- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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Sources told ESPN.com that the Legends, who are co-owned by Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, ramped up their season-long pursuit of Iverson on Monday, offering him the chance to resurrect his career.
Iverson last played in the NBA in 2009-10 in brief stays with the Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers, but the 37-year-old has resisted opportunities to sign lucrative deals in China because, to date, he's been reluctant to consider playing anywhere besides the NBA.
An injury-filled stint with Besiktas in Turkey in the 2010-11 season lasted only 10 games.
Iverson has likewise resisted the Legends' overtures so far this season -- as well as a similar offer last season -- but sources say that the Legends are trying again now because they've moved back to the top of the list in the D-League's waiver line, meaning they'd have an unobstructed path to signing Iverson if he could be convinced to put his name in the D-League's player pool.
The Legends' pitch to Iverson centers around the fact they've just convinced NBA veterans Delonte West and Rashad McCants to join their team with similar intentions, after the Legends signed another 37-year-old earlier this month -- point guard Mike James -- and wound up putting James in position to earn a 10-day call-up to the Mavericks that turned into a guaranteed contract after James completed his second 10-day deal Sunday.
The Legends, now in their third season, have employed 16 former NBA first-round picks since the team's inception and have already helped big men Sean Williams and Dan Gadzuric, swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts and veteran guard Antonio Daniels make it back to the NBA after stints with the D-League franchise, which plays 25 miles north of the Mavericks in the Dallas suburb of Frisco.
When James officially signs with the Mavericks on Monday for the rest of the season, D-League rules stipulate the Legends will return to the top of the waiver process, which happens when a non-assigned player called up from the D-League spends 21 consecutive days with the NBA team that signed him. The Legends were also at the front of the waiver line Friday to be able to claim West when the 29-year-old, who was released by the Mavericks in November, completed his D-League paperwork.
The Legends and their front-office team of Nelson, former NBA slam-dunk champion Spud Webb and Malcolm Farmer have made a habit of ambitious pursuits since the team's debut season in 2010-11.
Longtime NBA forward Eduardo Najera, in his first season as Legends coach, is the first Mexican-born coach of any team under the NBA's umbrella.
Najera succeeded former NBA Coach of the Year Del Harris. When Harris was hired by the Legends in 2011, he replaced Nancy Lieberman, who became the first female to coach an NBA-affiliated team when she took the job in the Legends' first season in 2010-11. Harris and Lieberman remain part of the Legends' front office.
Nelson also made a hard run at former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl in the summer of 2011 to succeed Lieberman after Pearl received a show-cause penalty by the NCAA for three years, but Pearl opted to go into broadcasting despite an offer sources pegged at $500,000, roughly five times the annual norm for a D-League coach.
Iverson is an 11-time All-Star and ranks 19th on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 24,368 career points. He was passed on the career scoring charts Sunday night by Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.
4mMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
9hMicah Adams, ESPN Stats & Information
52mBaxter Holmes and Larry Coon
12hIan O'Connor, ESPN Senior Writer