Tuesday, February 5

Allen vs Allen

A long time ago, August of 2004 to be exact, a hot topic surrounding the Sonics' franchise was the possibility of Ray Allen being traded and the Sonics acquiring Allen Iverson.

At the time, I wrote that it was exactly what this franchise needed to do, but that in the safe mode that Seattle always seems to operate it would never happen. Quite a few folks wrote in to say that I was an idiot, that Iverson's contract was untenable, that Allen's career would proceed much more smoothly, and that the Sonics would be foolish to do what I suggested.

Well, here we sit, almost four years later. I was thinking about that piece last night as the Blazers and Nuggets went to war in Portland. It was a great game, and I envied the Blazer fans for the playoff atmosphere in a February game. Iverson, Melo, Roy, Martin, heck, even Martell Webster in the third quarter - it was just a tremendous display of what makes the NBA great.

But back to AI. In the fourth quarter, and with his team trailing by two, Iverson drove left, received a pass from Melo out of the post, and promptly nailed a three to give Denver a one-point lead with 39 seconds remaining. It was just an unbelievably clutch shot, and Iverson's demeanor before and after it just made me smile. It was as if he had no doubt the shot would fall, despite the fact he was leaning left as he took it.

But he wasn't finished. With the game knotted at 103 in overtime, and the Nuggets with the ball coming out of a timeout, everyone in the arena knew AI was coming for the win. Heck, a three year old girl from Abu Dabi would have known what was coming. Sure enough, Iverson was up to the task, draining a 14-footer to give Denver the lead with .9 seconds remaining. Again, he had no doubt the shot would fall.

But what's your point, Pete, you ask, or are you just being an NBA voyeur who abandons his team's miserable Monday showing for more titillating sights south down I-5?

Here's the point: Four years ago virtually anyone in the NBA would have argued that it was smarter to sign Ray Allen to a long-term contract than to pick up Allen Iverson and his bloated deal. Iverson's attitude, his unpredictability, and, of course, the economics of it dictated the safe choice.

But how about now? Would anyone argue that it would be smarter to have Ray Allen's 2 1/2 years of contract or AI's 1 1/2? Considering that Iverson is still one of the best scorers in the game and Ray Allen is averaging less than 20 ppg, would anyone still take Sugar Ray's side?

I don't think so. Which leads to my point - nothing is for certain in this league, and sometimes you have to take chances. When the chances come, I'll take mine with a guy like Iverson.


Anonymous said...

You say Ray is averaging 20 ppg like his skill has declined. He's arguably the 3rd option on his team. You can make a case for 2nd option but after watching many of the games it's obvious KG and Pierce run the show. If Ray was still with us I'm sure he'd be at his normal 24-26 ppg, maybe even higher since we have very few other scorers.

AI has the green light. He and Melo can shoot whenever they want.

I'm not disagreeing with you though. I wouldn't mind having AI if I was running a veteran team and trying to get a championship.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what the questions is.
Are you comparing,

1. Ray-Ray + free-agent-Rashard + #2 pick


2. Iverson + free-agent-Rashard + #2 pick?

If so, I’d take option 1 in a heartbeat, as Ray-Ray’d be much easier to trade. I don’t think many teams would want to trade for Iverson, and if he wasn’t traded, he’d seriously hamper the development of Durant (assuming you pick him with the #2 pick). Ray-Ray may not be as good of a player as Iverson one-on-one, but he’s easier to trade because his skill-set doesn’t require him to dominate the ball, thereby making him much easier to implement into almost any team’s offense. (Although, he’d still want a healthy # of shots/game… And you’d still have to set a bunch of screens for him…). I don’t think we had the choice of resigning Rashard under either scenario, as he plays the position that Durant is expected to eventually fill.

Under option 1, I think we had the option of keeping Ray-Ray, and some (included myself) would argue that we should’ve done so. (It’s true that, knowing what we know now, Durant might’ve struggled mightily at the 3 due to his slight frame and reluctance to attack the rim. However, this may have been the type of learning experience that would’ve been good for his development in the long-run—as opposed to his current role where he just shoots fade-away 20 footers.) Either way, option 1 represents what actually happened.

As for option 2, we’d have no choice but to trade Iverson as soon as we drafted Durant, as there just wouldn’t be enough shots for the two of them. Iverson would fetch less than Ray-Ray in this scenario because: 1) there would be fewer potential trade partners, and 2) every GM in the NBA would know that we HAD to trade AI. There are very few teams that would be able to accommodate AI’s constant need for the ball without getting rid of their best player, and Iverson’s really not worth that much anymore at this stage in his career. Is it really worth restructuring your whole team around him (which is the only way to really take of his talents) when he only has a limited # of years of top performance left? I liken him to Michael Vick (minus the legal trouble), in that he’s arguably the most talented player in the league, but I’m not sure if he’s so good that it’s worth committing your team’s present and future on his singular talent.

Philly did a good job with him—they committed to him !00% and built a team around him and tried their best, then traded him early to get as much value as they could, before his value declined too much.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that there wouldn't be enough shots for both Durant and AI, simply because Denver has figured out how to make it work with AI and Melo, and that's not counting K-Mart or Camby, either.

Plus, with AI's contract expiring at the end of next season, while he would be difficult to trade, he wouldn't be as difficult as Ray Allen, who still has this year, next year, and the year after on his contract, meaning the team which acquired him would not benefit from his expiring contract for two more years.

There are valid arguments to either side, which proves my point, which is that the option of 1) Ray or 2) Allen three summers ago was not so black and white as people made it seem.

One other way to look at it is what the Sonics received for Allen and what the Sixers received for AI:

1. for Allen and Glen Davis - Szczerbiak, West, Jeff Green

2. for Iverson and Ivan McFarlin - Andre Miller, Joe Smith, Daequan Cook, Petteri Koponen.

It will depend upon how well Jeff Green pans out, obviously, but at the moment it seems to me that Philly received more than the Sonics did.

W said...

Nuss, amen. He's one of my favorite players in the league ever [in my 21 years], only behind Payton, Kemp, and maybe KG. I'd still consider him to be in the top echelon of guards, an assertion I'd at least be wary of making for Ray.