It appears for all the world that Allen Iverson as a Philadelphia 76er is done. According to an article published earlier this evening by Dan Gelston of the Associated Press: “King and coach Maurice Cheeks said Iverson was sent home because he did not practice on Thursday and left Wednesday’s blowout loss at Chicago with back spasms. However, the move to bench their captain comes with Iverson’s name swirling in heavy trade rumors. King would not say before the Sixers’ game against the Wizards if Iverson had asked for a trade or if he was actively trying to trade the four-time NBA scoring champion.”
The same report later wrote that Iverson “joined the Sixers in the huddle, then was told by Cheeks not to come to the Wachovia Center. ‘In my entire career, even the doctors haven’t been able to tell me not to play,’ Iverson said. ‘I’ve played through injury and illness. I think everyone knows how much I love being out on the court, competing and winning. That’s why it was so disheartening to be told that I couldn’t play, knowing that I was ready. It hurt even more to be told not to come at all.’”
But in the end, Iverson seemed resigned to his fate and told reporters “as hard as it is to admit, a change may be the best thing for everyone. I hate admitting that because I love the guys on the team and the city of Philadelphia. I truly wanted to retire a 76er.”
Sixers chairman Ed Snider was asked if AI wanted to be traded in an interview by DESPN’s Lisa Walters during the first half of the televised Philadelphia-Washington game at the Wahovia (”Watch Ova’ Ya”) Center.
Katz said. “Yes. We’ll do our best to accommodate him. Allen was a great, great basketball player for our organization and did a lot for this city. I wish him the best. I think it’s time to move on. I wish him luck.”
When asked by Walters if AI had played his last game in a Sixer uniform, Snider replied, “probably.”
At halftime of the game, Jim Gray of ESPN said Iverson indicated to him that he strongly prefers to be traded to Minnesota.
Meantime, the 76ers as a team, are, for this season, officially dead. By the third quarter tonight the fans lustily booed the players as Philly lost a 20-point second quarter lead in a matter of minutes. Tonight’s game showed clearly that Chris Webber is no longer capable of carrying a team. So the first piece of business Mo Cheeks will be consumed with is figuring out how to get points out of players not used to carrying a scoring load.
Andre Iguodala’s game isn’t developed enough to be a consistent go-to offensive player. Kyle Korver, though an excellent shooter, cannot create his own shot. This places the clutch-time scoring burden on players not now with the team. If Philly trades AI to Minny for say, Troy Hudson, Marko Jaric and draft choices, then Huddie and Marko “The white Darko” will be asked to immediately contribute heavily to the Sixer offense. The more probable trade scenario would be Huddie, Ricky Davis and draft choices. It will then be Davis who will be expected to take on the main scorer’s role.
If Cheeks seeks to speed up the game on the offensive end, he must know that he has athletic players who can handle the pace, slash from the wings and dominate the offensive boards. If Cheeks decides to, because of a lack of reliable scoring, limit possessions by slowing the game, he must instill defensive concepts to players who, as a team, surrender 101.6 points per game, which is sixth worst in the Association.
In the end the best trade for all might be Hudson, Jaric and Davis and a 1st round draft choice for AI and a 2nd round choice. Minnesota and Philly get an even money exchange with the T-Wolves dumping about $16 million in combined salaries, while taking on AI’s $16, 453, 125 (according to basketball reference) 2006 salary. Though the Sixers would take on $16 million in combined salaries and become guard-heavy, they then have bargaining chips they can use to build for the future through the draft.