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On the trade

I'm going to let things marinate for a little longer before expounding on my thoughts, but here's Kevin's early evaluation. -- MW
By Kevin Sawyer

Oh, so that happened… Or will happen… Or will have happened… Has Joe Dumars no respect for our fantasy teams?

With all the hubbub, and (mostly) doom and gloom, I thought it would be useful to break down the trade in exhaustive terms. The trade for Allen Iverson rather obviously has two dimensions, which need essentially to be taken separately.

The Present

There are a million ways to splice the data on two players as wildly divergent as AI and Chauncey. But it does appear that AI would represent a modest step down in terms of production. AI’s PER was about 21 last year, while Chauncey’s was 23.5. If we factor age and regression to career means, we have AI sticking close to 21, and Chauncey at about 22-23. AI isn’t quite the defender Chauncey is either.

That said, one thing to consider is the fact that AI has played an absurd number of minutes. If he can continue to play 42 mpg, his value over his replacement erases the gap here. But this begs the question. Remember that Rodney Stuckey guy? He also plays the position. It seems unlikely that Joe is committing to giving Stuckey fewer minutes, so AI’s days as a 40 mpg guy seem to be numbered.

Now, it is possible that unleashing AI for only 32 mpg would result in modest improvements. As it stands, his percentages have benefited from playing alongside other scoring options. In fact, if you look at AI’s per-minute numbers, we could be getting essentially the same production.

But what’s the point of that? The answer, I suppose, is that AI brings intangibles… Namely hunger. The idea is that Chauncey, having won a championship, is no longer hungry, while AI is still hungry. I wince at any equation that cites an inverse correlation between championships earned and hunger factor. I would further note that Chauncey had the best season of his career last year, hungry or not.

But there are other intangibles. The Pistons offense is one of the most efficient in the NBA. Iverson’s 4+ turnovers per game would mean a regression to the mean. Also, pairing him with Rip squanders our advantage over smaller guards. Also, last year notwithstanding, AI had a history of injuries. If he misses 20 games, we are going to lose quite a few of them.

And, speaking of hunger, what about McDyess? Even if Denver cuts him, the league has to be concerned about the appearance of impropriety, given all the commotion caused last year by veterans who returned promptly to their teams after big trades. It is only 50/50 that McDyess comes back in a Pistons uniform.

At best, this seems a wash. Dumars promised change, and this is that. It beats the heck out of Chauncey for McGrady or Al Harrington, but this leads us to…

The Future

Allen Iverson makes like a billion dollars, and his contract comes off the books. This gives the Pistons a chance to play free agent bingo next year. My guess is that Dumars feels that Stuckey will be ready to take over the point, leaving the Pistons free to pursue a frontcourt option to accompany Amir if/once Sheed departs.

Okay, but who do we sign? Carlos Boozer is the free agent prize, but any number of teams will be making a play for him. He’s kind of a big deal. If we don’t land Boozer, it will likely be a steep drop to pick up the next available agent. And what of Iverson? If we re-sign him at a reasonable salary, how is that an improvement over our situation with Chauncey? And what if we can’t do any deal? Take away Chauncey and Sheed, and the Pistons are a fringe playoff squad.

If we play for 2010, we take an even bigger risk, essentially sacrificing the 2009-10 season as a rebuilding year. The 2010 free agent class looks great on paper, but a number of teams are privy to this fact. As such, the only way this deal moves us up the championship ladder is if Stuckey is ready to play at or near Chauncey’s level, and we can sign Boozer, or if we can make two major acquisitions in 2010. Those are big ifs.

For all the talk of overvaluing our guys, I wonder if Dumars really knows how good Chauncey is. He was a different kind of player, leading a different kind of team. For now, we are left with an apparent dropoff in production at the point. Not enough to keep us out of contention, but I’m not seeing the ceiling here to justify rolling the dice.

Previously on DBB:
Billups/AI trade gives Detroit obscene cap space
Agent: "Dice is not happy at all"
Rasheed reacts
The original "Allen Iverson to Detroit" trade
Hold on, this is happening?