June 24, 2008
Rumor: Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, and/or Allen Iverson have been mentioned in possible trade discussions with the Detroit Pistons.
After being eliminated in the first round yet again despite employing one defensive and two offensive superstars—all three of which are being paid rather handsomely—the Denver Nuggets are understandably looking to shake things up.
The Detroit Pistons advanced to their sixth straight Eastern Conference Finals only to lose for the fifth time and fail to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since they won it in 2004. Their head coach has already been fired, and GM Joe Dumars has made it very clear that he thinks his core group has grown too complacent playing with each other. Changes, possibly big ones, could be on the way.
It would make sense that these two teams be linked in early offseason trade rumors. The Pistons could use a young, up-and-coming superstar who can score with the best of ‘em most nights (Anthony), while Iverson is one of the most intense All-Stars not only of his generation, but in NBA history. He’d give the Pistons—or any team for that matter—a dynamic, scrappy scorer who’s somewhat of a man-to-man defensive liability but who plays the passing lanes as well as anybody. And while some question his leadership skills, nobody can say that he doesn’t leave it all out on the court every night. The man is hungry for a championship ring, and he’d no doubt endear himself to Pistons fans immediately.
The Nuggets, on the other hand, need some backbone. They’re sure as hell fun to watch, but their style of all-offense, no-defense basketball hasn’t translated well to the postseason. Most successful NBA teams need a solid, steadying presence at the point who can not only play at a high level but also help put his teammates in a position to succeed and help get them where they need to be; that’s Denver native Chauncey Billups. And Pistons’ do-it-all starting small forward Tayshaun Prince would be a fine replacement for Anthony should the 24-year-old be involved in a trade. Prince is capable of averaging 16+ points in an uptempo offense and is usually up to the challenge of playing tough defense on the opposing teams’ top wing scorer.
Conflicting reports have been flying these past few weeks. First it was Dumars inquiring about Anthony. Then it was the Nuggets inquiring about Billups and Dumars countering with Billups and Prince for Anthony and change. Then it was Denver counter-countering with packages centered around Iverson and/or Marcus Camby for Prince and Billups and Dumars passing. The latest is that Denver has assured Anthony and his agent that he will not be traded.
Could these two teams still swing a blockbuster deal this summer?
More on the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors after the break…
I’d like nothing more than to see Iverson end up in Detroit. At 33 years old A.I. is still one of the fiercest combatants in the NBA and one of my personal favorite players. In a hypothetical trade scenario that saw Iverson and Billups swap teams, the Pistons would be fielding a pretty sick backcourt of Iverson, Rip Hamilton, and Rodney Stuckey. Two slashers who can distribute and the league’s most consistent mid-range shooter. The sentiment has been floated that Stuckey is ready to start as soon as the 2008/09 season, but I’m still not so sure; one more season of 25+ minutes/per coming off the bench couldn’t hurt him.
Don’t forget that Iverson nearly came to the Pistons in a proposed trade centered around Jerry Stackhouse some years ago, a trade that was (from what I remember) nixed because then-76er Matt Geiger, who was also involved in the deal, had an odd trade kicker. If Dumars did in fact reject a proposal including Iverson from the Nuggets recently, that doesn’t necessarily mean it still couldn’t happen under the right circumstances.
Chauncey Billups Photo Credit: Icon SMI
For the most part, however, it seems like wishful thinking. Iverson will make $20 million in this the final season of his current deal, after which he’ll become an unrestricted free agent and by all means looking for a four- or five-year deal next summer. I’m not sure the Pistons are ready to commit to that, and as such I’m not sure they’re willing to rent him for one season.
I still think Carmelo Anthony is in play, however. Just today—after a tumultuous few weeks that saw Anthony get arrested for a DUI and call a meeting with Denver management to discuss his name being involved in all kinds of trade rumors—the team announced he would be suspended for the first two games next season because of the drunk-driving offense. Standard punishment, but the timing really couldn’t have been worse. This relationship is mutually souring, and we could see Anthony getting fed up all together and demanding a trade or the Nuggets themselves start fielding offers and selling to the highest bidder. Who knows.
If he is traded, would it be to Detroit? I’m not sure it’s a great fit, but perhaps Dumars views the still somewhat immature Anthony as yet another reclamation project of sorts and thinks he can turn his attitude around in Detroit if surrounded by the right people. For all his flaws, let’s not forget that ‘Melo is still very young and coming off a season in which he averaged 25.7 points, 49% FG, 7.4 boards, 3.4 assists, and 1.3 steals; clearly, he wouldn’t be a bad “gamble.”
Even if these teams were having serious discussions about any of the players mentioned above, remember that because of their contracts there’s no way any trade involving Anthony or Billups can happen until July 1. My feeling is that Denver and Detroit haven’t permanently ended this conversation, but that they’re still pretty far away.