Iverson goes to Denver; Minnesota never had a chance

The Wolves never really had a great chance to land Iverson. The reason they were talked about at all is because Garnett and Iverson both wanted it and encouraged it so thoroughly. And they're right--they would have been fabulous together.

But from almost all accounts, what Philly wants to do is start from scratch. That's tough to do when dealing $18 million worth of contract, but the Denver deal does the deed rather nicely. Both Joe Smith (at $6.8 m) and Andre Miller ($8.6 m) have deals that expire at the end of this year (according to the salary page at hoopshype.com)[***correction: Miller is signed through 2008-09, according to shamsports.com]. The two first-rounders are not high up, but Philly's will be. In fact there is a fairly decent chance of them landing Greg Oden with the top choice AND having two other first-rounders to go with him and Iguodala; and they'll actually have cap space(!) after Chris Webber's deal expires at the end of next year. Bottom line, Philly blew themselves up pretty well, and with Miller around for a few months won't have to suffer the indignity of starting Kevin Ollie at the point the rest of the season.

For Denver, it changes the conversation away from Melo's punch, and gives Iverson a chance to establish himself without Melo around for awhile--a good thing, I think. But it also puts a phenomenal amount of pressure on George Karl, who is now coaching a team that, without even factoring in Iverson's contract and Melo's eventual extension, owes $28 million in salary to two dinged up players--Nene and K-Mart--in the 2009-10 season!!

Oviously, Melo and AI won't mesh nearly as well as Iverson and KG would have, and there will be issues about who the alpha dog is. BTW, Karl isn't all that great at managing personnel--he usually pisses people off after a couple of years together. So, it is a net plus for the Nugs--getting Iverson is a net plus for anybody--but not the overwhelming improvement needed for them to overtake the Dallas-Phoenix-San Antonio trio. I'd put them with Utah, the Rockets, the Lakers and, assuming Sam Cassell hasn't totally screwed them up, the Clips, in the second tier of playoff hopefuls. You note that's eight teams. To get into the playoffs, the Wolves have to beat one of them, not to mention New Orleans.

But to repeat myself, Minnesota never had a realistic shot at AI, even if Foye and Craig Smith were on the table. Why? Because they have no large expiring contracts and no first round picks for the next two years.

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