The Ben Gordon Trade And Four Other Of The Worst Moves in Detroit Sports History
By: Eric Thomas
The Pistons are doomed. Don’t feel bad for them, they did it to themselves. After an epically bad season, where they weren’t just bad but ill-conceived, they have nothing to show for it. Charlotte gets the Pistons’ first round draft pick in a year that’s thought by many to be the best draft class since 2008.
The Pistons are in free-fall. They have a bunch of players that no other team would want, saddled with contracts that other teams would be crazy to absorb. They signed Stan Van Gundy as GM and head coach, and his first few years will be focused on destruction. The state of the Pistons has never been more grim. They arguably have three players they’d like to amnesty.
The Ben Gordon trade may go down as the worst front-office move in Detroit sports history.
Detroit isn’t alone in boneheaded front office moves, but what’s the worst? The list that follows isn’t at all complete, and I invite you to contribute your own in the comment section. I excluded draft picks, because they are by nature a crap shoot, and if I included them this list would be nothing but a list of Matt Millen failures and Darko. I had to exclude draft picks to give all the other bad deals a chance.
Juan Gonzalez – The Tigers offered Gonzalez an eight year, $140 million dollar deal shortly after he arrived in Detroit. Luckily, Gonzalez turned it down. It could have been a lot worse. He demanded that the dimensions of Comerica Park be adjusted; he scuttled a trade with the Yankees because he didn’t want to play in New York; he spent the beginning and end of the of the season hurt. When emerged as a symbol of everything that was wrong with the Tigers during the Randy Smith era. Dave Dombrowski was hired the year after Juan was gone.
Damien Woody – Matt Millen needed someone who could win in the trenches, so he found whatever Patriot was available. The Lions made Woody the highest paid offensive lineman in the league, and it looked like it might pay off when he was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2004, but then nothing else went right. He struggled with his weight, seemed to hate being in the “D”, and sat out all of 2007 on injured reserve. He signed with the Jets in 2008, just in time to miss the 0-16 season. Give him credit for timing.
Johan Franzén – The Mule shares the franchise record for most goals in a playoff year with Henrik Zetterberg. He scored a playoff goal in double overtime after a goalie slashed his stomach in the previous game. In 2009 he signed an 11 year deal with the Red Wings worth a total of $43.5 million. He’s done basically nothing since.
John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander – This has become the standard by which everything else is judged. It was lauded at the time. Alexander went 9-0 for the Tigers in 1987, with a mind-boggling 1.83 ERA. He struggled mightily in the postseason, when the Tigers were bounced by the eventual World Series Champion Twins. John Smoltz later told reporters that the day he left Detroit was the “worst day” of his life. I believe it, because things went way better for him after that.
Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette - The wounds are fresh, so maybe it’s inflated, but when it comes to boneheaded moves, this stands alone. The Pistons got absolutely nothing in this trade. Maggette played 257 total minutes for the Pistons. He hasn’t played a game in the NBA since. They rid themselves of Ben Gordon’s five year $55 million deal so they could sign Josh Smith, who looks like one of the Pistons’ candidates for amnesty in the offseason. For all that, the Pistons sit out the best draft since 2008. While maybe the Smoltz trade still seems worse as far as marquee names, when you look at this deal in its totality, it’s hard to beat. Joe Dumars had a lot of bad moves in his time at the head of the Pistons, but this one has to be the worst.
Feel free to contribute below. There’s plenty to choose from.