Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 5/20/14
Under Joe Dumars’ watch, the Detroit Pistons enjoyed a stretch that included an NBA title, two Eastern Conference championships and six trips to the conference finals. They also imploded from 2008 on, with Dumars orchestrating one questionable deal after the next. His series of moves to sign and then later trade Ben Gordon will go down among the worst decisions in franchise history. Here’s how it all went down … and all went wrong for Detroit: • April 26, 2009: The Pistons’ eighth consecutive playoff appearance ends with a 99-78 loss to the Cavaliers (it all comes full circle with Cleveland), sending them home after a humiliating Round 1 sweep. This marks the first time since the 2001-02 season that the Pistons have not made it to at least the Eastern Conference Finals. As a result, head coach Michael Curry is fired after just one season at the helm. • July 8, 2009: Joe Dumars signs Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to a pair of monster contracts — five years and $55 million for Gordon; five years and $40 million for Villanueva. The high-profile moves come as part of Dumars’ major retooling of the roster, which started the year before with the ill-fated trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. Along with Iverson, the Pistons also bid farewell to Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Aaron Afflalo between the 2008-09 season and the 09-10 campaign. • June 26, 2012: After three seasons without a playoff berth and two more coaching changes, Dumars sheds the final two years of Gordon’s contract in a trade with Charlotte for Corey Maggette. But to get that financial relief, Dumars also includes a future first-round pick, which was partially protected in 2014 and ’15. • July 10, 2013: With Maggette’s expiring contract off the books and Charlotte handling Gordon’s payment, Dumars uses his extra cash to sign forward Josh Smith to a four-year, $54 million contract. Later in the offseason, Dumars will then trade Brandon Knight and two other players to Milwaukee for point guard Brandon Jennings. • April 6, 2014: The Pistons are eliminated from playoff contention. • April 16, 2014: The Pistons complete their 2013-14 season with a loss at Oklahoma City. Prior to the game, they had been locked into the No. 8 spot in the draft lottery, leaving them vulnerable to being the first team knocked out should any of the clubs Nos. 9-14 jump up. • May 20, 2014: Cleveland lands the No. 1 pick via the draft lottery for the second consecutive season, this time despite having less than a two-percent chance at winning it. Because of that stroke of luck for the Cavs, the Pistons are knocked from the No. 8 pick to No. 9 — forcing them to hand the selection over to the Bobcats. Had the Pistons stayed at No. 8 or moved into the top three, they would have kept their selection and then likely handed over a 2015 first-rounder to Charlotte. (That pick was only top-1 protected, meaning that unless the Pistons won next year’s lottery, they would lose the choice.)
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