NBA: Iverson traded to Denver

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 19, 2006

By Dan Gelson

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Allen Iverson got the new team he wanted, and the Denver Nuggets got the new superstar they suddenly needed.

The four-time scoring champion was traded Tuesday by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks. The Nuggets also get Ivan McFarlin.

The deal came just as NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony began serving a 15-game suspension for his part in a weekend brawl between the Nuggets and New York Knicks.

Iverson now takes his 31.2-point scoring average to Denver and ends 10 turbulent seasons with the franchise that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 1996.

“I’m very happy about the trade,” Iverson said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday night. “Denver’s style of play fits my strengths. I’m looking forward to playing with Carmelo, the rest of the Denver Nuggets, and for (coach) George Karl, who is a proven winner.”

Karl expects the deal to have an immediate impact on Denver.

“All trades shake your team a little bit,” he said. “I hope that they realize that we’re doing this to be better, we’re doing this to be special, we’re doing this to contend.”

A seven-time All-Star, Iverson transformed the 76ers from lottery losers to contenders, though he couldn’t bring home an NBA title to this championship-starved city. He came close in 2001, when the 76ers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals. Since then the team has fallen from the elite, missing the playoffs twice in the last three seasons.

This year has hardly been an improvement. The 76ers (5-18) have the worst record in the league and are on an 11-game losing streak.

“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.”

Sixers team president Billy King said the salary cap room created by the trade, along with the draft picks, will give Philadelphia the chance to rebuild.

Now the 31-year-old guard’s chase for a coveted championship moves to the Western Conference, where his Nuggets will play Philadelphia on Jan. 2.

“I talked to Allen this afternoon. He’s fired up,” Karl said. “I believe him when he says he thinks this, of all the places he was rumored, this is the one he wanted.”

The Nuggets and 76ers each have home games Wednesday night and hoped to have their newest players in the lineup, though Iverson’s agent, Leon Rose, said the point guard would not be in the mix. “He’ll play Friday (against Sacramento), for sure,” he said.

The Denver fans would love to see him. This marks the Nuggets’ biggest trade since they dealt Kiki Vandeweghe to Portland for Fat Lever, Calvin Natt and Wayne Cooper in 1984. That move helped them make the Western Conference finals the next season.

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