The big story in basketball this week is the impending departure of Allen Iverson from the Philadelphia 76ers. While there has been serious talk coming out of Philly about dumping Iverson and moving on for some time now, seemingly cresting this summer when he was nearly dealt to the Celtics, this time it is a near certainty that the Answer is no longer in the question for the Sixers.
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A.I. has been told by the Sixers to not report to the team until a deal is consummated. Regardless of the circumstances, which can be poured over in any number of different sports news venues, I feel this space would best be used to look at what the best situation would be for Iverson's unique and brilliant talents.
The main teams in pursuit of the erstwhile Sixers star are the Celtics, who are still interested in consummating a similar deal to the one that fell apart over the summer; the Mavericks, who have boatloads of large contracts and developing talent to swing a deal; and to me the most intriguing purely as a fan of the game, the Timberwolves, who would love to pair the gun slinging guard with the best all-around player in the game, Kevin Garnett.
The Celtics probably have what may amount to the most enticing group of bargaining chips in youngsters Gerald Green and Al Jefferson, the expiring contract of former Sixer Theo Ratliff and perhaps a first round draft pick or two.
The T'Wolves have the young bodies that Philly would require in guys like Ricky Davis and high-ceiling rookie Randy Foye, but likely will not have the ability to deal a first-rounder due to their pick conditionally being sent to the Clippers to finish the Sam Cassell deal (the pick will be given to L.A. if its lower than #10 in the draft). Minny would also probably have to include somebody to make the salaries match up like center Mark Blount or the always scintillating Mark Madsen, with his 1.1 points per game this year to go along with an average of 5.6 high fives per contest and 3.4 encouraging butt slaps. In the words of Wise LeBron, "Them's numbers, boy."
The Mavs certainly have huge contracts that would match up with Iverson's $14 million-plus contract, but I can't see Sixers GM Billy King being dumb enough to move The Answer for the likes of Austin Croshere. Although King did trade for Chris Webber's corpse of a contract (second highest yearly value in the league at $17.5 million), so who knows what he's capable of.
Which brings me to why A.I. would best fit on the Timberwolves. Iverson's game is all about the ball being in his hands. Garnett is one of those rare great players who is unselfish with the ball, looks for open teammates and can alter the game without scoring a ton of points by crashing the boards, playing lockdown defense and blocking shots.
Fill the roster with role-players that won't get in the way of the big boys and who will kill themselves for loose balls and rebounds, then throw in a defensive stopper and an instant contender is born.
The synergy between Iverson and Garnett could give them serious title credibility. Assuming they keep the right mix of secondary players like defensive specialist Trenton Hassell and the versatile, long point guard Mike James who would likely be guarding the 2 at the other end while Iverson guards the 1, and the T'Wolves just might have a shot. In the words of Garnett from an Associated Press story from December 8th, "We welcome A.I. with open arms. Where's (Timberwolves' GM) Kevin McHale?"
Paging Kevin McHale, Mr. McHale. Pretend it's the Price is Right and come on down.
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