Knicks’ Answer: No to Allen Iverson
AP Basketball Writer
GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) – The New York Knicks won’t sign Allen Iverson, believing any short-term gain would hinder their plans to build for the future.
Team president Donnie Walsh said Friday the team won’t make any additions at this time despite its 2-9 record. He added the decision to pass on the former MVP had nothing to do with Iverson’s ability to play or his character in the locker room.
“I’ve always admired him,” Walsh said. “I think he’d be a great addition for a team that’s in a different position than we’re in and I hope he gets picked up.”
Coach Mike D’Antoni said Iverson would have come in and played 40 minutes a game, taking playing time away from others who need to be on the court to continue their growth.
“We just didn’t think right now we wanted to have that dominant force on the team right now,” D’Antoni said.
“We’re going to stick with the plan and it just wasn’t the right situation. Allen is a great player, no doubt about it, but that’s not the route we’re going to take right now.”
Iverson was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday and became a free agent Thursday night. Walsh said he didn’t feel the four-time scoring champion was the right fit at the beginning, but began to reconsider because it’s “enticing to think that you can get a guy that can score the ball that way.”
But the Knicks remain committed to building with young players such as Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, and felt a player who shoots as much as Iverson could hinder that strategy.
“We feel like that could hurt our development in the future, so we want to go the way we’re going,” Walsh said. “There will be other things we can do during the year that will be more in line with what our philosophy has been entering into this.”
The Knicks passed on a chance to sign Iverson when he was a free agent over the summer. At the time, they felt the returning veterans from last season, plus the continued improvement of their younger players, would be enough to contend for a playoff spot.
Then they opened the season by dropping nine of their first 10 games, the worst start in franchise history. So when the Grizzlies and Iverson parted ways after just three games, the Knicks revisited their decision.
Walsh and D’Antoni talked it over for a few days, alerting ownership that a signing was being considered. Walsh also talked with Iverson’s agent, Leon Rose, but not the player himself.
“I happen to think that it’s not the right place for Allen, either,” Walsh said. “I think Allen should go to a team that he can push into a contending situation or a playoff situation and I think he will, because he’s good enough to do that.”
The Knicks may have pulled back their interest after an impressive comeback to beat Indiana on Wednesday night. Center Eddy Curry played for the first time this season, scoring 10 points in 11 minutes.
Despite his credentials, there hasn’t been much interest in Iverson after he complained about coming off the bench last season in Detroit. He had the same complaints during his short stint in Memphis, so teams may be wary of signing him.
Yet he remains a popular player, so there was some rare basketball buzz in New York this week. Even Knicks players sounded interested in signing Iverson, and Walsh was aware that fans may be disappointed his team will drop any plans to pursue him.
“I’m always concerned about that, but I don’t think you can build a basketball team based on polls,” he said.