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Archive for Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Commentary: Trade makes sense for Nuggets

November 4, 2008

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Sending Allen Iverson to Detroit for Chauncey Billups and some pocket change is a great move for the Denver Nuggets.

The starting five becomes tougher and taller and more generous, and Billups gives the Nuggets the defensive mauler needed to shut down - or maybe just slow down - Chris Paul and Steve Nash.

Iverson never should have set foot in Colorado. The Nuggets traded point guard Andre Miller, who is Billups' body double, for Iverson in 2006, turning the team into a circus act.

The Nuggets were fun to watch, but never would have won a playoff series with Iverson at the helm. He's a great showman, the little man who conquers the giants in the lane, but he's not a great player.

I'll soon hear from Iverson devotees, who believe he still ranks among the NBA's top dozen players. He's not. He doesn't have a position. He doesn't follow essential basketball rules.

He's Allen the Anarchist, a blast to watch as he battles insurmountable odds, but the problem is those odds end up winning.

Sure, his show is mesmerizing, but he turns teammates into spectators. The Pistons will sell more tickets and win fewer games.

Don't get me wrong. I like Iverson, the person. He's left behind his wild child who once terrorized Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown.

On the opening day of Nuggets training camp, Iverson talked about his wish to remain in Denver. He didn't talk about himself. He talked about his five children.

They had made friends, he said. They considered Colorado their home. They didn't want to leave, so he didn't want to leave.

Sorry, Allen, but it's time for the Iversons to pack their bags.

Meanwhile, Billups prepares to return home.

In the early 1990s, he pulverized Denver Public School competition, including my alma mater Denver South, as point guard for the George Washington Patriots.

Then he carried the University of Colorado Buffs to rare heights before bolting to the NBA, where he won the title in 2004.

He's a no-nonsense, bruise-inflicting point guard who might have missed his calling. Billups could have made a wonderfully dangerous NFL defensive back.

George Karl has searched, in vain, for a player to ignite the Nuggets. He clearly disliked last season's team, which seemed more interested in style than victory.

Billups is the man to awaken the Nuggets. He's the seasoned, hustling veteran who can serve as Carmelo Anthony's and J.R Smith's tutor in the art of diligent labor. He's the charismatic leader who can push his teammates to play with snarling effort.

Karl rode to his best NBA moments alongside Gary Payton in Seattle and Sam Cassell in Milwaukee. Both point guards had little regard for following delicate basketball etiquette.

They strutted on the court as mean, dangerous characters, and Billups boasts the same rugged approach.

The Nuggets are entering a time of change. They will convert from high-speed, high-scoring team built to win regular-season games to a lower-scoring team constructed for playoff success.

After a month or so of growing pains, I see a far more powerful version of the Nuggets.

This will be a wonderful homecoming for Billups.

And a great trade for the Nuggets.

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