Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 at 12:32 pm  |  61 responses

The View From Up Here

Why this trade might have been a better deal for Denver.

New Nuggetby Cub Buenning

Yesterday’s blockbuster trade between the Detroit Pistons and the Denver Nuggets is official. Allen Iverson is suddenly in Detroit in a move that sent guard Chauncey Billups, forward Antonio McDyess, and center Cheik Samb back to the Mile High City. Joe Dumars deserves nothing but respect as a general manager and made it clear he would go through every possible scenario to get back to the NBA Finals, but from the Nugget prospective, this is an unbelievable stroke of fortune and quite possibly a steal.

Every facet of this trade will positively affect the Nuggets–from the financial statements upstairs all the way to the product of the court. If the trade is to be taken at face value, the move was aided in large part by this past summer’s heavily scrutinized Marcus Camby deal. When the Nuggets got basically nothing back for the veteran big man (which they did) they freed up 10 million in an exception which would allow the “numbers” from a future deal to not necessarily “add up,” which has become the sticking point on many recent proposed trades. With Iverson’s $21.9 million in exchange for the combination Billups’ $11.05 million, Mac’s $6.8 mil and Samb’s $798,000, there is a inconsistency of over $3 million. This discrepancy was allowed due to the Camby exception and by this time next year with Samb’s money gone, Mac’s buyout in place, and Chauncey a regular on the Nuggets, there will be another $7 million the team can have “off the books.”

This, of course, assumes the team will buy out the remaining portion of McDyess’ contract. In my estimation, the Nuggets are too thin on the front line to pass up Mac’s steady game, as he seems like the perfect fit to back up Kenyon Martin and Nene. But, it appears McDyess wants nothing to do with leaving Motown. The Nuggets are likely to negotiate down to about a 50 percent deal, meaning they would only shell out about 6.8 of the 13.6 still remaining. (As a side note, the Nuggets cut Juwan Howard to make room for the trade, but with the impending buyout, the Nuggets should be able to resign the veteran big man.)

Before the trade, the Nuggets’ payroll was about $80 million. With the League’s current tax threshold set at just over $71 million, this trade has potentially saved owner Stan Kroenke almost $4 million in luxury taxes; just one year after shelling out $13.6 million as the fourth-highest payroll in the League. Once the dust settles, the Nuggets should be surprisingly close to the threshold, meaning over the course of a couple months, the team was able to cut almost $20 million in payroll and still gets a quality player in return for Iverson, an unrestricted free-agent next summer who could walk with no compensation. This trade, however, removes the Nuggets from the next couple summer’s major free-agent bonanzas. But to have landed a quality veteran point guard (who still has a couple quality years left) to cement between a youthful foursome of Carmelo Anthony, Nene, J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza would have been the ultimate goal of that endeavor, anyway.

On the court, Chauncey will fill an essential role that this team sorely lacks. Billups will be the point guard that they haven’t had since Andre Miller. Chauncey is like Iverson in that he can and likes to hit the big shot (hence the moniker). But contrary to A.I., Chauncey will make it his business to get the rock to Melo and Nene as much as possible. Chauncey also represents the perfect sidekick to Smith. J.R. has been beautifully flashy and at times, ultra-effective, but he has yet to have a role defined for him. Now he does. He should immediately start at the two (which he hasn’t, due to the diminutive one already there) and most importantly, make Anthony Carter and Chucky Atkins (whenever he actually plays) just important back-ups, rather than the big minute eaters they’ve become over the years. Billups is also a better role-model for the still immature Smith on the court. Smith spent the past couple seasons watching A.I. pound, pound, then drive hard to the hole. He needs to be watching a steady guy that will move the ball and get open shots for his teammates, not a player of Iverson’s persuasion.

It also goes without saying that on a team that has been hugely criticized for a comprehensive aversion to playing defense, this move makes Denver better on that side of the floor as well. Billups is the far superior defensive player, and his addition on the perimeter will pay huge dividends, as Nuggets’ fans have watched opposing guards penetrate at will for the past decade.

This past weekend, more moves were made–or I guess, not made–in regards to Kleiza. The Nuggets decided to a) Not pick up the option for next year, and b) Refuse to Denver through and throughsign the third-year forward to the extension they gave J.R. over the summer. The nation’s struggling economy aside (that was the public reason given for letting L.K. move toward free agency) Kleiza will be a restricted free-agent next summer and with his poor early season returns, maybe the team decided to wait and see on the Lithuanian who just last year was so coveted that he was considered the hiccup in the deadline Ron Artest rumors.

At the gate (especially on the road) losing a player with a name like Iverson hurts. But to bring home the city and state’s most accomplished professional basketball player is a major coup for the home turnstiles. Billups is not only one of the Colorado’s greatest prep players, but he also endearingly repped our historically anemic University up the road in Boulder for two years. Chauncey’s footprint on the Denver area is large and expansive. He is already largely entrenched in the local community through charities and extended family and his return is sure to bring fans to the Pepsi Center.

On the flip side, as Iverson’s two years or so in Denver come to a close, it must be looked solely as a positive, but ultimately failed experiment. Most doubted his pairing with Melo from the beginning and his style of play just never meshed with the roster’s make-up, and what the Nuggets needed him to do. What they needed from him, should be exactly what Billups brings as a player. Iverson was applauded and supported here in Denver, but with no on-court improvements made during his tenure, it won’t be a real teary goodbye.

So, where does this leave both teams? They swapped guards that do things in entirely different ways and to move from a steady point to a score-first undersized two-guard (and lose the point position all together) makes for some uncertainty in Detroit. It seems uncertain if this trade will make the Pistons a better team and a more viable candidate to supplant Boston as the boss of the Eastern Conference, but I can guarantee you that the Denver Nuggets will be immediately better.

Trade lore

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  • Ken

    Great analysis.

  • R.I.P. Knockout

    off subject but im diggin that old skool part in chauncey’s college days

  • airs

    crazy ass fresh cut, chauncey

  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    What a homer. 8) J/K. Always enjoy your work, Cub.

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Caputo

    He is a steal.

  • http://spaceshipjay/myspace.com Spaceship Jay

    Old school part in his head?!?!?! I have that in my head right now!

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    That bottom photo is crazy.

  • http://slamonline.com Yknot

    It’s like Marbury old cut with a little more flash.

  • Pingback: SLAM ONLINE | » SLAM Radio: Billups Is Right For Denver

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Good ish Cub. I’m surprised Kleiza is not part of Denver’s future since they refused to trade him last year.

  • Drew

    Good analysis, Cub. I am excited about the team. A lot of people have soured on the Nuggets, but they will be good this year and beyond. You have allayed some of my concern about tying up money in the future. My remaining concern is how the front office seems to be quite distant from the players. Melo needs to learn that he doesn’t run the team, but the three-headed monster that runs the front office needs to reach out to him and the other players.

  • http://www.twofistedpress.com Pve84

    That part is VICIOUS. Shame that Chauncey had to shave his head.

  • NBK

    Tad Kleiza IS part of their future, they just did not give him an extension yet because they needed to make this trade. That’s if Kleiza stays in the L, cuz homeboy might be going east to europe

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Worth the wait, Cub.

  • http://remembertheaba.com Brett Ballantini

    Nice work Cub! Absolutely a win for Denver. AI duplicates Rip Hamilton, and the trade places undue pressure on Stuckey and Amir. All the talk about how brilliant it is that Joe D cleared cap space assumes he’ll find a quality player to use it on, and at this very moment why would Bosh or Lebron bolt for Motown when their own teams are as good/promising as the Pistons? And if D-Wade left, he wouldn’t come back to the cold climes for any team but the Bulls or Bucks.

  • R.I.P. Knockout

    @ Spaceship Jay…i do 2 just on the left side

  • http://heavyasheaven.blogspot.com Kid Presto

    I agree that the Pistons are going to tank now. I mean, iverson needs the ball to be sucessful and in detroit, they are not about all that one on one sh*t. If Iverson going to start at the one? Stuckey, AI, Rip, Tayshaun, and Sheed would be the team I would put out there because I want to see if Rodney is ready to run this team. A.I. is only going to run them to a early grave. slu.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    KP: Um, no. Tank?? For real?!? I’ll take the bet young buck.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    people (almost) completely forgot about the nuggets side yesterday because it’s AI going to Detroit. I for one thought that nuggets already came out a winner, while we have to wait and see how it’s gonna turn out for the pistons.
    what nuggets basically did was addition by subtraction (taking away a duplicated scorer role) and also another legit addition (bringing in point guard play/leadership/long range threat). so in that sense, that’s DOUBLE addition. how anyone don’t see that is beyond me.
    oh and yes, great job Cub.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I agree that the Nugs improved themselves, but how does Detroit have to prove they can fit in AI but Denver doesn’t have to prove that Billups can fit in? Nothing is guaranteed.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    TAD, like our stock market, it’s all just speculation. the difference is that nuggets’ pieces fit better than pistons’.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I’ll hold my opinion until they actually play a game with their new teams.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    TAD, agreed on the wait and see approach. I just know (not speculation) that a player like Chauncey is just what this underacheiving team needed. On the court and off.

  • Larsylad


  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Moose in da house! Been canvassing for Obama in NH . . . remember to vote, everybody.

  • Juscheckin

    Im sorry, I think the Nuggets are still a 7th or 8th seed out West..if that. I think where the Nuggets won was Billups being a leader on the floor (a PG) and hopefully an influence in the Locker room. Detroit won because they have a legit ‘go-to’ guy, excitement back at the Palace and are still contenders along with the fact they have a deep team that already knows how to win.

    The Nuggets keep up excuses: ‘all we need is a second scorer next to Melo’ (got that and failed)…all we need is a PG that can help run the team (had that in Andre Miller and failed)..now they have Billups, back to square one. They didn’t even keep McDyss because he is getting bought out to go back to Detroit..I will say that this is put up or shut up time for Carmelo, that guy has had better teams then AI (when he was a Sixer) KG (when he was a Timberwolve) and Lebron combined and still cant manage to get his team more then one game in the playoffs..at least T-Mac can help his team win more then one game in the first round.I think Carmelo is a good guy off the court, but on the court his ego is bigger then his game at this point. And as a b-ball fan I dont like the way the Nuggets handled the Iverson situation, they basically wasted his time..they aquired the guy without having a plan in place, all the while handcuffing him and his game to please Melo.. when all the while Melo wouldn’t have had any problem getting his if he would have just got down and dirty like he supposed to. The guy needs to start playing like AI, Kobe, Lebron, KG..he needs to start playing the game like he hates to lose. But im just not sure if Melo has it in him, after six seasons the Nuggets fans may have to deal with the fact that he just might not be that dude.

  • http://slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    ok cub, so instead of getting swept, the nugs lose in 6? they still are a 1st rd exit right?

  • Tuomas

    Nice, Cub. I’m still a bit shaken up. Denver should at least be much better now. Anyways, it wasn’t like they were going places without changing things. Still have to see what this means for my Pistons. There’s lots of questions (pun intended), but I can’t wait for the first game.

  • http://www.ngunioamosotho.com Nguni

    Nuggets play zero defense. Less scoring + no defense = Loss. Maybe once they start to try and play some D, they will win some.

  • Downtown Denver

    Am i the only one that actually watches the nuggets that post on here this ir retarded! AI is not the problem in denver. The problem is George Karl. Thats right i said it. Every year he barks this no nosense basketball we are goin to run run run blah blah blah. Im sick of this miserable puke and ownership needs to stand up and get rid of the the fat bald alcholic.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    Juscheckin said:
    “And as a b-ball fan I dont like the way the Nuggets handled the Iverson situation, they basically wasted his time..they aquired the guy without having a plan in place, all the while handcuffing him and his game to please Melo..”
    that’s a POV that i haven’t thought about/read elsewhere before. so damn true though.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Damn homie that was some truth right there. I made some of those points about Melo yesterday, and I agree with you on how the Nuggets handled Iverson. Folks point out the negatives with his game, and their are several, but he raised his shooting percentage, played huge minutes, carried the team when Melo was suspended and was a willing if not great passer. Dude has lots of flaws, but i don’t think he was the problem in Denver.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Guys, c’mon with that assertion that the Nuggets didn’t have a plan! Really? Other than the first 3 games this year (when I actually liked his play), AI was never handcuffed. Just a bad fit on the court.

    Kha, while that may be entirely true, the hope is that making the trade this early in the year might allow the Nuggets to gel and work towards a higher seed in the playoffs.

    The Nuggets-No Defense claims will be ceasing soon.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    My claim that professional sports coaches are never the problem pertains here, too.

    They get too much credit and too much blame.

    Now, college coaches on the other hand…..

    Iverson wasn’t the problem, but he surely wasn’t the solution. I love AI as an athlete and a competitor, but I would never choose him for my TEAM.

  • witness

    if the problem was really karl he would have been gone by now. billups is exactly the point guard they need to at least compete for a playoff seed in the west.

  • witness

    billups will make jr smith and carmelo that much better. but they should have kept camby. then they would be a better looking version of the 04 piston team.

  • Captain America

    Never thought that AI was a good fit for Nugs. The Nugs offense never really seemed to gel with so many stars requiring the ball. Given the age of both AI and Billups, I hope they get a ring soon (I know, I know, Billups already has)

  • Jess

    Just watch the AI press conference – held up his jersey and you heard the “ooooh” and “ahhhhhs” from the media – AI was holding up jersey #1…hmmm Stuckey better give up that 3.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Everyone read the new article on Hibachi 2.0!

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    I felt like the Nuggets got Iverson and Melo and didn’t build a team around them that fit. Camby and Kenyon seem to love to hang out on the perimeter on offense, not a good fit when your two best offensive players create tons of dumb offs and offensive rebounds. Nene isn’t a great rebounder of defender. They never brought in a big defensive guard to pair with Iverson. It seemed to me that they just assembled a lot of random well paid players and hoped things would work. That’s what I meant.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    *dump offs

  • Bubba Chuck

    Id rather hav AI

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    this was a good overview on both players and teams…I would side with the thought that Denver will be made better for the trade…enough to get through the malestrom of the western conference playoffs…thats what we are waiting to see..!?!

  • Double J

    i really like that pic on the bottom, AI has got some kinda crazy ass split thing going hahaha

  • Jack Schidt

    So does this mean that the Pistons will have a shot at LeBron if they let Iverson walk next year?

  • Jack Schidt

    a shot in 2010 that is

  • chintao

    To me, the analysis in the article seems more or less on target, but it does gloss over a certain fact. This trade, because it couldn’t have happened without the Camby salary dump, is effectively A.I. + Cambyman for Chauncey + Cheikh Samb (assuming McDyess Raw is headed back to Detroit). Denver has more compatible parts and should be better, but it is difficult to call the trade a steal.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    “… lose the point position all together …” ?? What about Rodney Stuckey?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I have to say this: chintao sucks @ss.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    will detroit have 4 all stars again though..??

  • Onions Baby Onions

    I know I may be alone on this one, but I think that Allen Iverson still has the potential to be one of the top 3 players in the NBA, and if things work out, this could be a steal for Detroit. He’ll have no prob with the “bad boy” image, but more importantly, think of how much easier it will be for him to tear up guards in the East than it was for him in the west.

  • http://sjsu.edu davidR

    i dunno how the hell iverson regains body control from the looks of the last pic

  • Froggiestyle

    Obama Baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.youtube.com/teamairyork blackice87


  • LJ

    Iverson will never be top 3 in the N.B.A. ever again.
    Do you honestly think that he will be better than Kobe, LeBron or CP, at his age?

  • Danny

    Hey Cub,
    Don’t salaries in a trade have to be within 15%? And if my math still works, 3 mil is 15% of 21 mil.

  • LJ

    ^^^^ That was directed at Onions Baby Onions BTW ^^^^

  • DellaBalla

    Alright, I as a longtime Denver fan have to set a few things straight here. First off, Cub is right. This is a really good deal for Denver, but at the same time Detroit also gets what they wanted in a roster shake up as well. But lets really get down to the nasty stuff. Carmelo Anthony, as you all will see, is one of the best players in the NBA hands down and will flourish from this point on. It never was going to work between AI and Melo and it never will. They are different sizes but are the same player when you are talking dimesnions. What people outside of Denver fail to realize is that George Karl is a fat, pathetic excuse for an NBA coach at this point in time. I don’t care about his past. At this point in time we are 3-16 in the playoffs for the last 4 years 2 of which we had AI, Melo and Camby. I am just plain sick and tired of all you people saying how Melo is a bumb and stupid *ish like that when you don’t even know the story. Karl is the one you need to blame and it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. When you watch our team, we don’t even try to play defense, we run no structured offense, we continue to underachieve, JR continues not to start, our bench is deep though never gets utilized and Karl continues to get no heat whatsoever. You heard it here first. Billups will make our team a whole lot better and Melo will finish top 3 in scoring this year and from here on out will be talked about with the Lebrons, Wades and Pauls. And I don’t want to hear anything about him being a bumb anymore after that you can all shut the f up and start holding who is truley accountable, George Karl.

  • Danny W UK

    Great work Cub, best piece since Scoop, an enjoyable educating read.

    I think, like most people, I guess, both teams became better overnight.

  • http://hoops4life.com overtime

    Everyone blames A.I for Denver not getting anywhere past two years, but have you seen his stats? He did everything he could, it was the rest if the team, (Camby and Melo aside) that did nothing, along with bad coaching

  • kev