Seemingly overnight in the late 2000s, the Detroit Pistons went from perennial title contender to…well, what they are now. There were plenty of factors that led to this, including the disastrous signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in 2009 and the recently-waived Josh Smith in 2013. But former Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey, now with the Pacers, says the biggest factor in the franchise’s decline was trading 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to Denver for Allen Iverson in 2008.
“I wish they wouldn’t have traded away Chauncey, to be honest with you,” Stuckey said. “I wish they would’ve took the San Antonio Spurs philosophy of keeping all their vets and get younger guys around their vets and doing it that way. You see how successful they are.”
“After Chauncey left, that’s when everything went downhill. Chauncey was the glue that held everything together and held everyone accountable,” Stuckey said. “When you trade away that you see what happens. Everything was just a domino effect after that. If I’d say one thing that would be my thing.”
The Billups/Iverson trade was a disaster from the start. Iverson checked out as soon as he got to Detroit. He bristled at coming off the bench behind Rip Hamilton and had his worst statistical season to that point. Billups, meanwhile, led the Nuggets to that year’s Western Conference Finals, their deepest playoff run of the Carmelo Anthony era.
That trade took place during Stuckey’s second year in the league, when he was still developing and looked up to Billups as a mentor at the point guard position. There are few better people to learn from as a young guard than Billups, so it’s no surprise that Stuckey was shaken up by the trade.
There were a lot of terrible moves made by former Pistons GM Joe Dumars. That trade was near the top of the list.