Off to their worst start in franchise history, the Knicks are looking for anyone with answers, including The Answer himself.
Allen Iverson probably isn’t the ultimate answer to the Knicks’ problems, but after a 1-9 start the 10-time All-Star is at least worth a look.
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“I don’t want to say too much because you guys will read into that,” coach Mike D’Antoni said yesterday. “We’ll look into it and see if it makes sense.”
The Grizzlies waived the 34-year-old Iverson yesterday afternoon. The former league MVP could add a spark to the Knicks’ stagnant offense, which ranks 26th in the NBA in field goal percentage.
Nate Robinson and Toney Douglas are the only penetrators in D’Antoni’s offense, but neither possess the experience or swagger of A.I. The Knicks, though, already passed over Iverson in the offseason when he was a free agent.
“We had our group from last year and wanted to keep that together,” D'Antoni said. “Our plan last summer was not to disrupt what we had. But basketball is fluid and things change every second – like standings.”
Iverson, a pioneer of the hip-hop NBA, is dripping with swagger and was made for crunchtime.
But for all the pros signing Iverson would possess, the cons are mounting, too. At the top of that list is would the ball-dominant guard fit into D’Antoni’s constant-motion offense? Iverson has a disdain – and inability – to play off the ball. Much like Robinson, Iverson needs the ball in his hands to truly be a weapon. Asking him to sometimes be a spot-up shooter, like many of the Knicks are, wouldn’t be conducive to his skills. Could D’Antoni actually teach an old dog new tricks? He’s confident the marriage could work.
“My style is I adjust to who I have but he can play anywhere and I can coach anywhere,” said D’Antoni, who sounded like he really wasn’t interested in continuing the AI talk. “If our paths meet, great, if they don’t, they don’t.”
Iverson must clear the 48-hour waiver wire, officially becoming an unrestricted free agent. If a team picks up his option before clearing waivers, then they’re on the hook to pay out the remaining money on his one-year, $3.1 million deal with Memphis.
“You consider anything when you’re talking about anybody,” said team president Donnie Walsh, basically eluding any Iverson talk for now.
He did, however, say he’s “always had a lot of admiration” for Iverson and that a big part in any decision is whether an ego like Iverson can make upcoming stars like Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler better.
Gut feeling is that all this hoopla is for naught because there are too many factors against a potential signing. Iverson’s scoring average has dipped drastically from his last full season in Denver, when he averaged 26.4 in 2007-08, and last played a full NBA schedule. Since that season, his averages have dipped to 18.7, 17.4, and 12.3 in his three-game trial run with Memphis.
Add in the fact that Walsh has been down this road before and it all just seems like time-killing fodder for the media. When he ran Indiana, Walsh was known to take in malcontents like Jamaal Tinsley, Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest. All eventually burned the Pacers and it’s highly unlikely Walsh would go through that again. You can hide from scrutiny in Indianapolis, but make mistakes like that in New York City and not even a standup guy like Walsh would want to deal with that type of public examination. Just ask Isiah Thomas.
-Iverson was the main query bandied about yesterday. To a man, the players praised Iverson’s resume but didn’t want any part in the executive decisions. “It’s not up to me,” said David Lee. “We can use all the help we can get. But whatever they decide to do, we’ll be ready for it.”
-D’Antoni was adamant that whatever happens with Iverson, it would only be a one-year trial. “Whatever it takes to make us win right now, we’ll do that, but we’re not going to mess up 2010. We’ve come too far to do that.”
-Count Duhon as someone already tiring of the Iverson talk. When asked what it’d be like if Iverson were to sign, Duhon shrugged. “That’s something we can’t control. We just have to control us trying to win games,” he said. “If he’s going to help us win, I’ll welcome anybody.”
-Naturally, the effervescent Robinson was the polar opposite of Duhon’s stoicism. Robinson said it’d be like a “kid in a candy store” to play alongside Iverson.
“You can see the smile on my face,” Robinson remarked. “I’ve always thought what it would be like playing with him or against him. He’s one of my favorite players ever. He really put a stamp on me wanting to play basketball. Watching those Georgetown games and watching number three go to work. I wear the [arm] sleeve because of him…whatever it takes to win I’m with it.”