Quantcast Iverson/Billups Trade

 

Iverson/Billups trade raises questions

 

Denver, with Melo, JR Smith, Nene, and Kleiza, has enough scorers -- in fact, too many, as Smith, especially, has been longing for more burn and shots. The Nuggets also had little cap flexibility with nearly $50 million already invested next in Melo, Smith, Nene, and Kenyan Martin. Unless they wanted to renounce the rights to Kleiza, who is a favorite of owner Stan Kroenke after playing at Mizzu with his son, they would have a rough figure of 3-4 million to pursue team needs, which is less than the MLE. This is after shipping out Camby for nothing and with the expiring contract of Iverson.

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Rebuilding from scratch was not much of an option for a team losing money, nor keeping Melo happy; losing-seasons aren’t good for an already weary fan base or superstars’ morale. Billups certainly fits better into the plans for the Nuggets, paving the way for Smith to get minutes and giving the team more stability defensively. They were unlikely to fill the constant void at the 1 with such a player of Billups’ caliber after Iverson left via free agency.

The trade for Denver allows them to stay competitive at a cheaper rate and play more balanced basketball. Also, the final year of Billups’ deal is a team option for $14 million. So, they are on the hook for two more seasons at a little over $25 million. Which is not as bad as the entire forty mill originally reported. The trade also cements the Nuggets commitment to winning this season and beyond. The whispers of Melo being dealt should be silenced for a while.

The other significant piece going to Denver in the deal, Antonio McDyess, reportedly wants to be waived or bought out. However, this seems unlikely, since his only leverage is bluffing retirement, which would let the Nuggets off the hook of over $13 million from a franchise looking to unload payroll. Unless Dice can prove his knees are shot beyond repair (grounds to retire and be paid) or he is willing to take a large salary cut, expect him to stick with Denver through the season.

Both teams come out with advantages. Detroit’s will be covered shortly. However, ESPN’s statistics expert John Hollinger has declared Denver the overwhelming winner due to Billups’ abilities to play defense and fit into their system as well his projected decline being more graceful than Iverson’s due to AI’s “speed” game. Hollinger has praised Billups repeatedly, calling the former Colorado star “the second-best” point guard in the league last year and a “sniper” in his column. Billups is a great 41% shooter from the field. (That’s not a great stat.) Certainly Billups is a solid player, especially defensively, and he fits the needs of the Nuggets well, but he is far from a first ballot Hall of Famer. Also, when he loses his speed and quickness, it will be difficult to stay an effective defender. Maybe that decline won’t be so great after all.

Detroit clearly comes out as a bigger winner in the deal by adding the go-to scorer they have been lacking since Grant Hill bolted for Orlando (Stackhouse does not count). As good as Billups had been for the Pistons, they lacked a player that could create his own shot at will. Adding that may prove to make them more dangerous team in the East, and Iverson makes them more difficult to guard. More importantly for the Pistons, they become one of the major players this offseason in the free agent and trade markets with more than $20 million in cap space for this summer, as Iverson and Sheed become free agents.

 

by John Looney
ProBasketball-fans.com Staff Writer


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