I think I got about five hours of sleep last night just thinking about tonight's game and need some sort of psychic release, so please excuse this little light-hearted foray into fish-in-a-barrell media criticism. The gentleman to your left is ubiquitous Denver Post columnist Woody Paige, a man who forms a perfect synthesis of "jackass" and "blowhard," a man so camera-happy he makes Bob Ryan seem like J.D. Salinger. It's hard to know whether to entirely hate him, since he's such a perfect punching-bag for snarky sports bloggers like yours truly; in the words of Elvis Costello, I used to be disgusted, but now I try and be amused. Anyways, last week Paige wrote a much-discussed column in which he suggested, among other ridiculousness(es), his hometown Colorado Rockies trade arguably their best player, MVP runner-up Matt Holiday to the Cleveland Indians for ace C.C. Sabathia, whose contract expires at the end of this season. Both Fire Joe Morgan and Deadspin were all over this jackoffery, illustrating the oddly symbiotic relationship Paige seems to enjoy with the blogosphere. Maybe if we all just pretend he's not there he'll disappear or something... maybe...
Well, that's going to have to wait, because Woody Paige has decided to fire up his bizarro trade machine once again, and this time he's got his sites set on our beloved NBA. In a column in today's Post, Paige suggests that the Nuggets trade--get ready for this--Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, and Chucky Atkins to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and the Pistons' first-round draft pick (29th overall). Before you run off to the RealGm Trade Checker to see if this insanity will actually work, allow me to unsurpise you by revealing that it doesn't. Still, just writing this column and convincing an editor to publish it is a tremendous feat: briefly leaving aside the question of whether this trade might actually benefit one or both teams, this is the sort of trade a 9-year-old would make while playing NBA Live with the CPU trade-monitoring feature disabled. I realize that rumors have been swirling for a while now about some sort of Billups/Anthony deal, but this is the Pistons trading three of their four best players after they came within two wins of reaching the Finals. I understand that after failing to win a title yet again Dumars & Co. have to at least pay lip-service to making some major changes, but Jesus Christ... this would arguably be an even bigger makeover than the Garnett trade was for the C's, only a) probably not with the same positive effects and 2) the 2007-08 Pistons won 35 more games than the 2006-07 Celtics.
Continuing to indulge the Woodman's great hypothetical, though, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this trade would be exquisitely terrible for the Pistons. In Billups, 'Sheed and Tayshaun Prince you're trading three aging-yet-durable guys (and Prince isn't even that old) with a proven track record of playing together for a youngish guy whose failure to make the leap to truly elite status is only slightly less frustrating than his penchant for off-the-court idiocy (Melo), plus two aging bigs with a disturbing history of injury problems. Oh yeah, and Chucky Atkins, because why the fuck not, right? This trade isn't that far from simply asking the Pistons to trade the core of their team for the core of the Nuggets', which seems entirely fair considering the Pistons made it to the penultimate round of the playoffs while the Nuggets saw exactly three games' worth of the postseason. I don't want to say you'll never see Melo in a Pistons uniform or Billups in powder-blue, but if you do it's not going to be like this.
One last gripe: one of the more idiotic recent insights of NBA talking/writing heads is the notion that Rodney Stuckey's "emergence" has made Billups "expendable." Granted, Stuckey's a nice player and might even end up some sort of star (I still doubt this), but judging from the coverage of Stuckey in the Eastern Conference Finals you'd think he was some hybrid of Chris Paul and Nelson Mandela. This has to be due largely to the fact that after six straight years in the Conference Finals the networks were desperate for any sort of new Pistons-related storyline, the "Rip Hamilton runs five miles a day" angle having run its course back in 2004 or whatever. Billups is getting up there in years but he's still very, very good: this past season he was 10th overall in PER (10 spots higher than Melo, for the record) and second among PGs, behind only Chris Paul. Stuckey or no Stuckey, it will take a whole hell of a lot to pry Chauncey Billups from the Pistons, as well it should.
Alright, I'm done here. Please excuse this meandering self-indulgence... God I'm nervous.