Joe Dumars turns his back on NBA defenses

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NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars has to say everything is fine while standing in front of a fiery explosion of scoring. And, of course, he’s going to be anti-load management. He is a shill for the league and has to toe the company line on the state of the game. However, it’d just be nice to at least acknowledge the recent critiques lobbed at the Association by fans, players and coaches, alike.

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Here’s Joe D on the 65-game cap that’s likely going to cost Tyrese Haliburton a ton of money, and royally screw the season-end awards:

“You’re always gonna have unintended consequences, that’s the first thing,” Dumars told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday. “The second thing, you kind of knew that the first couple of guys that were going to get close to that mark, it will become an issue. So it probably was going to become a talking point at some point. It could’ve been a month from now. The number is what the number is. I’m not surprised, [though].”

“Unintended consequences” and “the number is what the number is” are essentially euphemisms for “sh-t happens” and “sorry, not sorry.” He even dropped the “Lest we forget, this was collectively bargained” when talking about the cap, as if the only way to speak is in absolutes, and only Sith speak in absolutes.

Darth Dumars’ defense — which was the cornerstone of his career — of the scoring explosion was equally tone-deaf.

“It’s where the game is today. It’s the pace of the game. It’s the amount of 3s guys are shooting now. You’re going to have some offensive eruptions like that.”

This comes a few days after Golden State coach Steve Kerr, in reference to the obscene scoring, said, “There are absolute changes [to be made].

“I wish I could tell you the number of times a player wildly drove into us, ran into us, and I went to the ref and the ref used the expression, ‘illegal guarding position.’ The way we’re interpreting the rules is favoring the offense. Just as we did 20 years ago as a league, when we wanted to open up the game, we changed the interpretation. So we could easily go back and give leeway to the defense.”

The league tried to let a little more contact go following the Olympics in 2021, but that wore off after a few months, and we’re back to guys initiating contact, flailing, and then glaring at the ref if no whistle is blown. We’ve seen individual performances of 50, 60 and 70 points so frequently that a player dropping 40-plus elicits shoulder shrugs, and not the Michael Jordan kind.

“We’re going to see offensive eruptions with this kind of pace and the amount of 3s people shoot,” Dumars said. “But there’s no push here at the league office from me or anyone else that we want to see a certain score. I left that Boston-Denver game saying, ‘Wow, great game.’ That’s what fans want. Fans want to leave a game or watch a game and at the end say, ‘That was incredible.’ The score is secondary to that. Fans just want to see great games.”

Pointing to maybe the best game of the season, and saying, “See? Everything is fine” doesn’t negate the litany of blowouts, or the optics. Even the most casual hoop head knows scoring 70 should be a once- or twice-in-a-decade occurrence, and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch was so unimpressed by Karl-Anthony Towns’ stat hunting that he sat him for portions of the fourth quarter in a loss to Charlotte a couple weeks ago with KAT sitting on 62 points.

Finch called his team’s play an “absolute disgusting performance of defense and immature basketball.” That’s a far cry from Dumars’ assertion that high point totals equate to this “great” or “incredible” product. The only other time I can remember a coach sitting a player with 62 was in 2005 when Kobe Bryant hit that number in three quarters, and was able to rest in the final frame with the Lakers up big.

I know it was Kobe, but that game was a big deal, and the impact of displays like that is fading. Maybe we should just accept it the way we have with the passing game in the NFL, yet defense can still dominate Sundays. Even when an NBA team has a good defense on paper, like say Milwaukee a year ago, it’s still subject to the opponent.

In theory, tamping down on offense could benefit player health, as well. A slower game means less running, and less running means less wear and tear, but we all know the only way to get guys to play 80 percent of the schedule is to shorten the season. Since that’s not going to happen, there’s not much else left for the NBA to do other than lie through its teeth.

And that’s exactly what Dumars did this week. While it’s technically what he gets paid to do, at least add in a couple qualifiers, or tell us the Bad Boy Pistons wouldn’t let guys go for 40, much less 60. Something other than a heaping serving of PR spin.

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6.14 Friday Faves