Posted on: July 2, 2009 10:13 pm
Ben Gordon to the Pistons is a done deal. The method by which he will get there is still under discussion.
CBSSports.com has learned that the Bulls and Pistons may yet revisit Detroit's agreement with Ben Gordon and instead investigate a sign-and-trade that would send Allen Iverson to Chicago.
Discussions have not yet reached the highest levels of both organizations, but the revised look at how Gordon goes from Chicago to Detroit would benefit Gordon and the Bulls. Gordon would get an extra year, and thus more money, by signing with the Bulls and getting traded. The Bulls, who currently are getting nothing for losing him, would get Iverson -- a fading future Hall of Famer who would get to finish his career in a major market as long as he's willing to accept a secondary role.
It's a farfetched scenario, and not everyone involved would be on board -- particularly the Pistons. The major sticking point would be how to sweeten the deal for Detroit, which would only consider such an option if it would provide significant cap savings. The Pistons took themselves out of the 2010 free-agent sweepstakes by agreeing to terms with Gordon and Charlie Villanueva on the first day of the free-agent negotiating period. Those agreements are not binding until July 8, when the league-mandated moratorium is lifted and the league and players association agree on the salary cap and luxury tax for the 2009-10 season.
A person familiar with the situation said the Pistons would flat-out refuse to entertain a sign-and-trade for Gordon unless it provided significant savings. The Bulls, too, may not be eager to do business with Gordon, whose agent did not give the team a chance to match Detroit's offer.
The Bulls also would want to know that Iverson, 34, would be totally committed despite not making the $20 million he's accustomed to and without playing the primary role he enjoyed for his entire career until he was traded to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups last season. Iverson did not adapt well to diminished minutes with the Pistons, and late in the season vowed to retire before he would come off another team's bench.
But Iverson apparently is invigorated by the prospect of getting past the Detroit experience. He wrote on his Twitter account Thursday, "For those of you who thought that I was done, think again! ... My only preference will be to play for a coach that knows what I bring to the table and that I am going to bring it every night."
It has been widely speculated that Iverson would land in Charlotte with his former coach, Larry Brown, with whom he had a rocky relationship in Philadelphia. But the two men respect each other, and Brown recently gushed about his time coaching Iverson. Beyond teams with cap space (Memphis, Oklahoma City, Sacramento) who wouldn't be interested in signing a veteran like Iverson, the options for A.I. are limited to sign-and-trades and, more likely, a deal for the mid-level exception or less.
While the sign-and-trade scenario with Detroit is farfetched, Iverson is exploring all options to find one more landing spot in an often tumultuous but Hall of Fame career.
Posted on: May 24, 2009 6:17 pm
DENVER -- When someone asked Carmelo Anthony on Sunday if he's still confident going into Game 4 of the Western Conference finals with a 2-1 deficit, his response reminded me of a certain All-Star who isn't here anymore.
"If we're not confident," 'Melo said, "we might as well not even dress up."
That was vintage Allen Iverson, whom I've heard say almost exactly those words hundreds of times over the last decade or so. I asked Anthony if he'd spoken with A.I. recently, given the Nuggets' meteoric rise to the conference finals without him -- and given that the point guard he was traded for has made all the difference.
"Yeah, I’ve talked to him a couple of times," Anthony said. "He just keeps saying, 'Go get it.' It kind of hurts him that he’s not here with us. That’s all he keeps saying is that he wanted to be with us. But he understands the situation."
So, too, did Kobe Bryant, who realized how significant the Iverson-for-Chauncey Billups trade was the minute he heard about it.
"When it went down, I called Carmelo and said, ‘You’re gonna like this trade,’" Bryant said. "Iverson is great. But for what this team needs, they needed a quarterback. And they have a quarterback. I knew it was going to be a problem as soon as it happened."
Bryant and Iverson came into the league together in the 1996 draft, but their careers have taken much different paths since they stole the show at the All-Star rookie game in Cleveland in '97. They were the brash new kids trying to nudge the venerable stars aside back then, and everyone wondered if Iverson with his cornrows and Kobe with his arrogance would be good or bad for the league. What a full-circle moment it would've been for Bryant and Iverson to meet again in the conference finals this year after colliding in the 2001 NBA Finals won by the Lakers. But of course, without the Iverson-for-Billups trade, the Nuggets most certainly wouldn't be here.
"That’s not what the team needed," Bryant said, when asked why things didn't work out in Denver with Iverson. "You can put together all the talent in the world. When I first came to the Lakers, we had four All-Stars. But it’s about what pieces go right with the others. And Chauncey was the piece that they needed. It just meshed extremely well."
Posted on: April 6, 2009 4:42 pm
One of the things that sent Allen Iverson over the deep end in his aborted comeback from a back injury was this: Not only was he out of the starting lineup, he was playing behind Will Bynum. Will who? Now you know.
If you covered the names in the box score from the Pistons' crucial 104-97 victory over Charlotte Sunday and just looked at the numbers, you'd see a very A.I.-like line: 9-for-15 from the field, 14-for-16 from the line, 32 points (a franchise-record 26 in the fourth) and seven assists. (OK, everything but the seven assists.) Bynum, who is listed at the same 6-foot height as Iverson (both estimates are too low), arrived on the same day the Pistons moved on for good without Iverson.
As Iverson got closer to coming back from a back injury that caused him to miss a month, Pistons coach Michael Curry kept talking about how much he liked Bynum. Part of it was that Curry likes defense; Bynum plays it, Iverson doesn't. But Bynum showed how valuable he can be on the offensive end by trumping his three 20-point games in March with a sizzling scoring display in a game Detroit had to have.
The Pistons announced Monday that they've put postseason tickets on sale. They wouldn't have been able to make that announcement without the steadily improving play of Bynum. Sometimes, generic is just as good as the name brand. Maybe better.
Posted on: April 3, 2009 5:04 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2009 5:48 pm
Allen Iverson doesn't need to worry about coming off the bench anymore. The four-time scoring champion and disgruntled bench warmer will miss the rest of the season due to what the Pistons described as ongoing back discomfort. But the discomfort for both sides clearly originates from an area a bit lower on the body.
Iverson in Detroit has been nothing but a pain in the ___ for both parties. Now, their brief and stormy marriage is over.
Britney Spears has had relationships longer than this.
It's come to a merciful end for A.I. and the Pistons, who never found any sort of common ground after Iverson was acquired from Denver in the Chauncey Billups trade.
UPDATE: Despite the wording of a Pistons news release that blames the decision to shut Iverson down on his back injury, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com that the decision also was related to Iverson's escalating rants about playing time and being removed from the starting lineup. And given Iverson's obvious dissatisfaction -- "I'm not happy. At all," he said recently -- the decision can obviously be described as mutual.
The Iverson trade has been an unmitigated disaster, at least in the short term. Iverson couldn't play with Richard Hamilton or Rodney Stuckey, and he couldn't stomach coming off the bench after he returned from a back injury last week. He went so far as to unleash an impressive tirade after the Pistons lost to the Nets Wednesday night, saying he'd retire before he ever played a reserve role again.
Iverson's contract is up after the season, providing the Pistons with about $20 million in cap space. He turns 34 in June, three weeks before the start of free agency, and clearly won't be re-signing with the Pistons. Perhaps the only surer thing in NBA history was that Latrell Sprewell would never play for P.J. Carlesimo again.
Now, given Iverson's guarantee that he'll won't play again unless he's starting -- "That's 100 percent fact," he said -- you have to wonder whether A.I.'s wonderful, combustible, eventful career has come to an end after 13 seasons.
Here's the sanitized version from Pistons president Joe Dumars:
“After talking with Allen and our medical staff, we feel that resting Allen for the remainder of the season is the best course of action at this time,” Dumars said in a news release. “While he has played in our last three games, he is still feeling some discomfort and getting him physically ready to compete at the level he is accustomed to playing this late in the season does not seem possible at this point.”
UPDATE: Not only has the trade bombed for the Pistons, but Billups has been the key factor in elevating the Nuggets from their previous status as an inconsistent, immature pretender into a solid contender. Denver has a one-game lead on San Antonio and a 1 1-2 game lead on Houston for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Iverson finished the season averaging 17.5 points, by far the lowest of his career. The previous low came in his second season in the league, when he averaged 22.0 for Philadelphia in 1997-98. When Iverson's contract comes off the books, along with possibly Rasheed Wallace's $13.7 million, the Pistons will have more than $30 million in cap space to be allocated over the next two summers if they choose.
Aside from winning four scoring titles and leading the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals (where they lost 4-1 to the Lakers), Iverson (6-feet) became the shortest player to attain two of the biggest individual accomplishments in the sport -- lead the league in scoring and win MVP. But as much as Iverson redefined the guard position with his explosiveness and durability, his individual accomplishments overshadowed team performance for much of his career. He clashed with numerous coaches -- most notable Larry Brown in Philly -- and his need to dominate the ball made it difficult to find complementary talent to pair with him. He enjoyed moderate success with Carmelo Anthony in Denver, but the closest he ever came to coexisting with a running mate was when he played with Toni Kukoc in Philadelphia. That didn't end well, either, as the Sixers eventually saw no recourse but to deactivate Iverson in December 2006 and trade him to the Nuggets along with throw-in Ivan McFarlin for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round picks.
Ironically, Miller is leading the Sixers to their second straight playoff appearance without Iverson. The Pistons' announcement Friday that Iverson will miss the rest of the season came a little more than 24 hours before Iverson would've suffered the indignity of sitting on the bench in the arena he used to own; the Pistons are at Philly Saturday and face another must-win game at home Sunday against Charlotte, which is threatening to knock them out of the playoff picture. Smith is part of a Cleveland team that is a strong championship contender. And Billups, of course, appears to be orchestrating a long postseason run in Denver.
Iverson also will go down as the player who personified the introduction of hip-hop culture to the mainstream of the NBA. His tattoos, corn rows, and do-rags were a mainstay for more than a decade. Iverson, more than anybody, was the target of commissioner David Stern's decision to institute a dress code for players on league business in 2005. Iverson also drew Stern's ire for some distasteful rap lyrics, among other things.
Times have changed. Now the vast majority of players willingly wear suits on road trips, and even Iverson acquiesced recently when he shaved his trademark braids just before All-Star weekend. There's no telling whether he'll keep the new look when -- or if -- he ever surfaces again.
"I'm happy with my career and the things that I've done in my career," Iverson said this week. "If I hung 'em up today, I'm blessed."
Posted on: March 23, 2009 11:13 am
Allen Iverson's extended absence has fueled speculation that it's not really a sore back that's keeping him away, but his frustration with being relegated to the bench. Not so, Iverson said Sunday in an interview with A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers.
"That's hilarious," Iverson said. "My health is the most important thing, that was the whole thing. I know people are going to say that. I've been a warrior my whole career and I pride myself on that. But (the back injury), it is what it is.
Coming off the bench is "something I have to deal with," Iverson said. "That's not going to be a problem. And I wouldn't cheat the game, I wouldn't cheat myself, my family and friends. ... I wouldn't cheat all them because of a situation. It's just another obstacle in my life that I have to overcome. ... I owe too much to myself. I owe too much to my fans, people that care about me and love me and want to see me play. And to my teammates. I owe so much to my teammates to go out there and perform."
Iverson has missed the past 13 games due to the back injury, an absence that coincided with coach Michael Curry's admission that A.I. will have to go to the bench to spark the Pistons, who have struggled to find an identity since the cap-clearing trade that brought Iverson from Denver in exchange for Chauncey Billups. Detroit is 7-6 without Iverson and has lost four out of five, debunking the theory that the Pistons are better off without him. Detroit also has been without Richard Hamilton (groin) and Rasheed Wallace (calf) recently and has plummeted to seventh place in the East, only three games agead of Chicago in the loss column with 13 to play.The Bulls host the Pistons Tuesday night.
Iverson said he doesn't know when he'll be back, but hopes it's soon. Do the Pistons hope so, too? Curry said he's hopeful that Iverson will be able to participate in practice to some degree starting Monday.
Posted on: March 5, 2009 3:38 pm
“I’m disappointed that the soreness I’m feeling in my back is going to force me to miss two weeks of action," Iverson said. "After talking with the doctors at Georgetown (Wednesday), they have told me that treatment and rest is the best course of action right now. Hopefully my back with heal and I’ll be ready to go following this two-week period.
“My goal is to help this team win a championship, and I’ve said that from the first day I arrived here in Detroit. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help us achieve our goals as a team regardless if I’m starting or coming off the bench.”
That's the first step. Now we'll see how this works once Iverson is healthy.
Posted on: March 4, 2009 4:07 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2009 6:22 pm
Nothing against Iverson. It's not his fault he was traded to Detroit. He didn't ask for it. He didn't tell Joe Dumars to send Chauncey Billups to Denver. I've known Iverson since his rookie year, and he's always been one of my favorite players. But it's pretty clear that the Pistons are better off without him.
Everybody knew that would be the case when Dumars made the trade. Someday, maybe Dumars will even admit as much. Iverson-for-Billups was a proactive move by Dumars to break up the Pistons before they got old and broke down on their own. At the end of the season, Dumars will have about $30 million in cap space at his disposal when Iverson and Rasheed Wallace come off the books.
But right now, the Pistons are showing that they're still dangerous when they play the way they've played since Iverson got hurt Tuesday night. Without A.I., Detroit might just be a sleeping giant in the East. With A.I., they were a disaster.
It wasn't all Iverson's fault. Spare me all the anti-A.I. rants about Iverson being a cancer. He has been who he is for 13 years, and he's not going to change now. The trade was a gamble from the get-go, and the final score won't be known for two more years.
Here is what has to happen over the next month and a half for the Pistons to make one more push with the core (minus Billups) intact. They have to keep thriving while Iverson is out. They're 3-0 without him so far, and a 5-3 record over the next two weeks would be respectable considering the schedule includes Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas, and Houston before Iverson would theoretically be ready to return March 20 against the Clippers.
Second -- and this is really the most important part -- Iverson has to suck it up and embrace his bench role once he returns. Everything depends on it -- for the Pistons and for Iverson.
Iverson's comments on being replaced in the starting lineup by Richard Hamilton have been classic A.I. Basically, he'll do whatever Michael Curry asks him to do. But then comes the "but," as in, "But I've never come off the bench in my career." But now he has no choice. He has to embrace the role and show teams that might be willing to sign him this summer that he's about the team and not about A.I. Think about all the opportunities he'll have to come in with the second unit and be the primary scorer, which he's been from the day he showed up in Philadelphia in 1996. It's a perfect role for him at this stage of his career, one that Curry should've recognized sooner.
If he doesn't embrace it, the Pistons will suffer and so will Iverson's reputation, which is already damaged enough. My official medical advice to A.I. is to eat two servings of humble pie and call me in two weeks. Then come off the bench for the rest of the season, do what you've done your whole career -- score the ball, without having to worry about getting Hamilton, Sheed, Tayshaun Prince, or anyone else involved -- and reap the benefits this summer when a contender sees how valuable you can be in that role.
These are all things Iverson is perfectly capable of doing. Maybe two weeks is enough time for him to decide that he wants to.
Posted on: January 30, 2009 10:46 pm
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Passing Charles Barkley for 16th on the NBA career scoring list Friday night meant more to Allen Iverson than he admitted.
"I want to get past Barkley with one other accomplishment," Iverson said at his locker after the Pistons lost to the Celtics 86-78. "And that's winning a championship. I don't care about all that individual stuff."
Trust me, he cares. I've been watching Iverson play since he was a rookie. Though he and Barkley have had their differences at times, Iverson shares a special kinship with Sir Charles because they both endured some very good and very difficult years in Philadelphia, one of the toughest fan bases to please in the NBA.
It's a tough stretch for Iverson and the Pistons, who are still struggling to find their identity almost three months after sending Chauncey Billups to Denver for Iverson. After falling to the defending champs -- who won their 10th in a row, their longest streak since winning 19 straight earlier this season -- the Pistons host Cleveland on Sunday and then face Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat Wednesday.
On this night, all Iverson had to smile about was moving past Sir Charles. Iverson scored 19, giving him 23,768 in his career. Patrick Ewing is next on the list with about 1,000 more. Iverson is second among active scorers to Shaquille O'Neal.