What if . . . ?

What if the 76ers had not traded Allen Iverson?

"If I was still in Philadelphia, I don't think they would be in the predicament that they're in right now," Iverson told the Rocky Mountain News.

"The way the East is, I would think we would be right there in the hunt . . . I look at the [Sixers'] games right now, and it looks like a rec-league game or an AAU game when you see the attendance there. It just looks dull."

The Sixers did trade Iverson, after more than 10 seasons, on Dec. 19 of last season, sending him and forward Ivan McFarlin to the Denver Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and his expiring contract and two first-round draft choices.

Miller is the Sixers' starting point guard. Smith played effectively last season, then left in free agency to sign with the Chicago Bulls. The first pick acquired in the deal became forward Jason Smith, in a draft-night trade with the Miami Heat. The second pick became the since-waived Derrick Byars, acquired in a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Sixers, via the Iverson trade, also created salary-cap space for this summer.

"I know [the Sixers] didn't get enough," said Iverson, who has been leading the Nuggets in scoring, assists, steals, minutes and turnovers. "In my heart, they know they didn't get enough. The fans in Philadelphia know they didn't get enough . . . [The Sixers] just wanted me out of there."

Iverson, as he insisted at the time of the trade, said he wanted to finish his career as a Sixer.

"And I wanted that so bad for my fans," he said. "We had lost a lot of games . . . I came into a meeting and I told them that I didn't think the way we were going, we could win. And I voiced my opinion on what I thought we could do to help us win. And they didn't care what I thought." *