Yesterday, there was our first blockbuster trade of the season when Denver traded its all-star guard for Detroit’s finals’ MVP.
What Detroit Got: Allen Iverson, SG/PG
What Denver Got: Chauncey Billups, PG; Antonio McDyess, PF/C; Cheikh Samb, can sit anywhere from the end of the bench to all the way up to the middle of the bench; 9.8 million dollar trade exception;
Why Detroit did it: A lot of people are hemming and hawing on how well Detroit did, but in truth they made out like bandits. They probably do take a step back this year, but so what? They didn’t just trade for Allen Iverson; they also traded for his expiring contract. When his 20 odd million dollars come off the cap this summer, they can either resign him to a lower amount or look to add quite the free agent with that cash. Actually, they can even sit on the money some more and look to add one of 2010’s amazing superstars. Lebron might not like the fact that Detroit isn’t a much bigger market than Cleveland, but he might be enticed by the fact that Detroit would be built to deliver him a championship much faster than a rebuilding Nets or Knicks team.
For the short term, this is going to be entirely up to the Pistons. They may not want to put all of their eggs in Iverson’s basket, but in my opinion, this team resembles an ultra-talented version of the 2000-01 Philadelphia 76ers. Everyone plays defense and knows their role. If any team is built to not only withstand, but actually thrive with Allen Iverson taking 25 shots a game, it is this Detroit team. It would be quite the burden for young coach Michael Curry to scrap the majority of the training camp game plan for a new one, but the East is week, and this team should be able to make the playoffs on talent alone. Once they get used to Iverson’s style of play, they should be able to take off.
So what is Iverson’s style of play? Contrary to popular belief, Iverson is not someone who likes to take 90 percent of his shots from the perimeter (that would be Vince Carter.) He loves to drive to the hole and draw the foul. Then when things open up for his teammates he has no problem dishing it out to them for easy buckets especially big men smart enough to cut in for an easy dunk or two. This didn’t work in Denver because Iverson needs to dominate the ball for this to work, and that wasn’t possible with Carmelo Anthony needing just as many shots as Iverson on a game to game basis. Then they brought in Anthony Carter to take over the ball handling duties there and once again the full value of Iverson was diminished in Denver. Detroit shouldn’t let that happen. After all, if it doesn’t work out, all you do is decline to resign him this summer and you’re left with a whole bunch of cap space.
Why Denver did it: With Camby gone via trade, Denver was positioned to be even worse at defense. It is one thing for a veteran Detroit team to cover up for Iverson’s lack of attention on defense, but that is simply not possible for this Denver team whose players aren’t good enough to consistently cover their own guys much less a star on the other team. So they got rid of their biggest liability in that area by trading Iverson for the bigger, stronger, and more defensively inclined Chauncey Billups. Also by trading for Billups, Anthony Carter moves to the bench where he becomes one of the NBA’s best back up point guards, JR Smith moves to the starting lineup where he can have more flexibility to take shots and not have it cost him minutes if he misses, and added a starting point guard who is more than willing to take on the Chris Pauls and Deron Williams of the conference.
Antonio McDyess is another matter entirely. If he plays, he is immediately inserted into a three man rotation at the big positions of PF and Center. He gives them much needed depth in those areas, and could easily be counted on to play during the waning moments of the fourth quarter. However, there are early reports that indicate that he would actually prefer to either be bought out or retire rather than leave Detroit.
Regardless the big news out of Denver is that the starting lineup is now Billups, JR Smith, Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and Nene Hilario. That is certainly a playoff team even in the deep western conference, which is a big step up for Denver who previously was looking at having to scrape their way to the top. Add in the fact that it most likely keeps them from having to pay luxury tax, and you can see how it can be seen as a good deal for Denver.
Final Analysis/Who got the better end of the deal: However, it isn’t a good deal for Denver. Yes, they get under the luxury tax for this year, but the screw over their cap flexibility for three more years. That isn’t the way you help Carmelo Anthony bring home a championship banner. Yes, the pieces they received in the trade help, but how happy are the fans in Denver really going to be now that they can definitely make the first round…but most likely get swept out of it again? Make no mistake about it either, because that’s what is going to happen. Even with Billups this team has no one to defend the other team’s opposing star swingman. You think that’s going to be a problem with Kobe comes to town? Actually, Billups himself comes with a host of concerns after last season which was not a good one for him. His NBA career isn’t going to be prolonged by having to chase around Tony Parker, Chris Paul, or Deron Williams. If he has declined considerably, then Denver is stuck with him for three more years. If Iverson has declined, then Detroit can get rid of him at the end of the year and play the budding Rodney Stuckey more in the short term. I know a lot of people are writing that Denver got the better end of the deal, but I just don’t see it, not unless they can parlay that trade exception for another big man or defensive minded swingman while also convincing McDyess to return to Denver. Winner: Detroit.