Disclaimer at the outset: when a player of superstar significance is on the trading block, speculation reaches levels before unseen. And so it is with that premise that we discuss what the powers that be might be thinking regarding the soon-to-be-traded Allen Iverson. It seems clear the Kings are somehow involved in the discussions either for Iverson or a deal involving him and perhaps other pieces and teams beyond Philadelphia.
First from the 76ers’ vantage point. Here’s one thing I haven’t heard discussed: beyond Iverson’s trade demand, team president Billy King has an equally unhappy Chris Webber on his hands. Less than a month ago, Webber told The Bee’s Scott Howard-Cooper that he wanted out, then later said he merely wanted to play a role that included the fourth quarter.
Either way, Webber is considered as close to untradeable as they come. But if Philly convinced the Kings to send Mike Bibby their way, one would think Webber - his close friend and Kings teammate from 2001 to 2004 - would be ecstatic. Not sure what that’s worth, especially since Webber is clearly not the focal point of the 76ers’ concerns, but it’s something.
Also, Philly gets to try Bibby for at least the remainder of the season. If the mix works, all parties move forward building from there. If Bibby - who has this season and next remaining on his deal but also has an early termination option available for after this season - opts out, Philly has salary cap space galore two seasons earlier than they would have if Iverson stuck around.
And, of course, the Sixers may demand that one of the Kings' young talents is included in the deal, so as to guarantee that the future beyond the next few seasons is, on some level, being considered.
Chances are, Bibby would be thrilled to be anywhere so long as he had a chance to shine enough this season to give him momentum going into possible free agency. His agent, David Falk, had been seen with alarming frequency of late, schmoozing with Petrie and the Maloofs at Arco Arena and perhaps requesting an extension so as to remove the mystery of Bibby’s marketability come summer time.
Now from the Kings standpoint, it’s tough to gauge what they’re thinking regarding Iverson because, well, the question of whose mindset matters at the moment is again coming into play. Around the league, the general consensus is that Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie likely wouldn’t pursue Iverson, just as so many thought he would never go after Ron Artest. But the Maloofs showed in their push to get Artest last year that they are willing to take their gambling ways to the NBA forum.
Could their thinking, perhaps, be that a) the Kings offense has been struggling with Bibby at the helm, and Iverson is the one player who could guarantee a high-rate of scoring that doesn’t require fancy offensive sets, or b) ticket sales are lagging, and AI could certainly provide a boost there, and c) that the one-two punch of Iverson on offense and Artest on defense would be, in the simplest of equations, exactly the sort of bookend ballers that lead to championships? Again, pure guess-work here.
There are a thousand other angles, of course, including a locker room chemistry question that is a whole separate topic and the fact that maybe Bibby wouldn’t be the centerpiece of the deal after all. There is the fact that the Kings could merely be a third, fourth, or fifth team in a mega-deal that would allow them to move certain players they’ve been eager to unload. There is also the reality that, as the 76ers have indicated, half the teams in the league have called about Iverson, meaning the Kings’ intentions or deductions may not matter in the least.
-- Sam Amick
Stagnant offenseQuestion: Where in the world is the Kings team we used to know and love? Just walked out on watching the Heat game - this edition of the 'team' is sad. Guy with the rock does 'his thing', the rest stand around. What happened to the idea of moving the ball and all moving at one time? Back in the day when teams could not guard them because they all were moving. Now, the 'D' gets to stand and rest (4 do) which one guy is the 'D.' What is the coaching staff doing about this? -- Ross Stone, Elk Grove
Answer: The idea of moving the ball is alive and well within the Kings locker room, just not the practice. While the Kings had a season-high tying 25 assists in Sunday night's win over Atlanta, it remains to be seen if they can learn to share the ball on a consistent basis. They are definitely guilty of too much isolation play, or at least guys who seem pretty caught up in their own attack rather than the collective one. As for the coaching staff, they're telling the players to move the ball. But truthfully, it seems like the message must come from those who were around to see it work so well in past years, from Mike Bibby to Brad Miller to Kevin Martin and a few others.
-- Sam Amick
Stop the clock or not?Question: Iwas wondering why the Kings didn't take a time out with 9 seconds left in the game and trying to break a losing streak? The Kings weren't shooting well all night and they have no go-to guy like Wade, so why not set up a play that at least has a chance of success. It appeared that again the coach lacked the ability to control his team when it really needed his words of wisdom. -- Steve Rapaport, Stockton
Answer: I agreed with Kings coach Eric Musselman on this one. It's never good to let a defense get set for a potential game-winning play, and it's tough to argue with the shot the Kings had. Mike Bibby had a good look at the rim from close range, and was fouled by Dwyane Wade and didn't get the call. Granted, Musselman has found some success with plays out of timeouts, but this was a time to push the tempo and catch the Heat off-guard for what could have been a shocking win instead of another tough Kings loss.
-- Sam Amick
A question of sizeQuestion: I personally feel the Kings lack the overall size and athleticism it takes to be a legit half-court team. You have to be able to post-up defenders (especially with your power forwards). Do you feel that the Kings have the personnel it takes to be the half-court team they are trying to be? As far as defense goes, how can you be a defense-oriented team without a legit shot blocker? -- James, Chico
Answer: Both good questions. The Kings most definitely lack a shot blocker, and the lack of one has serious ramifications on their defensive capabilities. And as far as being a half-court team, their most dangerous post threat - Ron Artest - has a hard time getting down there from his small forward position. And another capable option - Shareef Abdur-Rahim - is nowhere near as dangerous as he was a few years ago, partially due to the lack of athleticism you referenced. And Kenny Thomas' offensive game is in and out to begin with, not to mention that his best skills are in the mid-range game. Not the best mix for half-court play by any means.
-- Sam Amick
Comparing guardsQuestion: For all intents and purposes, I think it'd be a terrific idea to trade for Iverson perhaps for Mike Bibby, who btw has his father on the sidelines and would probably make C-Webb happier in Philly. Iverson is far superior to Bibby in every way. Agree or disagree? -- Ed, Washington
Answer: I don't even have to make an argument for Bibby vs. Iverson, as the All-Star appearances do it for me. It's seven to none, in Iverson's favor. And how about this: a "Hall-of-Fame monitor" statistic compiled by basketballreference.com. According to the site, a likely Hall-of-Famer should have a score of 135 or greater. Iverson is at 237, while Bibby is at 91. Mike has been very good for a long time, but Iverson has been great.
-- Sam Amick