Wolves: We can't afford Iverson
Rumors, fueled by Iverson imposter, featured deal here
From staff reports
Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers appear headed toward a bitter parting.
But Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he won't end up in Minnesota, despite a flood of rumors Friday night that said otherwise.
"No trade," Taylor said during the Wolves' 110-103 victory over Utah on Friday night at Target Center. "It isn't that I don't like him. Just money-wise, it wouldn't work out."
Speculation heated up the past couple of days about where Iverson could end up. The Wolves were at the top of the list of possible destinations.
ESPN reporter Jim Gray announced on the air that Iverson told him in a telephone interview Friday that he was heading to Minnesota. He came back on the air soon after to say that he had been "duped," admitting, "I was talking to an imposter."
Iverson's 11-year career in Philadelphia took another tumultuous turn Friday when the former NBA most valuable player hinted that a trade might be best after the Sixers sent him home and ruled him out of their next two games.
"As hard as it is to admit, a change may be the best thing for everyone," Iverson said. "I hate admitting that because I love the guys on the team and the city of Philadelphia. I truly wanted to retire a 76er."
"We'll trade him," Sixers chairman Ed Snider said Friday night. "At a certain point, you have to come to grips with the fact that it's not working. He wants out, and we're ready to accommodate him."
Snider said Iverson has "probably" played his last game with the Sixers, ending a career that placed him with Julius Erving, Charles Barkley and Wilt Chamberlain among the team's greats.
"I think it's time for him to move on, for us to move on and find out where everything stands," Snider said. "I really didn't see it coming because Allen says all the right things."
In a surprising turn of events, Iverson was banished by the club and didn't play Friday against Washington. Team President Billy King said the move was not a suspension and Iverson's future would be re-evaluated after tonight's game at Orlando.
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 whether Iverson had asked for a trade or if he was actively trying to trade the four-time NBA scoring champion. Snider confirmed that Iverson did ask this week to be dealt.
"Allen was not able to practice yesterday because of the back, and today Mo made a decision not to play him tonight or tomorrow," King said. "We told him to just take the night off and tomorrow."
Iverson told a different story. Iverson, whose off-court behavior and coaching clashes often overshadowed his gritty, highlight-reel play, released a statement through agent Leon Rose stating that he told the Sixers he was healthy enough to play.
Iverson said he was told not to participate in shootaround and instead watched from the sideline. He 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."
Iverson, who leads the league with a 31.7-point average, left Wednesday night's 121-94 loss at Chicago in the second half, complaining of the spasms, and did not practice Thursday. The Sixers are 5-13, have lost six straight and 13 of 15 overall.
"This season has been very frustrating for everyone," Iverson said. "We've lost 12 of 14 games and nothing seems to be working. I have expressed my frustration to my teammates, however, I have continued to give 100 percent night in and night out. Apparently, it hasn't been enough to help our team win."
Even with the Sixers sinking toward another lottery-bound season, Snider said Cheeks and King's jobs were safe.
Cheeks said he expected Iverson to finish the season in Philadelphia.
Iverson reportedly was nearly dealt last offseason to Boston.
This report includes information from the Associated Press.