time yet'? For me right now, it's not. You don't do what we did this year, and get where we got this year and say, 'We're not good enough' where we have to change our team completely. But do you add something to it? Absolutely.”

But there's got to be a commitment though. If those young guys are going to be coming back there's got to be a commitment to them at some point.
“The balance is that when you make that commitment to those young guys, you're going to have to sit somebody. Tell me who we should sit. That's the balance for a coach: who are you going to sit? You have 4 all-stars and Tayshaun Prince and you start talking about sitting those guys, that's tough for a coach to do because he's trying to win games. And I want him win games. I was sitting there saying, 'Hey, we need to win'. That's why I never go in and say, 'You gotta play this guy'. I tell guys, 'We gotta win'. Point blank. 'Get it done'. So you start trying to implement those young guys, but it has to be at the right time. You can't start sitting guys too soon. Rip Hamilton can run all day, Tayshaun is just coming into his own, Chauncey is at his prime. Ben and Rasheed are a little bit older, maybe you can get some minutes there. But for the most part, it's hard to sit guys when you've got guys like this in the prime of their careers.”

How did you accept the job that Flip did this year?
“I thought he did a good job. Here's the thing that I can say about Flip, let me address that, 'Is Flip okay'? It's a non-issue with Flip's job. He's as safe as anybody here. So that's a non-issue with him, so we can get past that. In terms of the job he did, me and Mr. D. were talking about this the other day, you just assume a coach is going to come in and know every button to push and know every personality. It was a learning process for him more than anybody else here. He's the guy that has to make the call with these guys. I thought this year was a learning process. Flip knew absolutely nothing about these guys, and as the season went on we were still able to manage to win 64 games and have a great regular season with him not really even knowing the personnel. And so I thought it was a learning year for him. And I think, as he and I talked the other day, it'll be so much better next year because now he knows who can't play too many minutes and who needs a little bit more rest, and whatever the situation may be he understands that better now. I was happy with what he did this year knowing that it will be better next year because he understands the personnel better.”

While we'll probably never lose the "defensive identity", how does the team look as far as an "offensive" identity?
“I think that you can only win in a one-dimensional manner for so long. I don't care who you are. You've gotta diversify the way you win. For us to sit and think we're going to win 72-71, grind it out forever, with the rule changes and the way the game is changing now, we have to diversify in how we can win. We have to be able to go into Phoenix like we did this year and outscore them. And we have to be able to play some of the other teams, slow down Memphis or whatever, and grind it out with those guys. We're not going to be able to win 73-72 every game. We've gotta be able to play different styles of basketball in this league now. And the best teams can do that. The best teams can win in different ways and we're going to continue to do that.”

You guys have done a good job of keeping player issues in house but they got kind of out of house during the playoffs. Was that unfair to Flip?
“Well, you know that I never like to see anything bad out in the media like that. And I don't approve of that. But I think that the people who have been around us, all you guys who cover us, probably know that's not the first time a guy's complained. It's the first time it kind of got out, but it's not the first time a guy's complained. So, people say "Oh my gosh", you know, some of your guys complained. I'm like, "We've been playing for six years man." It's the first time it publicly got out. But the fact that a guy is complaining about something, you can't be in this business and think that's not going to happen, I don't care who you are, especially in sports. That's just the nature of business. That it got out, you know, I don't approve of that.”

On looking at the backup point guard position in the offseason:
“That's definitely something to look at. That's definitely a position that we'll look at. Somebody who can change the pace of the game. You know I've been looking for that for a while. Someone who can change the pace of the game, get us easy buckets. Get in the lane, create easy shots. I think that would be a big boost to us. Because, at times, like I said, we depend on jump shots way too much. And I'd like to see, you know, if it's not us pushing someone up...at least a guard or something getting into the lane creating… So, that’s going to be one of the priorities that we try to address.”

Joe, in retrospect, if Rasheed was healthy how much of a different player would he have been in the post season and how much of an effect would he have had?
“I talked to Ron Rothstein on the phone yesterday. He asked me that. And I said to him, "Ronny, you guys were more focused, you guys were hungrier, and you guys were more committed throughout the series to winning. So even if he would have been healthy you still have to bring all those other things." That's why I say, it's an excuse. To say Rasheed was hurt, that's an excuse, give Miami credit. They played better than us. They were more committed, more focused, hungrier. They did all the little things that you have to do to win a playoff series. And so you tip your hat to them, you applaud them, and you tell them job well done. And you tell your guys, "You didn't get it done. The other team got it done.”

How about the way you expect this team to respond to this playoff next season?
“Well, I can only go with what these guys have shown me over the past five years, a resiliency to bounce back and try to do better. That's really all you can base anything on...and so that fact that I've been around these guys for five or six years I know their character, I know how they've represented the Detroit Pistons for the last five years. I expect the guys to bounce back more committed, more focused, hungrier, to get it done. Like I said I had a lot of conversations, six straight hours of conversations on Saturday in my office, here, with players coming in and out. My message to the guys was don't make any excuses this summer. I don't want to hear about anybody being hurt or this or whatever. We didn't get it done. The fact of the matter is that we have to come back next year and get it done and so that's what I expect. That's all I can expect, they've given me no reason to expect anything else.”

What will be taken into consideration when replacing Sid Lowe?
“When Flip and I talked about filling that spot, the only thing I said to him is "Hey Flip it's going to have to be somebody that these guys respect the first day they walk in." I don't think that it can be somebody who, over a year or so, he's going to earn their trust over some time. I think where we are as a team, who we are, it almost has to be someone who they respect the first day he walks in the door. That's really the only thing, that's the only parameters that I've kinda put around him.”

Is that going to be the only change to the coaching staff?
“I think so. Yeah, I don't see any changes with any of those guys.”

On Carlos Delfino:
“He's going to be here. We're not trading him and he's not going anywhere. That's one of those situations where I would have liked to see him play more this year and Flip and I have talked about that. I mean he has the skills that he can...put it on the board, break down the defense, give us a rim, play in the open court. We need that, we need more of that. Yesterday, he was getting ready to fly back to Argentina. He and I talked for a long time about how he's looking forward to next year and really wanted to be on the floor playing more next year."

Are you surprised at the criticism of you and Flip Saunders?
“No, not really. I'm not surprised whatsoever. I fully expected criticism. You know, it is what it is. You know, you waste your time if you sit there and try to fight it, debate it, or whatever. You waste your time. I fully expected it. It comes with the territory, and you know that's the way it is. That's the way the media works, one day you’re the greatest the next day you’re gone."

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