MIAMI — We've officially entered Stage Three of the Miami Heat offseason.
The first was the "Umm, is trading for Chris Bosh really an option?" Stage, and had it not been shot down so quickly it would have made this among the splashiest summers in franchise history.
The second was the "Oooh, maybe there are a few tricks left in Pat Riley's sleeve" Stage, and had New York native Lamar Odom not sold his soul to SoCal long ago, maybe that would have been the final stage of the summer, with an Odom-Carlos Boozer tandem making the Heat elite again.
Instead, we're stuck here in the third phase, the "Eh, what's the point?" Stage, which kind of feels like 15 minutes before last call and you're scanning the room for last-minute options.
Hey look, there's Allen Iverson. Still available. Still interested.
Still a mistake.
If it is true that The Answer remains an option for Riley, who has, to his credit, held strong to his word that 2010 is the time that he will strike and strike hard, it should be viewed as little more than a turnstile-turning opportunity. Given that the Heat has all but conceded that it won't truly contend with the Cleveland-Orlando-Boston power trio in the Eastern Conference next season, adding an Iverson at this point would essentially be bait to lure fans into AmericanAirlines Arena for six months.
And as interesting as it could be to watch one of the best little men to ever play the game share the ball with the best little man in the game today (an honest measure will tell you Dwyane Wade's not even 6-3, which makes his feats all the more impressive), it would almost be counterproductive to add Iverson at this point.
Consider just how poor a fit he would be as this team's starting point guard, which would have to be his role if you're going bother signing him and attempt to keep him happy.
Iverson has always been, and remains, a one-on-one artist. He entered the league at the height of the Michael Jordan craze, and every player, no matter how small or what position, wanted to be the scorer Jordan was. Iverson was one of the few to accomplish that with a career's worth of isolation plays that earned him four scoring titles.
What he never truly picked up along the way is the ability to play a team-oriented game. It's not necessarily his fault, given the era he came up in and the freedom he was given, but his style is not conducive to winning alongside other scorers.
All you have to do is remember what happened in Denver when he played with Carmelo Anthony. They were teammates, but they didn't make a team. They were two individual scoring talents that never melded into anything formidable. Iverson scored 26.4 points a game his last full year in Denver, while Anthony averaged 25.7 a game. All that translated to was a No. 8 seed out west and a four-game, first-round sweep at the hands of the Lakers.
Not only was that team frustrating in its lack of offensive cohesiveness, but it played little defense thanks in part to Iverson, who racks up steals but is hardly a defensive presence.
Now how, would anything be much different if Iverson were brought to Miami? Already the Heat runs most of its plays for Wade, and the rest are basically saved for Beasley, who is a bit more like Iverson in that he fully intends to score every time he touches the ball.
Add Iverson into that mix and you have nothing more than three isolation specialists, which would oddly put more pressure on Wade given that he's the only one of the three who can purposely keep others involved.
It gives the Heat options, yes, but when is a 6-0, career 43-percent shooter on his last legs ever a better option than a 6-3, 48-percent shooter in his prime?
As a point guard, Iverson isn't particularly adept at pick-and-roll offense, he's not a great spot-up shooter and he can't defend particularly well. Know who's better at all three of those things? Mario Chalmers. And if his growth is stunted so Iverson can showcase himself for one year (there's no way he would be in the plans for 2010 and beyond), then he's honestly hurting the Heat in the long run more than he's helping.
Frankly, Flip Murray would be a better fit than Iverson at this point. Let's let Stage Three be just as uneventful as the first two were, hit the snooze button and wake up again when the 2010 fireworks begin.
(c) 2009, The Miami Herald.