Iverson's New Home?
by Trevor Whenham - 12/12/2006
Allen Iverson is one of those guys you either love or hate. To me he's one of the most entertaining and explosive players in the league, and I'd take him on my team in a heartbeat. To others he's an annoying, selfish distraction - Terrell Owens in Reeboks. Regardless of what you think about him, his imminent trade is going to have a significant impact on his new team, and it is something that bettors are going to have to compensate for. He averaged more than 31 points per game, despite playing on a terrible team with no cohesion.
Though rumors are flying all over the place, it is interesting that, as of early Tuesday afternoon at least, there is no clear destination for The Answer. Even among the teams that seem to be at the forefront, like Denver and Golden State, there are many different reports of who could be going the other way. On Monday night it looked like Charlotte was going to get him, but Iverson didn't want to go to another lousy team, and in the long run the Bobcats are probably lucky they didn't get him because he obviously wouldn't have been happy there. With them seemingly out of the picture, here's a look at the most likely potential destinations, and what it would mean for betting on those teams:
There is no shortage of potential destinations. Boston tried to get him in the offseason and is apparently in the mix again. Indiana is also keen to get him, which seems odd given how badly they were able to manage Ron Artest and his attitude. Chicago was said to be close to a deal that would include Ben Gordon, though the team has denied that that was ever in the works. The Clippers are interested and apparently willing to part with Corey Maggette, though it seems unlikely that Donald Sterling, the world's cheapest owner, would want A.I.'s contract. Even the Lakers are interested according to Phil Jackson. Any of those scenarios is feasible, and each one would be exciting in its own way, but if I had to bet I would choose one of the following three as Iverson's new home. Of course, I could be entirely wrong.
Golden State Warriors - Golden State has been slowly improving over the last few years, but they are 10-11 this year, and are still a few pieces away from being a playoff contender in the tough West. After getting off to a good 7-3 start the team has lost eight of 11. There are a couple of really good players on the team in Baron Davis and Jason Richardson, and Monta Ellis has been surprisingly solid, but behind them are a bunch of disappointing underachievers like Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy. Golden State is eleventh in the league in scoring, so they aren't terrible offensively, but Iverson would add a whole new element of offense to them. That would be crucial, because the team would have to package either Richardson or Davis to get Iverson. The depth in their bench means that that isn't too concerning. The worry, though, would be whether Iverson will be willing enough to share the ball around to take advantage of the range of decent scoring threats the team has. If he is, and he has shown at times he can be with teammates he respects, then the backcourt of him and Ellis would be thrilling to watch, and even Davis and Iverson would be great if they could find a way to co-exist. Undoubtedly, the trade would be a huge jumpstart for the team, and that is clearly needed.
There would be the potential for some good totals play if Iverson were to go to Golden State. The team, thanks to good scoring and suspect defense, has gone over in nine of their last eleven games, and Iverson's presence would only accentuate that trend on both accounts.
Denver Nuggets - This is the destination deemed by many to be the most likely one. Even more so than Golden State, the Nuggets are a solid team that will never get anywhere as they are because they are stuck in the West. They have gone 11-4 since starting the season with three straight losses. The likely offering here would include some combination of Andre Miller, Nene, Joe Smith and his expiring contract, and a draft pick. Iverson in Denver's powder blue is a potentially spectacular thought. If he and Melo could play together then this team, with two of the best pure scorers in the league, would be dynamite. On the other hand, both players like to touch the ball a lot, so that would either cause problems for them, or limit the involvement of anyone else.
As with any team, the question is if Iverson can get along with the stars. If he and Anthony did get along, then Denver would win a lot and score a ton. Having Anthony and Iverson on the same team could present some short-term opportunities to go under, since bettors are clearly going to perceive that this team will be able to score at will.
Minnesota Timberwolves - This one makes sense for one huge reason - Kevin Garnett has been very public and vocal about his desire for it to happen. Garnett is disgruntled and his team is pretty average (10-9). The desire for Garnett to play with Iverson, and the fact that they have played together internationally, means that this is a partnership that we could be confident of. It would also be thrilling. Teams wouldn't be able to consistently double both players, meaning that someone would always be open to score. The Wolves, at 13-6, are already a very good team ATS, and that offensive threat would mean that they would likely continue to regularly cover spreads. It also means that they would likely go over more than they have now (just seven times in 19 games).