Miller, Smith go to Sixers in deal for Iverson
After 11 days of waiting, the NBA has an answer to The Answer question.
The trade, which comes almost two weeks after Iverson demanded a trade in Philly, sends Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks to the Sixers for Iverson and Ivan McFarlin. It was completed Tuesday and sent to the league for approval.
The deal was first reported by ESPN.com's Marc Stein and ESPN Insider's Chris Sheridan.
Denver fans are happy that they have Allen Iverson. 76ers fans (well, some of them) are happy he's gone. But fantasy basketball owners, are they happy about this? Hmm, maybe not.
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"I'm very happy about the trade," Iverson said in a statement. "Denver's style of play fits my strengths. I'm looking forward to playing with Carmelo, the rest of the Denver Nuggets, and for George Karl, who is a proven winner."
The Nuggets and 76ers each have home games Wednesday night and hoped to have their newest players in the lineup. Though the Nuggets said some requirements for physicals and reporting have been waived, Iverson's agent, Leon Rose, said the point guard would not be in the mix for Wednesday.
"He'll play Friday [against Sacramento], for sure," he said.
The 76ers said Wednesday that Miller and Smith likely would make their Philadelphia debuts Friday.
The Nuggets are ready for their new era.
"I talked to Allen and he's ecstatic," Nuggets vice president of player personal Rex Chapman said in a press conference on Tuesday evening. "We hope to have him here tomorrow. Allen has proven that he's a winner."
The Sixers announced the deal at the same time on Tuesday.
"First of all, I'd like to thank Allen Iverson for the last 11 years," Sixers general manager Billy King said. "I think he gave us all some great excitement. I think he's one of the greatest ever to play the game."
Iverson's career average is 28.1 points per game. Four players in NBA history were traded with a higher career average at the time: Wilt Chamberlain, twice (he was averaging 41.5 points per game in Jan. 1965, when he was dealt from San Francisco to Philadelphia, and 36.0 points per game in July 1968, when he was traded from Philadelphia to Los Angeles); Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (30.4, Milwaukee to Los Angeles in June 1975), Oscar Robertson (29.3, Cincinnati to Milwaukee in April 1970) and Bob McAdoo (28.2, Buffalo to New York, in Dec. 1976).
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Asked how the deal helps the Sixers, King said: "What we were trying to accomplish was to get some cap flexibility, get a player that can help us, and I think we've done that."
One of the picks the Sixers will receive comes from Denver, but the other one comes from Dallas, King said.
"I think the draft picks are very important because we want to build through the draft," King said.
The 76ers have fallen on hard times. They are riding an 11-game losing streak this year after not making the playoffs the last three seasons.
"We haven't won a championship, and I think we were a long way from winning a championship, even with Allen," 76ers chairman Ed Snider said. "It was time for us to take a deep breath and say we've got to move in a different direction. Allen wanted to move in a different direction."
Iverson is due the rest of his $18 million this season, and a combined $40 million through the 2008-09 season.
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.
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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.
Iverson won't be able to play with his former teammate from the 2004 U.S. Olympic squad until Anthony is reinstated for a Jan. 20 game at Houston.
"We think they're going to be a dynamic duo together and take this franchise to new heights," Chapman said of Iverson and Anthony.
Anthony and Iverson are currently the top two scorers in the league at 31.6 and 31.2 points per game, respectively. No two teammates have ever finished a season with both having averages over 30 points per game. Only twice have teammates finished 1-2 in the league scoring race, and the last time that happened was with the Nuggets. In the 1982-83 season, Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe were 1-2. The 1954-55 Warriors had Neil Johnston at No. 1 and Paul Arizin at 2.
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 $19.4 million left on his contract over the following two seasons.
"I think Miller is one of the best point guards in the league," King said.
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.
"I'd like to thank my fans in Philadelphia," Iverson said in his statement. "They've been with me every step of the way, through all the ups and downs. I will always be grateful to the 76ers organization, and I wish them the very best."
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.
Even though the Sixers felt they had to trade Iverson, King said, "I'm not going to disparage what Allen did for this organization."
Iverson, 31, 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.
After being selected No. 1 by the Sixers in 1996, Iverson 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.
Only Minnesota's Kevin Garnett has been with one team longer than Iverson among active players.
For as much as he thrilled the 76ers on the court, he gave them nearly as many headaches off it.
With his rants about practice, his run-ins with former coach Larry Brown, his arrests and failed rap career, Iverson was often a magnet for trouble away from the court.
Iverson and Brown were a volcanic combination during the six seasons they spent together in Philly. Brown criticized Iverson for taking too many shots and accused him of being selfish at times.
Iverson often arrived late for practice or missed practices for various reasons. In one infamous blowup at the end of the 2002 season he repeated "talking about practice" nearly 20 times during a rambling monologue. He now pokes fun at the memorable meltdown.
Brown and Iverson eventually reconciled and Brown named his former guard co-captain of the 2004 Olympic men's basketball team.
"Don't get me wrong, there's some bad stories out there," Karl acknowledged. "As I told 'Melo when I got here, there's some stories about me out there, too. There's a lot of positives.
"One thing I hear on a consistent basis, his teammates love him. I think we need better chemistry on my basketball team. I think we need more leadership. I think we need more emotional maturity, I think we need some mental toughness, some intensity, an every game, every possession mentality. I think everything I said there, Allen Iverson has."
While some have predicted his all-out style means he'll wear out sooner rather than later, Iverson still ricochets around the court like a pinball and slamming to the court after seemingly every basket. He had 15 40-plus point games in 2005-06, including his 10th-career 50-point game.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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