Allen Iverson is my favorite NBA player, and he has been wasting away in Denver (and Philly for a few years before that, for that matter), so I am very happy to see him get moved today. Despite my bias, I have to say that the trade of Iverson to Detroit for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess is a very good one for both teams – one with a chance for a real win-win scenario. Here’s a look:
1. Getting rid of Billups allows the team to see if Rodney Stuckey will sink or swim. I have high hopes for Stuckey, and I think he will thrive with more time on the court.
2. Jason Maxiell gets a chance to thrive. He’s been stuck behind McDyess, but, like Stuckey, I think he can bloom when given an opportunity.
3. The team gets shaken up. The Pistons are talented, but they have become complacent and they have brutally underperformed. Billups is an all-star, so by dealing him they hae sent a strong reminder to the team – no one is safe.
4. Iverson is hungry. Starved, really. He had one trip to the finals, but he hasn’t been close since. He knows that time is not on his side, but he can still play. This is the best chance he has at a title, and he is going to play like a man possessed to maximize the chance.
5. Cap flexibility. If Iverson doesn’t work out, or if they want to go another way next year, then his contract will expire, and the team will have enough salary cap room to pursue a big free agent. Rasheed Wallace’s contract is expiring, too, so the team is in great cap shape if they chose to be.
1. Billups gives them a true point guard that they really need.
2. Having Billups and his shooting ability will open up more room inside for Melo.
3. J.R. Smith has more room to shine at shooting guard without Iverson around. The guy can score.
4. McDyess is another front-court option. Nene and Kenyon Martin are both talented, but neither are even remotely reliable. McDyess isn’t exactly a rock, either, but he provides solid depth.
5. Billups goes home. He is a Colorado native who was a big college star with the Buffs. He should shine in his new surrundings, and he’ll give Nuggets fans a reason to turn out and be excited. That wasn’t going to happen before – it’s not like this team is really competitive with the conference elite.
Final Analysis – I think that the Pistons got the better of this deal. They took the bigger risk, but they have more room to grow, and their move gives them a better chance of reaching that potential. It also doesn’t tie them down as long – McDyess has two years on his contract, and Billups has three. The upside for Detroit is big here. In the short term, I think it makes sense to lay off both teams for a game or two to give the players a chance to adapt and give us a sense of how they are going to fit in.