Despite his status as an 11-time All-Star and former NBA MVP, guard Allen Iverson is willing to play anywhere in order to resume his NBA career. With his hunger for the game of basketball quite apparent, the Los Angeles Lakers should take a chance on the future Hall of Famer.
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, Iverson is willing to play in any number of minor basketball leagues, including the NBA D-League, if it leads to another shot in the NBA. AI has been contacted by the Lakers' D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles Defenders, a number of times, but no agreement has been reached.
With J.R. Smith reportedly heading to the New York Knicks, the Lakers' options have dwindled in terms of improving through the free-agent market. Gilbert Arenas seems like a possibility and a likelihood, but the Lakers could really benefit from a player with the talent and experience of Iverson, particularly if he is committed to playing team basketball.
The Lakers could allow him to start with the D-League's Defenders and then evaluate him from there. the risk would be minimal on Los Angeles' part, and if it likes what it sees, then it can sign him to the veteran minimum. Obviously Iverson isn't the same player who used to average over 30 points per game in a season, but he has a skill set that could be advantageous to the Lakers.
Los Angeles has a number of needs in the backcourt, including a player who can handle the ball, and also one who can hit some open shots. Iverson fits that profile perfectly. "The Answer" was never a prototypical point guard, but he was adept at creating his own shots, and was an underrated passer as well, evidenced by his seven seasons in which he averaged roughly seven assists per game.
Iverson has always been called a "me-first" player, but the fact of the matter is that he was often forced to be a one-man show while with the Philadelphia 76ers. He's tenures with the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies didn't end well a couple years ago, but he seems rejuvenated and committed to fitting in with an NBA team.
Some might say that Iverson's style of play is too selfish to coexist with Kobe Bryant, but Iverson is probably willing to make adjustments for a shot at a championship. With no true point guard on the roster there is far too much pressure on Bryant to do everything offensively. Iverson could take some of that pressure off of Kobe by handling the ball a bit.
When given a legitimate chance a couple years ago, Iverson proved that he could still score the basketball, so he has to be worth a look for the Lakers. Aside from Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Lakers have a serious lack of scorers, and Iverson could provide an instant boost.
It isn't as if Iverson is going to disrupt the locker-room chemistry any more than crazy Metta World Peace already does, so bringing him in would be a low-risk, high-reward situation for Los Angeles. If it doesn't work out then Iverson can be cut at little cost, but if he finds a way to gel with Bryant, then the Lakers will have a new offensive dimension.