Posted on: August 21, 2009 1:15 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2009 4:17 pm
When Allen Iverson entered the NBA in 1996, people wore beepers. Seriously, Twitter Nation, to communicate with someone, here's what you did in 1996: You called their beeper number, listened for the beeps, punched in your phone number, and waited. Sometimes they'd call you back, sometimes they wouldn't.
It was slightly more effective than smoke signals, or rotary dialing.
Which brings us to the technical innovation of 2009 and how Iverson is using it to offer play-by-play of his own demise.
Iverson, a certain Hall of Famer coming off a $20 million-a-year salary who can't find an NBA job, has been waxing poetic about his comeback via Twitter updates. We call it a comeback because, well, Iverson does -- and also because he was for all intents and purposes retired down the stretch of a miserable stint with the Pistons last year. A proud 10-time All-Star, Iverson couldn't stomach coming off the bench for Michael Curry, who became only the latest coach to get fired after coaching A.I. Iverson went so far as to say that he'd retire for real before coming off another team's bench. But what he really couldn't stomach was the decline of his game. He's 34, his body has absorbed incalculable mileage, and he can't do the one thing he's always done better than anybody else -- get to the basket and score, by any means necessary.
Neil Paine of Basketball-reference.com analyzed Iverson's statistical decline and was spot-on in concluding that one of the problems is that while A.I. can still get to the basket, he's finishing with a lower percentage than he used to. That's what happens to players like Iverson when they get old; they don't fade away, they flame out like a comet.
I don't want to get too much into Iverson's sudden Twitter fetish. You can read the updates yourself. But the tone and volume of updates picked up noticeably this week, with A.I. saying that his "people" are telling him that he's "close to a deal." That was Wednesday morning. Still no deal.
Iverson also has floated the teams with whom he's apparently close to signing. "Waiting for the call," he wrote. "Charlotte, Miami, NY." Iverson, who has thrived off negative energy from his doubters since the moment he was drafted, also wrote, "If you think I am just going away, think again! ... I have heard all of the doubters, but they should know that I will not be broken."
Bobcats coach Larry Brown said this week that he'd gladly coach Iverson again, but didn't want to insult him with an offer that probably would be somewhere between the minimum and the mid-level exception. Miami? Why? As for the Knicks, we told you three weeks ago on this site that the Knicks had "zero" interest in Iverson. That remains true. Just ask the dozen media outlets that wrote it again this week.
Before you brand me an Iverson hater, think again (as A.I. would say). I've known him and covered him since his rookie year. I haven't liked everything he's done, but I've always liked him and enjoyed watching his career. For me, Iverson and Kobe have been my favorite post-Jordan players to watch. So if you're looking for A.I. bashing, or if you want to read someone who's hoping Iverson fails in his attempt to revive his suddenly dormant career, you've come to the wrong place.
I hope he succeeds. I hope he winds up somewhere that's a good fit, on a team that he can help. Some people are ready for the smiling, sanitized stars of the new NBA to take over and leave Iverson's rough public image and his innovative/frustrating/selfish game in the past. Not me.
But in all the Twitter updates, amid all the bravado, I don't see the one line that Iverson needs to write. I don't see him stating that he'd accept a bench role, that he'd be willing to do what he could've done in Detroit -- which is allow his scoring gifts to impact the game as a reserve. If Iverson would say that, he might actually be getting some interest from teams other than the bottom-feeders whose intentions are really about the lowest common denominator: signing Iverson to sell tickets as opposed to signing him to improve their team.
I don't know how many more Twitter updates we'll see before Iverson signs somewhere. Maybe I'll page him and ask.
Posted on: July 8, 2009 4:11 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2009 4:34 pm
The Pistons have agreed to a three-year contract with Cavaliers assistant John Kuester to be their next coach, CBSSports.com has confirmed.
Kuester, who previously worked on the Pistons' staff as an assistant when the team won the NBA title in 2004 under Larry Brown, is traveling to Detroit Wednesday night and is expected to be introduced Thursday morning after signing the contract, a person familiar with the situation said. The deal is fully guaranteed for three years, the person said.
The Pistons opened negotiations with Kuester, credited with diversifying Cleveland's offense last season under coach Mike Brown, after failing to agree to contract terms with former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson on Tuesday. The sticking point with Johnson, who is owed $8 million from Dallas over the next two seasons, was said to have been a third guaranteed year.
UPDATE: Kuester leaves LeBron James in Cleveland for a chance to sit in the first seat on a rapidly evolving Detroit bench. The Pistons were the first team to jump aggressively into the free-agent market last week, agreeing to terms with Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. If team president Joe Dumars is unable to make other moves, those signings will effectively preclude Detroit from being a major player in the 2010 free-agent market that will include LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh -- unless they decide to sign extensions with their current teams this summer.
Dumars fired Michael Curry last week after only one season at the helm. Curry's inability to juggle the three-man backcourt of Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey, and Allen Iverson in the wake of Dumars' decision to trade Chauncey Billups to Denver for A.I. is now Kuester's problem, though with slightly different names: Stuckey, Hamilton, and Gordon.
Kuester, 55, has paid his dues as an assistant in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, New Jersey, Orlando, and Cleveland. His name quickly climbed the charts of head coaching candidates last season after Mike Brown gave him autonomy to revamp the Cavs' offensive approach following the team's acquisition of Mo Williams.
Posted on: July 7, 2009 12:09 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2009 11:23 pm
UPDATES THROUGHOUT with Kuester negotiations:
The Detroit Pistons have passed on Avery Johnson in their search for a head coach and have entered into negotiations with Cavaliers assistant John Kuester, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com. A person familiar with the negotiations said an agreement is expected within 24 hours.
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: July 2, 2009 12:55 am
With word Wednesday night that Doug Collins has removed his name from consideration for the Pistons' head coaching job, Avery Johnson has emerged as the clear favorite to succeed Michael Curry in Detroit.
As he did with the Sixers' job earlier this offseason, Collins flirted with the idea of returning to the sideline but ultimately couldn't resist staying in the relatively blissful world of basketball broadcasting. All in all, that's good for basketball fans because I think Collins is as good as it gets when it comes to NBA color commentators. A little over the top sometimes, but outstanding nonetheless.
So after Collins informed Pistons president Joe Dumars that he was no longer pursuing the job, a source familiar with the situation confirmed, it is now clearly Johnson's job to lose. The former Mavericks coach makes sense on so many levels. Dumars has stated that he wants a more experienced coach. Johnson was a winner in Dallas, and by now he's had time to reflect on some of the things he did wrong -- primarily being too rigid. The third box the Pistons can check off is that Johnson is still getting paid by the Mavericks next season, so he comes at a discount. For similar reasons, I believe Sam Mitchell will get the job in Minnesota. Dollars and cents and past success equals a new opportunity for both. Stay here for updates.
Posted on: July 1, 2009 7:26 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2009 1:00 am
The Detroit Pistons struck first Wednesday, getting commitments from their top two free-agent targets, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.
Posted on: July 1, 2009 10:59 am
Eager to transform malaise from the salary-cap clearing Chauncey Billups trade into a new beginning, the Pistons believe they can land both Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva and are making their pitch on the first day of free agency, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Posted on: June 30, 2009 1:39 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2009 5:44 pm
As most of the NBA was expecting the Detroit Pistons to gear up for pursuit of several free agents, they fired their coach instead. Michael Curry will not return to coach the team next season, the Pistons announced in an email to the media.