Looking for an Answer
By Jeff Dengate
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SECAUCUS, NJ, Dec. 11, 2006 – I was supposed to call home to Detroit this weekend to let my mother know what’s on my Christmas wish list. I had a feeling she’ll struggle to deliver my top item, though, so instead I decided to pen a letter addressed to the North Pole.

If a fat man in a red suit can zip around the world in a single night delivering joy to boys and girls of all ages, charting the course with only his trusty reindeer as an antiquated GPS unit, he might be the only person who can make me happy this holiday season.

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is for you to make sure Joe Dumars sits pat and doesn’t make a play for Allen Iverson. Maybe you could re-route any Philly-bound calls originating in the 248 area code for a few days? Just a thought. Thanks for reading and keep up the good work.

Your pal,

P.S., Sorry about the salt in the cookies last year … Won’t happen again.

Sure, my wish list has a few other, more reasonable items that I’ll ask for from my parents and friends – I’m hoping somebody snaps up Jack McCallum’s Seven Seconds or Less: My Season on the Bench with the Runnin’ and Gunnin’ Phoenix Suns -- but the above is one of my must-have gifts this season.

You may also have Iverson’s name on your wish list, too, now that Philadelphia owner Ed Snider has said A.I.’s probably played his last game in a Sixers uniform. If you’re a fan of any team other than the Pistons, that’s fine by me, even if, for some, I don’t think it’s a great fit.

With the revelation that Iverson wants out of town, and management apparently willing to accommodate, a deal might go down in one of two ways: 1) Teams know the Sixers want to move their mercurial superstar and thus could make a quick score if Philly wants to put an end to this whole situation in a hurry. Or 2) The Sixers could let any suitors work against each other, driving up Iverson’s market value, as long as a deal comes before February’s trading deadline.

In any line of business bad deals are made all the time and this could end that way. Maybe a team is hoping a deal for A.I. will result in extra wins, but even if it doesn’t it still would be nice to generate a little excitement and move some jerseys.

Then again, maybe another team might be looking to pair A.I. with another big name talent, much as Philly tried to do when it swung a deal for Chris Webber nearly two years ago.

And thus my interest in where Iverson ends up; I really want to see him on the court, pumping in points and leading his team – whichever that may be – toward another Finals appearance while he’s still got something in the tank. But if he’s going to put on another uniform, his new team should make sure more than the fabric fits.

Squads like Detroit are built on a team concept, with no dominant individual on offense. Meanwhile, clubs like San Antonio, Cleveland and the Lakers, to name a few, have one player who absolutely must touch the ball on every trip down the floor. That proves difficult if you’re to find Iverson the 24-25 shots a game that he requires.

So, what team could benefit by swinging a deal for Iverson, you ask? I’ll leave the trade speculation, theorizing and budget crunching up to you living room general managers and look at a few situations that might work.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves brought in free agent Mike James this summer, but he and/or Randy Foye could end up filing a change of address card if Minnesota decided it was interested in Iverson.

There are currently only two sets of teammates in the NBA each averaging at least 20 points per game – Phoenix’s Steve Nash (20.4) and Shawn Marion (20.4), and Seattle’s Ray Allen (25.3) and Rashard Lewis (22.6). Add to that list Iverson and Kevin Garnett, if the two were to play together.

K.G. is a rare breed, able to get his 20-plus a night despite not commanding the ball. Garnett’s only desire is winning and he seems determined to do so in Minnesota, as TNT’s David Aldridge reported last week. ( Watch the video ) The addition of Iverson could be just what the Timberwolves need to re-energize the franchise and make a run beyond the first round of the playoffs once again.

Boston Celtics

Beantown could have an All-Star tandem again: Iverson and Paul Pierce. The Truth, remember, played five years alongside Antoine Walker, who hoisted 20 shots a night while donning green.

Could a Sixers-Celtics swap actually happen? Well, it sounds as though the team and Pierce have an interest.

Orlando Magic

Fret not, Magic fans, Otis Smith has stated there’s no interest in Iverson. Perhaps the biggest reason is because Orlando is doing just fine without him, whereas the above mentioned squads really could use to shake things up a bit.

Even so, Iverson and Dwight Howard might just turn out to be what the Sixers had in mind for A.I. and Webber: An unstoppable inside-outside game. But wouldn’t Iverson take touches from Howard, you wonder? Well, it’s not really like anybody’s passing the ball to Howard with regularity as it is. Jameer Nelson (13.0 ppg and 4.1 apg) and Carlos Arroyo (10.1 ppg and 3.0 apg) combined don’t put up the numbers Iverson has the past three seasons in Philadelphia.

And while we’ll take Smith at his word, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little reliable scoring late in the season and well into the playoffs?

Other Possibilities:

Could Donnie Walsh be thinking what it would be like to have Iverson in a Pacers jersey, playing through all sorts of bumps and bruises? Jamaal Tinsley has had health on his side so far this season, but it’s hard to get your hopes up about him after he missed 112 games over the last three seasons.

Or could Iverson be headed West to Denver, as David Aldridge (he also writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer) says is possible? It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of Iverson and Carmelo Anthony leading an already high-octane offense, but one can’t help wonder who would get the ball with the game on the line. Well, this is Anthony’s team … Or is it?

Now, if you don’t mind, I have to call my mother and ask her to keep an eye out for a new Iverson jersey when she’s doing her last-minute shopping.