Allen Iverson struggling to find a home

Allen Iverson continues to explore his options on the free agent market, but it’s not like he has teams tripping over each other for his services. There’s mutual interest between AI and the Heat, but Miami doesn’t want to pony up.

Allen Iverson asked for the $5.8 million midlevel exception from the Heat in a one-year deal, but Miami has been reluctant to pay him much more than $2 million, if that. Iverson also is exploring Memphis and Charlotte, but Miami would be his preference if money is equal. The Heat spoke with the agent for Andre Miller — who’s in a stalemate with Philadelphia — but hasn’t pursued a sign-and-trade, and Miller wants more than the midlevel.

Memphis is also interested and Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley speculated about why the Heat aren’t willing to offer Iverson a mid-level deal.

Heisley indicated Sunday that Iverson is “only looking for a one-year contract,” which actually would mesh with Miami’s intent to add no players with contracts stretching past next season to preserve maximum flexibility to re-sign Wade and land him at least one marquee teammate in the summer of 2010. Yet it’s believed that the Heat are reluctant to come close to the $5 million for next season that the Grizzlies are reportedly prepared to pay, since Miami is already in luxury-tax territory.

The Heat are sitting at about $69.86 million which is a hair below the threshold of $69.92 million. If they sign Iverson, they’ll go into luxury tax territory and will have to essentially pay a dollar-for-dollar tax on AI’s entire salary. Not only would they miss out on the reward for being under the luxury tax, but they’d have to pay the tax themselves. Therefore, a contract worth $2 million could perhaps cost the Heat $5.5 million (or more), depending on how many teams are over the threshold and how big the payout turns out to be.

It’s strange to see a player of Iverson’s stature fighting for table scraps on the free agent market. He was once a franchise player, but his disastrous stint in Detroit (resulting from his distaste for coming off the bench) and his ball-dominant style has created an environment in which most teams are extremely leery of utilizing his services. True contenders don’t want to participate in an experiment that has a good chance of backfiring while the lower echelon playoff teams don’t see Iverson as the game-changer needed to put them over the top.

He has proven that he is not willing to what’s best for the team (by coming off the bench), so why would a good team want to add him? The Heat are interested because he’ll put butts in the seats and would probably add a few wins, which might help to convince Dwyane Wade to stay in Miami.

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