The Ball's in Your Court, A.I.: Iverson May Do a Career Crossover

Euno LeeCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 6: Allen Iverson #3 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives against Josh Powell #21 of the Los Angeles Lakers on November 6, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 114-98.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The New York Knicks are the favorite to land many choice free agents this year, and they've gotten a head start by allegedly courting former Memphis Grizzlie's point guard Allen Iverson, when Iverson becomes an official free agent Thursday.  Iverson's options, however, are a little more varied than recent reports may suggest.

The Magic sorely need a point guard after losing Jameer Nelson, their backup Jason Williams has been talking all kinds of crazy , and it might be a matter of time before someone needs to step in.  Of course, adding more crazy in the form of Iverson, who's had his fair share of problems, might not be the most logical decision.

The Lakers, despite all the talk of Derek Fisher being a great leader, need someone who can catch up with guards like Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Aaron Brooks, the latter who scorched L.A. for 33 points in an upset Sunday. 

Iverson may not be what he once was, but he can compete on a defensive level with the aforementioned a little better than the Fish can. 

Then again, so much as putting Iverson in the same building as the Kardashians, could create a huge problem, and Lamar Odom would probably keep a closer eye on his wife instead of adding some sorely-needed depth  to the front lines and eating inhumane amounts of candy, like he should be doing...

The real question here, is:  Can Allen Iverson still play?

And we're not talking about "play" as in drop a haphazard 17 points a game while getting "stuck in traffic" on the way to the team hotel in South Beach, we're talking about, can this man play point guard for a championship-caliber team?

While the sports media may be his biggest naysayers, this writer doesn't get paid to write.  So I will say precisely what I feel to be the truth:  A.I. can definitely still play ball, and it's a question of whether or not he's motivated.  He might not have that explosive first step, but he'll still break your ankles and finds loopholes in defenses the way he finds them in prosecution cases. 

There are few opportunities where A.I. could possibly fit into a ring-contender, but that may be the only way A.I. can find his motivation to play with the passion he did as a Sixer.

As far as being able to fit into a role on a team, let's be honest here, Allen Iverson never was a bench player.  The guy probably popped out of his mother's womb being able to score 20 points a game.  A.I. will under-perform, like he did in Memphis to historical proportions, if he feels that the team he is on is not capable of winning a championship. 

If A.I. lands on a contender, and not the Knicks like everyone is thinking (a move which makes literally no sense, as the Knicks are doomed, and LeBron probably won't go there in 2010, and you can quote me on that.), there IS his apprenticeship under Larry Brown to consider.  Larry Brown doesn't tolerate stupidity, he molds players into mature, grown men. 

A.I. might not have acted like a responsible human being these past couple of years, but there is at least a seed planted there where A.I. can be straight with the coach if the coach is straight with him , and accept a role on a contender that may be splitting minutes but a starting point guard in principle.

So if you want the most A.I. for your money, put him on a pre-made contender for a ring. Otherwise, my theory remains that if he doesn't end up in New York, he will eventually return to Philadelphia to retire a 76er.