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A Few Thoughts on Iverson

Monsieur Perrin is probably poolside preparing a post on this, although he might have gotten hung up at the breakfast buffet, and who knows what he might have been up to last night, with his new access to NBA players, coaches, writers etc. and all.  We have nothing but good news from yesterday, and Club Optimism is riding high.  In the morning desert sun the amazing debut of Blake Griffin is being overshadowed by the confirmations of Clipper talks with Allen Iverson.  There's an existing fanpost thread that has some good comments, but I thought I'd put my own observations on the main page to spur further discussion, as we have a lot of time, still buoyed by yesterday's enthusiasm, before the Super Summer Experience Game #2 tonight.

After the jump. 

Don't we have to assume that the Clippers are a playoff team if they sign Iverson?  The best thing is that they would be using their mid-level to add a major, all-star piece on the semi-cheap, for only one year, thus preserving next season's capspace and adding a tradeable expiring contract if the wheels come off for the umpteenth time.  There are all sorts of comments on this, but perhaps the main thing to remember is that the Clippers have nowhere to go but up.

The latest report (ESPN, Chris Sheridan) is that, not in quite so many words, Iverson is going to meet with MDSr and they will discuss what his role on the team would be.  MDSr knows how to deal with wily, complex veterans, and I haven't seen anyone mention yet the way that the Cassell deal worked out for the Clips, and that's probably a good place to focus.  Perhaps we forget about the success of the Cassell-Mobley move because of the tension between BDavis and MDSr and last year's disaster, but it's worth remembering the initial skepticism about Cassell and Mobley, that they were seen as problematic players, and under MDSr they quickly became accepted as crafty, aging vets.  Last year's horrendous debacle is increasingly being portrayed as a combination of a ridiculous number of injuries, coming upon horrible injuries the previous 18 months (Liv, FElton), with fractured, impossible chemistry from having so many new players.  The conceit proposed by BDavis, with none of us knowing if he can still be a very good, let alone great player, that his first year at GSW was nightmarish but the team gelled magnificently in his second year, is still well within the realm of possibility, with its chances growing every day.

We're so excited about the young talent on the team, led by the fabulous G-ns, with DJordan playing well alongside them, that it's hard to think of the veterans, especially after last season's debacle.  The pertinent vets are Baron Davis and Marcus Camby.  Camby, solid NBA citizen that he is, was known to be close with AI in Denver, he's hanging out in Vegas (with Steve Perrin, no doubt), and he would have to be seen as a positive influence on the arrival of Iverson, both of them on essentially one-year deals.  And before last season's meltdown by both players, what would we have thought of a Baron Davis-Allen Iverson backcourt at this time last year?  Now both are looking for redemption.  They want to reestablish their cred, and like Camby, they're perennial playoff contenders, they want to win games, get through the regular season, then see where they stand in the playoffs and take their best shot.  For Clipper fans, that's a pretty awesome scenario for the upcoming season, especially when one considers, again, last season and how there's nowhere to go but up.

The other good news is that Eric Gordon has firmly established his credentials and central role on the team and in its future.  It would be different if Iverson was being traded (to a team with Rip Hamilton).  In this case, it's his choice. He would be signing with a team that has oft-injured, including last year, Baron Davis, and young stud Eric Gordon, both solid starters, but a team with no firmly established third guard.  The minutes are there, and the only question is how they're going to be distributed.  The good news is the way that MDSr seems to be handling it, that there's going to be a meeting to discuss exactly how things would work, what AI's possible role might be.  It's not a sudden, leave the dinner with Beno Udrih to sign Baron Davis situation, complicated by potential mediator FElton's horrible defection.  It's a deliberate process, with no surprises.

And as a one-year deal, AI would not get in Eric Gordon's way and slow his development.  AI would be insurance against BDavis injury, mediocrity, or whatever.  AI is insurance against even a minimal sophomore slump by Gordon, who won't sneak up on anybody this year.  At the same time, unless I'm mistaken, Gordon is still not old enough to drink, and we don't know that he can hit big shots in crunch time and win games.  Baron Davis, when he's playing good basketball, can do that quite well, and Iverson can do it even better.  Again, it's worth remembering that before the arrival of Cassell the Clippers had an impossible time closing out games.  Gordon, after getting only 19 wins last season, has a long way to go before gaining the experience and nerve to get there.  We all believe that he will, but it would still be a learning process for him in his second season, along with Blake Griffin going through his own rookie paces.  Adding AI would make the Clippers much more competitive in the short term.

And being competitive, becoming a playoff team, and even just signing AI for this single year rental, would also make the Clippers a more attractive destination for a major free agent, wouldn't it?  As always, this is an optimistic scenario, and we know all too well that optimism is a wildly inappropriate stance to take with the Clippers.  It's the Clippers, Steve.  So, lastly--what do they have to lose?  If Zach Randolph is a good two-year fit on the Grizzlies, if wacky Ron Artest is a viable 3-year replacement for younger, versatile, humble championship cog Trevor Ariza, if Vince Carter replaces Hedo TurkoGlu on the EC champ Magic, is there a downside to adding AI to the rejuvenated Clips, with Blake Griffin miraculously bringing them back from last year's zombie status?  If there is, I don't see it yet.  But let me know.