Friday, June 8
Geiger nixed deal that would have sent Iverson away news services

LOS ANGELES -- Allen Iverson is the reigning Most Valuable Player of the NBA, but the 76ers might owe their success this season to Matt Geiger.



Six-point-one points per game Matt Geiger? The backup center's reluctance to waive a contract clause before the season kept the 76ers from trading him -- and Iverson -- to the Detroit Pistons.

Iverson scored 48 points Wednesday, leading the Sixers to a 107-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

How close was Iverson -- the subject of several trade rumors over the summer -- to being traded?

"As close as close can get," 76ers president Pat Croce told Bloomberg News this week. "What nixed the deal was Matt Geiger. I'm just thanking God that it didn't go down."

Fed up with Iverson's habitual tardiness, which strained his relationship with Larry Brown to the point where the coach considered quitting, the 76ers had agreed in principle to a six-team, 24-player trade last summer that would have sent Iverson and Geiger to the Pistons, Croce said.

The 76ers would've received, among others, Eddie Jones, Glen Rice and Jerome Williams.

Iverson has been a Croce favorite since the 76ers drafted him No. 1 overall in 1996.

"I did not want to trade Allen Iverson, but I could no longer defend him because he was breaking Larry's rules," said Croce, who personally called Iverson to inform him of the would-be trade. "Allen just told me he didn't want to go. He wanted to be a professional."

To complete the trade, however, the Sixers needed cooperation from Geiger, whose six-year, $47 million contract contains a clause that says awards him a 15 percent pay raise -- another $3.3 million on a contract that expires after the 2002-03 season -- if he's traded. Under the NBA's complicated salary cap rules, the trade wouldn't work unless Geiger waived the so-called "trade-kicker."

"I looked at Detroit and didn't think Allen and I would've been better off there," Geiger said. "So the decision was easy."

For his part, Iverson was scared straight. Not only was Iverson on time after the near-trade, he was often early. And when practice was over, he wasn't the first out the door.

The rededicated Iverson averaged a league-leading 31.1 points during the regular season, leading the 76ers to the best record in the Eastern Conference. His playoff scoring is a primary reason the injury-plagued Sixers are in the NBA Finals.

And Geiger is obviously pleased with the decision he made to remain in Philadelphia.

"This is awesome," Geiger said. "To get to the NBA Finals, it makes everything worthwhile."

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