After reading three members’ blogs on my favorite list and many messages posted by the other members in a hottest thread on the NBA board last night, it was pretty difficult for me to decide whether I liked or disliked this trade. There have been a lot of awful arguments between the Pistons and non-Pistons fans. Earlier this morning at work, I talked with a colleague of mine, a Philadelphia native who is a fan of the former 76ers guard. I weigh the trades that affect both teams - Pistons and Nuggets. Also, this trade affects my prediction of the Pistons and Nuggets finishing off as well.
Well, to be honest, I really don’t like this blockbuster trade for many reasons. My colleague agreed with me that this trade was stupid. Now, here I am weighing both teams to determine which team has more edges.
Chauncey Billups vs. Allen Iverson
As if I were the Pistons fan, I personally like Chauncey better than A.I. because of his sportsmanship and veteran leadership, not just his playing stats. The 12th-year veteran had been a great mentor for a number of the younger players, including Rodney Stuckey. Also, three-time All-Star Billups had been the Pistons’ team captain for a few years. He is one of the NBA’s best defensive guards, averaging almost 15 points and 5.5 assists per game in his NBA career. In the last 6 years, Billups, Richard Hamilton (Rip) and Tayshaun Prince (Tay) had been the core players to lead the Pistons to the Eastern Conference Finals. They advanced to the back-to-back NBA Finals, winning the franchise’s third championship in 2004 and losing to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in 2005. Billups was named to the 2004 NBA Finals MVP.
This season, the Pistons went 2-0 before Billups was sent to Denver, his hometown. Personally, I really like the Pistons’ good-looking All-Star trio consisting of Chauncey, Rip and Rasheed Wallace (Sheed), considering as one of the best defensive All-Star trios along with the Boston Celtics’ Big 3 (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen).
The nine-time All-Star guard had carried a whole team with either little or no help from his teammates during his first 10-year tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers. Now entering his 13th NBA year, A.I. is one of the NBA’s best offensive guards, averaging almost 28 points, 6 assists and 2.3 steals in his NBA career. He led the NBA league in averaged scoring 4 times. The one-time MVP led the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals, but unfortunately the A.I. and Co. team was inexperienced and overwhelmed to deal with the very strong Los Angeles Lakers, led by All-Star duo Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. That was why the 76ers got swept by the eventual back-to-back NBA champion Lakers. Before he was dealt to the Denver Nuggets for guard Andre Miller in exchange in December 2006, A.I. averaged 28.1 points per game as the 76ers star. A.I. is one of the well-known bad-tempered players and has many historic clashes with the 76ers organization, including then-coach Larry Brown who is currently a head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats.
In the past 2 seasons, A.I. and younger Carmelo Anthony (Melo) had become the Nuggets’ best hip-hop All-Star duo like twin brothers with the corn-rows hairstyles and sporting tattoos. Although I am not a big fan of either star, I really like the perfect twin brothers! The A.I.-Melo combination averaged 53 points per game (26.5 points per player). In my opinion as if I were the Nuggets fan, I would be very happy to see both A.I. and Melo locking as the Nuggets’ core duo for the next few years.
* Best-Case Scenario: Suppose none of the Pistons’ Big 3 (Chauncey, Rip and Sheed) is sent to another team, the Pistons would finish in the top three of the East and top five of the league. Chauncey was the most respectful veteran with the best sportsmanship and leadership to provide his teammates, especially the younger ones.
* Worst-Case Scenario: Since A.I. is considered as a strong offensive player, he won’t fit the defensive-mind Pistons. Since veteran leader and mentor Chauncey is gone, the attitudes of the Pistons’ players are one of the major concerns I can see - bad tempers of A.I. and Sheed. Also, unlike Chauncey, A.I. is a very selfish player and not a team leader. He always thinks about himself all the time.
* Best-Case Scenario: Chauncey is returning to his hometown of Denver. He is looking forward to play in front of his family, relatives and friends. His sportsmanship, veteran leadership and defensive skills are among big advantages for the Nuggets team.
* Worst-Case Scenario: Since Chauncey is considered as a defensive guard, the Nuggets will need to adjust both offensive and defensive sides. With A.I. gone, Melo may get loaded in scoring since Chauncey averages only 15 points, about 10 points fewer than A.I.’s averaged score.
One main reason for this blockbuster trade: A.I. is so desperate to get an NBA championship ring, like Garnett, Pierce and Allen who all finally got the first NBA rings last June. However, unfortunately, I still don’t see that A.I. will be able to win the championship, no matter where he plays for.
On the other hand, this move is for the salary cap purposes as well. A.I. is in his final year of his current contract. So are Sheed and Antonio McDyess. Billups is still under contract through 2011 with a team option for another year. With A.I. and Sheed potentially off the books, the Pistons want to free more than $35 million to spend on the next summer’s free-agent market. According to several sources, McDyess may retire since he doesn’t want to play for another team than the Pistons. The Nuggets can buy him out, so he can re-sign with the Pistons in 30 days as he has been seeking a first NBA championship ring for years.
It is very possible that A.I. is a biggest threat to carry the whole Pistons team by himself like he had done with the 76ers before. With selfish A.I., it is very possible that the Pistons may go to the downhill, probably at least 7 fewer wins from last year’s 59-win record. They are projected to finish 47-52 wins and at least 1-2 spots lower than last year’s second seed in the East. Unlike last year, they are going to battle with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which have four-time All-Star LeBron James and rising star Mo Williams, for the Central Division title. Also, the Pistons possibly won’t pass the Eastern Conference semifinals. Honestly, A.I. is a great player but he still cannot win the NBA championship if he continues loading the whole team by himself with either little or no help from his new teammates including Rip and Sheed. He is not the Chauncey Billups style because of his strong offense and natural bad-tempered and arrogant attitudes. Also, the AI-Rip-Sheed trio won’t be as good as the Celtics’ KG-PP-RA trio. I can see that the Celtics will possibly outplay the Pistons at least 3 times out of the 4 meetings this season. So will the Cavaliers and even Orlando Magic. However, regardless of having Billups or A.I., I still hope that the Pistons must sweep the all-time cheating meanest Celtics in the season series, period! Go Pistons killing the evil KG-PP-RA and Co. team!
As for the Nuggets, I still don’t see that they will improve from last year. Like I have previously stated, the Nuggets still have 50-50 chance to make the playoffs since the Western Conference is getting tighter in the next few weeks. They are projected to finish as the No. 7 to 11 seed in the West.
As if I were the Pistons fan, I would definitely be very disappointed and upset to see Chauncey Billups leaving my team since he would have been my favorite Pistons player. I can not stand A.I.’s bad-tempered attitudes and disastrous fashions. I would know that the Pistons could not advance to the seventh consecutive East’s Finals as they could lose in either first or second round. I would feel that Pistons GM Joe Dumars just made stupidest trade I’ve had ever seen! This blockbuster trade sucks!
As if I were the Nuggets fan, I would have mixed feelings. I really like the perfect hip-hop twin brothers with the similar corn-rows hairstyles - A.I. and Melo. I would miss A.I. playing with Melo, although I am not a big fan of either star. A.I. was still not able to help the Nuggets to get out of the first-round exit. Like I’ve stated earlier, he is a very selfish player to dribble, dribble, dribble all the times and has never been playing as a team player in his entire 13-year NBA career. That was another main reason for the Nuggets to make the right move. As for Billups, it would be very fantastic to have him on the team. He is one of the most respectful and humble players in today’s NBA. He can provide better veteran leadership for Melo and other younger players on the Nuggets team. Considering Billups as a good coachable player, he also can teach his new teammates about a key of defense that must be balanced with the offense.
Final Result: Nuggets slightly edge the Pistons.