Well, if team president Donnie Walsh wants his young team to grow he should do what Iverson won’t.
A.I. became one of the most prolific scorers the NBA has ever seen with speed, athleticism, toughness, and a ‘give-me-the-ball’ attitude. That attitude worked out just fine during his heyday with the ‘Sixers. But that was when Iverson was in his prime.
Now he’s old.
To be fair, at the age of 34 he’s not that old. And in fact, old doesn’t mean you’re done. It just means that players like Iverson aren’t worth it for a team like the Knicks (after all, the Grizzlies are a team like the Knicks). He’s still a good player. He’s just not the guy that can take a bad or mediocre team and make it a good one.
There are plenty of old players out there who, like Iverson, aren’t what they used to be. Take Grant Hill, who is not only older than Iverson, but is pretty banged up. Remember, when Hill was with the Pistons some people were comparing him to Jordan. Okay, that was stupid. But nobody will argue that Hill had all the talent in the world and Hall of Fame potential. Then the injuries piled up and he lost what could have been his best years.
But after appearing in all 82 games last year, the 37-year old is averaging 12.5 points and 7.7 rebounds to help the Suns to a 10-2 record. Sure, the Suns’ roster looks like an all-star team compared to Memphis. But that’s just the point. A guy like Hill can fit on any team. He understands his role with the Suns and is happy to play it.
A guy like Iverson? Well, the failure of his signing with the Grizzlies was all too predictable. That’s why it is so hard to understand what either side was thinking.
Iverson can still play, but he won’t accept a role that doesn’t make him one of the main guys. To make him happy you’ve got to put the rock in his hands. And letting him dribble around Madison Square Garden until LeBron James comes just doesn’t make much sense for a young team like the Knicks.
Sure, it could help to keep them just ahead of the Nets in the Eastern Conference but it won’t make them good. And can you really expect him to set a good example and help mentor the Knicks’ young core?
So where should he go? The Hornets would be the best fit for him. They’re not good enough for him to ruin any championship hopes, but I still think that despite their slow start and the firing of Byron Scott they could make a push for the playoffs. And they’re in desperate need of a shooting guard.
But it won’t happen. Even though he would come pretty cheap New Orleans would have to pay the luxury tax for him. On top of that, they have stayed away from guys like him (did I mention his attitude problem?) ever since Baron Davis demanded to be traded.
That’s why when it comes to The Answer, there’s no good answer (sorry for that). Until he realizes that he is not the A.I. of old there is no place for him in the NBA.
Iverson is like the Terrell Owens of the NBA. But even Owens’ banishment to Buffalo made him realize that sometimes the best thing to do is shut up. Apparently Iverson hasn’t learned.
And until he does, the Knicks and everyone else should stay away.