Where will Iverson be traded to?By David Aldridge
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Well, we knew it would happen sooner or later, so now is as good a time as any.
We told you on draft night in June that Allen Iverson wouldn't make it through the season with the 76ers. And now, the fuse has been lit. It's just a matter of when it goes off, and we can all get on with our basketball lives.
Does it really matter if it's Iverson who's stoking the fire, as the New York Post reported yesterday, or if it's Billy King serving as the catalyst? Iverson's asked to be traded before, and King's tried to accommodate him before. Last time, it was King instigating trade talks and Iverson reacting.
Bottom line: We're back to where we've been a half dozen or so times in the last few years.
At least there's a potential market for Iverson, small as it may be. There is no interest anywhere in taking on the last 19 months and $43 million of Chris Webber's deal.
"No one's taking Webber," an Eastern Conference coach said yesterday.
So, Iverson. We're way, way past the point of equal value; this is a salvage operation from here on out. Where can King turn? Here's where he's likely placing calls:
1. Denver: This nearly happened in February, when the Sixers almost pulled the trigger on a deal that would have sent Iverson to the Nuggets for a package including Kenyon Martin. King denied that any talks with Denver got serious, blaming loose lips on the Nuggets.
Believe whomever you want.
But the Nuggets still have interest. With Martin shelved for the rest of the season, Carmelo Anthony is seeking a true second scoring option. Yes, J.R. Smith has been better than advertised, but George Karl, who's coached the likes of Gary Payton and Anthony Mason over the years, won't be intimidated by Iverson, and he is intrigued by playing his high-octane style with Iverson and Anthony flying up and down the court.
The Denver package would almost certainly include guard Andre Miller - whom the Sixers don't especially like, but desperation makes for strange conversions - and either of two veteran forwards, Eduardo Najera or Joe Smith. To make the deal work cap-wise, Philly would have to take a body or two from the pile of Julius Hodge, DerMarr Johnson or Jamal Sampson.
2. Boston: You all know how close things got around the draft, when the Sixers, Celtics and Jazz nearly pulled off a three-way deal that would have sent Iverson to Beantown, Carlos Boozer (and Boston's first-round pick) to Philly, and Wally Szczerbiak to the Jazz. Discussions have cooled considerably since then, with the Sixers still reluctant to move Iverson within the division and Utah certainly no longer taking calls about Boozer.
Without a third team, however, a deal with Boston is far less likely. Boston's not trading Paul Pierce, and the Sixers aren't much interested in Szczerbiak. The Celtics aren't wedded to all of their young players (Gerald Green and Delonte West are the current untouchables, with rookie Rajon Rondo an almost), but they no longer have contracts with enough loot to make a one-on-one deal possible.
That could change if Philly could coerce a team like, say, Minnesota to get involved along with Boston. (No, not for Kevin Garnett; think Ricky Davis and Mark Blount.)
They've talked. They'll probably talk again.
3. Indiana: The disappointing Pacers are looking to shake things up, and Larry Bird has always been an Iverson fan. The question, though, is whether Indiana, reeling from numerous public relations disasters involving its players, can bring A.I. to town. If they answer yes, they'd want to keep Jermaine O'Neal (otherwise, what's the point of the deal?), so the trade would have to involve point guard Jamaal Tinsley. The Sixers would certainly also ask for rebounding machine Jeff Foster. But would the Pacers also part with second-year forward Danny Granger or Marquis Daniels, the former Maverick?
Hear they're talking, but don't know how seriously.
4. Memphis: Any trade talks involving the Grizzlies have been on hold - at least that's what Jerry West has been saying - while the majority interest in the team was being pursued by former Duke player Brian Davis' group.
But it looks as if the Davis purchase may come a cropper, with the league taking the unusual step of publicly rebuking Davis last week for not providing all of the financial information the league needs to consider his bid.
If the faucet is eventually turned back on, the Grizzlies - 28th in the league in attendance through Thursday, at just more than 15,400 per game - desperately need someone who can fill FedEx Forum on a more regular basis.
5. Sacramento: A long shot, but if the Kings really are shopping Mike Bibby (not for Iverson, just shopping him), you have to give them a call.
6-30. Atlanta, Golden State, Indiana, blah, blah, blah: We don't see another player out there now, but it takes only one phone call to change that.
Contact columnist David Aldridge at 215-854-5516 or email@example.com