Could Unwanted Iverson Be Going Greek?


Aug 4, 2009

Could Unwanted Iverson Be Going Greek? If Michael Vick doesn't get a contract offer from a team in the NFL, analysts from coast to coast have him bound for the UFL to shake off the rust and prove to his naysayers that he can keep it together until a better deal comes along.

Similarly unable to find a team this offseason — and for somewhat analogous reasons — is former NBA Most Valuable Player Allen Iverson.

Having spent much of the 2008-09 season with the Detroit Pistons after a Nov. 3 trade from Denver, AI shut it down on April 3, officially because of a bad back (for which he had earlier missed 16 games), but really because he didn't want to continue coming off the bench for Joe Dumars and then-coach Michael Curry.

"I'm in a position now that I've never been in my whole life," Iverson said at the time. "It's harder than I thought it would be. With the back injury, I have to sit out at the start, then go in, then sit again. It's tough to really get going. I take my hat off to the guys who can come off the bench and be effective. It's tough for me. I'm struggling with it.

"I'd rather retire before I do this again," he continued.

Nice. It's not quite killing dogs, but it's not exactly a team-first mentality either.

Now, the 34-year-old Iverson is a free agent without a home. He has reportedly discussed contracts with the Clippers, the Grizzlies and the Heat this summer, but none of the teams have offered him anywhere near the $20.8 million he made last season.

Tuesday brought rumors of another imminent offer, one from a less traditional source: Olympiacos in Greece. The team with pockets deep enough to land Josh Childress last summer for three years and $20 million net income — reportedly equivalent to about $32.5 million U.S. — will reportedly offer Iverson two years at $10 million. Olympiacos has also made an identical offer to fellow free agent Nate Robinson of the Knicks.

If the story is accurate and the Greek offer is a similar net-income agreement, that'd be two years at about $16.25 million U.S. — or $8.125 million a season — quite a bit more than the NBA's midlevel exception figure. AI may never have taken practice too seriously, but that's a financial figure worth a second thought.

And Childress will be back in Greece next year, too. After averaging 13.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.3 steals last season for Olympiacos and helping them reach the EuroLeague Final Four, Childress again said "Thanks, but no thanks" to the Atlanta Hawks, who still own his NBA rights.

"At the end of the day it's a business," Childress told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month.

"[Olympiacos] let me know as soon as the season was over that they wanted me back. With me not having the best year I could have, it says a lot about the commitment they made to me that they didn't hesitate to let me know that. It shows me they have a lot of respect for their players."

It's hard to blame anyone but Iverson for his inability to get the same respect from an NBA club.

And as Vick keeps hoping for a call from an NFL team, Iverson would certainly rather stay in the big time of the NBA, where the competition is best.

"He's still a good player," Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe told the New York Times in July.

Vick could probably help an NFL team, too. But when the potential negatives outweigh the positives, you can't blame teams for not wanting to take a chance.

It's just business.

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