Allen Iverson was a great player for the Sixers, he brought my favorite team back from the depths of obscurity, he put the Sixers on his back and took them to the NBA Finals in 2001. I appreciate everything the guy has done for this team and I admire his toughness, talent and unbelievable desire to win. For all of those reasons and more, I hope someone signs him, and does it quickly. I just hope it isn't the Sixers.
I want Iverson to be signed because I'd really hate to see the guy forced out of the league or worse (forced overseas). He gave a lot to this game, and I wouldn't doubt that he has more to give still. There are teams out there that he can help, I firmly believe that.
I want him to sign quickly so I can stop seeing pleas for him to come back to Philly. They're popping up more on more frequently, on blogs, message boards, comment threads and Twitter. I want him to sign with someone else for one simple reason, this team needs to move forward, not back.
Would Iverson help in the short-term? I don't know. I think there's a chance he's going to have a massive chip on his shoulder this season. If he has anything left in the tank, he could go out and score 30 points a game. I don't think that's what the Sixers need, but who knows, maybe he'd flourish in the Princeton offense and his numbers would look more like his first full season in Denver than his numbers from last year in Detroit. It's certainly possible. He'd also undoubtedly help ticket sales, which isn't a bad thing, although I don't think it's even on the top-ten list of critical items in my mind, I'm sure it's important to Comcast.
But what then? What if the Sixers did bring Iverson back for one final run, then where would the franchise be this time next year? To keep AI happy, he's going to have to play at least 30 minutes a game, probably more. If he's playing more than 30 minutes, you can guarantee he's taking at least 17 shots, probably more. That also guarantees that Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday won't get much burn. It'll be another year without fully testing out Lou to see if he's capable of living up to that contract. It'll mean pushing Jrue's development back another season. It'll probably mean less touches for Thad, Iguodala, Speights and maybe Brand as well (all more efficient scorers than Iverson at this point of his career.)
I'd say the odds of Iverson coming back to the Sixers at this point are hovering somewhere below 5%. I don't think the franchise wants to go back down that road, but when season ticket sales aren't what you'd call strong and the economy is still tanking, I just don't want that quick fix dangling out there. Pro-Iverson arguments can be made, even intelligent ones, and one of those arguments could easily take the form of a press release after the signing. I just don't want it to come to that. Someone out there could use a guy like Iverson, just pull the trigger already and let this guy go out on his own terms. The next time I want to see Iverson in a Sixers' jersey is the day he's inducted into the Hall of Fame.