Sunday, February 25, 2007

How'd that work out for you? Early indications of Denver's trade for Allen Iverson

Like David Berri (the author of The Wages of Wins, not Dave Berry the humor columnist), who I spoke with the day after the trade, I was confused by Denver's acquisition. Yes, Carmelo Anthony was going to be out for fifteen games on a suspension, but that's not a very temporary thing; it shouldn't hurt a team by more than five games--if that--and he was be available again quite soon. As Dr. Berri pointed out, the trade was bad for both teams! Philadelphia would still be unlikely to make the playoffs, but adding Andre Miller would mean they could win more games, which would decrease their chances of picking first or second in the draft and getting Greg Oden or Kevin Durrant. Iverson wasn't playing with the team, and they weren't getting any really good offers, so they could have continued to not play him, which would hurt their team, but not add anyone else. Then, after the season has ended, they could shrug their shoulders and accept approximately the same deal that Denver was offering.

Denver gave up a true point guard. This is always a mistake. There are two near-essential elements for an elite-level NBA team: a point guard and a quality Center or Power Forward. The top teams in the league are: Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Utah. Of these, only San Antonio lacks a true point, but they are able to mitigate this shortcoming through solid unselfish play by Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Before the trade, they were in contention for a mid-level playoff spot in the very difficult Western Conference. Finishing even fifth would have been a serious accomplishment, and the more likely sixth-place finish would still be very respectable. Instead, they're in eighth, and only by a small margin. Unless the team gets much better results than the 2-7 they currently have recorded in the games Iverson and Anthony both play in, they won't reach the playoffs, but they also gave up their draft pick, so they wouldn't even have a small chance at a top three pick in this great draft, either.

In short, both teams were hurt by this deal, unless Philadelphia still manages to win a top lottery spot, despite decreasing their chances for such an outcome.


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