Does Phil Jackson hire spell the end for Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars? Detroit fans should hope so

President of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons, Joe Dumars, has to be feeling like that guy out at a bar or club with his girlfriend that happens to run into her seemingly flawless ex-boyfriend. This guy was in the picture long before you and her had even met, and their relationship has long since ended, but that doesn’t stop your intimidation dial from increasing a few notches as he catches up with her, turns on the charm and even buys everyone’s drinks; including yours. It seems harmless on the surface, and she’ll be the first to tell you that, but you can’t help but feel uneasy. And inferior.

Playing the role of the girlfriend in this little screenplay is Pistons Owner Tom Gores. And the role of Mr. Perfect-Ex-Boyfriend? None other than the Zen Master himself; Phil Jackson.

The Pistons recently hired Jackson, an eleven-time NBA Champion head coach, to serve as an advisory consultant for their head coaching vacancy. According to, Gores describes Jackson as “a friend, and one of the best minds in the business.”

Mark Barnhill, one of Gores’ partners in Platinum Equity (Gores’ private equity firm), said that Jackson’s role is to “advise Joe, Tom and the ownership team. Not to assume a formal position inside the Pistons organization.”

Be that as it may, reports have circulated that Jackson is “itching” to acquire a front-office role in the NBA. Can Jackson now consider his itch scratched, or is this only the beginning?

[caption id="attachment_289" align="alignright" width="146" caption="Under Joe Dumars' watch, The Detroit Pistons have finished with a sub .500 record in each of the past five seasons."][/caption]

Dumars denies feeling any pressure for his own job as he and Gores reportedly discussed the decision together and agreed that it was the best move for the franchise. But….he’s never needed an adviser to help him find a head coach the other ten billion times the Pistons have been on the prowl for one during Dumars’ tenure.

So the question is: is this Gores’ way of telling Joe that he doesn’t know what he’s doing anymore?

Since the era of six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances (from 2003-2008) and Dumars’ Executive of the Year award in 2003, Dumars has managed to erode the beautiful memories Pistons fans have of him as a general manager, or at least negate them in the annals of time. He washed away the craftiness of the Chauncey Billups signing by setting the franchise back for half a decade with the Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon signings. The Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace trades helped bring a title to Detroit, but Dumars brought Allen Iverson in to effectively end the Pistons reign as Eastern Conference juggernauts. He’s made solid late first and second round draft picks, like Arron Afflalo, Carlos Delfino and Amir Johnson, only to let them walk before they blossomed into the effective NBA contributors that he apparently envisioned they could one day be.

Will Phil Jackson end up coaching the Pistons? No. Will Phil Jackson end up being the president of basketball operations for the Pistons? Probably not. But the mere hiring of Jackson points to the lack of faith that Gores is developing in Dumars’ ability to do his job.

Maybe Gores should hire a free-agency consultant for Joe and a trade consultant for Joe and an NBA draft consultant for Joe. Or maybe, with boatloads of cash to spend this off-season, a coaching vacancy to fill and another lottery pick to make, Gores should give Dumars a pat on the back for the pride he restored in this franchise once upon a time, and put this old Piston out to pasture.

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