Who gets the ball?
Updated: Dec. 19, 2006, 3:31 PM ET
Sixers, Nuggets reach agreement for IversonBy Marc Stein and Chris Sheridan
The Denver Nuggets have reached an agreement in principle with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire Allen Iverson, according to NBA front-office sources.
The trade, pending league approval, some two weeks after Iverson demanded a trade in Philly, would send Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks to the Sixers for Iverson and perhaps another minimum-salaried player or two. It was expected to be completed later Tuesday barring any snags.
The Sixers had been hoping to take back only expiring contracts in any Iverson deal, unless they were receiving a top-flight young player like Minnesota's Randy Foye or Shaun Livingston of the Los Angeles Clippers.
But with Philly and Denver struggling to find a third team to join in to make the deal more financially enticing for the Sixers, they decided to end an auction that began in earnest when Iverson's demand to be traded was confirmed by Sixers chairman Ed Snider on Dec. 8.
This deal will bring Philly a former league assist leader in Miller, Smith's expiring salary of nearly $7 million and those two first-round picks in June -- projected to be in the 20s -- to go with their own lottery pick. Miller is averaging 13 points and 9.1 assists per game -- third-best in the NBA -- while Smith, an 11-year veteran, has played little this season, averaging only 13.5 minutes and 5.1 points per game.
The Nuggets' interest in Iverson dates to last February and has only increased since the Sixers made him available to the whole league earlier this month. Their chief motivation is pairing Iverson with Anthony in coach George Karl's up-tempo attack, but acquiring Iverson now -- just a day after Anthony and J.R. Smith were suspended for 15 and 10 games, respectively, for their roles in Saturday night's fight with the New York Knicks -- gives a much-needed jolt to Denver's depleted roster.
The former teammates from the 2004 U.S. Olympic squad won't be able to play together until Anthony is reinstated for a Jan. 20 game at Houston.
Miller, who led the NBA in assists with 10.9 per game for Cleveland in 2001-02, makes $8.7 million this season and has $19.2 million left on his contract over the following two seasons.
It's apparent, though, that the Sixers decided it was better to absorb Miller's contract now -- along with the opportunity to have three first-round selections in what scouts are calling the deepest draft in years -- as opposed to dragging out the Iverson saga further.
Iverson has been in exile for the past 11 days, languishing on the Sixers' inactive list while still accruing his per-game earnings of $156,218.
Iverson, 31, is averaging 31.2 points per game -- second only to Carmelo Anthony's 31.6 ppg -- in 15 games this season. He has a career 28.1 ppg scoring average in 11 NBA seasons, all in Philadelphia. He led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games, but the team has seen little playoff success since.
He was Rookie of the year in 1997 and MVP in 2001. He has led the NBA in scoring four times, most recently in 2005, finishing in the league's top three every year since 1999, and twice led the league in steals.