76ers hope to quickly solve Iverson problem
Monday, December 11, 2006
PHILADELPHIA -- Here's what an NBA team in the market for a former MVP would get with Allen Iverson:~ The star will provide points and headaches.
One night, Iverson scores 45 points in 48 minutes against Miami, the second time he tops 40 points in three games. Two nights after scorching the Heat, Iverson is whacked with a heavy fine for blowing off a Philadelphia 76ers' bowling event for season-ticket holders and corporate sponsors.
He's always been a hoops icon, and an iconoclast, all wrapped in one.
For most of Iverson's 11-year career, the Sixers were willing to look the other way and put up with Iverson's indiscretions as long as it meant deep runs in the playoffs, a packed house every night and those No. 3 jerseys selling out around the globe.
Larry Brown vs. Iverson? Iverson stuck around while Brown won a title in Detroit.
Chris Ford vs. Iverson? Please. No interim coach could control him.
Now with the Sixers (5-14) on a seven-game losing streak and playing to dwindling crowds, and Iverson butting heads with coach Maurice Cheeks, the franchise player and the franchise have finally had enough of each other.
Iverson did last week what he always swore he wouldn't do: request a trade. The Sixers are ready to grant his wish. Now, it's up to Sixers team president Billy King to find the right deal for the seven-time All-Star.
"I'm trying to do what's best for this organization," King said Friday night.
The Sixers sent Iverson home the last two games and said on Sunday the four-time scoring champion will be inactive again for tonight's game against Portland. The Sixers then play three more times this week, against Boston on Wednesday, and a Texas back-to-back at Dallas and San Antonio, meaning a deal will likely have to come soon before the situation really gets ugly.
Sixers chairman Ed Snider said Iverson has "probably" played his last game in Philadelphia. Iverson acknowledged a trade was for the best and thanked Sixers fans for 11 great years. The next time those Philly fans see Iverson live again, it will be in another team's jersey.
Besides the combustible nature of his personality, the biggest obstacle to a deal is Iverson's hefty salary. He's due the rest of his nearly $18 million this season, and a combined $40 million through the 2008-09 season. A third team might have to be included to swing a trade.
"In the NBA, it's not easy to make moves because you have to take money back and all these other things, but we're going to have to deal with it," Snider said.
Plus, while King sorely wants to deal the franchise player, he can't just give Iverson away. No one in Philly can forget the Sixers only getting Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry for Charles Barkley in 1992. And the Sixers traded Wilt Chamberlain to the Lakers in 1968 for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff.
Still, Snider said "half the league" had called about Iverson's availability.
While Iverson's maybe a half-step slower than he was 10 years ago, that's still a step quicker than most players in the league. Iverson leads the league in scoring with 31.2 points, averages 42.7 minutes and 2.2 steals, making it easy to imagine him providing a needed jolt to a franchise trying to make a championship run.