Pistons acquire Iverson, send Billups and McDyess to Denver

Updated: November 4, 2008, 2:02 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Joe Dumars said it as loudly as any team executive can say it back in June, memorably warning his own players to brace for a shakeup after the latest in a string of playoff disappointments for the Detroit Pistons.

A mere two games into the new season, Dumars duly gave his roster that shake.

The Pistons and Nuggets on Monday finalized a trade -- which was initially discussed during the summer, sources close to the process told ESPN.com -- that brings guard Allen Iverson to Detroit and sends Pistons mainstays Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess to Denver.

There's a chance McDyess could return to Detroit after a league-mandated wait of 30 days if he can secure his release or negotiate a contract buyout with the Nuggets. Either way, though, Detroit's identity has been radically changed by swapping Billups -- NBA Finals MVP in 2004 and one of the faces synonymous with the Pistons' ensemble-cast approach -- for a high-scoring attention grabber like Iverson.

Iverson's expiring contract, furthermore, will afford Detroit significant financial flexibility as soon as July -- along with Rasheed Wallace's expiring contract -- if Dumars decides it's time for a more thorough makeover. Yet it appears that Pistons guard Richard Hamilton remains a key figure in Detroit's future, with ESPN.com's Chad Ford reporting Monday night that Hamilton and the Pistons have agreed on a three-year contract extension worth an estimated $34 million.

Trade at a glance

• Allen Iverson has the third-highest scoring average in NBA history.
• Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess have both been with the Nuggets previously. This would be Billups' second stint in Denver and the third for McDyess. McDyess is expected to be bought out by the Nuggets.
• Iverson's scoring average has decreased significantly since averaging a career-best 33.0 points per game in 2005-06.
• Iverson has the most points of any active player who has not won an NBA title.
• Billups ranks fourth in Pistons history in assists behind only Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Dave Bing.

Highest career scoring averages
  PPG
Michael Jordan 30.12
Wilt Chamberlain 30.07
Allen Iverson 27.7
Elgin Baylor 27.4
LeBron James 27.3

Most career points, active players, who haven't won NBA title
  Points
Allen Iverson 23,044
Dirk Nowitzki 17,047
Tracy McGrady 16,798
Vince Carter 16,633
Stephon Marbury 16,209
"We just felt it was the right time to change our team," Dumars told The Associated Press. "Iverson gives us a dimension that we haven't had here and we really think it's going to help us.

"In this league, six or seven years is an eternity to have a core together," Dumars said. "So when a situation like this presents itself where you can cover yourself on both sides -- the immediate impact player and the long-term flexibility -- you have to push the button."

The Pistons will introduce Iverson at a news conference Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET. It is not yet known which number Iverson will wear, since Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey is currently No. 3, but Iverson's Detroit debut is expected to come Wednesday night in Toronto.

"He was very excited about the trade," Iverson's agent, Leon Rose, told the AP.

Young center Cheikh Samb, selected by the Los Angeles Lakers for the Pistons with the 51st overall pick in the 2006 draft, also goes to Denver in the deal.

Sources say McDyess, meanwhile, has no interest in playing for any other team than the Pistons, leading to the widespread expectation that the Nuggets will buy him out. Denver also waived veteran forward Juwan Howard to make roster room for incoming players.

Dumars put the entire Pistons roster on notice after they lost to Boston in the East finals, saying that there "are no sacred cows" on his team and vowing to consider trading anyone in addition to firing coach Flip Saunders and replacing Saunders with the untested Michael Curry.

The Pistons could not find a workable deal over the summer after talking with numerous teams, but it emerged then that Billups was the most likely Piston to be dealt. The 32-year-old is in the second season of a four-year contract worth a guaranteed $46 million, with a $14 million team option in Year 5.

With Denver's desire to acquire a dependable point guard growing, Dumars moved quickly to finally consummate this deal with the Nuggets, who acquired Iverson from Philadelphia shortly before Christmas in 2006 but failed in two attempts to get out of the first round with a three-man core of Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby.

Camby was jettisoned to the Los Angeles Clippers in a straight salary dump in July for luxury-tax purposes. After playing sparingly in the preseason, Iverson was stripped of his captaincy last week and averaged just over 13 shots per game as the Nuggets opened with a 1-2 mark, suggesting that his days in Denver were coming to a close.

Denver will be hoping now that Billups -- a local product who starred collegiately at the University of Colorado and played briefly for the Nuggets early in his career -- meshes better with Anthony and fellow guard J.R. Smith, given that he's more of a natural point guard than Iverson. Yet there is some risk for the Nuggets, because Billups' contract will take them back into luxury-tax territory and restrict their roster maneuverability in coming seasons after the payroll-slashing Camby trade.

The Pistons, meanwhile, will undoubtedly contend that their risks are mitigated by the fact that Iverson, who turned 33 in June and carries a salary of $20.8 million, will be highly motivated in the final year of his contract to prove to his many skeptics that he can blend into a team-based system.

"It gives us a different way to attack people," Dumars said, referring to Iverson's ability to create his own shot, something Detroit has clearly lacked when its half-court offense bogs down. "We have been extremely successful for a long time. But I also think what comes with that is a little bit of predictability."

Dumars loves to gamble on players who are reputed to possess as many minuses as pluses, as seen with the trade-deadline acquisition of Wallace in 2004 which spurred Detroit to its first championship since Dumars was playing in 1990. Of course, Detroit's risk factor is lessened further by the expiring contracts of Iverson and Wallace, giving Dumars plenty of options to rebuild his team around the highly regarded Stuckey, Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.

"Two teams had one common problem, or challenge," Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien told reporters in Denver. "I think the Pistons looked at Stuckey and saw him as the point guard of tomorrow, and you have an All-Star in Chauncey who was in his way.

"We're just thrilled with the way J.R. [Smith] is progressing and he had a Hall of Famer in front of him. You understand the motivation of both teams."

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics