Don't hold breath awaiting Iverson deal
By Chris Tomasson, Rocky Mountain News
December 16, 2006
BOSTON - Are the Nuggets close to acquiring Allen Iverson?
Not everyone thinks so.
"From what I hear, I don't think it is close," Boston coach Doc Rivers said before Friday's game against the Nuggets.
Rumors have swirled about numerous teams, including the Nuggets, since Philadelphia put its star guard on the trading block a week ago. But it could end up being a while before he's dealt.
Nuggets coach George Karl was asked before Friday's game about longtime NBA executive Wayne Embry telling USA Today it's possible Iverson might not be moved until around the Feb. 18 All-Star Game.
"That would probably be my prediction," Karl said.
One Western Conference executive who asked not to be identified called Denver the frontrunner for Iverson. But the executive could not say if anything might be imminent.
Karl said he mostly has stayed out of the process regarding Iverson.
"I really have not been involved with this," Karl said. "This is too early in the season for me to take my attention away from the team. I think we have a great opportunity to be a really good team. But we've got to stay (focused).
"(Karl and Nuggets management) talked about A.I. this summer. Those guys know my opinion (that he likes Iverson). Be we haven't revisited that in weeks."
Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien declined comment .
That included a question as to whether the Nuggets would be willing to go a good bit over the luxury tax to get Iverson, making $17.2 million this season, $19 million next season and $20 million in 2008-09.
The dollar-for-dollar tax threshold is $65.4 million this season and should be slightly higher next season, but the Nuggets have about $69 million already committed for then. If the Nuggets were to trade the expiring $6.8 million contract of Joe Smith in an Iverson deal and get back similar money, they could end up paying that much more in tax dollars.
That could result in the Nuggets paying $26 million next season for Iverson.
Through a team spokesman, Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke had no additional comment on his willingness to pay the tax. Karl declined to speculate on what Kroenke might do.
Karl said in October he would be willing to talk with Kroenke about the luxury tax if he believed the Nuggets were on the verge of being "special." Karl offered no indication such a discussion has occurred.
Rivers called rumors surrounding Iverson "crazy speculation." He said about 20 teams are interested, but that Boston isn't at the current asking price.
"It just doesn't sound like Philly is getting what they thought (in terms of offers)," Rivers said. "If they don't, they're just going to wait."
The Nuggets do have an attractive chip in Smith's expiring deal, but they obviously wouldn't trade Carmelo Anthony, and Marcus Camby appears to be off limits. The Nuggets have two first-round picks (one once belonging to Dallas), but both figure to be in the 20s.
However, the Western executive called it a "rich draft." The executive said Denver's picks are attractive when considering what the 76ers so far have been offered.
Meanwhile, Karl believes rumors have distracted his team. The Nuggets have lost three of their past four games.
"Just watching the TNT stuff (Thursday), they bring it up," Karl said of the network reporting the Nuggets being strong candidates to make a deal. "I'm sure players listen to the broadcast. . . . It affects you."
Nuggets guard J.R. Smith didn't necessarily disagree.
"A lot of people worry about what they're going to do or where they're going to go," said J.R. Smith, whose name has come up.
But Anthony said it's not a distraction, saying the Nuggets "laugh and joke about it" and "it's just rumors right now."
Joe Smith has been mentioned frequently. But he said it "doesn't really affect" him.
Also, a report has surfaced that former Philadelphia coach Larry Brown, who is good friends with Karl and Nuggets assistant Doug Moe, is consulting with the 76ers on moving Iverson.
Due to the nature of Brown's position, Karl, who said he spoke to Brown last summer about Iverson, and Moe both said they wouldn't seek an updated analysis from Brown about Iverson as a player.