Allen Iverson was the veteran All Star that nobody seemed to want. That was until Iverson was willing to wrap his head around a $16 million pay cut and signed with the rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies. He didn't have a lot of other options.
Not that Iverson sees it that way. He tweeted Wednesday that the deal was done.
“God Chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career."
"I feel that they are committed to developing a winner and I know that I can help them to accomplish that. I feel that I can trust them."
Either God or market forces combined with Iverson’s reputation as a ball hog chose Memphis. However you want to spin it.
Usually championship teams snap up veterans willing to take a pay cut — and this year the Lakers, Spurs, Celtics and Cavaliers all did that. But none of them wanted Iverson, with some officials from those teams questioning how the shoot-first Iverson who can dominate the ball would mesh with their team and existing stars. Basically, nobody good wanted to take the risk of AI after he helped Detroit fall apart and seeing how much better Denver got when he left.
However, Memphis owner Michael Heisley really didn’t have a choice, he needed Iverson. After the Pau Gasol trade and with a young, rebuilding team that is barely winning, the Grizzlies needed a draw and to look like they were doing something. So Heisley offered Iverson $3.5 million plus incentives for one year — a steep pay cut from the $21 million he made last season with trade kickers. But as nobody else was knocking down his door, Iverson needed Heisley as well.
The Memphis Grizzlies have talent on the roster — O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay are athletic, up-and-coming wing players, Marc Gasol may not be his brother but is a solid NBA center, and Zach Randolph knows how to score from the post as well as anyone in the league.
When you play NBA2K10 on your Xbox, all those scorers will make Memphis a good team. Over in the real world, however, Memphis may set a record for fewest assists by any team in NBA history. Already the roster is loaded with guys who don’t believe in passing, and now they have added the purest scoring point guard in the league, a guy with a reputation of rarely setting up teammates. Iverson's influence on these young players would not be a choice a lot of teams would make.
But Iverson will entertain. And maybe that’s what God sees Memphis as needing right now.