Could it be time for these two to switch unis?
With the announcement that the Detroit Pistons have cut ties with head coach Flip Saunders, despite an impressive season that included the league’s second best record and a loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to the team that finished first, it appears change is in the air at Auburn Hills.
According to Pistons president Joe Dumars, “Everybody is in play.”–a strange proclamation considering any smart exec knows that “Everybody is in play” every single day of the year. If you can get better, do it. So, a statement like the one Dumars made Tuesday about imminent change calls out for a major move or two.
Rasheed Wallace has one year remaining on his deal with Detroit, and fans appear to have tired of his act. Poor performance, wandering from the basket, postgame tirades, and myriad technical fouls have soured the lovefest between ‘Sheed and some of the toughest fans in sports.
At the same time, the one who got away in favor of Darko Milicic (who, by the by, eventually begat Rodney Stuckey), Carmelo Anthony, finds himself embroiled amongst controversy out in Denver.
After a speedy first-round exit despite a talented bunch and solid numbers from the Anti-Snitch Campaign Manager, the Nuggets may also be ready to hit the red button.
Anthony hurt his cause by apparently driving drunk rather than using some of his spare wads of century notes lying around to hire a driver for a night of liver abuse in April. With the Nuggets winning 50 games this past season but somehow only finishing with the 8th seed in the ultra-competitive West, Denver could be ready to send its 24-year-old franchise pillar on his way.
Now here comes the interesting part: could these two teams find a way to solve their problems and build a deal around the two aforementioned stars?
Given that Denver already sports an on-the-ball scorer in Allen Iverson, is Carmelo Anthony redundant? Since Detroit features a backcourt that has no equal in the entire Association, can it move its best frontcourt scorer for another wing type?
Should both front offices feel comfortable enough to answer the previous two questions affirmatively, we might have a match made in purgatory.
The deal is rather simple at the moment, but could be enlarged to include draft picks or other future considerations.
The crux of the trade: Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince take their services to the Mile High City and Carmelo Anthony and Nene Hilario head to The Palace (along with Steven Hunter for cap purposes).
This would leave each team with a different, but perhaps better, roster.
First, Detroit. The Pistons would boast a fantastic nine-man rotation that would include Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Maxiell, Antonio McDyess, Rodney Stuckey, Nene Hilario, Amir Johnson, and Arron Afflalo.
It’s hard to foresee a scenario in which a team comprised of such a perfect blend of scoring, defense, veterans, youth, leadership, and experience doesn’t make it back to the deeper rounds of the Eastern Conference Playoffs in each of the next several years. Furthermore, with the growth of Rodney Stuckey, the team could trade either Rip Hamilton or Chauncey Billups in the right move over the next couple seasons should a frontcourt superstar become available. Detroit would both get younger and potentially better at the same time. At the very least, the Pistons would guarantee themselves a shot in the Least Coast by pairing Stuckey with Melo.
Out in the Rockies, there are benefits as well.
While it may never be a good idea to trade a player for the simple purpose of getting rid of the guy, especially when he’s a building block at a tender age, this trade might make such a dish more palatable.
Rasheed Wallace would complement Marcus Camby nicely, providing a dominant defensive front court, and adding a big man with extensive shooting range to play off of A.I. Also, Tayshaun Prince would fit well with the rest of the roster, given his ball handling strengths and shooting ability from the corners, as well as phenomenal defense. The trade would also provide better cap flexibility for Denver, one of the most “capped-out” teams in the NBA.
While Wallace’s deal could expire at season’s end, Prince also will be around for three more years at a reasonable $8.7 million per year. Given that Allen Iverson might bolt at season’s end (or not), the Nuggets could use this as one last run at a championship before rebuilding. In the West if you’re not dominant, you’re nothing. This would be one last shot at a title before blowing things up.
The Nuggets’ 2008-2009 rotation could feature Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Allen Iverson, J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza, Kenyon Martin, Tuarean Green, and their first-round pick this summer (#20, projected to be Robin Lopez by ESPN’s Chad Ford). Per usual, a catch-and-shoot point guard would remain a vital summer addition.
So, while this post is pure prophecy right now, it’s reasonable conjecture, and with comments about anyone being in play from Joe Dumars, Melo could finally land in Michigan, five years later than we might have thought.