Celtics, Mavs, Knicks have assets to get deal done
By Chris Sheridan
Allen Iverson's 11-year tenure in Philadelphia is on track to end as soon as Monday night.
A source close to Iverson has told ESPN.com that Sixers brass met Sunday to go over the various trade proposals that have come in over the past few days. One or two three-team trade proposals were expected to be explored Monday, and the source said the Sixers were inclined to pull the trigger shortly thereafter -- either Monday night or Tuesday.
While the Sixers are apparently looking to pull the plug on the trade quickly, Iverson will be inactive for Monday's game against Portland.
The source indicated the Minnesota Timberwolves were not seriously in the running, and the attention being paid to Denver and Boston was being overblown.
"The offers are better than what was out there last summer," the source said.
The source said the Sixers seemed determined to avoid having the Iverson divorce linger anywhere near as long as last year's protracted Ron Artest trade saga in Indiana, which dragged on for nearly seven weeks before he was dealt to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic.
"The best offers are the ones that come at the beginning," a well-placed Pacers source told ESPN.com on Saturday, looking back on that drama and comparing it to what's happening in Philadelphia with Iverson.
Sixers chairman Ed Snider has already said definitively that Iverson will be granted his wish and be traded, something Iverson asked for last Monday -- a day after the Sixers lost by 11 at home to Minnesota as Ricky Davis jawed with front-row spectators while scoring 14 fourth-quarter points to lock up the win.
Amid speculation that Davis, or Mike James, and rookie Randy Foye might be the centerpieces of a deal that would send Iverson to Minnesota, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor on Friday night told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press: "There's no trade. It isn't that I don't like him, just money-wise it wouldn't work out."
And although Taylor backed off those comments somewhat on Saturday, ESPN.com's source, who because of his closeness to Iverson was being kept abreast of all developments, indicated the 76ers weren't enamored of either Davis or the additional pieces they'd have to take back from Minnesota to make the salaries match.
Unlike last year's Artest saga, when his relatively small salary ($6.8 million) gave the Pacers a myriad of options to consider, the Sixers have a limited number of proposals to sift through due to the number of players it would take, in most cases, to have salaries that add up within the range ($13.75 million to $21.5 million) of what is needed to match Iverson's salary (he makes $17.2 million this season, $19.1M in 2007-08 and $21.1M in 2008-9) for the trade to work under NBA rules.
The Celtics have the advantage of being able to add Theo Ratliff's $11.7 million contract into the mix, while the Memphis Grizzlies would be one of the few teams able to offer Philadelphia cap relief for next summer through Eddie Jones' expiring $15.7 million contract -- if not for the inconvenient fact that team president Jerry West's hands are tied because of the pending sale of the team, precluding him from making trades.
Dallas also could offer a package starting with two expiring contracts (Jerry Stackhouse and Austin Croshere), as could New Orleans (Desmond Mason and Mark Jackson add up to almost $13 million), while the Charlotte Bobcats are far enough under the salary cap to take back Iverson in a trade in which the salaries would not have to even come close to matching.
Another team that can't be totally dismissed is the New York Knicks, who are in the unique position of being able to take back both Iverson and Chris Webber in a trade. Because the salaries of Iverson and Webber add up to nearly $38 million, the Knicks would have to offer at least $30.4 million worth of contracts back -- a total that could be reached with a package of Steve Francis, Quentin Richardson, Malik Rose and Channing Frye.
And although the Sixers would prefer to trade Iverson to a Western Conference team, they're going to take the best offer that's out there, East or West, even in their own division -- and they're going to do it soon.