By Art Garcia, NBA.com
Posted Dec 1 2009 12:07AM
DALLAS -- The current franchise A.I. in Philadelphia is ready to welcome back the original one if and when a deal is finalized, but he's more concerned with the current state of the team. The disappointing 76ers (5-13) dropped a heartbreaker Monday night to the Mavericks and are sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
"We're in position right now where we have to get some wins," Andre Iguodala said. "Everybody is pretty much focused on that. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it's out of our hands. We have to control what we can control."
"It," of course, is the signing of Allen Iverson. The Sixers and Iverson met in Dallas for two hours earlier in the day and all signs point to a reunion happening in the near future. The prospect is appealing on several levels. Not only do the Sixers need help on the court, especially starting point guard Lou Williams out with a fractured jaw, but their box office could use a boost.
Adding a longtime fan favorite, not to mention a former MVP and four-time scoring champ, seems to make sense on the surface. But the basketball implications weren't lost on Iguodala, who noted that Eddie Jordan's Princeton-based offense might not be the best fit for Iverson, at least initially.
"That's tough to say," Iguodala said. "Most of the time it's easy for us basketball players to adjust to our situation. The offensive system that we have is kinda complex, so it might take him some time to adjust, but I feel that just from a basketball standpoint he can come in and play."
Jordan agreed on the last point. The Sixers came into Monday averaging 96.4 points per game, good for 17th in the league. Iverson is a career 27-point scorer.
"An aggressive scoring mentality, a guy that could take over games even in his stage of his career," Jordan said of Iverson. "He's a guy that's been to the top. He's been to the Finals. He's just a guy that would be an extra weapon on the floor for us."
Iverson's individual talents don't appear to be a good fit for a pass-first system. Still, the Sixers are in need of a spark and must recognize that it can't get much worse for a squad most expected to challenge for a playoff berth. Iverson, if nothing else, is a known commodity.
"Everyone knows what he can do -- score the ball really well, demands a lot of attention and he's a great basketball player," said Iguodala, who spent the first two-plus years of his career as his teammate.
Jordan termed the meeting with Iverson at the team's hotel as "intriguing" but "non-committal." Among those also attending team president Ed Stefanski, assistant general manager Tony DiLeo, assistant coach Aaron McKie (former Iverson teammate) and Iverson's agent Leon Rose.
TNT's David Aldridge reported that the team's senior management has given the basketball side the go-ahead to sign Iverson. Jordan said he's not worried about Iverson's past issues, many coming during his 11-plus years in Philadelphia.
"I'm doing my due diligence as a coach and as part of the organization, having a conversation with him," Jordan said, "and I'm not worried about anything."
Reserve guard Royal Ivey said Iverson's potential teammates aren't troubled, either. Five remain -- Iguodala, Williams, Rodney Carney, Samuel Dalembert and Willie Green -- who played with Iverson in Philadelphia.
"I don't think we have any concerns," Ivey said. "We're all here to win. If he's going to help our club out that will be a great asset. I'm not worrying about the off-the-court problems. I think he's a great player and I heard he's a great teammate."
While he does wonder how it would work, Iguodala is also realistic enough about the plusses inherent with Philadelphia's first A.I.
"We realize it can be a benefit to us," he said. "Just like any other player, you embrace that player coming in."
It's just that Iverson isn't any other player.
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