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Saturday, December 16, 2006

At Some Point. . .

The 76ers will trade Allen Iverson, won't they?

Has AI's valued dropped the longer he's been on the market? Have teams gotten to thinking that he'll hurt both the salary cap and the locker room? Or has the market for a barely 6' shooting guard dried up, no matter how hard he plays or how many points he can score?

The latest story I've heard is a potential three-way deal among the Nuggers, Trail Blazers and 76ers that would send up sending Jamaal Magliore, Joe Smith (a one-time high draft pick and 76er) and a pick to Philadelphia. That's fine, but then tell me when Darrell Imhoff, Jerry Chambers, Jeff Hornacek, Manny Leaks, Archie Clark and John Q. Trapp are also headed to the City of Brotherly Love.

Meanwhile, the team has lost 10 games in a row. I had the game on for a bit in the second quarter, when out on the court for the 76ers were Louis Williams, Bobby Jones (the rookie, not the now 50+-year-old former all-star from Carolina), Alan Henderson, Steven Hunter and Kyle Korver. Just a few weeks ago the first two players were sent to the Developmental League for more playing time. Now they're back, and they averaged about 20 minutes each in last night's contest against the Mavericks.

In a game that featured battleships, the 76ers sent out canoes.

And the interesting thing about the whole story is not, of course, what value the 76ers will get for a player of Iverson's stature, because salary cap issues transcend on-the-floor matters. That said, the player apparently most coveted in a package deal is none other than Korver, which goes to show you how far the pendulum can swing in the NBA (and whom the 76ers won't let go and are interested in building around). Two years ago the 76ers gave Korver a multi-year deal (about 6 years at $5 million per) and the cognoscenti and local partisans wondered whether they were overpaying for a guy who "was just a shooter" and was too slow to play good defense. During last season, it appeared that Korver looked over-matched as a top-of-the-rotation player, and overall the 76ers' team defense was lacking (the local sports chatterers wondered publicly whether Billy King had laden the 76ers with another albatross of a contract). Fast forward to this season (and after last season's disappointment at the World Games, where the U.S. team showed that it couldn't shoot well enough to win the international game consistently), and guess what's the hot commodity -- shooters? And guess who's one of the best shooters in the NBA?

Kyle Korver.

Lots of slashers out there, the Maggettes, Carneys, Iguodalas, but few guys who can summon the days of Purvis Short and Jamaal Wilkes and nail jumper after jumper. That's why NBA games can resemble clogged drains -- with everyone jumbled up in the paint, sagging in, because there aren't many guy who I'd call "Clog Busters", the current version of the "zone buster" that the college commentators (particularly Al McGuire and Billy Packer) designated as the guys who would need to shoot the ball well enough on the outside to make interior defenses honest, come out and defend the shooters and open up the middle. A close cousin to the "zone buster" a "clog buster" will prevent NBA's switching man, match-up and yes even zone defenses from sagging too much inside and daring the other team to shoot.

How many clog busters are there out there that are good enough athletes/basketball players to get meaningful minutes?

The answer, apparently, is not many, and, yes, the Answer is not among them.

Stay tuned for this ongoing soap opera. If the 76ers keep up trade talks at this glacial place, Greg Oden should send his family members to the Philadelphia area to start checking out the condo market.


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