THE ANSWER IS . . .
HERE'S LOWDOWN ON ALLEN'S DESTINATION
By Peter Vecsey
December 12, 2006 -- UNLIKE so much of what's being upchucked over the internet regarding Proposition Allen Iverson, much of it oozing from ESPN's thin air, no guess-work follows, only facts. Meaning, there's definitely a chance a legit-bidding team or two may escape mention (how's that for covering one's flanks!).
On the other hand, you can go to sleep knowing what you read below is real.
But first let's dismiss, hopefully for the last time, any fantasies about the Knicks obtaining Iverson in any kind of deal that does or doesn't include Chris Webber. They are not, I repeat, any kind of participant in this situation.
In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to learn Isiah Thomas is prohibited by Camp Cablevision boss James Dolan from cooking up any catastrophes that would cost the Knicks additional obligations past their current long-term luxury hole, or hamstring his eventual replacement any more than he'll be.
The Bobcats, flaunting $13-to-$14 millions in prized cap space, are attempting to play facilitator for the 76ers. Management adamantly refuses to part with a single one of its precious young bloods, even Brevin Knight. Despite getting sacked 15 of 20 times, the third-year expansion franchise wisely is preaching patience and, at the same time, is prepared to assume a salary for a season (not Iverson's, though) for the right compensation - solid player, draft pick, money or all of the above.
That's one option, a rather critical one, for Sixers president Billy King. It allows him to get several teams into the mix. That type of transaction, of course, could translate into Philly obtaining more attractive pieces than it can if only one team is involved.
"I don't know who's putting this stuff out there," a team executive groaned in exasperation. "But it all forces me to call Chris Mullin."
The Warriors are as active and aggressive in diving on Iverson's loose body as any team. Not to keep A.I. (and you thought Don Nelson was seriously about playing smallest) but to re-route his $49M, two-years-to-go debt along with at least one of their dead-weight contracts - Adonal Foyle, Troy Murphy or Mike Dunleavy. Jason Richardson is the guy King has coveted for some time. However, his surgically repaired knee is hurting (swollen) - and not only in the healing area.
In talk last summer, the 76ers approached the Clippers about Iverson for Corey Maggette and Shaun Livingston. That same trade is on the table. The thing is, Livingston is utterly untouchable along with Elton Brand and Chris Kaman. If you see their names mentioned in any scenario, you know the writer is source-less. Everybody else is available.
Keeping it out west, the Kings are offering Mike Bibby (who obviously is very appealing), I think. Would he really want to be united with his father, Henry, a Sixers assistant? Would he really want to be reunited with Webber? On the other hand, former Sixers John Salmons, Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williams celebrated their offensive freedom after distancing themselves from Iverson.
It's not clear whether he is more or less appealing because he owns an early-out after this season. It's hard to say whether the 76ers would be happy if he walked away from his two-year ($13.5M/$14.5M) pact or would want a guarantee from him that he'll honor it.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves remain in the hunt, if only to appease Kevin Garnett, who's clamoring to play with Iverson. Yes, Randy Foye is desirable. But it's decidedly doubtful the 76ers want anything to do with Minnesota's myriad bad contracts belonging to Marko Jaric, Troy Hudson, Mark Blount, Mark Madsen, Mike James and Trenton Hassell. The Sixers want to dump salary, not reproduce it. Ricky Davis is conceivable because he has but one year ($6.8M) left after this.
That leaves Indiana (offering Jamaal Tinsley and just about anyone except Jermaine O'Neal and Danny Granger) and Boston. Danny Ainge is determined to land himself an established veteran and Iverson is it. Paul Pierce is not available. Plenty of sacrificial Celtics are there for the 76ers' plucking, except Al Jefferson. It'd be stunning to think otherwise.
That screeching in the background is Jerry West beseeching outgoing (?) owner Michael Heisley for permission to enter the chase.