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The Iverson solution?

Without 'Melo, Denver might move quickly to get A.I.

Posted: Monday December 18, 2006 4:24PM; Updated: Monday December 18, 2006 6:18PM
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Will Iverson give a hand to the 'Melo-less Nuggets?
Will Iverson give a hand to the 'Melo-less Nuggets?
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
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So what's next for the Nuggets and Knicks, now that NBA commissioner David Stern has issued his penalties for last Saturday's brawl?

For Denver, it's cue up the Allen Iverson trade talks -- and pray that home court brings relief. For New York, it's cue up the "Fire Isiah" chants -- and breathe a sigh of relief.

The Nuggets obviously were dealt a huge blow with the suspensions of Carmelo Anthony (15 games), J.R. Smith (10) and Nene (one). Denver enters this week sitting in the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff race, just a few games ahead of contenders such as the Clippers, Kings, Hornets, Warriors and T'Wolves. Without Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer, and Smith, the team's starting shooting guard, the Nuggets will be hard-pressed to maintain that position during the next four weeks.

Keep in mind, Denver already has lost starting power forward Kenyon Martin to a season-ending knee surgery. Nene, the team's other power forward, has been working his way back slowly from his own past knee problems. Now the Nuggets will have to make do for a long stretch without Anthony and Smith, who account for a combined 48.4 points per game, or roughly 45 percent of the team's offense.

It doesn't help that the Nuggets happen to be woefully thin at shooting guard and small forward. DerMarr Johnson started 21 games at the 2 spot a year ago but had lost his job to Smith and was barely getting off the bench this season. Yakhouba Diawara is a rookie who is averaging 5.1 points on 35.7 percent shooting in his 19 minutes per game. At small forward, Eduardo Najera and Linas Kleiza now will be called on to fill in for Anthony.

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