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Although talks are proceeding, Sixers not rushing deal

PHILADELPHIA -- Allen Iverson might stick around
Philadelphia a while longer.

Philadelphia 76ers team president Billy King told The Associated
Press on Sunday night he would not rush to deal Iverson, the
disgruntled former MVP who has drawn heavy trade interest from
around the league.

"We never put a timetable on this," King said. "The only
timetable I'll put on this is to make the best decision for this
franchise for the long haul. We've got to be very methodical as we
go through this and do our due diligence. This is not something
we're going to rush into."

Iverson was sent home by the Sixers and has been inactive for
six straight games after he asked to be traded nearly two weeks
ago. King would not say when he expected a trade for Iverson would
be completed. It's a transaction that's likely to be complicated
because of the nearly $60 million left on Iverson's contract, his
frosty relationship with the Sixers, and the fact he's sitting at
home.

King said he's received calls from all but two other teams in
the league, and they're each interested in either acquiring Iverson
or acting as a facilitator for a deal. King said it could take
three or four teams to make a trade for Iverson and his 31.2 points
per game.

"We've had some great dialogue," King said. "I think the
teams out there that we're talking with know exactly what it will
take to get it done. We'll keep talking. This is a process where
you make a lot of conversation."

Only Memphis has a worse record than the Sixers, who have lost
11 straight games. While the Sixers weren't going to be a playoff
team this season, having Iverson around might have at least helped
them win a few games during their most wretched stretch since he
was a rookie.

King stuck by the Sixers' decision to send Iverson home (with
pay) while they actively shopped him.

"Once it was there and out that we were going to trade him, and
he had asked to be traded, I felt it was best to keep him out and
let the team focus on playing," King said. "It gives me the
chance to evaluate our team as we're talking to people. What pieces
would fit best to go with the pieces that we have."

The Sixers not only banished Iverson from the team, they took
down his nameplate, cleaned out his locker and left his pregame
highlight reel on the cutting room floor. King said he would not be
pressured to make a trade, even as rumors and possible destinations
swirl every hour.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to help this franchise for the
long haul," King said.

Deals, he said, "just materialize as you talk and talk."

The Sixers can only hope one appears soon. Playing without their
leading scorer and weary of the daily Iverson questions, they've
lost 18 of their last 20 games and attendance is plummeting at the
Wachovia Center.

"I do believe our guys are competing and playing hard," King
said. "I think any time you take a major player that your offense
is designed around out of the team, it takes a while for them to
adjust."

King said he has not talked to Iverson since the bitter parting,
dealing only with agent Leon Rose. And if King could say something
to Iverson?

"I'd tell him I'm doing what I think is best for the
franchise," King said. "I thank you for everything you've done
for us and you'll always be a friend to me."