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ChicagoJ
02-18-2004, 10:31 AM
Are there any big deals left to be made?
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Wednesday, February 18
Updated: February 18
10:02 AM ET

Rumor mongers . . . start your engines.

With about 36 hours left until the NBA's Thursday trade deadline, the rumors
were flying fast and furious Tuesday night as teams talked and talked and talked
about making deals.

The big question on everyone's mind? Will there be yet another huge trade before
Thursday?

There's a lot of small talk right now about cap positioning, draft picks and
minor players, but after an unbelievable trading season that's seen big names
like Stephon Marbury, Rasheed Wallace, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ricky Davis, Bonzi
Wells, Keith Van Horn, Tim Thomas, Theo Ratliff and Penny Hardaway already
traded, is there anyone left out there to trade?

Here's what we we're hearing as of late Tuesday night . . .

Allen Iverson's latest antics, including missing practice in Denver on Monday
and seething on the bench Tuesday night, haven't helped things in Philly.
Iverson is already complaining about new head coach Chris Ford, and tensions
continue to rise.

"I don't want to be treated like this," Iverson said after Tuesday's game. "If I
get treated like this every day, I'd tell my family we've got to go. We've got
to get out of here."

Philly has several smaller trades that it can make if it believes that moving a
player like Eric Snow or Aaron McKie will fix things. But with the Philly media
beginning to turn on AI as well, GM Billy King may have a rare opening to trade
Iverson as the climate sours in Philly.

The problem is getting equal value for the 28-year-old draw. Speculation has
centered on Atlanta, where the Hawks are shopping Rasheed Wallace. Iverson is an
instant draw in Atlanta, even though he would eat away most of the team's cap
room this summer. Wallace, a Philly native, would help a very weak Philly front
line with minimal risk because his $17 million contract comes off the books next
season. The problems, however, are obvious. Wallace could very well leave this
summer or bomb there, leaving the Sixers with nothing in return for Iverson.

The other speculated destination for Iverson, Houston, isn't going to happen.
While an Iverson-for-Steve Francis swap sounds sexy enough, a source in Houston
told Insider that Francis isn't going anywhere right now. This summer? That's a
different story.

Speaking of Rasheed, rumors are going to continue to swirl until the deadline
about Detroit and New York's interest in 'Sheed. As Insider first reported on
Tuesday, the Pistons' offer for Rasheed (the expiring contracts of Bob Sura,
Zeljko Rebraca and Lindsey Hunter and a 2004 first-round pick) also included the
contract of Chucky Atkins -- essentially killing the deal before it ever got
started.

Pistons president Joe Dumars, who spoke on the record about the deal to the
Detroit News in Wednesday's editions, confirmed our story.

"There is no deal," Dumars told the Detroit News. "There is no deal pending, no
deal is imminent. Have we talked to Atlanta? Yes, but I guarantee you that every
team is talking to everybody right now."

While the Pistons can refashion the deal by taking out Atkins and putting in the
expiring contracts of Darvin Ham and Tremaine Fowlkes, Dumars claimed he hasn't
done that. He likely won't. Dumars needs that first-round pick to package with
either Atkins or Williamson to clear the cap room necessary to re-sign Mehmet
Okur this summer. If he can get either of those two players off the books before
July 15th, Okur is as good as gone.

The Knicks are working hand in hand with Wallace's agent, Bill Strickland, to
try to get 'Sheed to New York now.

"Our preference is to make that now, before the deadline, but Rasheed would be
willing to explore the option of a midlevel exception this summer," Strickland
told the New York Times.

The hurdle for Strickland is that the Knicks don't have the expiring contracts
the Hawks are looking for. The Times claims that a combination of Kurt Thomas,
Othella Harrington, Dikembe Mutombo and either Mike Sweetney or Frank Thomas
could get a deal done . . . but none of those players has the type of expiring
contract the Hawks are looking for. Unless the Knicks can find a third team with
expiring contracts that is willing to take on all of those contracts, chances
are 'Sheed stays put.

The Knicks' pursuit of Erick Dampier also appears to be a pipe dream. The
Warriors want expiring contracts for Dampier, and, again, the Knicks don't have
any. They could try to package Kurt Thomas and Mike Sweetney together with the
thinking that Thomas would opt out of his contract this summer to get out of
Golden State . . . but that's a pretty big risk by both sides at this point.

Memphis is the other team that likes Dampier. The Grizzlies pursued him hard
last summer and came close to a deal, but now things are trickier. If the
Grizzlies put together a package of Stromile Swift, Jake Tsakalidis and either
Earl Watson or Troy Bell, you have to believe that the Warriors would jump . . .
but is Dampier really worth it?

If I were Bulls GM John Paxson, I'd try to see if the Warriors would be willing
to swap Dampier and Jason Richardson for Eddy Curry, Jamal Crawford and Marcus
Fizer. The move would give the Warriors much more cap flexibility and a couple
of prospects in Curry and Crawford as well give the Bulls their more traditional
two guard and a center who would clean up in the East.

Speaking of the Bulls, there was talk on Tuesday that the team was talking with
the Wizards about a possible Crawford-and-Fizer-for-Jerry Stackhouse swap.

Clearly Paxson is trying to figure out a way to add the missing piece that turns
the Bulls into a playoff contender. Why would the Wizards even consider it? The
move would give them a little over $10 million to play with in free agency
should they decide not to re-sign Crawford or Fizer. Sources claim that the deal
is unlikely to happen, but I thought it was an interesting proposal.

Speaking of the Wizards, they are resisting the sudden surge in interest toward
Kwame Brown. Says one Wizards' source: "Our phone hasn't stopped ringing about
Kwame but we're not moving him. Our investment is just now paying off. Why would
we move him?" What's interesting is that last year the Sonics turned down an
offer of Brown for Vladimir Radmanovic and Brent Barry. Now they're getting
laughed at for proposing it.

Speaking of the Sonics, it appears that the team has finally come to the
realization that it has a small window of opportunity to make something happen
with the expiring contract of Brent Barry and is talking to a number of teams
around the league. One source told Insider on Tuesday that Vladimir Radmanovic's
agent has been pushing for the Sonics to get Radmanovic out of Seattle.

Radmanovic and Barry have the same agent, David Bauman, and he's been making
phone calls of his own trying to find a package that works for the Sonics. With
other assets like Ronald Murray and, to a lesser extent, Jerome James, what's
the hold-up?

One league executive said that the Sonics are asking for too much. "They want a
lot for those guys, and I mean a lot," the exec told Insider. "There's a lot of
interest in that package, but no one's prepared to give up a seven footer or an
all-star for them. I think right now that's what Rick (Sund) feels he needs to
justify the trade. If he sticks to that line of thinking, I don't see anything
happening."

Talks with the Bulls, a natural trading partner, have gone nowhere. The Sonics
are insisting that either Eddy Curry or Tyson Chandler be included in any deal.
Paxson is willing to talk, but is only willing to give up Crawford and/or Fizer
in return. Talks with the Pacers (for Al Harrington and Austin Croshere) and the
Wizards (for Kwame and Christian Laettner) are also going nowhere.

The hottest rumor on Tuesday evening had the Sonics talking to the Raptors about
a swap that would send Barry and Radmanovic to Toronto for Donyell Marshall and
Morris Peterson. There was also talk that the trade could be expanded into a
three-way deal with the Blazers. The Raptors have been in the hunt for a center
so that they can move rookie Chris Bosh back to his natural position at power
forward. Under that arrangement, Radmanovic and Barry would head to Portland,
Davis would go Toronto, Marshall and Peterson would head to Seattle and the
Raptors would send Michael Curry and Michael Bradley to the Blazers. However,
the same sources said that the Sonics are concerned that they're not getting
enough in return for Radmanovic.

If Sund can't get what he wants, there shouldn't be any reason to rush into a
trade. Radmanovic, Murray and James will all have value this summer. But still,
with the Sonics in the hunt for a playoff berth and the availability of Barry's
expiring contract, it's hard to believe that the team can't find a deal that
makes sense for them.

One more tidbit worth reporting. Tracy McGrady can not opt out of his contract
this summer. We've talked about this before, but I keep seeing it reported on TV
(the Bucks announcers said it 10 times Tuesday night during the Bucks-Magic
game) that he's likely gone this summer. McGrady has an ETO (early termination
option) on his contract after the 2004-05 season -- not this summer.
Around the League

There are a ton of mid-to-smaller deals also making the rounds. Here are the
other things being talked about out there.

The Mavericks have been unusually quiet. That seems to be freaking out a number
of GMs who insisted, without any type of concrete evidence mind you, that the
Mavs were working on something big.

The Magic's Gordan Giricek seems to be a hot name at the moment. Not only is his
salary reasonable ($1.5 million) but he's also a free agent this summer. In
almost every scenario he's being packaged with Tyronn Lue or Juwan Howard. Among
the rumored suitors? The Bulls (offering Fizer for Lue and Giricek), the Pistons
(offering Chucky Atkins), the Jazz (offering Carlos Arroyo and DeShawn
Stevenson) and the Celtics (offering Chris Mills and Chris Mihm for Giricek,
Howard and Pat Garrity).

The speculation running rampant on Tuesday was that the Celtics were going to
send Mills and Mihm to Orlando for Howard, Garrity and Giricek. Obviously it
didn't happen, though one Celtics source remains optimistic that they can
convince the Magic to pull the trigger.

I wonder, however, whether the Jazz wouldn't be a better suitor. Jazz GM Kevin
O'Connor denied interest in Giricek and Lue last week when the rumor first
popped up, but it does make some sense for Utah if Howard got included in the
deal. The Jazz need some frontcourt help in the worst way, and Howard seems like
the perfect type of player for the Jazz's system.

Howard's long-term deal shouldn't hinder the Jazz too much as they'd still be
looking at more than $20 million in cap room even with Howard on the books. If
the Jazz were willing to take Howard, Giricek and Lue along with Andrew DeClercq
and possibly Pat Garrity and be willing to give up Arroyo and Stevenson, that
could make some long-term cap sense for the Magic and give the Jazz some more
tools to work with.

While a deal for Steve Francis isn't going to happen before the deadline, the
Rockets are trying to see whether they can find someone interested in Bostjan
Nachbar, Maurice Taylor and/or Kelvin Cato. With the Celtics looking for more
firepower, and with their two expiring contracts, you can add them to the list
of potential suitors. Ainge is a big fan of Nachbar's. All the Rockets are
looking for is a little more cap flexibility at this point.

The Hawks are already trying to move Michael Doleac, and reports in both the
Chicago Sun Times and Tribune claim that a possible three-way deal with Detroit
that sends Doleac to the Bulls could be in the works. Under that scenario Fizer
would head to Detroit. It's unclear who the Pistons would be giving up to make
the trade work under the CBA. The Jazz and Nuggets have also shown some interest
in Doleac, whose $1.6 million deal expires at the end of the season.

The chances that the long-rumored Jerome Williams-to-Philly-for-Aaron Mckie
trade happens are "very high," according to one league source.

ChicagoJ
02-18-2004, 12:11 PM
Is Iverson wearing out welcome?
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Wednesday, February 18
Updated: February 18
8:38 AM ET

Unless the Philadelphia 76ers plan to fire their second head coach in one week
and hire their fourth in less than one year, they've got less than one day to
trade Allen Iverson.

"This is always going to stay with me," Iverson said in the Philadelphia
Inquirer after being benched by interim coach Chris Ford for the start of
Tuesday night's game against the Nuggets. "I'll never forget it. I'll always
remember it. I don't have to be his friend. I don't have to speak to him. I
don't have to say how you doing or anything to him. I can play for him, though.
I can go out there and play hard for him, and I can try to do exactly what he
wants me to do, night in and night out. I'll definitely do that. I don't have
any problem with that. As far as having a relationship with him outside of
basketball, that's done from day one."

Despite missing the Monday practice with supposed plane problems and the first
seven-and-a-half minutes of the game, Iverson tallied an impressive 27 points,
14 assists, three boards and two steals on 8-for-17 shooting.
And the Sixers still lost by 21 to fall to 22-32.

"I was angry all day from shoot-around," said Iverson. "Going in there, having a
meeting, being with guys that I don't really know telling me that I wasn't going
to start, telling me what I had to do for us to be successful. We've had success
here, so, obviously, I know how to do something right."

Ford begs to differ. Team president Billy Kings begs to differ. Philadelphia
Daily News columnist John Smallwood begs to differ:

"For 7 seasons, the Sixers organization has cajoled, coddled and turned its
head to appease Iverson. The Sixers did so because there always was hope that at
some point Iverson would mature into the type of leader who could take the
organization to the highest level of success. It's not going to happen . . . If
ever the Sixers needed Iverson to be a true leader by action, not just word, it
was Monday. He failed miserably, and sadly, I don't think many are surprised."
Iverson missed the Monday practice because his plane was delayed. Iverson missed
the Monday practice because the dog ate his homework. Iverson missed the Monday
practice because . . . does it really matter why anymore?

"This is an organization thing, not a coach vs. a player," Ford said in the
Philadelphia Daily News. "We have standards we have to live by. [King and I] are
on the same page. Did [Iverson] do something wrong? Yes, but we just move on
from here. He missed a practice, and he should've been here because we put in
new sets and everything. The result is [this], as far as what I decided was
going to take place."

Let's not forget. Larry Brown left the Sixers before this season started because
he could no longer tolerate a separate set of rules for Iverson. Randy Ayers was
recently fired because he could not win with a team led by Iverson. And, now, a
distinct line has been drawn between Ford and, guess who, Iverson.

"I don't want to leave Philadelphia," Iverson said. "They'll have to push me out
of here."

So the same reporter asked him if the benching could be interpreted as a push.
"Most definitely!" Iverson said.

Consider it done, then.

After 14,267 points, four scoring titles and an MVP award, Iverson could very
well be finished in Philadelphia with the trading deadline coming Thursday at 3
p.m. EST.

"The most frustrating thing in that meeting [with the Sixers' coaching staff]
was hearing a guy that I don't know [Ford] tell me I don't have respect for my
teammates, my teammates don't have respect for me, and that my teammates feel I
don't bring it every day," Iverson said. "No coach ever questioned whether I
brought it every day. None of my teammates from grade school ever questioned
whether I bring it every day."

And, perhaps, that's the way it had to be done. By a coach who has no emotional
ties to the player, the team, the city.

Ford has 26 years in the NBA as a player, head coach and assistant coach and
earned three NBA championship rings along the way. He has 311 career wins as
head coach with the Celtics, Bucks and Clippers.

But he has been in Philadelphia for less than one season. His record as Sixers
head coach is 1-1. His reliance upon Iverson for his job is nil.

He'll be working in the NBA next season whether Iverson scores 30 points in a
Sixer uniform on Friday, Feb. 20 or not.

"When I addressed [reporters] on that first day, I said I was going to coach and
whatever that entailed," Ford said in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "If guys step
out of line or are not doing the right thing or not doing it the right way, then
I have to do what a coach is supposed to do . . . It's not going to be ups and
downs as far as I'm concerned. There is a right way and a wrong way. This isn't
a platform thing. I'm just coaching."

Friction arises with the Answer
Stephen A. Smith / Philadelphia Inquirer
A punishing night for Iverson
Joe Juliano / Philadelphia Inquirer
Sub torpedoes Ford
Phil Jasner / Philadelphia Daily News
We're talkin' divorce

Ragnar
02-18-2004, 05:26 PM
I second that thanks Jay. :dance: