This morning’s reported trade has the Nuggets sending Allen Iverson to Detroit for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb. Breaking down the particulars:
Detroit gets: Versatility. Do you start Iverson at point, keep Rip Hamilton at the two and bring Rodney Stuckey off the bench? What about going small with Stuckey at PG, Iverson at SG, Rip at SF and Tayshaun Prince at the four? Or you could have a Stuckey/Iverson backcourt, keep Prince at the three and bring Hamilton off the bench as the second unit’s top scorer while Iverson leads the first unit. However coach Michael Curry wants to play it, Iverson’s ability to play the two or the one at an All-NBA level gives him greater options than he had with Billups, an All-NBA point guard but not so much as a two-guard. With Iverson’s speed, a small lineup featuring Stuckey, Iverson, Rip, Tayshaun and Jason Maxiell could run with the fastest teams in the League, while the Pistons still have the elements to play a slower half-court game as well.
Denver gets: More playoff experience. Billups has 117 postseason games under his belt, including one ring and two trips to the Finals. McDyess has 80 playoff games and one trip to the Finals. Iverson has 71 postseason games on his record, and more importantly, he hasn’t been out of the first round since 2003, whereas Billups and McDyess have grown accustomed to getting past the first round on auto-pilot.
Why Detroit did it: Billups is 32 years old and has $50 million left on a four-year deal, whereas Iverson has one year left at $21 million. Along with Rasheed Wallace‘s expiring $13 million contract, that’s a TON of cap space with which to go after ’09 free agents like Kobe or Carlos Boozer if they want. And in the meantime, Detroit can make one more good run with a veteran group. Also, don’t discount the added sense of urgency Iverson brings (think KG in Boston last year), since he’s the one without a ring and sees this as his last decent shot. The Pistons also REALLY like Stuckey and wanted to open up more minutes for him at point guard. In the season’s first two games he’d averaged 18 minutes, far below the 30 per night Curry promised. They also REALLY like Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell, and were willing to give up McDyess and open up more minutes for them.
Why Denver did it: They didn’t want to lose Iverson for nothing when he’s a free agent this summer. Billups is at least a comparable talent — and more desirable in some cases — so they’re not sending a message to Carmelo Anthony that they’re rebuilding, plus ‘Melo gets handed the mantle as primary scorer and offensive focal point, territory that A.I. had moved in on since the ’06 trade. The Nuggets also get a true point guard on both ends of the court, which allows J.R. Smith to start at two-guard and defend bigger players at that position, and moves Anthony Carter to his rightful place coming off the bench. At worst, Billups is a hometown guy (and McDyess is a former Nugget) who could temporarily distract from the fact this team might not be very good; at best, Billups is a better leader than Iverson who could direct them to the playoffs and help ‘Melo have a career year. George Karl gets a coach on the floor, McDyess helps shore up one of the weakest frontcourts in the League as a reliable double-double threat who plays D, and Cheikh Samb is a project with potential.