Monday, November 3, 2008

J.R. Smith, your future is on hold on line 1

Allen Iverson just got traded to Detroit for Chauncey Billups, Antonio Mcdyess, and Cheick Samb. For next year and beyond, this makes a ton of sense for Detroit -- Iverson's contract expires after this summer, leaving Detroit some $20+ million to spend at that point in addition to the contracts already set to come off the books at that point (that is, if they don't turn around and flip Iverson and/or others with expiring contracts such as Rasheed Wallace or Walter Hermann).

For this year? After 30 days and before the trading deadline, the Pistons have the option to make more deals that would include Iverson. But they may not have any interest in doing such a thing. It's really hard to know what the Pistons will look like with Iverson in -- do Iverson and Hamilton have the height to form an effective defensive backcourt? Can Detroit make up for the decrease in efficiency from the three-point line? But in any case, Rodney Stuckey: this is now officially your backcourt.

For Denver? Let the J.R. Smith era begin!! Billups will help them, and so will McDyess if he sticks around. But without Iverson around, J.R. Smith can potentially move into the starting lineup. Let the good times roll!

Smith has in fact looked improved so far this year -- he's been handling the ball more and finding teammates for assists, all while committing far fewer turnovers. He looks more comfortable in a role that encompasses more than scoring. It's early still, but he also appears to be going after rebounds more.

Honestly, as a basketball fan I'm going to enjoy the expanded J.R. Smith role, as well as seeing Billups in Denver. But if I were a Nuggets fan? I would be confused. The team just put themselves in the luxury tax for extra years, in order to field a team that still can't get out of the first round, and pushed back any possibility to rebuild by a few years. Maybe they just went from being a non-playoff team to a first-round exit, and maybe that's enough for them. Who knows.

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