Now that Allen Iverson has worn out his welcome with his third team in two years — a Memphis Grizzlies team that desperately needed the gate he would draw, were he to decide to play — there appears to be only one NBA team left that would consider taking him. Guess who?
Yep, the Knicks are kicking Iverson’s tired tires.
“We’ll look into it,” [team president Donnie] Walsh told the Daily News. “Right now, I’d say probably not but we’ll see.”
Boy, that’s an endorsement. Obviously, matters are pretty brutal at the Garden right now, but is Iverson actually going to help? Time for a crib sheet! (Note: This is a hotly debated topic at the NY mag offices right now. You should know that our opinion on this is in the minority. Expect staffers who disagree to show up in the comments, the damned trolls.)
THREE REASONS TO SIGN IVERSON
1. Have you seen this team? Yeah, we didn’t think so. The Knicks have been brutal to watch, and the few people in the crowd barely budge throughout. Iverson not only puts butts in seats, his style of play will actually get people out of them, too. Even at 34, Iverson’s a joy to watch. This is not a Stephon Marbury situation. For one, Iverson is not, you know, insane.
2. Someone has to score around here. Coach Mike D’Antoni really doesn’t want to play Larry Hughes — the Knicks would love to cut him — but he has to, because he’s one of the few guys physically capable of scoring. Chris Duhon wouldn’t lead your rec-league team in points. Iverson can still score. It’s probably all he can do, but he can do that.
3. It would have a certain grace. Iverson has had so many memorable moments at the Garden against the Knicks — check out this clip of his first game at MSG, in which he scored 35 points — that it’s almost a surprise he hasn’t played for the Knicks before. He’s at the end of his career, and the Knicks, who wouldn’t have to offer him a contract past this season, have nothing to lose.
THREE REASONS NOT TO SIGN IVERSON.
1. You have to start him. Clearly. Iverson has plenty of talent left, but he despises coming off the bench so much that he has blown up situations with the Nuggets, Pistons, and Grizzlies. If you sign Iverson, you better start him every game, or he’s taking his ball and going home. One suspects the Knicks know this.
2. He’s taking minutes (and the ball) from the young guys. Specifically, Toney Douglas, the one bright spot so far this year, the one guy who could develop into an Iverson Lite type of character. If Iverson signs, your starting lineup is Iverson, Chris Duhon/Nate Robinson, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee, and Wilson Chandler. Only two of those guys will be around next season, and each of them will spend most of their time waiting for Iverson to stop dribbling and throw it to them. Iverson is reportedly excited to play in D’Antoni’s offense, but we think that’s just because he knows it produces a lot of points. Any offense that has Allen Iverson loses its fundamental characteristics and becomes an Allen Iverson offense.
3. It’s desperate, and off-plan. The Knicks had a chance to sign Iverson in the off-season and didn’t. What has changed? This team is so much worse than either Walsh or D’Antoni realized, and now they need a draw, something to keep the spirits up, both on the court and in the stands. (It doesn’t hurt that Iverson and LeBron James have the same agent.) But what is signing Iverson supposed to accomplish? It’s an admission that the plan isn’t working, that the Knicks are on par with the Grizzlies, signing a guy just because he’ll help out at the turnstiles. The Knicks’ young players might not be tearing the league apart right now, but they’re all the Knicks have. Stunting their growth, turning them into bit players in the Iverson Odyssey, is not the move of a confident organization.
That’s where we fall on this: Don’t sign him. The Knicks have one more year to take their licks and (hopefully) grow before the 2010 free-agent circus. Iverson stands in the way of that. It’s not worth it.