Remember 2003 draft day? The day of infamy. The day that Joe Dumars made a mistake.
Though I didn’t know it at the time (but was skeptical), Joey D. Coyote (basketball genius) made the one bad decision of his executive tenure. He drafted Darko Milicic.
Now in fairness to my idol, everyone thought this kid was the real deal. He was apparently one of the most talented practice players of all time who couldn’t get it done on the floor. I’ve never really understood that principle, but Darko has lured other teams with his practice court skills only to be a non-factor on the floor.
Of course that ship has sailed, and Dumars was fortunate to receive a first round draft pick from Orlando in exchange for Milicic’s services. That pick became Rodney Stuckey, who by all accounts, appears to be the real deal and the future Pistons' point guard.
Nonetheless, beyond LeBron, who was unavailable to the Pistons at the number two spot, Detroit could have picked Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh, all of them all-stars and impact players in the league.
And so we come to the present.
We observe the Pistons' last run at a NBA title with the feeling that the players on the floor at the end of game 6 will not be the same players suiting up next year. At least not completely.
We observe a Denver Nuggets' team shopping around for ways to part with Carmelo Anthony, and a Pistons' team loaded with proven talent but looking for a shakeup.
Well let’s shake it up.
Trade Chauncey Billups and/or perhaps Rasheed Wallace for Carmelo Anthony. I won’t get into the specifics. There could be some draft picks involved. Maybe Camby is involved in the deal too. The point is this: Move Chauncey and secure Melo.
Billups has been a big part of the success in Detroit the last few years, but his defense has become a liability. In that sense, Detroit would at least be trading the worst defender of their starting five for another average defender.
They would still have Rip, Stuckey, Afflalo, TayShaun, Maxiell, McDyess, and Amir who are all committed on the defensive end. They would also be adding a true scoring threat capable of finishing at the rim in Melo, which is exactly the dimension that this team needs.
I’ve not been a great fan of Anthony’s cavalier attitude towards the defensive end, but with the right coach, it could work in Detroit.
Denver could also come out well. Billups would be home and happy in Denver where he still lives in the off-season, and could provide leadership to a Denver team that seems to have lost it's way. Chauncey is also a quality point guard who can run the team without turnovers and score in the cluth.
Anything else Denver got (such as Rasheed and maybe a draft pick) could only help them build toward the future.
When the dust settled Detroit would still be a contender, albeit with a different look. Denver would still be a fringe playoff team, but also with a new look, more flexibility, and the ability to secure some other young talent.
In the end we would have this: Melo in Detroit. And in the shadows Joe Dumars grinning to himself. By picking Darko he gets Stuckey AND Melo. Perhaps he planned it all along.