Nuggets deal Iverson to Pistons for Billups, McDyess

Nov 3, 2008 - 11:35 PM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- The only glaring omission on Allen Iverson's impressive resume is an NBA championship.

Iverson will have his next chance to achieve that feat with the Detroit Pistons, who evidently feel they need the former league MVP to get back to the NBA Finals.

The Pistons acquired Iverson in a blockbuster deal Monday that sent popular point guard Chauncey Billups, veteran forward Antonio McDyess and center Cheikh Samb to the Denver Nuggets.

The addition of Iverson, a four-time league scoring champion, certainly constitutes a major change for a Pistons team that has lost in the Eastern Conference Finals each of the last three seasons.

"We are pleased to welcome Allen Iverson to the Pistons organization," Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. "Allen has proven he is one of the elite players in the league and we like what he adds to our roster at the guard position.

"We appreciate everything that Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb brought to the organization during their time here in Detroit and we certainly wish them all the best."

The 33-year-old Iverson has spent parts of the last three seasons in Denver since being acquired in a multi-player deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in December 2006.

Iverson averaged 26.4 points and 7.1 assists with the Nuggets last season, his only full campaign in Denver. The nine-time All-Star has averaged 18.7 points and 6.7 assists in his first three games this season.

Arguably the best small player in the history of the NBA, the 6-foot Iverson is 25th on the league's list for career points and is third with an average of 27.7 points per game, behind only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

Iverson, a 13-year veteran, has helped his team reach the playoffs in eight of the last 10 seasons.

But simply reaching the postseason already has become customary for the Pistons, who won the NBA title in 2004 and have advanced at least as far as the Eastern Conference finals each of the last six seasons.

Detroit, which was eliminated by the eventual champion Boston Celtics in last season's conference finals, hopes it has found a solution in Iverson, who was named the league MVP in 2000-01 and led the Sixers to the NBA Finals that year.

The 1997 Rookie of the Year, Iverson is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $21.9 million this season. He is one of the NBA's true drawing cards - especially with young fans - and could be the missing piece for Detroit, which has lacked a go-to offensive player in recent seasons.

With his braided hair, tattoos, aborted venture into rap music and brutally honest approach, Iverson became an icon of the NBA's hip-hop culture, which endeared him to young fans but made older supporters cringe.

However, there is no denying Iverson's talent. He may have been at his best in the 2000-01 season, when he put aside his running feud with coach Larry Brown, led the NBA in scoring and powered the 76ers to a 56-26 record and their first appearance in the NBA Finals in 18 years.

Nicknamed "The Answer," Iverson spent his first 10-plus seasons in Philadelphia, where he revitalized a moribund Sixers franchise that selected the former Georgetown standout with the first overall draft pick in 1996.

Now Iverson will be charged with the task of energizing an efficient yet methodical Pistons franchise that has been a model of consistency in the weak Eastern Conference.

After going 59-23 last season, the Pistons were outclassed by the Celtics in the conference finals, prompting Dumars to promise wide-sweeping organizational changes.

The first change came on June 3 when Dumars fired head coach Flip Saunders, who was replaced a week later by Michael Curry.

In Detroit, Iverson will join a veteran-led team that already features 34-year-old center Rasheed Wallace and 30-year-old shooting guard Richard Hamilton.

The Pistons also have attempted to incorporate younger players like guard Rodney Stuckey, forward Jason Maxiell, forward Amir Johnson and swingman Arron Afflalo into their rotation in recent years.

Billups, 32, arguably has been the Pistons' most important player since joining Detroit prior to the 2002-03 campaign.

A Denver native who spent two seasons with the Nuggets earlier in his career, Billups averaged 17.0 points and 6.8 assists last season. The 12-year veteran is in the second season of a four-year, $46 million deal he signed with the Pistons in July 2007.

Nicknamed "Mr. Big Shot," the 6-3 Billups has averaged 14.8 points and 5.5 assists in 760 career games with Detroit, Denver, Boston, Minnesota and Toronto.

The Nuggets reportedly have considered buying out the remaining two years and $13.5 million on McDyess' contract.

McDyess, 34, began his 13-year career with the Nuggets and has spent the last four-plus seasons with the Pistons. The second overall draft selection in 1995, he has averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in 805 career games with four different teams.

The 7-1 Samb appeared in four games with Detroit last season, averaging 1.8 points and 1.8 rebounds.

In a corresponding roster move, the Nuggets waived veteran forward Juwan Howard.