Allen Iverson may not be “The Answer” for the Timberwolves

Just when the Timberwolves start to gel and look like a team with some promise, along comes the possibility of acquiring Allen Iverson.  Although many fans are excited about the possibility of acquiring a perrenial all-star to pair with Kevin Garnett, I can’t help but wonder if any good can come of these new trade rumors. 

[image] Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson
Trading for Allen Iverson just might be another “failed experiment” [image2]

[ad2] First off, let’s assume that these rumors stay just that, and no trade is made.  If nothing is done, there will be be a lot of disappointed people in the Twin Cities.  And knowing the relationship between the Wolves front office and the fans, things will get really ugly at the first sign of any struggle. For years to come, the second things go bad, we’ll be hearing complaints of “we should’ve gotten Iverson”.  In reality, the Wolves may not even have a realistic chance at landing AI, and even if they do, that trade might not be in our favor.  But regardless, if Iverson doesn’t end up in a Timberwolves jersey, you can pencil his name in next to Stephon, Eddie Jones, Chauncey, Joe Smith, Cassell, Sprewell, and the host of other coulda-shoulda-wouldas or couldn’t-shouldn’t-wouldn’ts that ended up as a disappointment to the fans. 

Now let’s assume that we end up making a trade for Iverson…

Well, to start, that’s a fairly big assumption.  The Wolves aren’t necessarily brimming with tradeable players, which is the reason many were calling for Garnett to be put on the block.  They can’t offer the Sixers a first-round pick before 2011, so that almost guarantees that some team will be able to put a sweeter deal on the table.  Basically, the only way that Iverson could possibly end up in Minnesota is if he specifically forced a trade there. And knowing the sour relationship between him and the 76ers front office, I highly doubt they’d be big on obliging. 

But let’s say that that we end up being able to get Allen Iverson for 30 cents on the dollar.  The question remains as to whether or not that would actually be a good thing for the Timberwolves.  The Wolves have looked really, really good the past three games. After stumbling out of the gate, they’re finally starting to mesh, and the results have been impressive.  Just last night they notched a decisive victory over the NBA-leading Utah Jazz.  If these past few games were more than just a tease, it’s not out of the question that this team could make a deep playoff run. 

So do you risk messing up the chemistry that this team took nearly 20 games to acquire in order to add a player who may only make them slightly better?  Do you put all your eggs in one basket, trading four or more of your players for one player who could be rendered useless if an injury occurs?  Do you mortgage your future sending off a budding young star for an experienced veteran with very few draft picks on the horizon?  These are all tough questions to answer, and things get tougher when you have to start deciding who you would ship off to get Iverson. 

Randy Foye would obviously be included.  The big question would be what member of the “new three-headed-monster” goes with him.  If you trade Mike James, that means Iverson has to run the point.  It also means you’ve traded away your top two point guards, leaving Troy Hudson as the lone backup.  That’s a serious loss of depth at one of the most important positions.  If you trade Ricky, Iverson would take his role at the two-spot.  But now the Wolves have gotten a LOT older and you’ve lost a step defensively, as Ricky’s proven himself to be a big-time hustler lately. 

You’d then have to throw in either Hassle or Jaric.  This one basically comes down to whether you value offense of defense. For me, the choice to trade either would depend on whether James or Davis is packaged.  If you trade Mike James, I think Trenton would have to go. Keeping Marko would always give you the option of playing him at the point to backup Iverson.  If Ricky were to go, we’d need to shore up the defense, so Trenton would need to stay. 

So assuming my logic holds, you’re looking at losing either Foye, James, Hassle and fillers, or Foye, Davis, Jaric, and fillers. Either of those packages leaves a big void on this team for Iverson to fill.  At AI’s current 30ppg average, you’d think that wouldn’t be such a difficult task.  But you need to remember that Iverson is playing with next to no help and can fire away at will.  He won’t, or at least shouldn’t, get as near as many looks when he’s sharing the ball with KG.  Then again, with teams unable to fully concentrate of either Garnett or Iverson, we might see increased production from both of them despite the decrease in touches. 

Looking ahead, it’s hard to see how adding Iverson would make a dramatic change in the outcome of this season.  The Timberwolves are extremely deep right now, and they can throw a constant barrage of competent players at their opponents.  While any starting lineup with AI and KG would be a force to be reckoned with, our bench would be very depleted. 

Things get even more murky when you begin to look past this season. What pieces would you be able to add around the two in order to form a championship team?  Would stars begin to flock to Minnesota and sign for cheap like they did to pair with Shaq in Miami and L.A.? Will Iverson be able to hold up and still be a factor three or four years from now? 

There are just so many questions surrounding the trade, that I’m extremely hesitant to blow up a team that looks like they could be special for a big name.  If trading for Iverson becomes the sequel to “the failed experiment”, where does that leave the Timberwolves when his and Garnett’s contracts expire simultaneously in 2009?  They could both potentially bolt, leaving the Wolves with nothing to show for it, and no picks to rebulid.  Yeah, they’d be waaaaay under the cap, but good luck landing a top tier free agent in the frozen tundra.  Basically, the Timberwolves will be decimated after Iverson hangs it up.  Is the potential of amazing days right now worth guaranteeing a long string of dark days in the future? 

Initially, I was very against trading for Iverson.  Maybe I’m just far too much of a homer and am ridiculously overestimating this team’s chances of success with their current roster.  But I have a very difficult time blowing up a team that gets me excited to add a big name player who I doubt would make a huge difference.  Especially, when such a move would devastate us in the future. 

That being said, there’s one way I make this trade.  I would need a promise from Iverson that he would’t pull a Sam and Spree on us.  When it came time for a contract extension, instead of looking for a raise or even the same salary, AI would need to know he was taking a paycut, and a major one.  Same thing goes for Garnett.  Hey, if this duo shocks me and produces a title before 2009, then sign them for the full monty – they deserve it.  But if the more likely scenario of several “close but no cigar” seasons plays out, it’s time for KG and AI to put their money where there mouth is. 

Yeah, I’m talking the both of them resigning for the veterans minimum.  They’d each be in their mid-30’s, still productive, and the Timberwolves would be ridiculously under the cap.  This would open up the flood gates for an infusion of talent to Minnesota, and set the stage for a title-run for the ages. Those of you itching to see both Garnett and Iverson win a title – this plan right here is your best chance going.  You couldn’t play your cards any better.  Of course that plan above is based on both KG and AI remaining healthy for several more years, and being willing to leave a horde of cash on the table, neither of which are certainties.  So with the current roster of Timberwolves notching four consecutive and decisive victories, I’m not quite ready to go all in. 

Regardless of what happens, one thing is for sure.  The Timberwolves front office needs to look over their options carefully and come up with a set, realistic plan for how the Wolves are going to get back into title contention over the next three or four years.  The good news is that regardless of whether or not Iverson heads up north, the surging Timberwolves certainly look like they’ll find “The Answer” soon. 


Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson founded the Bloguin Network and TWolves Blog. He is one of the original Timberwolves fans, hailing back to 1989.