If Dumars hadn't called, the Nuggets would have been watching the first round of the playoffs Sunday night, not playing in them.
There was no Plan B, no bailout deal, no trade on the table involving another veteran point guard of Billups' stature. Not one who would have changed the culture in the Nuggets' locker room and transformed them into a playoff team, much less the No. 2 seed in the West.
"We had several other conversations going on," said Mark Warkentien, the Nuggets' vice president of basketball operations. "One guy was really disappointed, but he called and said: 'I get it. That's a better deal.' " . . .
Warkentien, on how the deal went down: "I was driving from Phoenix to Tucson and pulled over in Casa Grande to call George (Karl). I said, 'Are you OK with this?' And he said, basically, 'You wasted a dime on this call.' We knew he wanted a real point guard. It wasn't something we really needed to debate." . . .
Add in the little matter of the Pistons selecting the immortal Darko Milicic with the second pick in the 2003 draft, allowing Denver to get Melo at No. 3, and the Nuggets ought to vote Dumars a playoff share.
As for the last sentence, Dumars has enjoyed several rounds of playoff shares every year, including a title, whereas Carmelo Anthony is 0-5 in getting out of the first round.
Or something. I must admit, touting the 2004 these days isn't quite the trump card it used to be. Armstrong's article leaves a bitter taste in my mouth but certainly puts an interesting spin on things -- I hadn't quite thought about how much they "owe" Detroit that way. (On a side note, I wonder what the other potential trade was? And whether that other team is still interested in A.I. or was purely interested in the cap space?)
(Another side note: apologies for the lack of playoff coverage on DBB -- I must admit it already feels like the season has ended, especially while watching so many of the other matchups where the series truly is up for grabs. I've actually convinced myself that the Bulls have a legitimate chance to knock off the Celtics, but even a 40-point win for the Pistons in Game 2 would feel awfully flukish to me.)