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Friday, November 20, 2009
Walsh explains Knicks' pass on Iverson

By Chris Sheridan
ESPN.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Allen Iverson will not be the answer for the New York Knicks, who decided bringing the four-time NBA scoring champion aboard would be at odds with the franchise's long-term rebuilding plans.

The decision was reached late Thursday night after discussions among team president Donnie Walsh, coach Mike D'Antoni and owner James Dolan.

"It did get interesting for a while because Allen's a great player and has always been a great player," Walsh said Friday. "You're 1-9 and you're thinking, 'We've got to get some help in here.' But when we rethought it and I talked to Mike and he talked to me, we feel that could hurt our development of the future, and so we want to go the way we're going.

Iverson
Iverson

"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. And I want to really make it clear that this has nothing to do with Iverson. He's a great player, I've always admired him. I think he'd be a great addition for a team that is in a different position than we're in, and I hope he gets picked up."

It was unclear what the next move would be for Iverson, who was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday and became an unrestricted free agent at 6 p.m. ET Thursday.

Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown has been calling NBA teams, including the Knicks, to lobby on Iverson's behalf.

Iverson has made it clear, though, that he sees himself as an NBA starter and would be comfortable only in a situation in which he would at least have an opportunity to compete for a starting position.

"We just didn't think we wanted to have that dominant force on the team right now," D'Antoni said.

The Knicks easily could have plugged Iverson into their backcourt in place of struggling Chris Duhon, who also is not part of their long-term plans.

"In the beginning I didn't think it fit," Walsh said. "Then I started thinking about it, and it's enticing to think that you can get a guy that can score the ball that way. But as I went on, I started to think that he's going to take time from some of the players that we want to develop, he's probably not going to be there when the team is at its full strength down the road, and so we're better off sticking with what we've got.

"And trying to add to that, if we do, it'll be with people we think we can go forward with. Our goal this year was to develop the young players and to see which of the young veterans we have fit into what we want to do in the future."

The Knicks never met with Iverson, instead conducting their discussions with his agent, Leon Rose.

Walsh said he would have scheduled a face-to-face meeting if the Knicks were leaning toward signing Iverson, but the situation never progressed to that point.

Walsh also realized that some Knicks fans might be disappointed by the decision to pass on Iverson, but he again reiterated that the franchise's long-term future is more important than the type of short-term fix a player of Iverson's caliber would provide.

"Yeah, I'm always concerned about that, but I don't think you can build a basketball team based on polls," Walsh said. "I hope we do the right thing, I hope the fans eventually see why we did what we did. There's always a second stage to this, and I hope it's favorable to us. In other words, 'Well, they were smart not to do that then, because now this guy's good.' So we'll see. But I did my best in trying to analyze this."

Walsh also tried to squelch speculation that the team's ownership dictated this decision.

"I think there's an idea that Mr. Dolan is calling me up and telling me what to do, and that hasn't been my experience here. I do talk to him, just like I did with my owners in Indiana, I tell him what I think we should do. There are times he plays devil's advocate, which I appreciate, to be honest with you, because sometimes you don't think things out as well as you think you do. And it usually comes down to that type of repartee. But other than that he's been very supportive 99 percent of the time."

Chris Sheridan is an ESPN.com NBA Insider.