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|Carmelo Anthony will enjoy having point guard Chauncey Billups after the A.I.-Melo experiment failed.|
Sometimes, even though a deal makes sense for both teams, one side comes away the unquestionable winner.
Detroit had its reasons for making Monday's trade of Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess for Allen Iverson, and those reasons make sense: As Chad Ford explains, the deal clears room for Rodney Stuckey to play at the point, and it paves the way for the Pistons to have some serious cap space in the summer when Iverson and Rasheed Wallace come off the books. That's nothing to sneeze at.
That said, I can't believe how good this trade is for the Denver Nuggets. On almost every level, it accomplishes the main objectives this team had for both the present and the future.
I am having a hard time finding a single drawback to this deal from Denver's perspective. About the only one I can think of is that the Nuggets might play at a slower pace with Billups at the helm, and that might take away a bit from the home-court advantage they enjoy in Denver's mile-high air. That's the best I can come up with.
Meanwhile, the advantages pile up like snowdrifts on Pike's Peak. To wit:
|Insider: Trade analysis|
|This trade not only boosts Denver on the court but also helps the bottom line. For more, click here.|
1. Denver got the better player.
Iverson is a legend, and Billups isn't but who would you rather have going forward?
During the past two seasons, Billups has logged a player efficiency rating of 21.38 and 23.48, compared with 19.61 and 21.06 for Iverson. Throw in that Billups is a much better defensive player, has a superior durability track record and is a year younger, and there's no doubt which player you'd rather have going forward -- especially because Billups' savvy floor game and long-range shooting are likely to age much better than Iverson's speed-based approach.
2. The trade better configures the Nuggets' talent.
An Iverson-Billups swap makes a ton of sense from Denver's perspective because of how the rest of the roster shapes up.
The Nuggets had two outstanding shooting guards (Iverson and J.R. Smith) and zero outstanding point guards; by swapping Iverson for Billups, they now have one of each. Smith should start at the 2 or see extended minutes off the bench at that spot, while Billups will hold down the fort at the point; Anthony Carter, meanwhile, can revert to the reserve guard role that better aligns with his skills.
As a side benefit, this also should open up some extra minutes for Linas Kleiza, who was getting squeezed with Carmelo Anthony, Iverson and Smith already available on the wings.
3. It makes room for Melo.
The biggest winner from this whole trade may be Anthony. Suddenly, he has room to operate from his midpost area because Smith and Billups, who are deadly shooters, loom on the outside and can punish double-teams. And suddenly, he'll have the ball there a lot more and a lot earlier in the clock, because Iverson isn't sucking up possessions and shot-clock time on the perimeter.
I've always believed that Denver needed another sniper in the backcourt to make its system work. (In fact, that's one reason the Nuggies inked Chucky Atkins in July 2007.) There was too much congestion for Anthony and Iverson to thrive. In Billups, they unquestionably have their sniper.
4. It helps with the fans.
Iverson might have been a huge gate attraction on the road, but in Denver, the locals had grown increasingly jaded. Swapping him for two high-character guys with local roots (Billups is from Denver, and McDyess, if he stays a Nugget, had his best seasons there) is bound to create some good karma with the locals, something that was needed after local faves Marcus Camby and Eduardo Najera bid the Rockies adieu this past summer.
Need we go on?
Whether or not the Iverson era in Denver went as planned, the Nuggets managed to turn him into an instant restoration of the team's hopes. And that's why, even if Detroit didn't lose the trade, Denver won it.
John Hollinger writes for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.