The NBA off-season usually starts off with a lot of action and then everything calms down and we have a long boring wait until the beginning of training camp. This year was no exception to that rule: Hedo Turkoglu and Shawn Marion and Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva and Ron Artest and Trevor Ariza were all locked up in short order. What is different this summer is that the everything dried up much more quickly than in years past. The trickle of signings that we are seeing at this point are either guys re-signing with their own teams (Lamar Odom, Marvin Williams) or fringe guys that few people care about (Ryan Hollins, Primoz Brezec).
It's more than a little surprising considering that several of the perceived big names in the free agent market are still out there: names like Allen Iverson, Ramon Sessions, David Lee and Nate Robinson.
And it seems that until Iverson and Sessions land somewhere, we're not going to know who the last couple of names on the Clippers' roster will be this season.
The situation with Sessions has been discussed ad infinitum lately, and the simple fact is that nothing has changed. If the Knicks are willing to present him a reasonable offer sheet, he'll sign it. He has a relationship with Dan D'Antoni, he gets to start in New York, it's a system that all players love - it's simply a preferable situation. If the Knicks aren't will to spend the money (hoarding it instead for the summer of 2010) then the Clippers can make a move. But we're still waiting on the Knicks.
Iverson on the other hand has dropped off our radar. Thankfully it would seem that the Dunleavy's insouciant dalliance is more or less over. It's pretty clear at this point that the 'very serious talks' report in mid-July was a story floated by Iverson's camp to drum up interest (just as last night's 'strong pitch' story concerning the Clippers and Sessions is likely coming from Sessions' agent). The simple fact is that Iverson and the Clippers are a poor fit for one another right now, and I imagine that both sides realize that. But for those of us who dread the idea of Iverson suiting up next to Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin, it will be a relief when he has actually signed with someone else. So where might he land?
On Wednesday afternoon Jason Fleming of HoopsWorld went through all 30 NBA teams looking for an answer for the Answer. His criteria were reasonable, and he came up with five teams in the end:
Houston, New York, Miami, Philly, and Charlotte would seem be the only places with both a little cash left and a possible position for Iverson.
Maybe I'm just allowing previous reports to shade my thinking on this, but isn't Miami really the only reasonable NBA destination left for Iverson?
Daryl Morey is the ultimate NBA advanced stats GM; his approach is to look for undervalued guys and develop them. Might Allen Iverson actually be a bargain at the mid-level or even less if he has to settle for that? I suppose so. Does he seem like a 'Daryl Morey guy'? Not in the least.
New York would make a lot of sense - rent him for a year, give the MSG fans paying those New York prices a big name to watch. But after terrible experiences with Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis, I just don't see them doing this. Of course, it would also be dependent on what they decide to do about Sessions.
The Charlotte rumors have been around for awhile - the reunion of Iverson and the coach that took him to the Finals and helped him have an MVP year. Maybe. Maybe. But does Iverson really want to go to North Carolina and play for a bad team at this stage of his career?
Philly isn't happening. No way.
That leaves Miami. And Michael Wallace reports on his Miami Herald blog today that the Heat do still have an interest in Iverson:
According to a source close to Iverson on Thursday, Riley reached out to the 10-time NBA All-Star recently to let him know that the Heat "has continued interest in (Iverson's) services" and also that Miami "could be a great opportunity for us."
Just as with the Clippers, let's use caution given that the source is reported as 'close to Iverson'. But doesn't this make a lot of sense? The Heat are keeping the leanest 2010 payroll in the league to try to retain Wade AND add a star next to him, and Iverson is willing to sign a one year deal. Meanwhile, as pleasant a surprise as 2008 second rounder Mario Chalmers was in the backcourt, it would seem that Iverson would be an upgrade next to Dwyane Wade. Is he a pure point? No, but Wade does a lot of the ball handling in Miami anyway. And it's one of the few situations where Iverson's place in the pecking order would be clear. Sure, he's a former MVP, but Wade is one of the NBA's current holy trinity - there's no real question about who would have the ball at crunch time.
And while it might be a little awkward given how both of those guys tend to dominate the ball, Miami could certainly use another scorer. (The fact that Allen Iverson is almost as old as Eric Spoelstra might be awkward as well, I suppose.) The Heat are good enough to make the playoffs in the East basically on Wade's talent alone - the risk reward for them or adding a piece that might actually get them into the second round, a piece that is talented enough to make a difference in a playoff series, might be worth it.
If not Miami, there's one more possibility that makes some sense for Iverson: Europe. I'm not sure whether the source is credible, but apparently Olympiacos has offered him $10M for two years. (Remember that that is $10M after taxes, so it's a lot more money that the MLE.)
Whatever happens, let's hope it happens soon.