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Pistons acquire Iverson for Billups, McDyess, Samb

Posted Nov 5 2008 5:19PM

The Denver Nuggets have agreed to a deal that would send Allen Iverson to the Pistons in exchange for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb, the two teams announced Monday.

"We are pleased to welcome Allen Iverson to the Pistons organization," said Joe Dumars, Pistons President of Basketball Operations. "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."

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There is one sticking point to the deal, though. TNT analyst David Aldridge reports that McDyess does not want to go to Denver, and a source close to him says "he will not put on a Nuggets uniform" and may opt to retire.

Because of McDyess's objection, the Nuggets may waive the mandatory physical each player in a trade must take in order for the league to approve any deal. McDyess may be seeking a buyout of the remainder of his contract (two years, $13.6 million).

A source with knowledge of the trade discussions says that the Nuggets would be willing to discuss a buyout with McDyess, but only if he agrees to a "significant" amount less than the $13.6 million he's due through the end of the 2009-10 season.

According to the source, McDyess would have to give up about 50 percent of his salary, meaning he'd have to agree to take about $6.8 million of the $13.6 million he's due in any potential buyout if he wants to play elsewhere. Otherwise, the Nuggets will keep him on their roster regardless of whether he decides to report or not.

The Nuggets are extremely close to the luxury tax number of $71.1 million. Teams that spend more than that on player salaries have to pay a dollar for dollar penalty if they exceed the amount; every dollar spent above $71.1 million thus costs a team $2 in tax.

In three games with the Nuggets this season, Iverson is averaging 18.7 points and 6.7 assists. In the Pistons' two wins this season Chauncey Billups is averaging 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists, while Antonio McDyess is averaging 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 19 minutes per game.

Iverson could debut with the Pistons on Wednesday night in Toronto.

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

Dumars said the Nuggets first contacted him Thursday with a proposal that included Iverson. Dumars, who had become concerned the Pistons were set in their ways, struck a deal at 1:45 Monday morning.

"It gives us a different way to attack people," Dumars said. "We have been extremely successful for a long time. But I also think what comes with that is a little bit of predictability."

Iverson talked about the possibility of being traded during training camp and said the only negative would be uprooting his family again.

"But it doesn't bother me because basketball is basketball," Iverson said during camp. "It won't change my game because I only know one way to play and that's like every game is my last."

Iverson's agent, Leon Rose, told the AP he is not negotiating a contract extension with the Pistons for his client, who said during training camp he was looking forward to being a free agent for the first time in his career.

The Pistons have been a model of consistency in recent years, but they were determined to change their core following a third straight exit from the Eastern Conference finals last summer.

"Two teams had one common problem, or challenge," Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien said. "I think the Pistons looked at [Rodney] 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."

The Pistons played at Charlotte Monday night. The Bobcats are coached by Larry Brown, who led Billups and the Pistons to the 2004 NBA title and also guided the Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers to a spot in the finals in 2001.

"Trading Marilyn Monroe for Jane Russell. That's not bad," Brown said. "Joe knows what he's doing, and I'm happy Chauncey's going back to Denver and his family is there."

Billups returns to familiar surroundings -- he was born in Denver and played in college at Colorado. McDyess also will be enjoying a homecoming of sorts, having been a Nugget from 1995-97 and 1998-02.

"We fortunately fall into a guy that's an All-Star caliber point guard," Denver coach George Karl said, after saying he was sad to see Iverson go. "The connection with Denver and Colorado is fun to be a part of and enthusiastic to our owners."

Iverson brings considerable star power to Detroit. The 20th-leading scorer in NBA history was the league MVP in 2001 -- four years after being the Rookie of the Year -- and is a nine-time All-Star. He has averaged nearly 28 points for his career and has led the NBA in steals three times, tying a league record.

Philadelphia drafted him No. 1 overall in 1996 out of Georgetown and he spent 11 1/2 seasons with the franchise, leading it to the NBA finals in 2001. He was traded Dec. 19, 2006, to the Nuggets and helped them reach the playoffs twice.

Detroit, which tried to deal for the 33-year-old Iverson at least once before, added the superstar it lacked and salary-cap space for next summer by shedding Billups' contract.

"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."

Iverson will take a spectacular resume into free agency in the summer.

The 20th-leading scorer in NBA history was the league MVP in 2001 -- four years after being the Rookie of the Year -- and is a nine-time All-Star. Philadelphia drafted him No. 1 overall in 1996 out of Georgetown and he spent 111/2 seasons with the franchise. He was traded Dec. 19, 2006, to the Nuggets and helped them reach the playoffs twice.

"I want to thank A.I. Allen Iverson was a joy to coach," Karl said. "When we acquired him, there were all these nightmares and stories about how difficult he was, and he never was difficult for me."

Billups is 32 and had bounced around the league after Boston drafted him No. 3 overall in 1997. He then found an NBA home in Detroit and becoming a three-time All-Star, and two-time All-Defensive player. He was on rosters in Boston, Denver, Orlando and Minnesota in his first four seasons.

Detroit signed him as a free agent in 2002 and he led the franchise to six straight conference finals appearances, the NBA's longest such stretch since the Los Angeles Lakers dominant run in the 1980s. He was at his best in the 2004 NBA finals when he helped the Pistons win their third title under Brown.

"It's kind of hard for me because of that core group," Brown said. "Every time I look out and don't see Ben [Wallace] there I get a strange feeling. Now not to see Chancey and Dyess, it's going to be different.

"But Allen is really special. If they want excitement in that building they're going to get it because every time he steps on the court he's going to try to win the game. And I don't think you would ever consider giving up Chauncey and Dyess unless you were getting something you thought was pretty special."

Billups struggled in each of the past three conference finals, with the Pistons eliminated in Game 6 each year. He has averaged nearly 15 points and 51/2 assists for his career.

McDyess revived his career with the Pistons, playing 321 games over four seasons after career-threatening knee operations. The 2000 Olympian and 2001 All-Star has averaged 13.4 points and 7.7 rebounds for his career. Like Billups, the 34-year-old McDyess is one of the league's most popular players among peers.

Detroit acquired the 7-foot-1 Samb for Maurice Evans from the Lakers during the 2006 draft. The 24-year-old center played in just four NBA games last season, spending much of his year in the NBA Development League, where he led the league with four blocks a game.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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