Thursday, November 19, 2009

Knicks would be silly to sign Iverson

Allen Iverson is an excellent basketball player, if the year was 2007. But it's almost 2010 and the undersized Iverson is now 34 years old.

Averaging over 10 free throw attempts per game four times in his career, Iverson has never been afraid to take the ball to the hoop and put his body on the line. And while I respect that part of his game, all those hits will take a toll on a 165-pound guard.

Anyone who saw Iverson play last season noticed a drop in production. His scoring average dipped almost nine points from the season before and his assists by two. He also averaged barely over six free throw attempts per game, a sign that he was settling for jump shots rather than attacking the basket. His career 42.5 field-goal percentage tells you how "dangerous" of a jump shooter he is.

Disappointed with his role in Memphis this season (12.3 points, 3.7 assists in 22.3 minutes through three games), Iverson took a personal leave of absence and was reportedly considering retirement. I didn't buy it for a second, presuming this was the selfish Iverson we all knew trying to whine his way out of a bad situation. How he didn't see this coming when he signed with the Grizzlies is anybody's guess.

Donnie Walsh has stated serious interest in Iverson, and the Knicks are reportedly going to offer him a contract once he clears waivers. I always considered Walsh to be an intelligent basketball mind, but this move has me questioning that.

Iverson is no longer the superstar he once was. He is not the player to come in and save the Knicks season. Hell, LeBron James couldn't even save this sorry squad right now.

This begs the question: Why sign Iverson? He won't help the Knicks reach the playoffs this season and his presence will retard the development of a player I'd like to see more of, Toney Douglas (who could develop into a poor man's Iverson in the coming years).

The Knicks already have Chris Duhon, Nate Robinson and Larry Hughes commanding minutes in the backcourt along with Douglas. Everyone can see that Duhon is awful, but it would likely be Douglas relegated to the bench upon Iverson's arrival. If I had any faith that Mike D'Antoni would play Douglas over Duhon, I might be on board with this move.

Now, there are reasons to sign Iverson that do deal with basketball. He would instantly become the Knicks best player, a sad commentary on the state of this team at the moment. He would bring a certain attitude and toughness to a team that has absolutely none, and that might rub off on some of the team's younger players like Douglas, Danilo Gallinari, Jordan Hill and Wilson Chandler.

An Iverson signing wouldn't complicate the Knicks plans for 2010 and would definitely help put fans in the seats at the Garden, something that will be difficult to do with this 2-9 bunch who have actually played the majority of their games at home so far. And if Iverson helps the Knicks win a few extra games, it might keep them out of the top three in the draft lottery.

For anyone who doesn't know, Utah gets the Knicks' first-round pick if it's in the top three. The Knicks dealt the pick to Phoenix in 2004 as part of the Stephon Marbury trade, and Utah acquired the pick later that season and has held onto it ever since.

Critics will say Iverson is a cancer, but this Knicks squad is already terminally ill. There is no chemistry to ruin and, if D'Antoni made the decision to bench Duhon for Iverson, it's a definite upgrade. I just don't see that happening, and that's the major reason I'm against this move.

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