It’s official now, Allen Iverson informed the 76ers on Wednesday morning that he will accept their one-year, non-guaranteed offer. The contract is for a pro-rated veteran’s minimum of $1.3 million. And you know what, the reunion of the two sides that served each other so well for a decade is more than just a great story; it makes basketball sense and provides fringe benefits for both sides
The Philadelphia 76ers have desperately needed back-court help all season and Lou Williams’ injury was the nail in that coffin. Former franchise icon, Allen Iverson, desperately needed a home. It’s a match made in heaven or maybe hell, we’ll see.
But one thing is for certain, the Sixers are currently 5-13 which puts them thirteenth in the Eastern Conference, and they are floundering. It was bad before the loss of Williams, their starting point, and his absence has only added insult to injury, literally. Inserting Iverson, who from a personnel standpoint was the best free agent guard available to the Sixers, into the squad’s starting five would immediately alleviate the scoring struggles the Sixers have faced this season. The Sixers have already lost nine games this year by 8 points or less. Even at 34 and obviously not the player he once was, if he had been on the Sixers roster from Day 1, we can confidently say that Iverson’s remaining basketball skills would have turned at least six of the home team’s L’s into wins.
Inserting Iverson in the starting lineup, which we assume head coach Eddie Jordan will do also alleviates an enormous amount of the pressure that is currently hanging on promising rookie Jrue Holiday. Since Lou’s injury Holiday has been given the reins to the team and Jordan’s complicated, hybrid Princeton offense. Overall Holiday has done a respectable job, especially considering the opposition he has faced : Rondo, Bibby, Parker and Kidd. However at times, Holiday has looked lost and severely over-matched. With Iverson on the squad Holiday can still clock major minutes and gain valuable playing experience, but he will not have to be relied on to run the team and provide scoring punch; a tall order for anyone, let alone an unproven rookie. Allen’s scoring ability will absolutely help the 76ers, and although he may not be able to single handily win games anymore, he can certainly help the Sixers get some W’s, which have been hard to come by this season.
As a bonus to the 76ers organization, Iverson may fill the seats at the Wach, which as you can tell by watching any home Sixers game, hasn’t been easy thus far in 2009-10. The Sixers are currently second to last in attendance throughout the League, and their sub-par play doesn’t provide much promise for future capacity crowds. Iverson would provide immediate excitement for a team that is currently one of the most boring and bland in all of basketball and potentially put some casual basketball fans in the building. Additionally Iverson has a legion of die-hard fans in the City of Brotherly Love who border on cult status and those A.I. disciples will certainly now be headed down to the Wachovia Center in droves.
For Allen, a second go-round with the Sixers will provide him with the platform necessary for the next part of his career; whatever that may be. Performing well and being a good citizen for the Sixers this season could work to prove to the rest of the League that he can still play at a high level and buy into the concept of “team”, potentially peaking interest for suitors come next season.
If no such suitors come calling, then at least this last, long 2009-10 stint with the Sixers will allow #3 the opportunity to walk away from the game on his own terms — with the organization that drafted him, on the team where he experienced his greatest success and in the city that loves him the most.