Mailbag Question: Signing Inverson worthwhile?

Hello all,

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I’m in Bermuda for the week.  However I’ve managed to find a wi-fi spot, so here I am at 1am in Bermuda, a dark beach out in front of me, giving you my thoughts on the possibility of the Clips signing Iverson.  In comments from another post, my friend Rich says:

Iverson negotiating with the Clips for a 1 year deal?! Sure, the man
can score, and he gives a tremendous amount of effort. But, what does
he offer the Clippers – who are clearly (almost perpetually) in a state
of rebuilding. I can only assume that the powers that be figure he’ll
sell a few tickets and provide a few more wins this year. But, is that
worthwhile?

Rich, from what I’ve heard, the Clippers have actually wanted Iverson for several years.  Or rather more specifically, Donald Sterling has drooled over him.  Sterling is a bit of a star-flucker, which is part of the reason he bought the Clips and has been so into keeping them.  He’s been cheap throughout the years, but his claim has always been that he’d pay stars, he’s just never had any.  And true enough, Sterling did make a run for Kobe when the Mamba was briefly a free agent a few years ago.  Thus for Sterling, the thought of getting Iverson on the cheap must be like a wet dream come true for him.  Besides the star-flucking part, as you mention, yes, I think the ticket selling thing is the main reason behind the possible offer to AI.  Actually, that’s one of the main reasons that Memphis supposedly is also interested in him.  Iverson may not be the player he used to be, but he’s exciting and would help put butts in the seat.  Which’d make The Donald more money.  And The Donald, he loves his money.  And your money too.

However the real question you’re asking is not what’re the financial ramifications, but does this make any basketball sense?  Honestly, I’m a big Iverson fan, and from the few Piston games I saw last year, I think his demise has been greatly exaggerated.  Personally, I thought the problem with him on the Pistons was the same as the problem with BDiddy on the Clips last year.  Iverson is at his best when you just let him ball, let him attack willy-nilly, so that the defense never knows what to expect or when to expect it.  Instead, Detroit tried to use him as more of a traditional shooting guard who tries to stretch out the defense and only puts it up after it’s gone inside to someone posting up, but Iverson’s not some great outside shooter.  When I’d watch both him and BDiddy, it seemed like both systems had these amazing talents that they were forcing into a box (with Baron they used him like a Steve Blake who just brought the ball up and passed it off to someone else to create the offense). 

Now with the Pistons, part of the problem was that they were concerned about hurting Iverson’s ego, so they made him a starter and had Rip Hamilton come off the bench when they should’ve done the opposite.  Rip works really well working off of others, and he of course had tons of experience playing with Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, plus an extra season of getting to know Rodney Stuckey.  Iverson should’ve been the sixth man who came off the bench and got the green light to do whatever the heck he wanted to do.  He should’ve been the instant offense guy, ala Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson.

Now since I think he could’ve thrived in that position for the Pistons, I also think he could do the same for the Clips.  Except for one thing.  We’ve got Dumbleavy.  The guy who turned Baron Davis into Steve Blake.  Even if Iverson were to accept coming off the bench, I have no faith that Mikey D. would use him properly.  Iverson would then likely get annoyed and frustrated, much like Baron did, creating a sour feel around the team, and likely undermining Dunleavy.  If that would result in Dunleavy getting fired, then that alone would make it worth it.  The far more likely result would be that the team would fall to pieces like it did last year.

But let’s play Devil’s Advocate.  Surely the men in charge of a multi-million dollar major league sports enterprise must have their reasons and there’s a way this could work out?  Okay, let’s say Iverson’s fine with coming off the bench.  Let’s also say that either Dunleavy is fired and replaced by a smart coach or he simply gets a brain transplant.  Iverson comes off the bench, gives the team a solid 20 minutes of efficient scoring and helps add another 10 wins to the season.   Plus Blake Griffin and better health & chemistry for the rest of the team pushes the win total up into the 40s or maybe even low 50s, vaulting the Clips into the playoffs.  Maybe they even get a top 4 seed and make it to the second round.  Now first, if all that happens, Iverson will suddenly get a deluge of real offers, so he’d be gone the next season, which’d hurt the team because he’d have become a crucial part of the success.  Also, players like Al Thornton, Eric Gordon, maybe DeAndre Jordan and Mike Taylor, would have gotten less touches during the season and their games wouldn’t be as polished.  In other words if Eric Gordon has the potential to become an All-Star in three years, this’d make it four.  And if DeAndre Jordan can become a solid center, this’d push back his evolution.  And since Camby’s contract only has one season left on it, DeAndre will need to be able to step up sooner rather than later (assuming the Clips trade Kaman like they’ve talked about doing).  Thus by losing Iverson after one season, we’d not just be losing those 10 games he brought us, we’d also be losing another 5-10 games that our younger players could’ve won for us if they had gained more seasoning.  Meaning for the two big steps forward that we took, we’d then take a step and a half back.

In other words, this idea has stink all over it. 

But I do love Iverson.  And man, he’d sure be fun to watch in a Clippers’ uniform, wouldn’t he?