In a somewhat bold move last week, the Detroit Pistons sent G Chauncey Billups, and F Antonio McDyess to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for G Allen Iverson. This move comes as a bit of a surprise given how much Detroit likes Billups, and the timing of the move (right in the middle of a 4-0 season).
I feel that Detroit got the better end of this trade by a mile. For the last few years, I’ve been saying repeatedly, while watching Detroit essentially get bounced by one man teams, that Detroit needs a dynamic scorer to compete. You can have this team basketball and chemistry all you like, but in the NBA you need a superstar to win. Boston has Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, the Spurs have Duncan, Miami had Shaq and Wade, the Lakers had Shaq and Kobe.
Team basketball is nice, but when it comes down to 2 minutes and you need one guy to take over a game, all those teams had their go to guy. Detroit has never had one until now. Now the jury is still out on whether Iverson can coexist with a team like Detroit, and whether his style of play can mesh with Detroit’s halfcourt style. That being said, Detroit has NEVER had a great offensive player, they have never had someone who can consistently take over a game, and they have never had someone who can break down anyone in the league off the dribble. Now they have that dynamic playmaker, we’ll see if he can fit into their plans.
I don’t think Iverson is an NBA point guard though, so Detroit is going to have to do something in that regard. They can either slide Stuckey into the starting rotation, slide Iverson to the 2, then bring Hamilton off the bench, or place Iverson into the Ginobili role, of “Super Sub”. Do I think this assures Detroit a title? No, but I do believe as a result of this trade they do have a better chance at a title than they did last week. If the trade doesn’t work out for Detroit, they simply let Iverson go, move on with Stuckey as the point guard and hope to make a serious push at one of the big free agents in the off season of 2009. It is a win-win situation for the Pistons. They had gone as far as they were going to do with Billups leading them, it was time for a change, and Detroit made one and it works out well for them from every vantage point imaginable.
Now from Denver’s standpoint, I don’t think it’s a good trade for them (basketball wise) but I realize given the fact that Iverson was going to walk after the season anyway, along with the fact that bad contracts (Kenyon Martin making 45 million for the next 3 seasons, and Nene making 41 million for the next 4 seasons), it makes the move almost a necessity for Denver to do this to remain competitive. Considering the fact that even with Iverson’s contracts coming off the books, Denver was unlikely to be a serious player in free agency for either of the next 2 seasons, due to the terrible contracts of Nene and Martin in particular, the trade makes sense. I think that Iverson is the clearly superior basketball player but there are many reasons to make that trade for Denver. The financial reasons, getting a true point guard to run that offense up there, and defensively Billups is an upgrade (though I believe we will see him exposed a bit without the varying plethora of shotblockers that Detroit always put behind him). The move for Denver was a short term fix for what will end up as a long term problem. The move was made to stay competitive enough to keep the fans relatively interested but it doesn’t make Denver a title contender now or in the future, unless a lot of things change.
All in all, its an even trade for both sides when you consider all of the external ramifications. Now hopefully for Iverson, for Detroit, and the fans of both parties, he can get that elusive first championship ring. It won’t be easy, but I like Detroit’s chances much more now than I did a week ago