Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com has the latest this morning regarding the bidding for the services of Allen Iverson. Old friend and current Memphis GM Chris Wallace has confirmed that the Grizzlies made AI an offer earlier this week. A few items of interest from the report:
Iverson is one of the most high profile, unrestricted free agents remaining on the market, and there were reports in recent days that he was leaning hardest toward reuniting with his old coach, Larry Brown, with the Charlotte Bobcats.
But the Bobcats are for sale and are under severe financial constraints, and Iverson’s other strongest suitor — the Miami Heat — is already more than $3 million into luxury tax territory and has not been willing thus far to make Iverson a substantial financial offer.
Memphis is approximately $3.5 million under the salary cap for the 2009-10 season and thus could easily outbid Charlotte and Miami for the services of the 10-time All-Star, whom Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley sees as a strong gate attraction.
Wallace would not disclose the size of the offer or what kind of a time table he is on.
Now, there were a few things that ran through my head upon seeing this. First, a sense of pity for Grizzlies fans knowing that they will be possibly throwing away over 20 million dollars of their cap space on a combination of Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson. The future was never bright in Memphis, but it got a whole lot dimmer this offseason.
Next, it struck me on exactly how fast and how far that Allen Iverson has fallen these last few years. The guy who made upwards of 20 million dollars last year, will now have to settle for at most will be a couple million dollars from one of the worst teams in the league. I know his antics with Detroit at the end of last season has a lot to do with that figure, but this is still a guy who averaged 17 points a game last year. His play has surely declined, but the guy can still put up points at an impressive rate.
Now those low offers for Iverson should also be deemed a reflection of the league’s harsh economic climate more than anything else. In fact, if Iverson had played through the end of last season with the Pistons without the off the court drama, how would have that impacted his offers? Sure, teams may have been more willing to take a chance on him, but would any GM be willing to throw their full MLE at 33 year old guard? I highly doubt it.
Now I consider Ray Allen to be an infinitely more useful player than AI at this juncture of his career, but the bull market for the aging shooting guard has to be encouraging for Celtics fans who want to see Ray return to town next season at a reasonable price. A paycut of over 50% doesn’t seem so far fetched of an offer anymore.
Finally, all these Iverson talk forced me to take a walk down memory lane to 2006. Yes, it was only three years ago that the Celtics were in the running for AI’s services. Marc Spears, formerly of The Boston Globe had a terrific synopsis in 2007 of exactly how close Iverson came to becoming a Celtic in the 2006 offseason and once again during the 2006-07 season before he was traded by Philadelphia to Denver for Andre Miller and company. A couple interesting…..scratch that…..scary tidbits from that article, along with some questions after the jump:
The Celtics reportedly talked trade with Philadelphia about Iverson prior to the 2006 draft, and rumors swirled that entire offseason. Iverson reportedly demanded a trade last Dec. 8 and was subsequently told by the Sixers that he would not play in or attend any further games.
One rumor had the Celtics sending Theo Ratliff, Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair, and budding star Al Jefferson to Philadelphia for Iverson. But several others teams also had interest in Iverson, and the last time the longtime Atlantic Division rivals were involved in a trade was Aug. 3, 2001, when the Sixers dealt Roshown McLeod and a first-round pick to Boston for Jerome Moiso.
When asked about making trades within the division, Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said, “It’s hard, especially when you’re talking about significant players.”
On Dec. 19, the Iverson-to-Boston talk officially died as the 76ers sent Iverson and forward Ivan McFarlin to the Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round picks.
So how close did Iverson come to being a Celtic?
“I don’t comment on stuff like that or stuff that could’ve been and would’ve been,” Ainge said. “I’ve always been a fan of A.I. and respect his intensity and passion to the game.”
Well I think I speak for all Celtics fans by thankfully exhaling about how that one turned out. I won’t dwell on the obvious of how KG, Ray Allen and banner number 17 would not be in Boston if we had dealt for the former Georgetown star. However, the scenario made me think about how the 2009 Celtics would be currently constituted if the rumored trade for Iverson had gone down.
So my question(s) for everyone is this: What kind of team would Celtics fans be looking at today if Paul Pierce and Allen Iverson had led the way the past couple seasons? Would those guys be gone by now with Danny going back to the drawing board? Would Pierce and AI with a supporting cast been able to make any noise in the Eastern Conference? Would Iverson have fit in Boston at all? Or would Danny Ainge have just used Iverson’s large cap number as a trade chip/way to build up lots of cap space down the line? Would Danny still even be around to make those moves?
It’s an interesting, if not painful scenario to think about it. It’s a lot more fun to ruminate about now though, knowing it’s just a hypothetical. I would to love to hear everyone’s take though on how the AI era would have shaken out in Boston.