Knicks on verge of signing Iverson

Allen Iverson of the Memphis Grizzlies on the

Allen Iverson of the Memphis Grizzlies on the court against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 6, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo Credit: Getty/Stephen Dunn

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INDIANAPOLIS - Allen Iverson has told associates he is prepared to come to New York and resuscitate not only his Hall of Fame career but also a desperate franchise trying to pacify its frustrated fans as it bridges the gap to 2010.

Though no decision has been officially made by the Knicks, indications are that the Iverson Era - however brief it may be - could begin as early as Thursday night after the 34-year-old former MVP clears waivers at 6 p.m. It may all hinge on how both sides come out of a conversation that is expected to take place Thursday.

"We wouldn't be considering it if we thought we were functioning well and we're not," Walsh said of the Knicks, who went into last night's game against the Pacers with a 1-9 record. "And I want to make sure if we do something like this it's the right thing to do."

Walsh said if the Knicks, who like Newsday are owned by Cablevision, do offer Iverson a contract - likely the $1.4 million veteran's minimum - it will be done immediately after he clears waivers.

Walsh spent his day back home in Indianapolis on the phone getting advice from several resources, including Larry Brown, who coached Iverson in Philadelphia and recently revealed that the Bobcats made an offer for Iverson in September. But Iverson chose to take the higher offer from the Memphis Grizzlies. Brown said Charlotte, with its glut at guard, wouldn't have a spot for Iverson at this point.

Mike D'Antoni seems comfortable with signing Iverson, who comes with loads of talent and baggage (not to mention a sizable entourage that can't wait to see him return to the Northeast). Walsh and D'Antoni still want to talk first with Iverson, who may have to be allowed his own set of rules, especially regarding practice.

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Walsh said if D'Antoni wasn't on board, "I won't do it . . . I'm not going to force anybody on the coach." It would be an about-face by D'Antoni, who last summer was against signing Iverson as a free agent. "We know exactly who Allen Iverson is and he brings a lot of very positive things to the table," D'Antoni said. "We'll see if the organization is going to change directions because it's a change of direction, there's no doubt about it."

But Walsh said Iverson's arrival wouldn't signal the end to any development plans for the team's young players, such as Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas and Jordan Hill.

"I think the young players can benefit, if they're not getting it done the way they are, maybe they could benefit by having a guy that can show them how to get it done," Walsh said. "This would be a move to make it better for the young players to learn."

But what would it mean for veterans such as Chris Duhon, who would likely lose his starting position, and Al Harrington, who would see a reduced number of shots?

Harrington, currently the Knicks' leading scorer, said he would welcome the addition of Iverson to the team.

"I think it would help things because you've got a guy who's a proven scorer, probably a Hall of Famer," he said.

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