From our friends at SBNation.com (via ESPN's Marc Stein), the news has broken that the Texas Legends of the NBADL are reportedly targeting Allen Iverson as the next older NBA veteran to log some minutes with the team en route to a comeback to The Association.
An affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, the Legends have earned quite the reputation for reeling in experienced NBA vets to don their uniforms previously in years past. Iverson would become the thirteenth former first-round selection to play for the minor league squad. Over the past two seasons, the likes of Antonio Daniels, Dan Gadzuric, and Mike James (who was recently signed for the remainder of this season by the Mavericks) have all played for Texas and subsequently gone on to earn themselves call-ups with NBA teams. Though three-year NBA vet Chris Douglas-Roberts is a former second-round selection, he too went on to earn an NBA promotion of his own after playing for the Legends to begin this season.
Even for a league that continues to see bigger and bigger names opt to grace the minor league hardwood, Iverson would without a doubt emerge as the highest-profile player the NBADL has ever employed.
Such a signing would surely only further assert the belief of many league/team executives and player representatives all around: that the D-League is in fact the quickest and most efficient path back to the NBA. Having last played with the 76ers during the 2009-10 season, Iverson has bounced around overseas, playing in anything from formal competition to exhibitions in places like Turkey and China. A stint in the D-League back in the states would give curious executives a chance to see what (if anything) the once high-scoring guard still has left in his basketball tank.
Certainly, Iverson opting to don a D-League uniform would deliver even more credibility to the league with regard to owning a reputation as the best place to go in order to get yourself noticed. What's more, welcoming the future Hall of Fame guard would serve as an automatic seat-filler ranging from arenas in Texas to all across the league, should Iverson take the floor as a visitor somewhere as well.
Of course, there are plenty of benefits to be had. Popularity, credibility, and perhaps even more profit certainly appear to be a few of the many. Our own Gino Pilato even stated his own case for Iverson to stay stateside and opt to ball in the D-League this past fall, if he indeed had hopes for an NBA return. Such an option has been talked about and considered before.
While Iverson coming to the NBADL may be great in many ways, there are two sides to every coin. Recruiting such a veteran presence undeniably sparks the resuming (as if it ever stops) of an ongoing debate around D-League circles: should past NBA players continue to be allowed in a league centered around development? At what point do such moves prove to be costly for the younger and more promising players who strut their stuff in hopes of a chance of their own?
In the case of Iverson and the Legends, the guard would join a roster that already includes the likes of fellow point guards Sean Singletary and Matt Dickey. Texas clearly enjoys running and gunning, speeding things up on the floor by pairing two floor generals together. That was visible in the way the team opted to play the veteran James and Singletary together. But with James back in the NBA, the Legends rewarded the hard-working practice player Dickey with a spot on the official roster. Despite Singletary and Dickey's efforts to gel together (and they have), the fact of the matter is both players thrive by rising up as a stand-alone floor general. Thrusting Iverson into the mix would only further shake things up.
With hopes of another shot in the NBA, will Iverson opt to use the D-League as his initial stage to shine on? What will that mean for his potential teammates on a team on the Legends, all of whom who are fighting for a chance of their own? It'll be interesting to see how this all unfolds, and how it may affect the league, for better or worse.