Joe Dumars: ‘I’ll be fine, whatever’
by Vince Ellis, USA TODAY Sports
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Joe Dumars tried to keep the focus on the Detroit Pistons’ latest coaching hire during his session with the media after Maurice Cheeks’ formal introductory news conference this morning.
That wasn’t happening.
Instead, Dumars took queries about the Pistons’ recent past and future. For the first time, the team’s president of basketball operations answered questions about his Pistons mortality and whether his time running the organization he helped earn three championship banners is growing short.
“I don’t even get into the speculation with me,” Dumars said at the Palace of Auburn Hills. “I’ll be fine, whatever.”
When owner Tom Gores made the decision to fire former coach Lawrence Frank, was Dumars’ status discussed?
“No, not at all,” Dumars said. “The subject never came up.
“To be honest with you, I’m not big on the (vote of confidence). That really doesn’t apply. We just kind of dug in after the season and started working right away on ‘we got to get the next one right.’ It wasn’t the focus of the conversation, myself, at all.”
After a lot of early success in his 13 seasons running the franchise, the question arises at this juncture because the Pistons are in a major funk with five consecutive losing seasons. And Dumars’ contract expires after next season.
He is banking on Cheeks, 56, to stop the coaching carousel at the Palace. He is the seventh coach hired during Dumars’ tenure — quite a high number when you consider there were six trips to the Eastern Conference finals and two NBA Finals appearances mixed in with a 2004 NBA title.
Those winning days seem like a long time ago, and with sparse Palace crowds on a nightly basis, there is evident apathy among the fan base.
“I feel responsibility to get it right — period,” Dumars said. “I feel a responsibility to get it right. That’s my responsibility. As long as I’m doing that, that’s what my responsibility is.
“You can do the speculation thing, but that’s not for me to stand up here and do. My responsibility is to get it right.”
Vince Ellis writes for the Detroit Free Press