Is The Answer the answer in Detroit?

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Is The Answer the answer in Detroit?
It's all but a done deal. (As of 3:15PM, the trade has been done, and AI is a member of the Detroit Pistons.) Allen Iverson, long the apple of Joe Dumars' eye, is soon to be a Detroit Piston. In return, the Pistons are sending Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb to Denver.

I'm still trying to determine if I like this trade.

Giving up Billups and 'Dyess, long part of the Pistons' "core," is taking big, big risk. For all the bitching and moaning from the fans and media crying for the Pistons to make a change, any change (I was one of them), there was a comfort level with the Pistons as we knew them.

As they were currently (now previously) built, the Pistons were a 50 win team, going to have home court advantage during the first couple of playoff round and were a near lock to make the Eastern Conference finals. 2/3 of the NBA would kill to be in the Pistons' situation.  

The big reason I may buy into the trade is AI has an expiring contract. Between the Rasheed Wallace and Iverson contracts coming off the books, the Pistons will have somewhere between $30-35 million in cap room going into the off season. They suddenly become big players in the free agent market. Maybe THE player.

Iverson also has a hunger to win a title that might reinvigorate the Pistons' complacent roster, and for that matter, a somewhat fed up with the status quo fanbase. Say what you will about AI, you cannot deny he's one tough SOB who badly wants to win an NBA title He's going to over BIG in the D. As a personality, as a fan favorite, The Answer is a perfect fit in Detroit.

There is a caveat to Allen Iverson. He may be on the decline. Actually, he is on the decline. He can still score, but there's plenty of nights where he'll put up 25 points, but shoot 10 for 25 from the field to do so. Iverson isn't the same player he was when Joe Dumars nearly traded for him 8 years ago.

But I think Billups' skills are on the decline as well, and still has 3 years on his contract. When you have 2 players on the bad side of 30, both having lost a step, their skills slowly but surely declining and both making big money, give me the player with the expiring contract every time. 

I may have just talked myself into liking this trade!

Just as I was finishing this post, Mlive broke the news there may be a snag in the Iverson trade.

While the key players in the trade remain Pistons guard Chauncey Billups and top reserve Antonio McDyess for Denver's Allen Iverson, McDyess' reluctance to be included in the deal may become an issue.

"Dice is not happy at all (about the possible trade)," said Andy Miller, who is the agent for both Billups and McDyess.

Miller said the 34-year-old McDyess is considering several options, including retirement.

Whoa. Shades of Matt Geiger blowing up the Iverson to Detroit trade back in 2000.

In regard to Dice, there's a chance (In fact, it's probably a lock) Denver will buy out his contract, and he'll have an opportunity to re-sign with Detroit as a free agent. It's a scenario much like Lindsey Hunter's, where he rejoined the Pistons after being traded to Atlanta in the 'Sheed deal.

As Detroit and Denver want this trade to go down, and so do Billups and Iverson, I doubt the reluctace of McDyess joining the Nuggets (even if he never wears their uni) will put the kibosh on the trade. It's going to go down and do so soon. 

Addendum #2 - A little more to chew on: The 4 Letter's Henry Abbott, at his must read NBA blog True Hoop, loves this deal. Why? It's all about cap space.

Down, the road the Pistons becomes the driving force of big-time free agency as soon as Iverson's contract comes off the books next summer. The Pistons will combine a winning environment, one of the most respected general managers in the game, and -- depending on salary cap levels that are yet to be set, and extensions that may yet be given to existing Pistons -- likely enough cap space to sign two free agent players to max contracts over the next summers of 2009 and 2010.

Feast your eyes on this list of players who will be available. 2010 free agents include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Ray Allen, Tyson Chandler, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Redd.

The two that jump out to me are, of course, Chris Bosh and LeBron James. They played together nicely on Team USA, and now Dumars can at least entertain the notion of signing not one of those two, but both.

Good Lord, if Joe D could pull something like that off...

The Pistons have become the team to watch in free agency over the next couple of seasons. Dumars has a plan, and isn't afraid to impliment it, which is more than you can say about the vast majority of GM's in any sport. 

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