Allen Iverson on his way out of Philly

Updated: December 9, 2006, 8:44 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

You know what they say about early December.

'Tis the season for sensational trade demands.

At least that's how it's starting to feel after Friday's wild developments, when Allen Iverson did what he always insisted he'd never do and publicly confirmed his desire to play elsewhere.

It was this time last year, almost to the day, that Ron Artest was quoted in the local paper urging the Indiana Pacers to move him. Some 363 days later, No. 3 accelerated a wild chain of events by issuing a similar statement, announcing through his agent: "As hard as it is to admit, a change may be the best thing for everyone."

The difference?

Artest's timing was flat-out stunning. His comeback from a record suspension, replete with a Sports Illustrated cover shot he shared with Larry Bird, was not yet three months old when he turned his back on an organization that did so much to welcome him back.

Iverson?

Jarring as it was to hear Sixers chairman Ed Snider grant an interview during the Philly-Washington game and declare that Iverson has "probably" played his last game as a Sixer, this outcome can't really surprise you.

The Sixers had to know that this would bubble over in the most toxic fashion after seriously discussing an Iverson trade with Boston during the June draft, offering up Iverson around the league in July, pulling him off the market when the team was up for sale over the summer and reporting for training camp in October with virtually no changes to a group that, by the end of last season, couldn't guard anyone or stand each other.

I never bought the theory that Iverson would unleash his fury on the rest of the league, like he did during his 2000-01 MVP season after nearly getting traded to Detroit in 2000. He was shopped too publicly this time to bury his bitterness quickly, especially since these Sixers -- who won two games in a span of 31 days entering the weekend -- don't exactly remind you of the '00-01 Sixers who flanked Iverson with Larry Brown and a bunch of willing scrappers and made it to the NBA Finals.

This time, Iverson's frustration kept boiling to the point we're at now, with Iverson regularly clashing and doubting coach Mo Cheeks, fuming about the Sixers' refusal to let him play in Friday night's ESPN game against the Wiz ... but also praying that they send him somewhere good.

I can't lie. I'm praying for Minnesota.

If the Wolves are set on keeping KG under any circumstances and KG is determined to finish his career in 'Sota, as both parties have long maintained, it makes too much sense. Garnett and Iverson need each other.

But it goes even deeper than mere desperation.

Garnett is the game's most unselfish superstar and actually wants to play with a ball-dominating guard.

Iverson has never been easy for guys to play with, is forever resistant to authority and punctuality and, as you might have heard once or twice, not the biggest fan of practice. Yet you suspect that KG might be the one potential teammate out there with the juice to hold him accountable.

However ...

This will not be an easy trade for the Wolves to complete, because they have a startlingly limited cache of assets. Which is exactly why I recently urged them to deal Garnett. They just don't have the coveted goods to get him help.

The best they can conceivably offer Philly is a package built around Villanova's own Randy Foye. There would be other players involved, starting with Ricky Davis, but Foye is by far Minnesota's most attractive commodity after KG.

Is that enough for the Sixers?

How 'bout when I tell you that they can't get Minnesota's first-round pick in the June draft, also known as the Greg Oden draft? Foye would have to be sufficiently marquee to appease the Sixers, because they can't get Minnesota's 2007 first-round pick in this deal. The Wolves' pick in the June draft -- also known as the Greg Oden draft -- has already been committed to the Los Angeles Clippers.

If the pick falls from No. 1 through No. 10 in June, Minnesota keeps it. If it's No. 11 or lower, it goes to the Clippers to complete the Sam Cassell trade from the summer of 2005.

So ...

It could well take the involvement of another team or two to enhance Minnesota's chances. That's also assuming they're prepared to part with Foye; one source close to the situation insists that's not the slam dunk you think.

The only certainty, at this early juncture, is that Philly is going to call everybody.

They will rekindle talks with the equally desperate Celtics, preferring to send Iverson to the West but knowing that hated Boston has more youngsters to offer.

They will check in with noted Iverson admirers in Dallas (Mark Cuban) and Los Angeles (Donald Sterling) and see, unlikely as it seems, if either of those West powers would consider breaking up their deep rosters.

Denver coach George Karl said Friday night that the Nuggets won't be re-entering the Iverson sweepstakes, after chasing him hard during the summer, but you can also expect the Sixers to ring the Kings in case those gambling Maloof brothers want to pair Iverson with Artest by sending Mike Bibby to Philly.

The Sixers, maybe more than any other team, have to explore every possibility.

Or have you forgotten that 1992 summer blockbuster: Charles Barkley for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang?

We're about to find out if a winter mega-trade works out any better for them.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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