The Detroit Pistons were in need of a new point guard before the 1999-2000 season, and they wanted Allen Iverson. But AI’s contract with the Philadelphia 76ers had an opt-out clause that allowed him to leave for any team in the league after three years.
The Allen Iverson trade to the Nuggets is a story about how Allen Iverson was prevented from joining the Detroit Pistons before his MVP season.
Allen Iverson’s move to the Detroit Pistons in 2008 was eight years too late. That trade, which saw Chauncey Billups of the Pistons join the Denver Nuggets, backfired horribly, since AI was far beyond his peak while Billups still had a few of good seasons left in him. However, Pistons fans will recall that the team had a chance to sign Iverson in 2000, right before The Answer earned the league’s MVP award.
If it hadn’t been for one of AI’s teammates holding up the trade over $1.2 million, the Pistons would have gotten Iverson as well.
In August 2000, the Pistons were on the brink of obtaining Allen Iverson from the Philadelphia 76ers.
By the summer of 2000, Allen Iverson had established himself as a genuine cornerstone player. He was a thorn in Larry Brown’s side as well.
The head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers had many run-ins with his top player, including a ban in March 2000 when Iverson skipped practice. The Sixers threatened to move AI following a series of infractions, and the Pistons almost took advantage of his availability.
That summer, former Pistons star Joe Dumars was named general manager of the Detroit Lions. He shifted his attention to an Iverson blockbuster after arranging a sign-and-trade that sent Grant Hill to the Orlando Magic. According to ESPN writer Marc Stein at the time, the Pistons were close to obtaining Iverson from the Sixers as part of a four-team deal, with former Sixers executive Pat Croce stating the framework was “near” to being completed.
So, why did the deal fall through? Because Matt Geiger, a former Sixers center, refused to waive a $1.2 million trade kicker.
Matt Geiger, a former Sixers center, was murdered in the Iverson-to-Detroit trade.
Dikembe Mutombo, Tyrone Hill, Aaron McKie, and Matt Geiger of the Philadelphia 76ers sit on the court in front of the bench as Allen Iverson watches the last minute of Game 4 of the NBA Finals, 13 June 2001, at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, PA. | Getty Images/AFP/Jeff Haynes
Matt Geiger does not seem to be the kind of player capable of sabotaging a big deal. He had a solid 10-year NBA career, but was mostly used as a backup center.
Geiger, on the other hand, was directly responsible for the collapse of the alleged structure.
The Pistons were expected to get the other component in the deal, which was meant to be the former Sixers center. However, Geiger, who is in the second year of a six-year, $47 million contract, refused to waive the $1.2 million trade kicker for the remaining four years of his contract.
The next summer, Geiger said that he declined to waive the trade kicker because he did not think he and Iverson would be in a better position in Detroit.
According to ESPN, Geiger stated in June 2001, “I looked at Detroit and didn’t believe Allen and I would’ve been better off there.” “As a result, the choice was simple.”
If nothing else, Geiger’s decision cemented Iverson’s reputation as a Sixers legend. Meanwhile, the Pistons had to jump through additional hoops in order to put together a championship team.
The Answer won the MVP award in 2000-01 and went on to become a Sixers icon, but the Pistons still received their championship ring.
Allen Iverson made the transition from All-Star guard to one of the greatest players in the NBA during the 2000-01 season.
Iverson was the leading scorer in the NBA, averaging 31.1 points per game. He averaged 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game while leading the NBA in steals with 2.5 per game. Only half of the narrative is told by the statistics.
There was no second star on Philadelphia’s roster. On a nightly level, Iverson had to carry the offensive burden for the Sixers. That was never more apparent than in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, when he scored 48 points on 41 tries in a stunning upset of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sixers would lose that series to the Lakers, and Iverson would never get his ring. However, he was able to ingratiate himself with the Philadelphia supporters for the rest of his life.
When The Answer arrived in Detroit in 2008, he was 33 years old and approaching the conclusion of his career, leading some fans to wonder what could have happened if the Pistons had acquired AI back in 2000. Still, it’s possible that not completing the Iverson trade was a good thing.
In the trade that brought them Richard Hamilton, Detroit utilized cap space to sign Billups in free agency and then flipped Jerry Stackhouse, who was originally part of the Iverson structure. Those two were key members of the Pistons’ 2003-04 championship squad, but they are unlikely to return if the Iverson trade is completed.
In other words, both Pistons and Sixers fans should be grateful to Matt Geiger for utilizing his $1.2 million trade kicker as a stumbling block during the summer 2000 talks.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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Allen Iverson was a journeyman center who had an amazing career in the NBA. He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996, and played for them until he was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2001. In 2003, he signed with the Detroit Pistons. Reference: what teams did allen iverson play for.
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