Allen Iverson's reputation has taken a large hit over the past few years as the team's around him have struggled. Watching the Nuggets improve tremendously when Chauncy Billups replaced him and then seeing Detroit fall to pieces nailed shut the coffin on his reputation. The Bulls have at least considered bringing him in though it appears to be a long shot:
AI Talk: Reports earlier last week suggested the Bulls may
sign-and-trade Ben Gordon to the Pistons in exchange for a re-signed
Allen Iverson on a 1 year deal. Although it seems like a crazy idea,
the possibility was actually discussed briefly within the Bulls
organization. However the Bulls fear Iverson would not respect Vinny
Del Negro, would take the ball out of Derrick Rose's hands, as well as
possibly corrupt the team's chemistry. So obviously, this idea is
The Iverson presently available isn't going to cost $20 million per year. He's not going to be hard to get rid of if things go poorly, and he may be able to provide a lot of benefit to a team desperately in need of one year stop gaps to continue it's upward momentum.
Let's backtrack a bit. Since the Bulls failed to sign Ben Gordon, the primary thoughts about the team surround the 2010 free agency class. That's a situation I've advocated for several years though I've always advocated moving Hinrich and keeping Gordon as your way to get there. A situation the Bulls could have easily managed if they had kept Gordon on the sweetheart 9 million per year deal last summer and moved Hinrich at the deadline. Spilt milk, I know.
In order to convince a top flight free agent to come to Chicago, it will need to be the best destination possible for that free agent. The quality of destination will depend on a few factors.
First, ability to pay. We'll need to be able to offer up max money. This doesn't necessarily mean we'll need to be max money under the cap as these guys will demand sign and trades in order to get the 10% raises and extra year on their contracts most likely.
Staying under the cap to offer the team moving a guy a huge trade exception along with cheap assets would help make a more attractive trade offer though, and if the team isn't cooperative then having max cap space ensures that they can offer the best five year deal possible. So while not having max cap space isn't necessarily a deal breaker, it's highly advisable.
Next, ability to win. While these guys all have confidence that they can help turn around a franchise, they also all know what it's like to be on a team that simply isn't that good. Bosh and Wade have led some absolute stinkers of teams, so they're going to want to make sure they have some help around them.
Thus the Bulls will need to prove that they are still an upcoming franchise. Any finish that falls short of the playoffs will almost certainly doom the Bulls in their FA search. Derrick Rose needs to prove he's an up and coming star this season in order to make Chicago a truly desirable location. That puts some unfair pressure on him, but it's basically the only shot we have now that Gordon's gone.
Finally, location of the franchise. Chicago does fairly well in this department. It's a major market in a big city which players always seem to love. The weather stinks, which may make Miami more desirable, but realistically, we're probably one of the four or five best markets to land in if the winning and money are equal. Clearly nothing can be done to improve this.
So factors one and three are more or less set. The primary thing that will free up more money will be John Salmons' decision on whether to opt in or out of his final year. My sources have said that Salmons has told people he'll opt in, but I think when he gets down to making the actual decision he'll change his mind. There's going to be a ton of teams with money available, and he's going to get a better long term offer entering free agency a year earlier.
Enter Allen Iverson. Well, maybe. If we need to improve the team as much as possible while not taking on 2010 salary, then Iverson may fit into the picture. We certainly lost a lot of scoring with Ben Gordon, we lost a guy who can demand double teams, and we lost the only player who could take pressure off of Rose with his ability to create a shot.
Allen Iverson can do all of these things. He can give us much of what Ben Gordon gave us in terms of his ability to put pressure on a team. The only think lacking is the amazing outside shooting. The bonus, of course, is that Iverson may be available for a one year deal. Especially if the Bulls significantly trump the one year minimum.
The problems with Iverson are well documented. He couldn't even fit in with the Pistons for the final year of his contract last year, so who's to say he'd fit in with the Bulls. He's also not someone who would fit in as a starter next to Rose and may not agree to come off the bench.
The difference is, Iverson would need to agree to certain stipulations prior to signing. He might better fit his role agreeing to it prior to the contract. Then again, he may not. He may instill the team with poor practice habits and bad attitude. Typically, adding a potentially cancerous player to a young growing team is a no-no.
However, if the Bulls want Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade here next season, then making the playoffs is a must and making the second round would be a huge bonus. It's awfully questionable whether they have the talent to do that right now. Iverson may prove a cheap gamble to increase that talent level.
I'm not purely advocating the Bulls sign him. I'm not sure myself. He's the type of player I'd typically never want on my team. I don't think he can help in the long run, but the short run is far more important than people realize. The future of the franchise lies entirely on whether we get the big fish in a year.