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Thunder Insider: Tough year ahead for OKC?

by Darnell Mayberry Published: September 14, 2009
Allen Iverson is on the move again, this time going from Motown to Memphis.

The Grizzlies finally signed the 10-time All-Star and four-time scoring champion to a one-year deal last week, ending The Answer’s long and humbling off-season.

For Iverson, one of the most dynamic talents and most popular players the game has ever seen, the signing symbolized just how far the 34-year-old has fallen. The Grizzlies — basketball’s version of the Bad News Bears — have won more than 28 games just three times in their 13-year history. They claimed only 24 victories a year ago but were able to ink Iverson to a recession-friendly contract worth just over $3 million after few other franchises showed interest in the talented but troubled guard.

For the Western Conference, though, Iverson’s signing serves as the latest move that should keep it perched safely as the league’s supreme conference. And that doesn’t bode well for the Thunder.

While much of the rest of the West spent this summer splurging on free agents and agreeing to blockbuster trades, Oklahoma City sat back and banked on its returning players coming back better. It’s a contrast that could determine where the Thunder falls in the pecking order this season.

We’ll soon find out which method proves most beneficial. The revolving-door approach won out in Boston in 2008 and Miami in 2006, as both franchises capitalized on rare trade opportunities for future Hall of Famers before going on to win a championship. But Portland used the hold-what-you’ve-got philosophy last season and punched its ticket to the postseason, and perennial playoff teams like San Antonio and Utah routinely make only minor changes while banking more on player development.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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