Questions and The Answer
By Steve Kerr, Yahoo Sports
December 15, 2006
That's OK – we're all entitled to our opinions. And with so much going on in the NBA these days, it's time we heard from the people.
So here you go: the latest batch of mails. Keep 'em coming.
As usual, my comments appear in italics.
I like your take on the NBA, but I have to disagree with you on the A.I. trade strongly. A.I. is a leader and the team that acquires him will benefit very much because of his explosive game. Do you honestly think A.I. had a very good supporting cast in Philly? I sense some kind of personal dislike for A.I. in your take on SportStream and in your column. Please talk to people like coach John Thompson about A.I. before making this kind of an outrageous comment about a person who took a mediocre team to the NBA finals.
Ram, I don't dislike Iverson. In fact, I really don't know him, other than playing against him a lot during my career (and usually giving up about 40 points or so). I respect his talent and his competitiveness and how hard he plays. No one can argue with that. But I don't think Iverson understands that there's a lot more to winning than playing hard. He openly disdains practice, which not only sets a horrible example for young teammates, but automatically undermines his coach as well. If you want to win an NBA title, you can't do that. I was lucky enough to play with five championship teams, and I watched guys such as Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan work their tails off at practice and work closely with their coaches. I believe that's why they were champions. The point of my article was not that I disliked Iverson – it was simply that teams are very reluctant to trade for him because of what comes with him – poor practice habits and a $20 million salary.
Steve, I saw your interview where you were asked if you would want Allen Iverson on your team if you were still playing in the NBA. You said "no" because A.I. takes too many bad shots.
I don't feel that it is fair to hold the number of shots against A.I. simply because he was at most times the best option that the 76ers had. If he had at least two additional "quality players" on the floor with him, I don't think that he would have to take so many awkward shots.
Robert, you may be right. Maybe when Iverson gets to his next team, he'll have more talent around him and improve his shot selection. But during his career he has never shot higher than 46.1 percent in a season. Surely at some point during his Sixers tenure, he had enough talent around him to be more efficient offensively.
I've never been a big fan of Allen Iverson. However, in the last three years or so I've really come to respect his effort and tenacity. I still don't care for the off-the-court issues and the apparent lack of respect for coaches or rules. I DO respect the fact that no one in the NBA (OK, maybe K.G. or Nash) plays harder night in and night out than A.I. I watched in person as A.I. carved up my beloved Milwaukee Bucks in the 2001 Eastern Conference finals. At that time, I had friendly discussions with fellow hoops fanatics and we all agreed that the scenario of A.I. ending his career on a bad note was far too real. Five years later, it seems to have come to fruition. With the baggage he carries off the court and the salary cap number he carries on the court, this is not going to end well for A.I. At this stage in his career, do you think he could change his game to join a winner, a la Bob McAdoo with the 80s Los Angeles Lakers or Gary Payton last year with the Miami Heat?
Pete, that's the challenge for Iverson: to change his game to adapt to his new team. If he can do that – and the team wins – then the gamble will have been worth it for the team that trades for him. Personally, I'd like to see him pull it off. It would be great for him, obviously, and it would be great for the league, too. We'll see.
I agree that Iverson's trouble, but do you really believe that an interested team with a potential lottery pick is going to be dissuaded by a no-better-than 25-percent chance (by the lottery system) of getting Greg Oden?
Zac, I've talked with a lot of people around the league, and everyone is saying that if they trade a first-round pick in next year's draft, they'll lottery-protect it. Oden is a once-in-a-decade type player, and if a team has any chance of getting him, it has to hang on to that chance.
Since Isiah Thomas has been with the New York Knicks now, he has made some ridiculous trades and acquisitions. Why isn't he jumping all over this situation? Obviously, Starbury and Steve Francis aren't the answer to the Knicks' future. Do you think The Answer could be the answer to the Knicks' woes? What do you think?
Johnnie, I think if Isiah hadn't made all the moves he's made the past couple of years, the Knicks would be all over Iverson. But Isiah has taken on so many bad contracts and made such a mess of the team that his players don't have much value anymore. Philly wants no part of guys like Francis or Stephon Marbury, and the Knicks' young players aren't good enough to bring Iverson back in a deal. So as much as the Knicks would like to get Iverson into the Garden, I don't think they can make it happen.
I just read "Bad Answer?" Personally, I only see one team that would be willing to take a chance on the whole package: (don't laugh) NEW YORK!!! I know it sounds crazy but Thomas already had trouble with Marbury and I wouldn't be surprised if the Knicks wanted to unload him. Besides, wouldn't the 76ers need a decent guard anyway? They could also probably pick up some loose change as well. Frankly, I don't see a deal happening, but New York is the only place that can handle the whole Iverson package, contract and all. A young and fast team might have A.I. running a fast-break rather than walking alongside an aging Chris Webber.
David, I would love nothing more than to see Iverson playing in the Garden for the Knicks. The electricity in that building would be unbelievable! But as I told Johnnie, I don't think the Knicks have what it takes. I'll say this, though. As much baggage as Iverson possesses, he is one of the few players in the entire league who'll fill seats and excite an entire city. It's not going to be New York, though.
Regarding Iverson's situation, I think people may be discounting him too early. It is true that he is one of the best scoring point guards and he hasn't been known as a true "team" player in all his years in Philly. For all these years, the Sixers have been trying to find the right players to complement Iverson … and made a big commitment in making A.I. their franchise player. However, things have changed and plans don't always work out. If they had tried to put him in a lesser role in which he didn't have to be the go-to-guy every night, things would have been different. While playing on the All-Star teams and Team USA, we actually saw him perform much better than the A.I. we saw in a Sixers jersey. I think a change of scenery could benefit A.I. and his new team.
Andy, you make a great point regarding the "change of scenery." Sometimes change is the best thing that can happen to a player who is stuck in a rut. The Sixers have been bad for a long time, and A.I. is undoubtedly frustrated. A new team will give him energy, and Iverson is so competitive that he will be unbelievably motivated to prove that he's still a great player. So I do think that whoever gets him will get a huge boost of energy.
Just wondering: What do you think would happen if no one ends up wanting to trade for Iverson? Everyone talks like it will happen eventually, but what if a deal can't or won't be made?
Terry, that was the point of my column. Most teams are taking a pass on an Iverson trade. But a deal will happen – it's just a matter of time. Iverson is such a talent that there are some teams willing to take on the risk and his enormous contract. But the reason that this may take some time is that nobody is knocking Billy King's socks off with offers. Sooner or later, though, things will heat up and King will get an offer that he'll take. Right now, though, the offers haven't been good enough, so King is waiting for a better one.
If I were eligible to vote for the NBA Hall of Fame, Allen Iverson would not get my vote. Despite his positives, there are, in my opinion, far too many on-the-court negatives to make him an attractive candidate for enshrinement. I can only hope my beloved Golden State Warriors don't gut the team to trade for him.
Bruce, I think Iverson belongs in the Hall of Fame and that he'll be there one day. Yes he's had his issues off the court, but it's not like he's Pete Rose – he didn't bet on the game or compromise it in any way. As for your Warriors possibly trading for him? Keep in mind that your squad has some bad long-term contracts they'd love to get rid of (Adonal Foyle, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy). If they can unload a couple of those deals, they might be inclined to make a pitch for Iverson. But I don't think Philly will go for it unless Jason Richardson or Monta Ellis is involved.
Steve, I like you, but are you blind? Last time I checked A.I. leads the league in scoring, plays over 42 minutes per game and averages seven assists a game. And oh, by the way, he's averaged 28 points a game for his entire career! He plays hard every time I've seen him play. Hasn't the press got carried away with his off-the-court stuff and missed the fact that he is one of the greatest players we have seen in a long time?
Sean, I can see very clearly, thank you, and this is what I see: Iverson is one of the greatest scoring guards in the history of the league, but he doesn't dominate in an efficient way. He's a 42-percent career field-goal shooter, and when your best player is missing almost 60 percent of his shots, it's hard to win. And when your best player is blowing off practice and constantly having trouble with his coach, it's really hard to win.
Just to comment on your latest on the A.I. saga. I have two words for you, Steve: Ron Artest. If Indy was able to move Artest (who came with WAY more baggage than A.I.) last season, I see no problem in the Sixers trying to move A.I. It may take awhile, but someone will make an offer that Billy King will find suitable, just like Pacers president Donnie Walsh did with the Sacramento Kings in getting Peja Stojakovic.
Michael, there's one big difference between the Iverson situation and the Artest one: money. The Kings took a chance on Artest, but he was making less than $7 million per year. Iverson is making an average of $20 million over the next three years. So while there will be some teams interested in him, most have already dropped out due to financial concerns.
Hey Steve, can you explain how trading for a No. 1 pick works? Does that mean the next time the trader receives the No. 1 pick, it automatically goes to the tradee, no matter how long it takes? Or is it just a way of referring to a first-round draft pick? And in regards to trading for draft picks, can the pick recipient choose what year they use that pick in?
David, if you trade for a first-round pick, you know exactly what year it is that you're getting the pick. So when Iverson finally is dealt and if there's a draft pick involved in the deal, it will be for a specific year (2007, for example).
TOP-RANKED LAKERS ("I love L.A.," Dec. 11, 2006)
So the second-place team in the Pacific Division and the fifth-place team in the Western Conference is the No. 1 team in your rankings? Are you serious? How can you possibly rank the Lakers over San Antonio, Phoenix, Utah or Dallas? You really think the Lakers could beat any of those teams in a five- or seven-game series? Highly unlikely.
Burt, first of all, when I ranked the Lakers No. 1, they were atop the Pacific Division. And the reason I had them ahead of Utah and San Antonio is that L.A. just beat both teams! I put them ahead of Phoenix because they were a half-game ahead in the standings and they beat the Suns earlier in the year. And as for the Mavs, I couldn't put them first – they were coming off two bad losses last week. Look, I don't think the Lakers are the best team in the league, but they earned the ranking. They had the second-best record in the entire league, and the team with the best record (the Jazz) had just gotten pounded by 30 points by L.A. So get over it.
OK, I am a huge Lakers fan and I know and appreciate those who hate the Lakers. But come on, you are putting a lot of wood to the fire. Putting L.A. No. 1 with so many home games? History has to play a role in your rankings. As much as I hate admitting it, the Spurs, Phoenix and the Mavs (who are nonetheless overrated) deserve such credit. But the Lakers, while doing well, have only shown to be a genuine top 10 team and not more. I hope to be wrong, I really do.
Fernando, I knew I'd take some heat for putting the Lakers first, but as I explained to Burt, they earned it. Unfortunately for you and the rest of the Lakers fans, now that Lamar Odom is out, L.A. is most likely heading down the standings. The Lakers might not be the best team in the league, but make no mistake about it, they're among the top five or six.
Yao Ming has emerged from a frail young center to become a dominating force in the low post. Yet, my friends and even my teachers expect more from him just because he's 7-foot-6 and he got blocked once by Nate Robinson. They think he's terrible, and I believe he is the top center of the league right now. Shaquille O'Neal has been amazing, but he is getting injured and older. Can you give me some facts that can shut them up?
Howard, Yao Ming is the best center in the NBA. His numbers are outrageous – 24 points and 10 boards on 53-percent shooting. He's dealing with the speed and quickness of the NBA game better than before. And with Shaq out, Yao is the most dominant center around. BUT he still needs to do it in the playoffs. That's where you truly make your mark in the NBA, and Yao hasn't done that yet.
Steve Kerr is Yahoo! Sports' NBA analyst. Send Steve a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Sunday, Dec 17, 2006 2:00 am, EST