Instant Analysis: Joe D. Blows Up the Pistons
|11.03.08 at 1:00 pm ET|
The Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson rumors had been out there for a couple of days, but it was still a bit of a shock to see it actually happen. The Nuggets get Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samb (whose name defies spell-check) and the Pistons now have The Answer some seven years after almost getting him from the Sixers. The hold-up in that deal was Matt Geiger’s refusal to give up his trade-kicker, which earned him some honorary MVP votes from the Philly media when the Sixers made it to the NBA Finals that year. (And now you know.)
At any rate, the trade is unique in that it ends two eras, one successful the other not so much, and changes the NBA landscape considerably. After the jump, what it all means.
For the Nuggets: Simply put, the great A.I.-Carmelo-Kenyon-Camby combination just did not work. The Nuggets acknowledged that this off-season when they traded Camby to the Clippers for a bunch of magic beans, but in acquiring Billups it seems Denver isn’t quite willing to concede defeat.
Billups is an honest-to-goodness NBA point guard, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Denver since they traded Andre Miller to get… Allen Iverson.
Billups makes Denver immediately better in the short-term, for while he’s not the thrill-a-minute player that Iverson is, he’s also not a shot-a-minute player either. How much better depends on Carmelo Anthony, who is teetering between vastly overrated and possible stardom. Without Iverson to compete for shots, Carmelo is the undisputed No. 1 option for the Nuggets. Let’s see what he’s got.
If Denver elects to hold on to McDyess (and there are rumblings that they may just buy him out) he is a very useful player. Samb? I’ve got nothing for you there.
For the Pistons: Meet the newest entrant in the LeBron James sweepstakes. Impossible, you say? Not really. The Pistons will have oodles of cap space once Iverson and Rasheed Wallace come off the books this summer and now that Bruce Ratner’s Brooklyn dream is rapidly becoming a nightmare, the possibilities for LeBron are wide open. Even if they don’t land King James, Joe Dumars could target Chris Bosh, D-Wade, etc., etc.
This is what smart executives do. Dumars put together a Pistons team that had a great five-year run. They won a championship, got to another Finals and were in five straight conference championship series, all without a signature super-duper-star. Now he sees that it’s over.
Detroit will still be dangerous, but that era is basically finished, and Dumars has cleared the way for Rodney Stuckey and Amir Johnson to play vital roles.
It will be interesting to see how Iverson fits with his new team. He can be a fantastic playmaking point guard–which is a role he presumably will be asked to fill–but he has never played the kind of defense that the Pistons employ. Also, one can’t help but feel empathy for first-year coach Michael Curry who gets to deal with another headstrong veteran.
What it means for the Celtics: Remember when everyone was nervous about how Billups would abuse Rajon Rondo in the playoffs? Maybe if he was healthy things would have turned out differently last spring, but in the end Billups wasn’t much of a factor in the conference finals.
Now there is one less obstacle in place for Rondo to become the best point guard in the East, and one less obstacle for the Celtics to contend with in their quest to repeat. The Pistons aren’t necessarily going away this year, but Billups was the ballast for that team.
Every move in the NBA needs to be viewed through the prism of the 2010 free-agency class, and the Celtics are one of the few teams set up to make their run over the next two years. This trade is win-win for the C’s.
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