Looks like Allen Iverson’s stellar stay in Philly is drawing neigh. He walked into Sixers GM Billy King’s office earlier this week and asked out – something he’s vociferously vowed he’s never do. On Friday, not long before the Sixers game against the Wizzes, Iverson was inexplicably (unless you believe the bad back thing) stricken from the lineup, and it was announced he was told not to accompany the team to Orlando for its game Saturday, as well.
Iverson also issued a statement: “As hard as it is to admit, a change may be the best thing for everyone. I hate admitting that because I love the guys on the team and the city of Philadelphia. I truly wanted to retire a 76er. I appreciate that in my 11 years in Philadelphia, the fans have always stood by me, supported me, and gone to bat for me.”
Good thing weekend minutes are free because King will be on the horn over the next few days
The Iverson Era in Philly will be judged somewhat harshly, too much so. He was (and remains) an unstoppable scorer. He was Steve Nash without the handle or playmaker’s mindset. He was D-Wade without the halo and – most important – without Shaq. (Sorry, C-Webb. But you where not the Big Man AI needed.) He led Sixers the NBA Finals in 2000-01, but never again stood so close to a ring.
Now, at 31, he is an enigma. It’s hard to know whether he can be a great teammate. We do not doubt his drive or his will to win. Nor do we doubt his passion. But some teams, a GM is wondering right now whether The Answer is truly the answer. Is A.I. worth the risk?
Here are my Top Five Teams Who Should Be Calling Billy King NOW!:
1) Minnesota – At 8-9, The T-Wolves are simply too mediocre to be led by one of the game’s premier front-court men, Kevin Garnett. AI is a gamble worth taking for GM Kevin McHale. It says here AI will be rejuvenated by playing with the Big Man He Never Had. Making this move before the season tumbles into oblivion again is paramount. KG even campaigned for A.I. following the T-Wolves’ 110-103 win over Utah: “Where’s Kevin?” he said, referring to T-Wolves GM Kevin McHale. “I don’t think there’s any guy in this locker-room who wouldn’t want to play with him.” Your call, KM.
2) Sacramento – Just because I want to see A.I. and Ron Artest together. This team should also be better than its current 8-10 mark. Artest is already starting to grumble. Make the move.
3) Seattle – With Ray Allen out for at least two weeks with an ankle inury, the Sonics might be ripe for some sort of move that will keep them in the hunt. Shooting guards straight up? I’ve seen worse trades.
4) LA Clippers – Yes, they’ve made strides but something is missing. A.I. and Kobe isn’t the same building? From my fingers to God’s ears.
5) Knicks – Why the heck not? They’ve got every other high-salaried player in the league. What’s another $60 million? Maybe King will take Marbury AND Francis.
Etc. Boston (Such a move could keep Celtics fans off coach Doc Rivers’ back; and Paul Pierce could use some help), Golden State (Just to see A.I. get under Nellie’s skin) and Indiana (a team so close yet so far) are also in the mix.
Whichever team gets him will be a better team, and possibly even a contender. Here’s hoping that’s true for A.I. who deserves a better legacy than the one he’ll leave behind in Philly.
Latest Rumors from AOL Sports:
· The clock is ticking on Allen Iverson’s stay in Philadelphia. There are plenty of teams interested in making a bid for the Sixers’ superstar. Among them: Minnesota, Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston, Indiana and Denver.
· The FanHouse speculates about A.I. in New York, where Isiah Thomas might be desperate enough to try and save his job.
· The Celtics are on the short list with Al Jefferson among four players to be offered.
· Phil Jackson won’t rule out the Lakers. “It’s not right to say we have no interest.”
· In addition to Boston’s package of players, the Timberwolves’ Randy Foye has a lot of appeal to the Sixers.
· One NBA columnist suggests Rashard Lewis could be dealt from the struggling Sonics.