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Myth: Trading Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson didn’t make any sense

I’m glad everyone enjoyed Myth Week, so we’ve extended it a bonus two days.

I don’t know exactly why the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson.

Maybe they thought Iverson was a better player.

Maybe they wanted to create cap space.

Maybe they believed it was necessary to break up their core and took the first viable deal they found.

I think there’s a good chance all three of those pieces of logic played a role. But in hindsight, the trade was a disaster. Billups has been astoundingly better in Denver than Iverson was in Detroit. The Pistons’ cap space hasn’t paid dividends (although I haven’t given up that it might). And the Pistons core probably could have contended for another season or two.

The Pistons traded a star for dead weight. But when they made the trade, if I had to assign labels to each of those players, Iverson would be the star and Billups would be dead weight.

Billups got better when he arrived in Denver, and Iverson got worse in Detroit. There weren’t strong signs either of those transformations would occur, and that’s why I don’t completely blame Joe Dumars for the trade.

Allen Iverson: Star

Allen Iverson is only one year and three months older than Chauncey Billups. When traded to Detroit, Iverson had only played 26 more career games (including playoffs) than Billups.

Iverson’s playing time also indicated he was far from washed up. He led the league in minutes, minutes per game and games the season before the trade.

And that was arguably the best season of his storied career.

With a team-best 11.6 win shares, he led the Nuggets to a 50-win season. His adjusted plus-minus was 28th in the league. (And that’s an even more valuable contribution than it appears, because the stat is based on possessions, and Iverson played more than his adjusted-plus-minus peers.)

Known as a volume shooter, Iverson took his fewest shots per game since his second season in the league. But by posting career highs in true-shooting percentage and effective field-goal percentage, he still averaged 26.4 points per game.

That reduction in offensive output also made it more likely Iverson would reach his potential on both ends of the court. From a Jan. 25, 2008, USA Today article by Jon Saraceno:

Karl describes Iverson as a "very good" defender "at times" but adds he "doesn’t make the defensive commitment with an every-possession mentality." That is "not only psychological, it’s subconscious."

"Here’s a guy who has made his career scoring, and with big numbers," Karl says. "All great players figure out how to pace themselves and save their energy for what they do best. My feeling is, at times, (Iverson) ‘cheats’ the defensive end.

"I had Detlef Schrempf (in Seattle) and Sam Cassell (in Milwaukee), who took possessions off. But they had this great instinct when to take them off. AI, sometimes, doesn’t have that instinct. Sometimes he takes off a possession that I wish he wouldn’t. But when you’re asked to play as many minutes and score as many points (as he is), I don’t know if Superman could play hard every possession."

His off-the-court reputation was gaining steam, too. From that same USA Today article:

Karl says he "never has had one headache" with Iverson — unlike fellow North Carolina alumnus Larry Brown, who had everything but migraines trying to rein him in.

Playing at altitude, it is Iverson’s attitude that seems to have undergone a humbling transformation. Unlike when he chafed during frantic-filled days under Brown’s coaching in Philadelphia, Iverson appears more pliable, more coach-friendly. Talk of suspensions and fines have vanished into thin air.

Iverson’s increased maturity led him to observe in The Denver Post last month, "I’m just happy I got it before it was too late, before I was out of this league or dead or in jail."

The biggest misconception he says people have is, "I don’t care about nothing but myself."

"I think that’s my biggest problem — I care about other people too much," Iverson says. "At times, more than I do myself."

His controversial lifestyle as a young player, his scrapes with the law and some of his questionable relationships and bad decisions have prompted Iverson to rethink his life as the married father of four.

Perhaps most encouraging, he was reaching these heights without showing signs of aging. Saraceno wrote “the guard still vigorously attacks the rim with vengeance, creating havoc in the paint and getting to the free throw line.” Entering the season he was traded to Detroit, Iverson said he planned to play six more seasons. Chris Tomasson, then of Rocky Mountain News:

Why six seasons? Because that would take Iverson to his 39th birthday, the age he has said he wants to retire.

But now Iverson seems more open about playing until 40 and beyond. After all, Jordan did that.

"I don’t want to say (Iverson will be retired at) 40," said Iverson, who could move up to No. 2 on the all-time steals list before he’s done. "If I’m healthy, I’m going to play. I know it will be hard to hang the sneakers up because I just love the game so much. . . . But I’m not going to play if, when you look at the roster and (the opponent) is calling everybody’s name out, and they get to the seventh or eighth name before they mention me."

It figures to be a long time before that happens.

Chauncey Billups: Deadweight

The Pistons went from winning a title, to losing in the Finals, to losing a six-game series to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, to dropping four straight to the Cavaliers in the conference finals, to falling to Celtics in the Conference Finals.

At best Detroit was treading water. At worst, it was in decline.

Either way, Chauncey Billups was a big reason the Pistons weren’t moving forward.

In his last year with Detroit, his playoff performance dipped across the board from the regular season:

  • PER: 23.6 to 20.8
  • Offensive rating: 127 to 122
  • Defensive rating: 105 to 109
  • Win shares per 48 minutes: .257 to .202
  • Points per game: 17.0 to 16.1
  • True-shooting percentage: .619 to .564
  • Effective field-goal percentage: .526 to .471
  • Assists per game: 6.8 to 5.5
  • Assist percentage: 34.7 to 30.8

That trend was only a continuation of the previous season:

  • PER: 21.3 to 18.7
  • Offensive rating: 123 to 117
  • Win shares per 48 minutes: .216 to .183
  • Assists per game: 7.2 to 5.7
  • Assist percentage: 32.9 to 25.8
  • Turnovers per game: 2.0 to 2.9
  • Turnover percentage: 13 to 15.9

Playing tougher opponents, along with their being a slower pace, in the playoffs certainly contributed. But I don’t think those factors completely explain Billups’ playoff problems.

Injuries were a factor both years, too. But I think that speaks to the point. Billups played like someone whose body was breaking down. There are good regular-season players, and there are good playoff players. Billups appeared to be the former, not the latter.

When the Pistons made the trade, they still had a quality playoff core in Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess (who was a lock to return after the trade). Adding Iverson – at least the Iverson who showed an unprecedented-for-him combination of talent and maturity the previous year  – gave Detroit once last chance to salvage a shot at title, even if it was unlikely either way.

Harsh reality

Allen Iverson wasn’t a star, and Billups wasn’t dead weight – as much as those appeared to be the cases when the trade was made.

Iverson was a malcontent with the Pistons. There were rumblings of problems at Detroit’s casinos. He wouldn’t come off the bench. His legs had given out, leaving him unable to finish on drives to the rim – essentially destroying his game.

Billups had the opposite experience. He was rejuvenated in his hometown. I don’t think Detroit could have had the Billups Denver got.

The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often askew. Let’s not beat up Joe Dumars because of it.

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  • Sep 20, 20107:35 pm
    by nuetes


    I like the topic but I’m not sure that you dispelled the myth whatsoever. Billups was the Pistons best player, and maybe Dumars didn’t read that right. I’m not sure he understood how much Billups held the team together. Also how much Curry needed Billups because he had no clue what he was doing without him. They were 4-0 at the time of the trade with two young talented guards off the bench. Stuckey and Afflalo were backups on that team – and now they are starters. That group of guards was better than our current so called stacked group of guards. Billups/Rip/Stuckey/Afflalo or Stuckey/Rip/Gordon/Bynum? I’ll take the group with the best player any day. I think that team could have contended. The trade killed it.
    Keeping the team together would have been difficult regardless. Sheed was washed up and Dice left. Dice may have returned with Big Ben last season but they probably would have fallen off much like the Spurs are doing. Instead of dragging it out like the Spurs they tried to preempt their fall from grace by retooling. Only problem is they sped up the timetable by making the wrong decisions. The idea wasn’t bad, but the execution was terrible. Before Rip was extended they had Sheed and Dice expire in 08, Rip in 09, and Prince in 10. They could have used all those expirings to retool instead of trading their best player and extending one of their expirings, and adding additional contracts on top of it.

  • Sep 20, 201010:41 pm
    by detroitpcb


    Chauncy’s game was in decline on two levels – both directly due to a decline in his foot speed. In the playoffs he was having greater difficulty containing opposing point guards and even more importantly for the Pistons, a high hard trap by the defense was able to take the ball out of his hands – he could no longer turn the corner on the opposing big and he never reversed the ball to the left baseline – i presume because he could not see that passing lane.

    I did not know Iverson had such a good season the year before he came to the Pistons. Anyway – it was time to break up that team and start rebuilding. Joe did the right thing – maybe it was the wrong trade but it was the right direction. Tell me that today you wouldn’t rather have Ben Gordon and CV than Chauncy. Those two players have greater value, particularly moving forward.

  • Sep 20, 201011:42 pm
    by nuetes


    @detroitpcb – sorry but i’d rather have cap space than gordon and CV. i’d rather hit the redo button on that whole season/offseason if it was possible. i would absolutely take billups, even now, over gordon and CV. i want to win basketball games. that is the goal isn’t it?
    we could have billups at the 1 and stuckey at the 2 with Rip having expired/been traded last season had he not been extended. And afflalo backing up the 2 with bynum at the 1. Rip’s expiring deal could have fetched something good, because he’s a good player, but his contract is killing his trade value. Regardless – we could still be winning 50+ games a season and going into the playoffs with hope. That hope might have been squashed, but it is better than this. I can honestly say now having experienced this process that I would rather be the 03-08 pistons (aka current nuggets, jazz, magic, trailblazers, rockets, mavericks, hawks, etc – aka teams with false hope), over the current pistons (aka current sixers, wizards, timberwolves, clippers, kings, pacers, etc – aka teams with no hope).
    They could have rebuilt on the fly around Billups. That is my whole point. They had the opportunity with the expiring deals and so forth to rebuild with Billups still apart of the team, and they chose the wrong route. Billups is still better than anyone the Pistons have so don’t give me the declining argument. A 45 year old Billups might still be better than anyone on the current Pistons. You just don’t trade your best player unless he demands it, and even then I don’t know why.

  • Sep 21, 201012:11 am
    by gmehl1977


    It was definately true that Billups was in decline but i am sure most people would agree that it wasn’t the Billups/Iverson trade they had a problem with…it was the extension given to Rip shortly after. I know it is hindsight but what Joe shouldof done after acquiring Iverson was try and trade Hamilton as well. I am not sure what Hamilton would of brought in a trade but at least he would of been off the books soon after. Stuckey & Iversoncould of started in the backcourt with Afflalo & Bynum backing them up. After realising Iverson didn’t pan out they could of let him expire like they eventually did. Extending Hamilton really was the dumbest move Joe has ever made and i am sure ‘Myth week’ can go another 2 days to address it. Bringing in Gordon through free agency is where most fans lost faith in Joe which was compounded due Rips extension. Another good myth to research would be the one which was the rumors of a Rip for Boozer deal which apparently got it’s plug pulled due to various reasons. This deal was supposed to show which direction Joe was trying to rebuild towards but for reasons unknow or unproved pretty much made Joe look like an idiot. Anyways my point was just that Billups for Iverson was ok by me for the 1 season rental but the extenison of Rip pushed us into a corner. The only way to get out of this corner is to take 2 steps back to go 3 steps forward or in a realistic way…2 seasons back, 3 seasons forward!

  • Sep 21, 201012:24 am
    by gmehl1977


    Damn i just read your post and apart from you thinking we should of kept Billups which i would of been fine with too…we pretty much said the same thing. In his last series for the pistons in which Billups had a pulled hamstring i had a bad feeling Joe would trade him. History would show that Chauncey came back the next year a little lighter than previous years and had a good year.

  • Sep 21, 201012:52 am
    by nuetes


    @gmehl – ha. yeah i’d have to agree dumars single biggest mistake of his career was extending rip. the billups trade could have been redeemed to a degree. then again the gordon signing came after the rip extension so what is worse? one or both were gigantic blunders and will keep this franchise from winning for some time now. i just think they could have rebuilt around billups. keeping billups would have kept them competitive and still allowed them to rebuild. yes we drafted monroe, but it was never dumars intent to suck. this was not part of his plan.

  • Sep 21, 20101:03 am
    by nuetes


    Unless behind closed doors Dumars is secretly a genius and sucking was his plan all along. He extends Rip knowing this creates a long-term scenario of futility. Maybe he thought Afflalo and Amir Johnson would create too many wins for his team so he had to trade them. Then he replaced them long-term with players not as productive, but would strap the cap creating a scenario where they could never get better. This allows them to draft Monroe. But now all of a sudden he’s scared that a healthy team might actually be decent so they have a meeting about bringing in Mcgrady to create some drama so the team can fall back into a tailspin resulting in another high draft pick. Ahh. If only this was the case. I actually think he’s trying to win, but if not he is the greatest basketball mind ever.

  • Sep 21, 20101:08 am
    by frankie d


    anyone who actually watched AI play knew that he was washed up.  i watched lots of nuggets BB – i live in portland – and only occasionally did he flash that old AI magic.  certainly not a guy you trade one of the best point guards in the league for.
    and the idea of making the move for cap space is ridiculous.  teams don’t trade prime-time players solely for cap space.  cap space is incidental to the other elements – players – of the trade.  for an example, look at what NJ did when they traded jason kidd to dallas, just 8 months or so before chauncey got traded.
    that trade was done the way a trade is supposed to be done.  joe d’s trade was horrible – and i said so at the time – and no amount of rationalizing will ever change that fact.

  • Sep 21, 20101:26 am
    by nuetes


    alright i swear my last post on this topic.
    @frankie d – I didn’t think AI was washed up. He was coming off a great season in Denver. A season he averaged something like 26/8, which is pretty darn good. They also won 50 games, then again they also had Camby who they lost that offseason. Ok this differs from my previous posts on the topic where i criticized the trade. Here I’m going to criticize the aftermath, and not the following offseason. The Pistons handled AI poorly. Here is where you have to assess why you traded Billups. Was it for cap space or to give Stuckey the reigns or both? Had they traded for AI and started him immediately next to Rip with Stuckey still coming off the bench the situation remains fluid and the Pistons and AI probably have some success. They try to bench AI and start Stuckey – no good. Try to bench Rip and start AI – no good. They never tried to start AI and bench Stuckey. That was where they made the mistake. Instead AI became disgruntled and spent more time at the casinos then at ‘practice’. Didn’t help Rip out either. Ugh. They mishandled this situation every way possible.

  • Sep 21, 20101:40 am
    by nuetes


    forgot to address something. one last time.
    i agree with frankie d in that they didn’t get the return they should have. if your going to trade a star for cap space you get a young player in return. no question. new jersey did this. they got devin harris in the deal. you don’t trade your best player solely for cap space, if that was the goal, and it appears it was with the way they mishandled AI. no team trades their best player for pure cap space. it just doesn’t happen, but it did. not only that but they traded dice in the deal as well and were lucky enough to reacquire him. if denver was smart they would have kept dice and probably beat the lakers in that conference finals. both teams were stupid to an extent.

  • Sep 21, 20103:46 am
    by gmehl1977


    I am guessing this topic is way to stressful for Laser to address :-)

  • Sep 21, 201010:38 am
    by DoctorDaveT.com


    Hey, PP,
    IF the premise of this myth is that the trade was not a bad idea, I’m OK with that. (I’ve never been a “gangsta-Iverson-PracTISS” fan, and I never liked the trade. However, I don’t think anyone could have had any idea just how terrible it turned out to be.)
    IF the premise of this myth is that Billups was washed up at the time of the trade, then, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?
    Billups was considered a top 5 point guard; and in terms of championship experience, who was better?
    The stats you mention are negligible at best. Nearly every one of those can be understood in the slowed down pace of Eastern Conference Playoffs.
    I think you’re just writing fiction, hoping that something would stick.
    Allen Iverson has always been one of the most selfish players in the NBA. Whether by attitude or by necessity (he was always the best player by far on some rather poor teams), “it is what it is.” Billups has always been a team player (at least since his transfer to Detroit).
    So, how could you not have an idea that this would disrupt chemistry?
    Did no one bother to say to “The Answer” – “would you mind coming off the bench?” Come on.
    So, this trade wasn’t predictable as an all out disaster, but JoeD had to consider it a risk.
    But Billups dead weight? Again – ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR  MIND?

  • Sep 21, 201011:05 am
    by Glenn


    You can’t underrate the Michael Curry Factor in the fall of that team as well.  But overall I think we can agree that the trade made some sense at the time, if not the best sense.

  • Sep 21, 201011:14 am
    by Patrick Hayes


    @Doctor Dave:
    “Nearly every one of those can be understood in the slowed down pace of Eastern Conference Playoffs.”
    Look at his defense. It noticeably slipped each year in the playoffs. He was worked by quicker guards.
    He’s still not the most fleet of foot defender, but he’s lost weight in Denver, which has helped significantly. It’s not like he was coming in each year in terrible shape in Detroit, but he got into noticeably better shape after getting traded. He had gained weight each year he was in Detroit.
    “So, how could you not have an idea that this would disrupt chemistry?”
    The point of the trade was to “disrupt” the chemistry. Dumars was disgusted at the complacency of the team. Trading Billups, the team leader who was (fairly or not), considered the ringleader of the team’s ‘flip the switch’ mentality, was done specifically to disrupt the team chemistry and to shake up the remaining veterans.
    “Did no one bother to say to “The Answer” – “would you mind coming off the bench?” Come on.”
    Why would you need to ask the question? They were trading for a guy who was coming off of his best statistical season who, whether you like him or not, was an all-time great. They thought they were getting the Iverson who just averaged nearly 27 a game and shot a career-high percentage. Why would you say, “Now Allen … how would you feel about backing up Rodney Stuckey?”
    Remember, Hamilton didn’t go immediately to the bench. The first few games after the trade, Iverson and Hamilton started, Stuckey moved to the bench. Then Rip got hurt, Stuckey went back in the starting lineup and all of the “who should start?” questions arose.

  • Sep 21, 201011:22 am
    by frankie d


    i watched lots of nuggets BB that last year that AI was with them.  living out on the west coast, with NBA Pass and because i’ve always been a big melo fan, i made it a point to watch their games when i could.
    his numbers were actually pretty good, but if you watched the games, it was obvious that he’d lost a lot of his speed and quickness.  he also had a lingering leg injury that for whatever reason wasn’t getting any better.  additionally, he wasn’t getting those automatic free throws anymore.  that crooked ref’s book, donaghy,  talks about the fact that refs were intentionally ignoring fouls on AI because of an incident he’d had with another ref.
    that year that AI had was a classic case where looking at numbers was not sufficient to get a true picture of what a player was actually doing on the court.  that year, AI and melo each took 19 shots a game, while no one else took over 9 shots a game.  with that type of volume shooting, and his scoring ability, getting the kind of numbers he got was not reflective of a “great” year.   rather, it was a reflection of a very well-designed denver system that ensured that AI and melo were going to get their numbers.
    that summer and all through training camp questions about his health and ability to continue to play at an all-star level were all over the denver papers.   the idea that joe d made the kind of move he made was just plain crazy to me.
    and contrary to what this poster wants to argue, it made no sense at the time, and it still makes no sense two years later.

  • Sep 21, 201011:27 am
    by frankie d


    @ patrick hayes
    “It’s not like he was coming in each year in terrible shape in Detroit, but he got into noticeably better shape after getting traded. He had gained weight each year he was in Detroit.”
    this is not true.
    he came into the 2008 season in great shape.  he’d lost the weight prior to being traded. 
    i’d been shocked at how trim he looked and was hopeful that it would translate into a faster pace.
    i’m sure the archives of the news and freep contain articles mentioning his weight loss, but i recall it plainly.  it was one more reason the trade made no sense.  because of his commitment to getting in shape, losing that weight, it was obvious that chauncey was very serious about having a good year.  to have him traded, after he’d made that kind of physical change was extremely puzzling.

  • Sep 21, 201011:50 am
    by frankie d


    “I expect Chauncey to have a great year,” Detroit coach Michael Curry said. “I expect him to lead this team. You need a guy like Chauncey Billups to help lead your team.”
    Although Billups wasn’t around the team a lot this summer, Curry said the 6-foot-3 point guard came into training camp in good shape.
    “I think he had a great summer of work,” Curry said. “You look at his body, you can tell that. You can see how efficient he has been with his play so far, this early into camp.”
    i found this in a couple of minutes.  i’m sure there are other more specific articles that talk about his conditioning that year.
    as curry says, you could just look at his body and see the difference.
    the idea that chauncey got in shape after the trade and therefore played much better is in itself a myth.
    just one more rationalization to attempt to justify one of the worst, most nonsensical trades made in the last generation of the nba.

  • Sep 21, 201012:00 pm
    by frankie d


    also, building an argument primarily on the strength of quotes from a fluff piece in usatoday is kind of weak.
    instead of quoting a writer who is obviously doing a fluff piece and which relies on his current coach to a large degree – when was the last time a coach gave an accurate unvarnished, candid analysis of his superstar player? -  is extremely weak.
    if your mission is to provide a true and accurate picture of what AI was at that point, how about the view of opposing coaches?
    disinterested observers?
    again, pointing to a fluff piece that quotes george karl, then his current coach, in an attempt to supposedly describe AI is extremely weak.

  • Sep 21, 201012:03 pm
    by brgulker


    The Pistons traded a star for dead weight. But when they made the trade, if I had to assign labels to each of those players, Iverson would be the star and Billups would be dead weight.
    Obviously this is the lynch pin. The advanced metrics all favor Billups for his entire career. Billups is, by any reliable metric out there, the better of the two players. Additionally, There’s one other metric I would add to the mix, since Dan brought them up :)
    06-07: .244 WP48 / 12.88 wins | Playoffs .200 WP48 / 2.7 wins
    07-08: .287 WP48 / 15.08 wins | .212 WP48 / 2.12 wins
    You can get these numbers here. Interestingly, these numbers don’t suggest that Billups declined between these two seasons. Obviously, he can’t play that way forever, but he’s been pretty good for Denver too — much better than Rodney Stuckey, actually.  Wins Produced agrees with the other metrics insofar ast AI has never, ever, ever come close to being as productive as Chauncey.
    All that to say, if this “Maybe they thought Iverson was a better player.” is actually the case, then this trade was a disaster because it denotes an almost unbelievable failure in terms of player evaluation. If our management thinks that players like AI are more valuable to our franchise than guys like Billups, then we’re in all sorts of trouble.
    The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often askew. Let’s not beat up Joe Dumars because of it.
    On the one hand, we can choose to judge the move in isolation, which seems to be Dan’s position, and that’s fair as far as it goes. Moving an aging PG for an expiring deal that would offer the flexibility to rebuild the team isn’t a bad thing.
    On the other hand, we can judge the trade in concert with what was done with the money it created (or in other words turning Billups, McDyess, Sheed into Wilcox, Gordon, Villanueva). While others remain optimistic about Gordon and Charlie V, I have a hard time thinking they’ll ever, ever live up to their contracts or replace what was lost in terms of the production that Billups himself was responsible for.
    IMO, and strictly opinion, is that it’s not very helpful to evaluate the trade apart from what was done with the money. That trade and what was done with our financial flexibility immediately afterward is precisely why we are what we are — a mediocre, fringe playoff team at best, a lottery team at worst, all while capped out with no flexibility for years to come. It will go down as one of the defining personnel moves in Pistons history, and fairly be judged as one move, not two.
    I struggle to come up with a good reason why we as fans of the franchise shouldn’t hold Dumars accountable for the mess his decisions have created. Or in other words, this myth isn’t a myth at all.
    (For the record, I love this series and appreciate Dan and Patrick … just putting my thoughts out there)
    I can’t help but make a criticism of PER in this case, precisely because PER is skewed to always favor volume shooters like AI over efficient scorers like Chauncey Billups. Quote taken from here.
    …with a bit of math we can show that a player will break even on his two point field goal attempts if he hits on 30.4% of these shots. On three pointers the break-even point is 21.4%. If a player exceeds these thresholds, and virtually every NBA played does so with respect to two-point shots, the more he shoots the higher his value in PERs. So a player can be an inefficient scorer and simply inflate his value by taking a large number of shots.

    In short, Allen Iverson has a

    There is one other metric we could add to determine the relative decline of these players.

  • Sep 21, 201012:06 pm
    by brgulker


    Copy, paste, and delete fail … Ignore the PER criticism. It’s not relevant…

  • Sep 21, 201012:13 pm
    by brgulker


    Let me try to be more succinct.
    If prior to the 08-09 season, someone had put together a trade in the ESPN Trade Machine that netted us Gordon, Villanueva, and Wilcox for Billups, Sheed, and Dice, would anyone have given that serious thought?

  • Sep 21, 201012:16 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    @frankie d:
    He’s continued to lose weight in Denver. Yes, that 08 season, he was lighter in Detroit. I definitely will always be curious about how that team would’ve done had they not traded him. But there’s no doubt that he had progressively gained weight each year in Detroit up until then, and it was a large reason he struggled defensively in the playoffs and also saw his production wane in some playoff series.
    If you watched him at all in the Worlds this summer, he looked as light as he did in his pre-Pistons NBA career.

  • Sep 21, 201012:40 pm
    by nuetes


    @brgulker – don’t forget afflalo and amir. we had to trade them in order to sign gordon, cv, and wilcox. so billups, dice, sheed, afflalo, and amir in the trade machine.
    to be fair though the pick we got in the amir trade we used to draft jerebko.

  • Sep 21, 20101:01 pm
    by Dan


    I think you missed one of the biggest reasons that this whole thing is a myth. Actually, maybe two of them.
    The biggest is that it wasn’t about shaking up the core. It was about blowing it up. I don’t Dumars (or Davidson) were at all happy with the way things ended the year before. Davidson didn’t even stick around for the end of Game 6 against the Cs. He was disgusted.
    So I don’t think it was just a thing of “we’ll be a better team if we get AI.” I think it was supposed to be just the first step. Only it has proven much harder to move the rest of the guys – Sheed and Rip, in particular.
    But this was also about moving Chauncey specifically to Denver, his hometown. If you know you’re going to break the team up, and you know you’re probably going to end up trading Chauncey, and you have a chance to trade him to his hometown, while getting a pretty good scorer in return, hey, why not? The fact that they ended up with nothing is hardly something you can blame on Dumars. That’s on AI.
    I do agree that the thing that doesn’t fit here is Rip’s contract. As far as I could tell, Rip was almost as big a whiner as ‘Sheed. But it appears as though Dumars actually felt Rip was going to be key to his longer term plan somehow.
    As to whether I would have traded Gorden and V. for Billups and Sheed. Hell, yes. I had no interest in continually watching us choke in the conference finals. Sheed was becoming increasingly useless anyway. And after watching Gordon lighting up the Cs the year before we got him … yes, get a scorer! Oh, and those guys were both young.
    We’ll see. So far, obviously, it hasn’t panned out. But I don’t think last season was a very good sample. Nor do I think the rebuilding part of this job is complete anyway. It is obviously taking longer than any of us would like. But I’ll take a few down years if we can get back to having a realistic shot at winning championships, which I don’t really believe we had any longer after the 2007 season. Which is really the whole point.

  • Sep 21, 20101:18 pm
    by Travis


    I disagree with you when you say that Billups got better when he went to Denver.  He only had a bigger role.  When on the Pistons they relied on everyone of the starters to score and distribute.  And just how A.I had a starring role in Denver, Chauncey was able to have and increase and show off more of his individual game.  On the flip side, A.I, not used to having a team play style, was unable to grasp the concept of not be a focal point in the offense every time down the court. 
     I think of the Pistons at the time of the trade, undervalued what Chauncey did for them on the court, just the little things like leadership and just having everyone rely on him as captain.  The Pistons were like a chain and they traded their center link for a bigger link that didn’t fit.  They assumed that since they got better on paper, that the chemistry would work itself out, and throught out the years I thought that was the Pistons best asset.  The fact that everyone liked each other is rare with all these highly paid stars in the league.
    And you talk about the Billups numbers went down in the playoffs, in 2008 when Boston won, Chauncey was killing his matchups during the first 2 series.  However if you recall when they were facing Orlando I believe, he did the splits and injuried his thigh.  Hindering him in the Boston series.  And if not for that injury, I think they would have beat Boston.  Because he still was eating up Rondo, only just not as efficiently, nor as good on defense.

  • Sep 21, 20101:24 pm
    by thebinxster


    “The fact that they ended up with nothing is hardly something you can blame on Dumars. That’s on AI.”
    how can you say that?
    before you trade your best player, it is the gm’s job to sort out all of the possible ramifications of a trade.  understanding how a high profile player is going to fit in – or not fit in – is pretty basic.the idea that dumars should be absolved of understanding that dynamic is amazing.

  • Sep 21, 20101:25 pm
    by nuetes


    @Dan – I think you have encapsulated part of the myth there. Dumars and Davidson were probably sick of the team’s arrogant flick the switch mentality that always cost them in the biggest of circumstances. They wanted it broken up because the players were all too comfortable with each other and with that way of basketball. Dumars said for years, actually just about every offseason, that he would try to make changes and he never did. The same team kept rolling back in the following year. I think he finally got fed up with being unable to pull the trigger that when he finally got a chance to do it he took it without thinking about it carefully enough.
    The thing is trading Billups wasn’t Dumars first choice. I believe this was the sequence. He made an offer first for Carmelo but the Nuggets offered AI back instead. Then he tried to offer Rip instead of Chauncey for AI but the Nuggets asked for Billups. Eventually Dumars caved and ended up with the worst possible deal and Denver made out like bandits – except they made the mistake of buying out Mcdyess – and that arguably cost them a championship as they had the Lakers on the verge in the conference championships.
    The Nuggets are on the verge of making out like bandits again if this rumored New Jersey trade goes down.

  • Sep 21, 20101:56 pm
    by frankie d


    i think you are right on target.
    that has always been what i’ve thought.
    fans here forget, apparently, about the fact that dumars chased melo that summer, and came up short.
    AI was the consolation prize.

  • Sep 21, 20102:21 pm
    by Patrick Hayes



    His role didn’t increase in Denver. The Nuggets have just as many (if not more) weapons on offense than the Pistons in Melo, Smith, Nene, Martin.

    The thing that increased is the pace. More possessions in a game b/c Denver plays faster means Billups’ scoring/assists numbers were going to go up.

    He doesn’t have a “starring” role in Denver. He’s actually transformed the way Denver plays. They share the ball better and while their pace is faster than what the Pistons played at, it’s still slower than what Denver played at prior to acquiring Billups.

  • Sep 21, 20102:51 pm
    by Dan


    “the idea that dumars should be absolved of understanding that dynamic is amazing.”
    the idea that a guy you are paying $20M fakes a back injury so he doesn’t have to come off the bench is also pretty amazing. =D
    yes, AI had shown signs of having a poor attitude in the past. (“we’re talking about practice.”) but the guy essentially committed career suicide while in detroit. hard to see that coming.

  • Sep 21, 20103:32 pm
    by frankie d


    hard to see it coming?
    i don’t think so, but even if it is that is what a gm is tasked with doing.  that is his job.
    and if he doesn’t see it coming, then he bears responsibility for his failure.
    whose fault is it, if it’s not the gm’s fault?
    in past jobs, i’ve hired and fired people.
    when i hired good people, i got credit.  if i hired someone who didn’t work out, somehow, someway, that blame flowed to me.
    dumars is, after all, the boss, and it was dumars’ decision.
    and, sorry, but a guy like iverson, despite attempts to soft-sell his later reputation, has always been a well-known malcontent and a coach-killer.  with a guy like that, a savvy nba executive has to consider all of the possibilities.  (which was one reason lots of teams stayed away from him.)
    yes, including the possibility that a guy like iverson might act like a complete idiot and take down your team at the same time he commits hari-kari with his career.

  • Sep 22, 201010:53 am
    by travis


    Well Patrick, Chauncey didn’t have a bigger role in Denver? even though he played about 3 min more a game there, than he did for the pistons in 07-08.  But besides the Mins per game, If you think his role on Denver didn’t increase then well… He was big time on the Pistons, but every starter on that team thought of themselfs as one of the leaders and equals, and it is plainly obvious that everyone on Denver (except Melo) looks to Billups as their leader on and off the court.  Not to say he wasn’t on the Pistons but more so on Denver. 

    By the way,  Chauncey took about 100 more shots in 08-09 than he did in 07-08, same amount of games.  And even more shots last year, in only 73 games and a worst fg% both years in Den than Det in 07-08.  Oh, and his assists were lower.  so yeah, I think he had a bigger role in  Denver than the Pistons not that he was better. And not becoming a better player, maybe it’s the offense, but as I remember Flip Saunders had the Pistons running pretty well on offense….considering he only played for Curry for 2 games.

  • Dec 19, 20102:39 pm
    by slammer


    Iknew Iverson was not going to work out when he came here as soon as the trade happen.  I felt it to be the dumbest decision that Dumars could have ever made.  Iverson never won a Championship always prone to injury, and other then one time his teams always suck in the playoffs.

    He is no leader, and trading billups destroyed everything of the pistons in one go.  @Glenn  no I didnt see it as the best move at the time, thought it was stupid and just destroyed the pistons because Iverson may score alot when he is healthy, but he was no leader.

  • Jan 31, 20125:11 am
    by robertbayer


    Really Dan .. You should scrub your site of this article because it was and is so wrong in so many ways .. Billups was the
    leader of the team that had gone to 6 straight conference championships .. He
    was their only PG .. and a star PG .. This began a series of playing players
    out of positions by the Pistons .. Stuckey at PG .. Prince at PF (not due to
    this trade but …). .. ect ect ..  and it all stunk to high heaven ..
    Iverson was a punk selfish ball hog his whole career .. not an ounce of
    leadership .. in fact quite  the opposite … The truth is Joe lost his
    way .. success spoiled him and he started to think he could do anything and
    make it work .. like a team composed of pretty much just SFs and SGs .. that
    followed in the next few years .. So many mistakes have followed .. Billups
    is still a great leader and PG .. Good GMs .. which Joe Dumars used to be ..
    can evaluate players . and all your .. “gee .. who would have thought that?” is truly
    irrelevant, illogical, over-protective, and patronizing .. Maybe Dumars would have
    wised up if you and other writers who cover the Pistons didnt spend 24/7 for the3 past 4
    seasons sparring his behind even a semblance of ever having made
    a bad decision ..

    • Jan 31, 20129:51 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      LOL, your comments on these old posts are great. They read like you just downed a box of wine and are dripping tears on your framed picture of Bill Laimbeer, wondering why oh why won’t someone just fire Dumars and hire Laimbeer!

      Seriously, the only thing this site should be scrubbed of are the lame comments from the many different screen names you use.

  • Jan 31, 20126:29 am
    by robertbayer


    Joe Dumars: “The ultimate team player. Chauncey
    represents everything David Stern wants in this league.”

  • Apr 23, 20133:36 pm
    by KDOGG


    Wow.  Why try and RATIONALIZE this trade??????  It amazes me that people try and justify this trade!  This WAS THE WORST TRADE IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA, or at the very LEAST, worst Piston trade.  The idea of let’s be nice and trade him to his “hometown” and SETTLE for AI rather than MELO is absurd.  This is a BUSINESS.  To DUMP the cornerstone of your team for a SELFISH, trouble-making scorer is absolutely ridiculous. They DIDN’T have a true point guard in Stuckey.  They knew this.  The Pistons were in no way ready for this type of trade.  If anything, trade Hamilton or Prince.  If you trade your ROCK, your glue, then you might as well start from SCRATCH and scrap everyone.  GM’s should know this.  IF you can’t get what you WANT for your STAR, then DON’T DO IT.  A GOOD GM would not settle.  IF we couldn’t get Melo out of this, and this was their goal, then DO NOT PROCEED.  Any idiot could have seen that this would ruin the team.  And, as some of you suggested, maybe this WAS the idea??!  I think Robert Bayer hit it on the head as he mentioned above that Dumars foolishly thinks he can turn anything into gold.  The Pistons had only success up to that point and I think Dumars WANTED to shake things up and completely rearrange the scenery. 
    The only thing that this trade showed was the complete lack of effective ability Dumars has as a GM.  Unfortunately up to that point, Dumars had been lucky.  It wasn’t his superb GM skills that put the Pistons where they were year after year unfortunately.  We had thought he was a genius and that he absolutely knew what he was doing at the helm.  But little did we really know.  For the first time in his GM career, he had a chance to really show his true colors and he FAILED miserably.  I think he took it all to his head and gave himself all the credit, rather than realizing he was gifted with a wonderful team at the right time and being grateful and building FROM this team would work – NOT dismantling the team.  He gave his team NO transition building.  He just yanked the table out from underneath his team and thought by his magic, it would work. 
    Instability showed early in his GM career (maybe a tell-tale sign?).  He fired Rick Carlisle after he built a wonderful team and found tremendous success.  Why would you fire a successful coach??  Then he picked up Larry Brown (great coach as well), but he also ended up being fired.  Same as Flip.  Of course you have your arguments on this, but I believe he should have stuck with Carlisle.  Why fix what works?  The Pistons would STILL BE contenders today if they kept their core team, maybe doing a couple KEY trades.  Look at the Spurs.  They are good examples of this and how to BUILD FROM SUCCESS, rather than do what Dumars did.  No GM wants to lose.  This is WHY and only WHY this is ALL ON DUMARS.  If Dumars wanted to fail, than he did the right thing.  Any fool as a fan can see that this was a stupid trade.  Now look at it from a GM point of view.  It is their JOB to be successful.  This shows the lack of ability in Dumars.  It was all in his head and he thought he was a puppetmaster of success. 
    Another GREAT point – he had MICHAEL CURRY at the helm when he brought over AI.  Think about this.  Why would ANY good GM bring over a coach killer such as AI in his coach’s very first season??  Michael was inexperienced and this was a cocktail for disaster.  Couldn’t he SEE this from a MILE away?  WHY in the world bring in AI for a first time coach and give away your cornerstone?  Instability at best is what you would expect from this.  This is why this was absurd.  SURE, AI was a scorer, but even if he averaged 35 points a game his previous year, this STILL would be a foolish trade simply because this is NOT what the Pistons had built from.  They were NOT a selfish team by any means.  How can you NOT know this was bad?  No one really wanted AI.  The only teams that would be in the market for such a player are the bottom feeders who need to attract fans and earn more revenue.  The Pistons, year in and year out, were SOLD OUT for their HOME GAMES.  To make this type of move was extremely risky and it turned 180 degrees from the “blue collar” team  mentality they hailed to be and embraced at the time.  This was ALL on Dumars and his thinking that he could turn ANYthing into gold.  

  • Feb 21, 20141:31 pm
    by bobby


    If you thought this looked like a good idea when it was done, then you knew nothing about the pistons and nothing about allen Iverson, or you are just an idiot.

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