As news of the day’s NBA blockbuster trade spreads around the country, one thing is clear : no one is talking about how Cheikh Samb might upset the balance of power in the West. Adding Allen Iverson (above) to the Pistons in the point guard’s contract year is “just an hors d’oeuvre” writes True Hoops’ Henry Abbott, surely aware that Rasheed Wallace can also come off Detroit’s books next summer should they part ways.
Down, the road the Pistons becomes the driving force of big-time free agency as soon as Iverson’s contract comes off the books next summer. The Pistons will combine a winning environment, one of the most respected general managers in the game, and — depending on salary cap levels that are yet to be set, and extensions that may yet be given to existing Pistons — likely enough cap space to sign two free agent players to max contracts over the next summers of 2009 and 2010.
Feast your eyes on this list of players who will be available. 2010 free agents include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Ray Allen, Tyson Chandler, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Redd.
Today Joe Dumars has parlayed a 32-year-old point guard into a rental of Allen Iverson, and the bedrock players of the Pistons’ long-term future.
Conversely, of the Nuggets, Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer surmises, “I’ve become convinced that they think the NBA is folding sometime this summer.”
This keeps the Nuggets well over the luxury tax level this season, and it means Denver will be right near it in 2009-10 even with just seven players signed and Linas Kleiza’s contract situation in the air. Give Linas seven million a year, and the Nuggets are paying six or seven million in luxury tax with only eight roster spots filled.And assuming Kleiza gets the sort of contract I mentioned, even with McDyess’ contract expiring, the Nuggets are on the books for nearly $70 million in 2010-11 with just Chauncey, Nene, Kenyon Martin, Kleiza, Carmelo Anthony, and J.R. Smith on board. Just six players, well over the cap, and approaching luxury tax territory.
The Nuggets will be better with this trade, this season. Don’t doubt it for a second. A backcourt with Smith and Billups playing big minutes and Anthony Carter or Chucky Atkins working in reserve will do far more than any combination with AI pulling in 40 minutes a night, Smith filling in where he could, and Atkins/Carter having to log heavy minutes because nobody else can bring the ball up court.
But it won’t be enough to get near New Orleans, the Lakers, Utah, or Houston. And it won’t touch San Antonio, when Manu Ginobili gets back. It might be enough to put Denver in the playoffs, but that’s about it. And that “it” will be paid handsomely through 2011.