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If You Want To Play, Sign the Contract

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The drama over Allen Iverson's return to Philadelphia has finally reached idiotic proportions. Here's the state of things, the Sixers have made a non-guaranteed offer, at the veteran's minimum for the rest of this season. They are awaiting Iverson's decision. After the jump we'll talk about what's reportedly holding up the process.

More than once in blog posts, comments and stories, I've seen people mention that it was a slap in the face that the Sixers didn't offer Allen Iverson a guaranteed contract. I'm going to put aside my feelings on whether they should've offered him a contract at all and tackle just this sticking point. It's ludicrous, moronic and criminal that Iverson should expect or demand a guaranteed deal at this point for a boatload of reasons.

  1. No one else wants him.
  2. Two weeks ago, he quit on the Memphis Grizzlies.
  3. Last season, he quit on the Detroit Pistons after being asked to come off the bench.
  4. That's two teams he quit on in the past nine months.
  5. If his motives are pure, what's the difference between guaranteed or not? I read this ridiculous take that suggested the Sixers would cut him if he wasn't a big enough draw by Jan. 10th (the deadline for the contract to become guaranteed), or they might release him when Lou Williams returns.
  6. Philadunkia thinks this was an offer Iverson was meant to refuse. Because apparently Ed Stefanski is taking so much heat from the non-existent fans who don't go to games for not bringing him back that he has to make an offer to save face, and he won't look like a bad guy if Iverson turns the offer down. Why those same boisterous fans woudn't be in Stefanski's face for offering a cheap contract if Iverson did turn it down is another matter, I guess.
  7. Finally, NO ONE ELSE WANTS HIM! Not even the NY Friggin' Knicks

So let's treat this like a job interview:

ES: Tell me about your last two jobs
AI: I quit both of them
ES: Why?
AI: They disrespected me.
ES: How?
AI: They tried to make me a sixth man.
ES: What if having you come off the bench winds up being the best thing for this team?
AI: Too bad
ES: OK, so you're saying you have to start or you're going to be a problem.
AI: Yes
ES: OK, well I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that.
AI: Too bad. If you don't like it I'll go play for .....
(crickets)
ES: OK Allen, this is what we're going to do. We'll give you this non-guaranteed contract that becomes guaranteed on January 10th. I can guarantee you a starting spot for the next six weeks or so, until Lou Williams comes back, at that point we can all sit down and figure out what your best role is with the team.
AI: No deal.
ES: Why not?
AI: I'm a starter in this league.
ES: I'm offering you the chance to come in, be a starter for us right away and prove that to the entire league. What's the downside?
(crickets)
ES: Here Allan, you take this offer with you. Talk to your people and get back to me when you've made your mind up.

You and I both know no job interview gets past "I quit my last two jobs because they disrespected me." Any negotiating power Allen Iverson had is gone. He's no longer an icon, he's no longer the reigning MVP. He's a guy who has sabotaged his last two teams. A guy with no other options if he wants to be an NBA player. In fact, he's got a team offering him exactly what he wants, a starter's spot, and whether he keeps it or not is entirely up to him. Do you seriously believe that if he comes in here and scores 30 points a game for the next 6 or seven weeks Eddie Jordan is going to bench him when Lou Williams comes back? Getting back to Ziller's theory, there's no way in hell the team cuts him on January 10th if he's playing well.

The hesitance can only stem from one of two things, a sense of entitlement on Iverson's part. He's earned more respect than this. To which I respond, he's used up all of his goodwill with his behavior first when he left Philly, then when he quit on Detroit and finally when he quit on Memphis, TWO WEEKS AGO. The other reason to demand a guaranteed contract is the fear of injury. If he goes down with a pulled hammy between now and Jan. 10th, the Sixers can cut him and stop paying him immediately. Essentially, he wants the comfort of knowing he'll get paid for doing nothing if he gets hurt. To this I say, too bad. Welcome to the real world.

No one else wants Iverson. I don't think the Sixers should even be offering him a contract for myriad reasons, but they have. They want him and they're offering him a starting spot so he has one last chance to salvage the end of what was a brilliant career. It's a golden opportunity and if he wants it, if he truly believes the words he spoke when he "retired" last week, then he should simply sign the contract, kick ass on the floor, electrify a dead fan base and secure his legacy in this city.

It doesn't surprise me in the least that the Sixers haven't offered a guaranteed contract, because this has been strictly a business move from the start. It's not about winning basketball games, or developing the roster. It's about selling tickets and from a business perspective Allen Iverson is about as big of a risk as you can take. For a team that's supposedly hemorrhaging money, guaranteeing a deal for a guy who could flake out next week doesn't make fiscal sense.

From a basketball perspective, giving Iverson a guaranteed contract is essentially giving him the gun and telling him to hold your team hostage if he doesn't like how things are going.

Signing this deal is Iverson's only move if he truly isn't ready to retire. Just sign it, or don't. Enough drama already.
by Brian on Dec 1 2009
Tags: Allen Iverson | Basketball | Sixers |