Post-game Reactions

Fans have a tendency to over-value two types of players when talking about who their team should acquire:

1) Famous players;

2) Guys who used to play for their favorite team

In category #1 we have Allen Iverson, a player who gets mentioned in the comment section of any post having to do with free agency.

Iverson in his prime was probably more valuable than most advanced stats-oriented folks thought he was. His teams scored more points per possession with Iverson on the floor versus with him on the bench every season from 2003 through 2008, according to 82games.com. That’s six straight years of improving offenses in Philly and Denver, and in many of those seasons, the improvement was as dramatic as that provided by any player in the league. In 2006, for instance, the Sixers scored nearly 11 more points per 100 possessions with Iverson on the floor. In 2008, even with his game in decline, the Nuggets scored nearly 8 more points per 100 possessions when AI was on the floor—easily the highest mark on the team.

Iverson, despite embarrassingly low shooting percentages, was a positive offensive force. And good thing, because his team allowed more points per possession with AI on the floor in all but one of those six seasons.

So: Iverson is worth a veteran’s minimum contract, right?

Maybe. But the last two seasons should at least give you pause:

• The Sixers offense scored 3.3 fewer points per 100 possessions with Iverson on the floor in 25 games last season, accoridng to 82games.com. (In fairness, their defense allowed about 6.4 fewer points per 100 possessions with AI on the court, a very solid number);

• The Pistons offense scored 5.7 fewer points per 100 possessions with AI on the floor in 54 games in 2009, according to 82games.com. (Again in fairness: The Pistons allowed about 3 fewer points/100 possessions on defense with AI in the game).

So for the first time in his career, Iverson is hurting his team’s offense simply by being on the court. Sure, 79 games is a small sample size, but Iverson is now 35, and we should expect players to decline when they reach their mid-30s.

The natural question is: Why are Iverson’s teams scoring less efficiently when he’s on the floor? Because of the sample size issue, we can only guess, but we can make some educated guesses.

His surface stats look the same. His shooting percentages from both two- and three-point range have stayed right where they’ve always been. His assist rate is down, but it’s not down dramatically, and a drop-off from his career-best levels is not surprising, given that he no longer dominates the ball or draws too much attention from defenses.

He still gets to the line about 5.5 times per 36 minutes, which would have ranked 2nd on the Celtics last season. His turnover rate has been steady.

So what’s going on with Iverson? Maybe those 79 games over the last two seasons can give us a clue.

Here are Iverson’s shooting percentages on close shots over the last three seasons (via 82games):

2008: 58 percent

2009: 51 percent

2010: 47 percent

Iverson made just 51 percent of his shots at the rim last season, according to Hoopdata. Of 157 guards who averaged 10 minutes per game and played in at least 20 games, Iverson’s 51 percent mark on shots at the rim ranked 131st, according to Hoopdata.*

*A few guys who played 20 games on two teams show up twice on this list

So over the last two seasons, Iverson has struggled to finish like never before in his career.

That goes hand-in-hand with bad (short-term) trend number two: More of his shots were jumpers last season.

In 2010, 80 percent of AI’s shots were jumpers, easily the highest percentage of his career, according to 82games. That might be a mere blip, though; in 2009, about 70 percent of Iverson’s shots were jumpers, a number right in line with his prime seasons.

All of this is not to say that signing Iverson to a minimum contract—should he be open to such an arrangement—is a bad thing. He’s capable of backing up Rajon Rondo and providing a measure of offense to a second unit that badly needs a creative guard. And perhaps Iverson can save his energy in a reserve role and regain some of his explosiveness. Because if you watched Philly at all last season, it was jarring and a little sad to watch Iverson try his old blow-by moves only to find himself undone by his inability to beat his guy off the dribble or finish over and around help defenders in the paint.

It just wasn’t there anymore.

Again: This is not to say signing Iverson is a bad move in pure basketball terms. But you shouldn’t expect 35-year-old guys with stats trending in bad directions to perk up when given a smaller role on a good team. It happens, but you shouldn’t expect it to happen—just as you shouldn’t have expected anything but further decline from Rasheed Wallace when all the numbers we had suggested his game was falling apart.

And giving a minimum contract to Iverson isn’t free. It’s cheap, but it represents a roster spot you can’t give to a younger player who might end up helping your team more. And if the experiment fails—and the Iverson experiments in Detroit and Memphis failed—Iverson becomes a wasted roster spot or a sunk cost that must be bought out.

It’s not a totally risk-free deal.

Is it worth it?

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Zach Lowe

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  • A lot of questions surround any team that will take a chance on the Answer.

    1) Will he accept a diminshed role?

    2) Will he sign for the league min or close to it?

    3) Will he defer to his coaching staff and other (currently) more talented players on that roster?

    Right now, he needs the NBA a helluva lot more than the league needs him. Let’s hope his career has a happy ending.

  • KB

    I would suggest give either AI or T-Mac a shot whoever is willing to sign. Lot of upside and limited downside (especially T-Mac). Also, if we do resign Ray Allen (which I hope we do), it might not be a bad idea to have him come off the bench next season if we can find a younger SG to start, while Ray would still finish off the games. Ray may be more effective coming off the bench with more energy and more legs at end of games.

  • Evan

    If he is willing to take whatever role a team wants him in (like his twitter post indicated) he would not be a bad signing.
    You said that he would take up a valuable roster spot. But if you sign him for the vet min as a player that you aren’t counting on it’s a good signing. Would you rather have Oliver Lafayette who probably will never play or Iverson who can be your 6th man or cut if he doesn’t play well. Then if you cut him you could sign Oliver anyway.
    Signing him as a low risk non guaranteed contract to see what he has in training camp is a great idea. Signing him and counting on him for minutes is an awful one.

  • Jay P

    We’re talking about practice… not a game. Practice. How am I suppose to make my teammates better by practicing.

    All team great press conferences ever.

    But ya, I feel about the same as I do with Kwame Brown, or Tmac, if they’ll take the Vet min, it’s worth a shot, there’s definite potential there. If not, no thanks, I’d rather take a young kid with something to prove.

    AI may finally be at the point where he’s hit rock bottom, and will do anything to play competitive basketball and salvage something in the tail end of his career. If so, he may come out with something to prove, and a 6th man who can just take the ball and score whenever the offense gets stagnant would do a lot to help this team. I’m not sure AI can be that guy anymore, but I’m willing to pay him a minimum salary to find out.

  • You can’t just “cut” Iverson. You have to buy him out, then sign another player, and double all of that money for luxury tax purposes. The C’s do well financially, but that doesn’t mean they just willingly piss $2 million away for nothing.

  • CG

    Signing AI would be a terrible idea. Like Sam Cassell, but much worse. Sam Cassell was never fast and always relied on sneaky, chisely moves. AI’s ability to play team basketball has always been in question. He has never shown himself to be anything other than an amazing one-on-one guy. Combine that with his apparently shaky personal state right now, his stated aversion to practice, and his disdain for coming off the bench, this just sounds like something that will never work out and could only be a distraction. The financial cost is pretty much irrelevant – this isn’t what the Cs are about.

  • mike

    options are pretty limited as far as that goes…unless they get a shooting guard via the midlevel or a trade with sheed’s contract the only option they may have is a rook like bradley…ray may not take to that either…

  • mike

    make vet minimum offers to shaq, ai, tmac and see if you get 1 or 2, preferrably tmac and shaq…what does it hurt…

  • Adrian

    I would seriously consider this if Ray doesn’t sign. I agree with mike. Make an offer to Shaq, and try to sign Tmac if yo cant get Tmac get Ai. These players will only help our team because they all got something to prove. Ai, Tmac, Pierce, Garnett, Shaq, that’s the 2000 All-star team lol.

  • steve

    I’d rather keep Nate around at 5 mil then sign AI. AI is a train wreck waiting to happen. At least at this point if you want a back up PG other than Bradley you know what you have with Nate and he knows the system.

  • Adrian

    To add Ai salary i think is less then 1million

  • Jamie

    AI is a disaster waiting to happen. He’ll talk the talk about being a team guy and assuming his role to get signed and then he will implode the locker room. He’s a great talent but the guy is just not a winner, he’s a me guy and always has been. He doesn’t fit in with this team and personalities.

  • Jay P


    I’d agree with you, but there’s at least a possibility he’s finally woken up and realized he’s going to have to change his approach if he wants to play Basketball again. Hitting rock bottom can drastically alter someones personality.

    Danny will do his homework on it if it’s even a possibility, he’ll sit down with AI and his agent and really try to get a feel for where his head is at. If it really seems like he’s got his head on straight finally, and would be willing to come off the bench and be that short minutes, quick scoring burst the team desperately needs, I still believe AI has the talent to do a lot to help the team, and it’d be worth the risk.

    But if there’s any hint whatsoever that AI would be less than content backing up Rondo, he’ll pass, he’s not about to do anything to upset Rondo, who he well knows will be the face of the Celtics for years to come, and the guy they build the future around.

  • Zack

    Shaq should never wear green. I don’t think he is committed to winning basketball games, while he is as slow as Perk in the fast break game I’d rather Perk because of his commitment to defense. T-mac seems like he could help if he accepted his limited role. AI would be a waste and distraction. I say bring the band back and see who you can get for the MLE and Sheeds contract and move on from there.
    Does anyone else remember when we had a shot at signing the Birdman when he was coming back? That would have been awesome! I’d still take David Lee though….

  • Perry

    ‘So: Iverson is worth a veteran’s minimum contract, right?’

    Wrong. Too many red flags even at vet’s minimum. More important needs must be addressed first. A decent backup could come in the form of a sign and trade with Ray Allen or when trading Sheed’s retiring contract. Otherwise, on the low risk, up side Livingston is another year removed from his injury…over 50% on two pt. attempts. Anthony Carter, a bit long in the tooth, can provide steady veteran play.

  • McGrady or Iverson will demand their traditional appetite of 20 shots a game, wherever they go, and Shaq can never be had for the VLE.

    Won’t happen! There’s not enough centers out there to begin with.

    If the Celtics want Shaq it’s going to take their MLE to get him.

  • AI attempted about 11 shots/game last season in Philly. His days of taking 20 are over.

  • Keith Popsicle

    The short answer: no.
    Too much baggage, not enough return on his rapidly declining game. Sorry. You know I have always been a team guy, even though it just about killed me ;), so AI is not gonna work.

    The front court situation is becoming more desperate and dire in the East with each passing minute, with Amare in NY and especially in light of the Bosh to Miami report. Cs need to start collecting 7 footers by the dozen and see what they can put together with MLEs and Vet minimums, rookies, etc.

  • cez


  • Perry


    Did you mean gun shots or shots at the rim?

  • Coolin

    Forget about AI, Robinson is who we want and need as the backup pg.

    We really need Shaq first and then T-Mac or Mike Miller second, to round out this free agency. We struggle so much with scoring once the second unit comes in, all we would need out of T-Mac/Mike Miller is to make 4 to 5 shots a game.

    Pierce, Allen and Garnett are going to need/have to average about 28-30 mpg in the regular season.

  • Devon

    Dominique Wilkins, Gary Payton, Allen Iverson… History won’t repeat itself again, right?

  • Jeff

    To me this would be a worst case scenario of taking AI.

    If TMAC is available for vet’s min or maybe slightly more, I’d take him over AI because he’s younger and doesn’t have a big head like AI. Plus he played for Doc before so that can’t hurt.

    In the situation that Ray goes somewhere else, I think you have to make a push for TMAC and try to get Rudy from POR.

    Then we can use Sheed to get Beasely, since Bosh is going they may want to get that extra cap now, and try to sign Shaq. I would give Shaq $3.5 or $4 mil for 3 years with the 3rd year being an option. More years with slightly less money might prompt Shaq to come.

    Then we could use the rest on Brad Miller, and I do think we should take a flyer on Kwame. He can rebound and play D, which is all we’d really need from him. Maybe 15-18 mins of banging, 5-6 boards and 4-6 points while eating some minutes would help for sure.

    That’s probably all a guy like Ben Wallace is gonna give you so what’s the difference, as long as Kwame behaves.

    That’d give us plenty of frontcourt depth and wing help. We need to resign TA though because he is our stopper. Especially for guys like Wade who now has help from Bosh. We’re gonna need guys who can D up one on one with these type of scorers on the perimeter.

  • Jay P


    So… you’re expecting to sign Brad Miller and Shaq with what money exactly?

    I you’re scenario that Ray leaves… their still over the cap and only have the MLE to use. So you’re expecting to sign Shaq and Brad miller for a portion of the MLE? Either one will sign for the full MLE, I guarantee you that.

    No matter how you slice it, we have to resign Ray, there’s really no Plan B.

  • Bob

    Nein! Erratic behavior, won’t adjust well to the bench and not being in the spotlight, way too much me, me, me.

  • Perry


    There certainly is a Plan B, and it starts with a sign and trade for Ray Allen. There will be a handful of teams with liquidly ready to pounce on him once the dust settles. Since he is testing the market, Danny must set a limit on front loading him for two years unless he matches any three deal that’s coming down the pike.

    Should Ray remain in Boston, and I hope he does, there is flexibility in packaging Sheed’s retiring contract, and as sign and trade, Nate Robinson or Tony Allen. Celts can pay Nate up to 120% of his current salary. Then use the MLE at their digression. There is one other guy available. Expensive for sure, but Al Jefferson would be a welcome sight in Boston. The Wolves are hungry for David Lee, AJ is expendable should it happen.

  • Perry

    I forgot to mention Ray could be offered a deal to play in Miami with Wade and Bosh. Forsberg is already tweeting the rumor.

  • Jay P

    I expect it to happen, whether or not Lebron goes there. Ray will be a hot commodity in Miami, as teams double on Bosh in the post, or help over on Wade when he drives. Plenty of opportunities for a spot up shooter on that team, and Allen just happens to be maybe the best ever in that category.

    Ok let me rephrase, the plan B doesn’t look very good. I don’t see us getting Mike Miller or Redick, the only guys I’d consider even a halfway decent replacement of Ray.

    Ya, they’ll make do I’m sure, but you’ll never replace what Ray can bring to the team.

  • Sophomore

    @Perry – If Bosh and Wade get max deals, that’s about $38 million. They have three more players under contract next year for $7.7, which makes $45.7. If they want to hire Ray as a free agent, they need to fill out the remaining 8 spots on their roster for $10 million.

    Ray wants about 8-9 million for three years. If they tender that kind offer, they have to renounce all their remaining Bird rights to get under the cap (so, no Jermaine O’Neill, no Haslem, no Q-Rich) and fill out what’s left of their roster with vet min guys.

    Na. Ga. Happen.

    Or, they can sign some of their BR guys and find one more piece with the MLE. No way Ray’s available for the MLE – we can beat that.

  • Jay P


    They wont have the MLE, cause they were under the cap at July 1.

    But, they could sign and trade for Ray, they could agree to pay him way more than Boston is willing to, and sign and trade to make it happen. Of course Boston would have to agree with that, and Ray would have to decide he wants to play in Miami.

    Also, those max numbers are off, Bosh’s max deals fall at about 16mil I think, Wade’s is slightly higher, due to years in the league, and falls around 17mil. I’m not sure the exact numbers, but those deals are more likely to fall in the 33-34mil range, assuming neither takes any discount to give the team more space (something wade has already alluded that they might actually do.)

    So really, they’re looking at having about 13mil available to fill their roster. Possibly more, if Wade and Bosh agree to shed 1-2mil each on their deals. Their in a position to offer Ray probably 10-11mil, and will certainly package a 3rd year to entice him (something Boston will be tentative to do, but may not have a choice.) Now Boston will probably be happy to pay Ray the same 10-11mil, so it will all come down to Ray. Stay with loyalty to Boston, and bank on Boston being able to make another run. Or leave for Miami and play with two in their prime stars, on a team which at that point, will probably be the front runner to win it all.

    Tough, tough choice.

  • Sophomore

    @Jay P – Did they renounce Bird Rights already? I thought they hadn’t decided yet.

    Even assuming they did and your numbers are right, how can they afford to give Ray 10 million out of 13 million? They’d have seven roster spots to fill and no MLE. They’d have a bunch of cast-offs and rookies.

  • Sophomore

    Update from HeatHoops, which has crunched the numbers (and factored in a recent buyout that didnt’ show up in the Shamsports numbers):

    “If the reports are true, on July 8 the Heat will have Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers under contract, and $15,601,383 of remaining cap space available, of which up to $11,812,551 can be spent on any one player.”

    Right. They can spend 11.8 million on any one player *if* the remaining 8 players on their roster make the minimum. If you’re Ray Allen, do you want to go to war with that crew?

    One thing I hadn’t factored in, that HeatHoops did, is to deduct about 4 million out the Heat’s cap number based on the number of roster slots. Not sure if he’s right, but in general he seems to know what he’s doing.

  • Jay P


    I’m simply assuming they would, if it meant bringing Ray Allen in. They’d obviously get a feel for that first.

    Watching ESPN’s clip on Miami’s cap situation, Bron/Bosh/Wade’s deals are all identical at 16.6mil in the first year. If all 3 signed, they’d have <1mil in cap space left. Without Bron, they have about 16mil. There's a clip in the daily dime you can check out to see what I'm talking about:


    So basically, without Bron they have about 17mil to sign everyone. So conceivably they could offer Ray about 10mil, and still have some cash left to fill in a few pieces at MLE type money, and finish the rest of their roster with minimum deals (don't forget hey grabbed 3 first rounder in the draft, and can sign them on rookie minimum deals.)

    Plenty of veterans bigs (shaq, thomas) would be glad to play for that team, if they added Ray Allen and another solid player to Bosh, and Wade.

  • Perry


    Agree with you on Miami’s cap strategy, if they deem Ray an option.

    Chicago worries me, although I don’t beleive Ray would move his family that far. Chances are Lebron won’t land there, so consider this lineup: Noah, Boozer, Deng, Ray, Rose. Not too shabby.

    I always felt if he leaves NY would be a logical destination.

  • Jay P

    Oh, the 17mil assumes they get rid of Beasley too, otherwise they have about 12mil, like you said.

  • Jay P

    “Chicago worries me, although I don’t beleive Ray would move his family that far. Chances are Lebron won’t land there, so consider this lineup: Noah, Boozer, Deng, Ray, Rose. Not too shabby.”

    Not bad, but Boston has at least equal, if not better chances of being championship contenders again as that team does. So if Ray is going to leave, he’ll do it to a team that has a substantially better chance at winning only. And the Bulls wont have the cap space left after Boozer to offer Ray any ridiculous sums that he couldn’t refuse.

  • Perry


    Dwyane Wade on SportsCenter: “I’m not opposed to taking less money.”

    Also feeling out the Blazers’ for A.Miller or Chalmers and a first-round pick for Fernandez.

  • Perry

    …and also Reinsdorf isn’t known to spend over the cap — I think it’s a decade or more since Chicago was indeed over

    yep, Ray is a longshot in Chi-town

  • Perry

    Bulls have $30m in cap space 🙂

  • jon

    If Iverson embraces the 6th man role he’s a bargain for the veterans minimum.
    He can still get the opposing team into the penalty rather quickly which is valuable come playoff time.
    He was a positive lockerroom guy last year in Philly so maybe there’s hope.

  • Perry

    More info:

    Assuming JBL is out of the equation; after Wade/Bosh, Miami has $12m excluding tons of cap holds. 🙂

  • mike

    article up on ESPN nba home that J. o’neal is choosing between boston, nuggets and mavs….he’d be a nice sign, c’s can offer biggest role

  • rob

    bring one of the o’neal’s in. Apparently jermaine would only sign for part of the mid level and shaq would want all of it.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    JO considering Nuggs, Mavs or Celts.

    Reel him in danny. KG would fire him up good and he’d be a good fit.

  • Perry

    After watching three games, I really can’t get a feel for the summer league roster. Harangody has been the most consistent. Erden very disappointing. Janning was the man today. I wonder if we can go into the season using some of these guys at tail end of the bench? At least it’ll save luxury tax money.

  • I love Green

    Yeah JO says he’ll sign for a portion of the MLE. I think its between us and Denver mostly, and he says his main focus is making a run at a championship. Dallas and Denver won’t beat the Lakers, and maybe not even the Thunder if they improve more. So looks like the Celtics are the smartest choice.

    Plus he’s only 31!! That’s young for us.

  • complexity

    Ray won’t go to Miami. That style wouldn’t even fit his game at all besides if he was promised that a lot of the offense would be focused around him. Being the third option on another team that needs allstars to sacrifice. I don’t see it happening. Plus, Wade jacks up the threes at the times when threes are needed. That won’t work well for Ray.

  • Shooter

    Ahhh excuse me, but the “trainwreck” and “disaster” has already come for Iverson.
    Y’all don’t understand Wade and Bosh have already stated they are willing to,key word here -“sacrifice” a max contract and shots for, another key word here-“winning”.
    I think taking a risk on AI at vets min is an option i would consider.This is the Boston Celtics,if we can manage Marbury and Nate and even Big Baby if you will,we can manage AI.If there’s any organisation in the league that can manage hotheaded personalities it’s the Cs.That’s the luxury asset we have here in Boston.We have a strong team culture,discipline that embraces different personalities.I would also consider T-Mac.

  • Josh Wehrle

    I think the celts should sign brown iverson and t-mac to veterans minimum deals and split the MLE between the o’neals

  • eeenok

    celtics have done really well by keeping their veterans uninjured. iverson’s last couple of seasons were wasted because he refused to take the time that an old guy needs to heal … maybe at this point celtics are a group that can talk him into getting the most from his old body

  • Stephen Blesofsky

    NO WAY!!

  • Jian

    Doc will kill him with discipline. Bad choice.

  • mallz

    sign allen iverson because nateROB didnt do a good job!!!!!!!!! couldnt set up the offence properly, couldnt drive and kick without bein predictable. forces too many deep 3s rather than gettin around the free throw line. at best naterob could fill er up for 13-15points. allen iverson could get 15points atleast and is a proven 7 ast passer for career. in times when ray struggles they can change the dynamic by insertin a.i pierce rondo. dont judge a man by discipline, he’s human we all have a habit of underestimating ppl. the celts were lackadasical at times. what player is hungry like a.i…. lakers in game 7 got guard help in stretches to go along with kobes bullshit fouls n pau gasol up n down basket that counted. avg joes like tony allen dont got half the heart of a.i if u can take nateROB i expect allen iverson on this team next yr. i almost tore apart my celtics jersey after game 7. they pissed me off changes in the league are being made. we need to counter if is not on, with a new player of exp n fearlessness I DONT CARE WHAT ANYBODY SAYS ALLEN IVERSON BEEN HOLDING THE LEAGUE LONG ENOUGH TO GET 1 ring

  • The Celtics are not a retirement home tem. The only viable trade worthy of mention is Hamilton for Allen. Straight up.

  • John R. S.

    The man has been the Anti-Celtic his entire career. No way is he worth even 10% of the vet minimum.

  • Steveo

    You guys are crazy. AI is still one of the top players in the game. Would he fit in good with the Celtics? No. because they resigned Ray Allen. Could he be a starter and help the bulls and other teams like that a course and whoever says he can’t is dumb on basketball knowledge

  • prevail

    He should go to the KNICKS and redeem him self!

  • Tabb

    The writer fails to mention that Iverson’s shot attempts were way down on pupose the past 2 years.

  • sign allen iverson as a 2 because there is really no backup for ray allen

  • He is a good basketball player.

  • Chris

    Bring Iverson in. His will and opportunity to win a ring is just what Boston needs to back up Allen.
    Iverson-go GREEN baby.

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