Tuesday August 4th, 2009

Here's the thing about Twitter: It's kind of addictive. It's also a good forum for questions. So I bring to you the first of what I hope to be many Twitter mailbags:

Where should Allen Iverson go? Memphis seems like a good fit. Charlotte needs scoring unless Larry Brown is wary of AI, Part II. -- @raymondhern

The only reason we are talking Iverson-to-Memphis right now is because the Grizzlies' cash-strapped owner -- who recently canned the team's college scouts -- still thinks Iverson can sell tickets. No way does general manager Chris Wallace want a piece of Iverson; Wallace already has a young backcourt in Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo; and can you imagine a ball-hogging lineup that features Mayo, Iverson and Zach Randolph? That team might set a record for fewest assists in a season.

Iverson doesn't make much basketball sense in Charlotte, either. Sure, the Bobcats could use some scoring punch after averaging a league-low 93.6 points last season. But a source familiar with the situation told me that Iverson "wasn't realistic" for the Bobcats, not when they already have two strong playmakers in Raymond Felton (assuming he re-signs) and D.J. Augustin, whose development would be impeded by Iverson's presence.

The only legitimate fit for Iverson is Miami. After watching the East's elite reload this summer, the Heat are looking to bolster their lineup. And while point guard Mario Chalmers is a promising prospect, he's not so good that Miami wouldn't be willing to take a flyer on Iverson. But AI would have to come way down with his contract demands, probably to about $2 million per season. Is he willing to do that? That remains to be seen.

Which newly acquired forward will make the greatest impact on his contending team? Ron Artest, Richard Jefferson, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion or Rasheed Wallace? -- @jmurf1

I love the Wallace signing and believe Carter -- who is still a superior pick-and-roll player -- is going to be a lot better in Orlando than people think. I have my reservations about Artest (Will his shot selection become an issue?) and Marion (Didn't Dallas employ the "acquire as many talented players regardless of position" strategy back in 2003-04? How did that work out?).

But the acquisition I feel strongest about is Jefferson. He's exactly what the Spurs needed. Assuming he's healthy, Jefferson will ease the scoring burden of San Antonio's Big Three and, more important, allow Gregg Popovich to keep their minutes down in the regular season. That's a critical factor when you consider that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are coming off injury-plagued seasons.

Jefferson also will help the Spurs run more. They won't be on par with the Suns or Knicks, but Jefferson, who was part of several prolific running attacks in New Jersey, is one of the top open-court forwards in the game. For Spurs point guards Tony Parker and George Hill, who frequently waited for Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen to catch up to them last season, it's an opportunity to create four to six extra points per game from the fast break.

What are the chances Leon Powe signs with the Cavs? And are the Cavs the second-best team in the league going into next season? -- @Cavs3125

Powe is done with Boston. The Celtics just picked up Shelden Williams and it's possible they could get Glen Davis back if no one blows him away with an offer. Cleveland's interest is real but there are two problems. One, Powe shredded his left knee in last year's playoffs, and I haven't heard from anyone who says he will be back before early 2010. Two, Powe isn't that much different from the big men Cleveland already has. He's not explosive and he doesn't have great range from the perimeter. I'm not sure the Cavs need that.

As for the league pecking order, I would say that Cleveland, Boston and the Lakers all can make the case that they are the top team heading into the regular season. I like the addition of Anthony Parker (a capable shooter) and Jamario Moon (a versatile wing player) just as much as I like the Shaquille O'Neal addition. Assuming the Cavs can solve Orlando, I'd rank them a notch ahead of Boston and on par with the Lakers, whose chemistry I don't trust.

Any chance for a Ramon Sessions-David Lee trade? -- @behan19

Not unless Bucks GM John Hammond finds a buried treasure under the Bradley Center floor. The Bucks have been in cost-cutting mode all summer, and if they aren't willing to give 24-year-old Charlie Villanueva five years and $35 million, I don't think they would be willing to give Lee, 26, a contract worth $10 million per season.

That doesn't mean Sessions isn't bound for New York. The Bucks drafted Brandon Jennings (who looked very good in the Las Vegas Summer League) to play the point, and New York would seem like a natural fit for Sessions, even if he had to take a short deal. And the Knicks want a point guard. They aren't comfortable with Chris Duhon playing 35-40 minutes per night again, not after he faded so badly down the stretch last year.

How many All-Stars will the Lakers have next year? Potentially five? -- @BarrySaylor

Whoa, let's slow down for a minute. Their only guaranteed All-Star is Kobe Bryant, with Pau Gasol coming in right behind him. Yao Ming's absence and Shaq's move to the East opens the door for Andrew Bynum, but he still needs to prove he can remain healthy, stay out of foul trouble and be a factor in the fourth quarter. Lamar Odom isn't getting selected coming off the bench, and Artest's numbers are going to drop in his new third-banana role in L.A.

The Lakers would be thrilled just to develop some solid chemistry, a la the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who successfully meshed superior talent (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc) with a quirky personality (Dennis Rodman). These Lakers may end up being as good as that 72-win Bulls group, but they have something to prove together before we anoint everyone an All-Star.

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