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Whither McDyess?

As we all know, there's been a lot of speculation about Antonio McDyess' status with the Nuggets. Officially, Nuggets VP Rex Chapman has said that McDyess won't be bought out, but a report surfaced yesterday saying discussions were in fact taking place. Why the conflicting reports? Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News explains:

Before the Jason Kidd deal was finalized last February, Dallas forward Jerry Stackhouse sounded off about planning to be waived by New Jersey after the deal was done and returning 30 days later to the Mavericks, which is the rule for players to return under such circumstances. Eventually, with the NBA looking on closely, the trade was made without Stackhouse.

San Antonio played it close to the vest last season when trading Brent Barry to Seattle, which then waived him. Barry and the Spurs made it seem like he was looking around at various teams before he returned to San Antonio after the 30-day waiting period.

A source close to the situation said the Nuggets would like McDyess to play for them, but there's a good chance he will be bought out.

"I'm not denying it's circulating (McDyess could be waived), but I don't have any direct knowledge,'' said Nuggets coach George Karl.

The trade is official, Allen Iverson has been introduced and Michael Curry has confirmed that AI will start tonight's game in Toronto. So why are we still waiting to find out what will happen with McDyess? Because there's still the little matter of dividing up a few million dollars. McDyess is owed $13.6 million over this season and next, and he's not eager to give any of it up:

The Nuggets ideally would like a buyout of less than $10 million total. The Nuggets, who on Monday trimmed their payroll from about $77 million to about $74 million, hope to get it down to a level just above the luxury-tax threshold of $71.15 million.

McDyess' side, meanwhile, doesn't want to lose money overall. He would recoup at least the prorated minimum salary of $1.26 million if he re-signs with Detroit, which he can't do until 30 days after being waived.

Let's assume for a moment that McDyess and the Nuggets figure it out and McDyess hits the open market. Is it a foregone conclusion that he heads to the beach for a month before re-signing with the Pistons? Only he knows for sure, but Detroit's rivals will do their best to change his mind. From the Boston Herald:

According to a league source, the Celtics would be especially interested in bringing in the veteran power forward. The C’s initially attempted to sign McDyess in 2004. He instead chose to sign with the Pistons, who at the time were opening defense of a world championship.

Most observers expect McDyess to return to Detroit after the league’s mandatory 30-day waiting period. But McDyess, reportedly upset by the trade, can expect to hear from the Celtics if a buyout does indeed go through.

I'd like to think the Pistons have the edge, but then again, why should he show loyalty when it wasn't reciprocated earlier this week? Even if Dumars and Co. had a hunch he'd return all along, the buyout still might end up costing him a few million. (Then again, it's not like he and Kevin Garnett exchange Christmas cards, either.)

Even if it's not the Celtics, though, I have to imagine any number of teams (the Lakers have the full mid-level) might show interest. In fact, if he really wants to get a title, he could sit back for longer than 30 days while waiting to see which of the contenders seem to have the most momentum.

Maybe, but I just don't see it happening. I mentioned this on FanHouse on Monday, but in the aftermath of being ousted from the Conference Finals by the Celtics last year, I watched McDyess fight back tears while telling reporters that he'd rather retire than attempting any shortcuts to a title.

"I don't want to be no ring-chaser, I don't want to be moving team to team being a ring-chaser. I can't do that. If I have to do that, I would definitely give it up. I mean, if I stay on this team another couple of years, we still have a chance, we just got to put our heart into it and do it."

The irony of all of this was that just minutes prior to hearing McDyess lay out his heart, I was in the visitor's locker room speaking to P.J. Brown, who came out of pseudo-retirement in early February, and Sam Cassell, who forced a buyout from the Clippers in early March. Sure, they got a ring just like everybody else on Boston's roster, but they hitched their fortunes to Boston's star so late the bandwagon had a bandwagon. As badly as McDyess wants a title, I get the feeling he's determined to do it the old fashioned way.

Or not -- who knows? Perhaps priorities shift after being treated less like an integral piece of the solution and more like chattel whose sole value is to make a trade for a more important player work. Only time will tell. With any luck, he'll be an early Christmas gift for Pistons fans, re-joining the team several weeks from now, but no matter what happens, I'll be rooting for him, no matter what jersey he ends up wearing.