The debate on trading Allen Iverson is ludicrous on so many levels. Let’s get one thing out of the way now: Allen Iverson is not the problem. Billy King is the problem. If there was still an open market in the NBA we might be okay with Mr. King running the Sixers, but as it stands now with the soft cap that is in place, we are not. Let’s be real. King gave $60 million to a center who still has no idea what goaltending is. As a fan collective, we should in no way want Billy King to pull the trigger on a deal that will send one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the NBA out of town. Recently, Iverson has showed much more of an inclination to pass the ball. He is beginning to see the value to his own game when the rest of the team gets involved. Chris Webber and Andre Iguodala start hitting shots and now teams have to play off Iverson and he gets better looks. On a night when Iverson pours in 47 points, the stats that jump out of the box score are the 12 assists, but in part of all those assists is the shooting percentage over 50. Iverson looks like he is becoming more and more comfortable with starting the half-court offense with the ball in Webber’s hands in the high post. This gives Iverson the ability to run off screens for better looks at jump shots. The offense can be equated to a snowball rolling down hill. Better health and play out of Webber gives Iverson more open looks and a higher shooting percentage, which in turn forces teams to clamp down even more on Iverson. When teams feel the need to trap and clamp down on Iverson, this gives Kyle Korver and company open looks.
The old Iverson, when the defense started to rotate to try and trap him, would drive right into the double team to force a foul because he didn’t trust the offensive ability of his teammates. The new and improved Iverson, who is putting up 10-to-12 assists per game, is passing out of double teams and is looking for shooters once he gets into the lane. This is one of the main reasons why Iverson needs to stay in a Sixers uniform.
In the salary cap era of the NBA, trading someone with an expensive long-term contract is pretty close to impossible to find. If it were football, where players can be traded for draft picks and salaries aren’t guaranteed, a turnaround can be done quickly. Not in the NBA. In order to turn a team around, management has to have a plan. Billy King has no such plan. Also, you have to trade all your expensive talent for expiring contracts. This means a year or two of winning 19 games, which is never guaranteed. With the lottery system, you could end up picking third and the player you need to re-build is more than likely gone by then.
What the Sixers need to do is simple. First and foremost, Iverson needs to stay. Webber and Iguodala are in place, so they need to find a center that can rebound and defend. Dalembert, in all honesty, needs to be booked on the first plane out of town and a wide-bodied replacement found. Next, you need a defensive-minded point guard, preferably one 6-4 in height who can knock down an open 15-foot jumper twice a game. Kevin Ollie is serviceable in that role now, but someone younger is should be an necessity. Korver and John Salmons are good where they are as sixth and seventh men, but a defensive forward/center as an eighth man would add to the second team’s potency.
The Sixers are not in horrible shape, but some of the contracts are going to make it tough for them to really improve by way of a solid veteran presence, and whose fault is that? Not Allen Iverson’s. King is at fault here. If he is unsure how to proceed and make this team better, it is time for owner Ed Snyder to hand the man a pink slip and get someone who can do the job right.
So, to all those who call sports radio talk shows and want to see Iverson sent somewhere else, I have a better idea: send Billy King and Samuel Dalembert to that place instead.