Pistons' coach Maurice Cheeks was fired Sunday, but he wasn't the issue.

The problem is – and has been for a long time – Pistons' president of basketball operations Joe Dumars.

While it would be inaccurate to refer to Cheeks as a scapegoat, if for no other reason than his team was poorly prepared, and his message did not get through to his players, dismissing him 50 games into his tenure is akin to putting a small bandage on a large wound.

Dumars has been living on the past.

He was, justifiably, a fan favorite when he was the consummate pro as a player during the “Bad Boys” Pistons' era of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He did an uncanny job of building a championship team, and a consistent contender, out of the ashes of Grant Hill leaving the Pistons, as an executive.

However, it has been one mistake after another by Dumars since the late 2000s, after the wheels came off the “Going to Work” Pistons following six straight appearances in the Eastern Conference finals, which included the improbable NBA title in 2004.

This began in 2008 when Dumars became frustrated with the Pistons not getting past the Eastern Conference finals three years in a row. Two games into the 2008-2009 season, he dealt Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess to Denver for volcanic and past-his-prime once superstar Allen Iverson. The benefit was that the Pistons would not only supposedly become improved with the acquisition of Iverson, but be able to flip the expiring contracts of Iverson and Rasheed Wallace following that season into a free agent bonanza that would put the Pistons over the top.


The Pistons went from a 59-win to a 39-win team, barely getting into the playoffs. Then, they were destroyed by the Cavaliers in a four-game sweep in the first-round amid chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP” for LeBron James at The Palace from Cleveland fans, who flocked north.

It was the last time the Pistons made the playoffs.

Those expiring contracts were turned into Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva and utter dysfunction. The Pistons resembled “Munity on the Bounty” with John Kuester as head coach.

Remember how Dumars gave Richard Hamilton a long-term contract and was stuck with him?

It was awful.

How about having to give Charlotte a first-round draft pick to get rid of Gordon's contract. The Pistons will lose their first-round choice this year if it is ninth or lower. Yeah, the Pistons could fall into a hole in which they don't have a first-round draft pick or make the playoffs. And this is widely regarded as the best pool of players available in the NBA Draft in many years.

There was a ready-made excuse for Dumars. It was the death of owner William Davidson and the franchise being for sale, which kept the organization from moving forward for an extended period.

But what is the excuse now? The Pistons have an owner, Tom Gores, who is in his third season.

Dumars did make major moves, signing a high-priced free agent Josh Smith and trading for Brandon Jennings.

The Pistons have gotten good production out of an eighth overall draft pick, Greg Monroe. However, Indiana's Paul George, who was taken two picks later in the same draft, has become the NBA's latest great player. Now, the Pistons have to make a decision whether to re-sign Monroe long-term or move him before the Feb. 20 trade deadline. Oh, and Monroe has started to regress under the weight of being part of an organization, which doesn't move in any particularly pointed direction. Andre Drummond is next on the list of players, who might fall under a similar spell as Monroe, and another Pistons' first-round draft pick, Rodney Stuckey, who arguably hasn't been the same player since the first-half of his first season.

The Pistons desperately need a quality shooting guard. Orlando's Arron Affalo would be the ideal fit. Oh, Dumars traded him for virtually nothing of value in return. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has not shown much evidence as a rookie he is the answer at two-guard – and the Pistons bypassed Michigan's Trey Burke to draft him. It has been a horrific public relations nightmare for a franchise playing to a lot more empty seats than full ones at The Palace.

Owner Tom Gores reportedly made the decision against Dumars' wishes to fire Cheeks, despite back-to-back wins. Gores suggested in a written statement Cheeks was fired because the Pistons aren't getting the most from their talent.

In reality, though, Cheeks was being asked to fit a square peg into a round hole with a power forward, Smith, being asked to play out of position at small forward, no answer at off guard and limited options from the bench.

A more accurate statement from Gores would be that he isn't getting much bang for all those big bucks he is paying for such high-priced players because they have been poorly pieced together by Dumars and simply don't mesh.

It's been that way for several years.

That's on Dumars.

It's as if everybody, now including Cheeks, has been held accountable except Dumars.

And it's just not right.