July 21, 2008 12:38 AM
Will Iverson be next key Nugget dealt?
By Chris Tomasson
Marcus Camby has been shown to the city line. Could Allen Iverson be the next high-dollar player to be drop-kicked out of Denver by the cost-cutting Nuggets?
Indications are the Nuggets would trade Iverson if the deal was right. They'd also trade Kenyon Martin or Nene, if anybody wanted either. And owner Stan Kroenke would be willing to deal the Rocky Mountains if he owned them and it would keep him from paying the luxury tax.
But Iverson has trade value. With an expiring $20.84 million contract, he would be an ideal acquisition for a team looking to clear salary-cap room for next summer in one swoop.
First, though, the Nuggets must decide what they want to do with their future. There has been no indication so far there is any plan, with the exception of Kroenke suddenly becoming very budget conscious and perhaps looking to start collecting S&H Green Stamps.
There's a slim chance the Nuggets could get under the tax threshold for next season. One way to do that would be to trade Iverson and get back a bit less than $17 million in salaries, although that figure could vary depending upon any contract restricted free-agent J.R. Smith might sign with Denver.
If the Nuggets are a tax-paying team next season, they almost certainly would be out of the tax in 2009-10 if were to let Iverson walk after next season. But do they want to let Iverson go for nothing, although that seems to be a trend these days (the Clippers may end up giving up nill for Camby)?
If the Nuggets want to try to carve out cap room in the summer of 2010, when the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can become free agents, then it might make sense to wave goodbye to Iverson for nothing.
However, the Nuggets might deem carving out such cap room too tough or too risky. After all, they are looking to re-sign Smith, they will have to make a call on re-signing Linas Kleiza by next summer and Carmelo Anthony, Martin and Nene all still will be under huge contracts in 2010-11.
If cap room is 2010 is not a realistic goal, then the Nuggets might not want to let Iverson bolt for nothing. While perhaps trading him before the start of the season might be too quick of a move, it wouldn't be surprising if suitors are lining up for Iverson at next February's trade deadline.
A team out of contention could pick up Iverson, sell a few extra tickets, and create heaps of cap room. Even a team in contention could think Iverson might be a missing piece, and then also get cap room if he is elected not to be kept.
If the Nuggets dealt Iverson, the key would be to get first-round draft choices and/or young prospects. The Nuggets might have to take back some longer contracts, but, if they're out of the luxury tax and not trying to carve out cap room in 2010, that might not be such a bad deal.
There, of course, is one more possibility, but that doesn't seem overly likely at this point. The Nuggets could look to re-sign Iverson after he becomes a free agent next summer.
But the Nuggets never offered Iverson a multiyear contract even though his camp was willing earlier this summer for Iverson to opt out of his contract and take less money this season. And, while Iverson has said he wants to finish his career in Denver, one wonders what he might be thinking after Camby was given away (Iverson has been unavailable for comment).
Furthermore, it's always tough for a player to return to a team after a drastic salary cut. I wouldn't want to be standing too close to Iverson at a time when the Nuggets might say, "We'll give you $5 million or $6 million for 2009-10. That's only a 75-percent pay cut.''
So perhaps the Nuggets will dispatch Iverson by next February's trade deadline. Hey, Memphis has salary-cap room and the Grizzlies need to sell some tickets.