Allen Iverson is ready to help the Detroit Pistons make a push toward an NBA title. His new teammates, though, might need some time to ready themselves for the sometimes volatile star.
The flashy point guard could make his debut for the Pistons as they visit the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in a matchup of undefeated teams.
The 33-year-old Iverson was traded Monday from Denver to Detroit for former Pistons captain and NBA finals MVP Chauncey Billups, forward Antonio McDyess and project Cheikh Samb. Teamed with Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince, Iverson hopes he's enough to help Detroit (3-0) win its first NBA championship since 2003-04.
"I want to be the piece that gets us over the hump,'' said Iverson, who's averaging 27.7 points and 6.3 assists during his 13-year career. "I've done so many things in this league, being an All-Star and scoring champion and things like that, but I haven't accomplished my No. 1 goal and that is to win a championship.''
The Pistons have reached the Eastern Conference finals six straight seasons, but have been eliminated in six games each of the past three seasons. Iverson has reached the NBA Finals once, with Philadelphia in 2000-01 when he also took league MVP honors.
"We think he is going to fit with exactly what we stand for here,'' Pistons executive Joe Dumars said of Iverson, who averaged 18.7 points and 6.7 assists in three games with Denver this season. "It's all about winning and being in the big dance at the end of the year. Those are his goals along with ours.
"I don't think we're going to sit here today and make any grand promises, but everybody knows our goals.''
While that's true, those Pistons still with the club might need some time to welcome the unpredictable Iverson into the mix, especially with the popular Billups no longer in the picture.
"I can't talk about it until we see it happen,'' Wallace said after Detroit's 101-83 win at Charlotte on Monday. "Who knows?''
If Iverson is on the court in this contest, he'll try to help the Pistons open with four straight wins for the first time since winning its first eight in 2005-06. He is averaging 30.4 points in 36 career games versus Toronto.
Hamilton, who agreed to a three-year contract extension worth about $34 million Monday, had 19 points and five assists against Charlotte and leads Detroit with 19.3 points per contest.
"We definitely wanted Rip in the fold as we continue to make this run,'' Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "He's a valuable piece to this puzzle.''
Detroit went 3-1 against the Raptors last season, with its only loss coming 89-82 at Toronto on March 26.
The Raptors (3-0) look to open with four straight victories for the first time in franchise history after winning 91-87 at Milwaukee on Saturday.
Jose Calderon had a career-high 25 points and nine assists as each Toronto starter scored in double figures. He was 8-of-15 from the floor, including 3-of-4 on 3-pointers.
"I like to get everybody involved, but if they let me shoot, I can shoot the ball,'' said Calderon, who's averaging 18.0 points and 9.7 rebounds. "I just try to play my game.''
All-Star Chris Bosh had 20 points and 10 rebounds Saturday to maintain his early double-double average. Bosh averaged 22.5 points and 10.7 rebounds in four games versus Detroit last season.
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