By Craig Kwasniewski
How the hell is Allen Iverson still a free agent? Literally one year ago he was the second leading scorer on the offensive-minded Denver Nuggets. He was still on every opponent's "Big Ticket" package, the NBA's version of hockey... a player waaayyy more entertaining in person than on TV. Yet today he sits by the phone during the official dog days of the NBA calendar waiting... waiting... waiting for a chance to show the NBA world that last year was an aberration and not the decline of a superstar.
How is A.I. still a free agent? Maybe I'm a little biased because I ALWAYS looked forward to seeing him play in LA. The guy's a freak! The energy, the skill to go right at the hole with reckless abandon, the high runners, the smooth jumpers... the energy! A dude his size should never have dominated the NBA offensively like he had for the past 13 years.
How is A.I. still a free agent? Sure, watching opponents play the Lakers, I always got an opponent's A game. They know they're playing in the number 2 television market with all the celebs sitting courtside against one of the league's marquee teams. So I never saw those moments where A.I. broke off offensive plays or when he"relaxed" on defense or any of the famous battles with his head coaches. For lack of a better word, I was just happy to be there.
So when I heard that the Clippers were interested in bringing Iverson in as a free agent, needless to say I was intrigued. Why the hell not? The Clippers have spent two years destroying what's left of the NBA's most loyal fans and at this point anything is a good thing. (Seriously, why 10,000 people continue to buy season tickets to a franchise that's ALWAYS terrible with ZERO hope in the future is beyond me. Their marketing is terrible yet they still have a very strong and very vocal group of loyal fans that the Mike Dunleavy era is slowly destroying.) So why not bring in one of the most entertaining shows in the NBA? I guarantee a back court of B.D. and A.I. would match the previously legendary (in Clippers lore anyway) 1994 team with Mark Jackson and Dominique Wilkins and the high flying 2002 squad. Isn't professional sports part result and part entertainment? But in a very Mike Dunleavy-type of move, the Clippers passed on A.I. and instead traded for Mark Madsen. Have fun with that!
Here's my point... the Knicks should sign Iverson. The Knicks have spent the past two years clearing roster and salary for the Big Free Agent Class of 2010. But for the time being they're stuck with D-League talent playing Mike D'Antoni's Seven Seconds or Less style. So they'll score a ton of points but lose 75% of the time. Sure it might be entertaining in the sense that scoring is entertainment, but New York is also a star crossed city and I seriously doubt people in this economy want to continue to pay big bucks to see Mardy Collins drop a 20-spot on Charlotte.
The Knicks should offer A.I. a one-year contract at the mid level exemption. They get a superstar in the twilight of his career without risking the big picture. A.I. would/should jump at a second chance to prove his doubters wrong on a nightly basis (always a GREAT motivation) in front of the MSG faithful. You're telling me Knicks fans wouldn't love seeing AI go at it? He's PERFECT for New York, a guy who wears his heart in his sleeve, who gives his all on the floor, a comeback story who can drop 20-30 points in a style that hides his defense problems. Maybe D'Antoni is worried that A.I. is more Starbury than Nash... which is a HUGE concern. But maybe, juuuuust maybe A.I. also realizes that he's down to his last chance to prove he's willing to compromise.
With very little to risk (wins or losses in New York aren't a factor as Utah has their first round pick in 2010), the Knicks should sign Iverson and give their fans something to look forward to... at least until LeBron turns them down in 2010.