Saturday, December 17, 2005

Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson and the Sixers'
success are mutually exclusive.

Scarcely in basketball fandom does one ever get the chance to suggest that his team trade its centerpiece, especially if that centerpiece is the NBA's leading scorer. For Sixers fans, that chance is now. Allen Iverson, the Sixers' point guard since 1996, is having one of the best seasons in his career, averaging his most minutes per game in his career, and shooting field goals at a rate unmatched since his second season in the NBA. So why trade him?

It's not his "we're talkin' 'bout practice" attitude, nor his ball-coveting syndrome. Iverson is only in his early-thirties, but he's not getting any younger or healthier, which is why the Sixers ought to maximize on his value now, rather than let him become an injurial and contractual burden on the team. At 12-12, and sadly atop the Atlantic division, the Sixers aren't going anywhere this season. Perhaps they'll make the playoffs, but they will most likely face an early-round exit with no consolation prize.

Some team with a cloudy view of the playoff road map could utilize Iverson and offer the Sixers organization a chance to grow not from the bottom in draft picks and not-quite-ready young players, or from the top in a star-for-star swap, but from the middle in two, maybe three floor-ready players that can compliment a nucleus of Kyle Korver, Samuel Dalembert and Andre Iguodala. Yes, the Sixers will miss Iverson's ability to bend defenders' knees with his suave ball-handling, and his ability to use his court knowledge to create opportunities out of nothing, but the Sixers - and Iverson's - sucess is mutually exclusive.