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Pistons Deal Disrupts Central Division

Joe Dumars said he was tired of the Pistons falling short in the playoffs and today he finally did something about it. Did he ever.

By shipping out Chauncey Billups, he put the rest of his roster on notice that everyone is expendable. If you aren't bringing something to add to the championship equation, don't get comfortable. Ridding the team of Chauncey's four-year contract also let us know that the team's young players will comprise the core of the next championship-contending team.

I realize Billups' play was in decline but I can't help but smile thinking about the Pacers playing the Pistons without that big hoss holding down the point for Detroit. The guy has been a matchup nightmare for the Pacers and hit enough daggers on 'em to make me cheer this news before considering the ramifications. Billups is gone? Sweet. It also dusts up the Central Division a bit with the front runners suddenly transitioning on the fly.

By bringing in Allen Iverson, the Pistons have accrued a valuable asset whose presence will keep the Pistons contending and exciting (actually, more exciting) this year but whose absence, once his $21 million dollar salary comes off the cap at year's end, will provide Joe Dumars the flexibility to build up a championship-caliber roster in his image without dropping out of relevance along the way.

At least that's the plan as best as I can deduce and while Joe Dumars is lauded for his guts the whole thing still leaves plenty of questions yet to be answered.  If Rodney Stuckey is the future, he has to start now, right? Did Rip Hamilton agree to come off the bench this year when he signed his contract extension? With Billups gone, who leads this team when it's crunch time?

Oh, and what about Rasheed Wallace? Most of the analysis assumes the Pistons will clear cap space after this year by not signing Rasheed and A.I. Do you think Rasheed will go quietly into the offseason? Doesn't this season become combustible at the first sign of adversity?

What about next year? Say the Pistons clear $20-30 million in cap space this summer. Wouldn't they want to save it for the vaunted 2010 free agent class? Are they willing to tank the 2009-10 season with one-year rental players in order to preserve their cap space?

At this point, any answers to these questions is pure speculation, but it should be interesting seeing how it plays out.