The Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets have tentatively agreed on the first trade of this young NBA season, and it's a big one: the Pistons will send Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samb to the Nuggets in exchange for Allen Iverson. The deal is expected to be finalized later today, and is being reported by MLive's A. Sherrod Blakely, as well as ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
The deal from Detroit's standpoint is a little extreme, as they're breaking up a team that has been to the Eastern Conference Finals for the last six seasons. But it appears to be a calculated risk, and here's why: Iverson is scheduled to make $21 million dollars this year, but he's in the final year of his contract. That means that the Pistons can see if Iverson can help them get over the hump and back into the NBA Finals, and if it doesn't work out, then all that money becomes freed up for them to make some more moves next summer.
Meanwhile, for the Nuggets, it's unclear if this deal will actually improve their team. It goes against what they were trying to do financially, at least based on what they did in the offseason. Denver traded Marcus Camby to the Clippers -- a player who finished second in defensive player of the year voting -- for nothing more than a draft pick, in a move that was considered to be simply a cost-cutter. Now, by getting Billups and McDyess, they add $19 million to their payroll for next season.
Theoretically, the team could improve defensively with Billups on the court, and defense has been the biggest problem for the Nuggets in recent years. But George Karl has never been able to get his teams to buy in on that side of the floor, so at the moment, we'll have to call this trade a great one for Detroit, and a questionable one at best for Denver.