Smith was the first to report Iverson's intentions to retire, publishing a statement from Iverson to his fans on his personal blog on Wednesday afternoon. But this time, instead of Iverson's camp having Smith's ear, an unidentified source within the 76ers has floated the possibility of A.I.'s Philly homecoming.
"We know the history. We know the ups and downs," the source said, according to Smith. "But we're also aware of what (Iverson) can do and that he's needed here. We simply can't just ignore the upside he'd bring. Not with our situation."
Their situation, of course, is extremely dire; the Sixers fell to 5-11 on Friday night, tied with the Pistons for 12th in the Eastern Conference and above only the miserable Knicks and Nets.
Iverson has been adamant about the fact that he still believes he can start in the NBA, and the Sixers wouldn't dare bring him back without intending to acquiesce to his demands. Of course, considering Andre Miller left via free agency this past summer and Louis Williams could miss two months with a broken jaw, the Sixers just so happen to have a need for a playmaking guard in their starting lineup.
Would Iverson's starting job be in jeopardy once Williams returns? Not so, according to Smith:
In fact, Smith also reports that Jordan his staff have already signed off Iverson's signing -- assuming, of course, the front office decides to roll the dice.Team sources confirmed on Friday that Iverson would be a starter because Jordan had planned on starting Williams with rookie Jrue Holiday anyway, just to put some excitement and more ball-handlers into his Princeton-style offense. So even once Williams returns from injury, he'd be in the starting lineup with Iverson.
The 76ers are in a unique position to fit Iverson into their lineup given their roster flexibility -- if a starting spot in the backcourt is needed, Andre Iguodala can seamlessly slide from shooting guard to small forward, perhaps his more natural position, while Thaddeus Young can alternate between small and power forward, where he poses a greater mismatch in the first place. And, push come to shove, Elton Brand could shift from power forward to center, which might be where he best fits considering he's had trouble keeping up with the rest of the offense.
Roster makeup aside, the 76ers quite simply have nothing to lose; due to injury (in addition to losing Williams, Marreese Speights was lost for months after tearing his MCL) and inconsistency, the franchise has become a complete afterthought, not only in the Eastern Conference standings but also among the hometown fans, featuring the second-worst home attendance in the league. Bringing back Iverson would help the team in the short term while also providing the Hall of Fame guard an opportunity for proper closure.