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Iverson Worth The Risk For Grizzlies

There is so much more to every story than meets the eye.  The Allen Iverson to Memphis story can’t be written until it actually happens.  No one argues the facts on either side of this… Iverson can really play, is capable of big numbers with the ball in his hands.  “The Answer” coming off the worst season of his career, one that saw him tear a team apart from the locker room to the bench.  Sean Deveney of the Sporting News makes some very interesting points.

Iverson Presser

Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins, Allen Iverson, General Manager Chris Wallace, and Majority Owner Michael Heisley

Posted By Sean Deveney of the Sporting News

What on earth, you might ask, would a team like the Grizzlies—a young, impressionable and still very much rebuilding bunch—want with an aging malcontent like Allen Iverson? Fair question, because many around the league are asking the same thing. As one East general manager told me, “You have a kid like Mike Conley. You have a kid like O.J. Mayo. You have Rudy Gay. You have Hasheem Thabeet, the No. 2 pick in the draft. How is a guy like Iverson going to help them?”

Considering the events of last season, when Iverson was traded to Detroit for Chauncey Billups and proceeded to shred the Pistons’ chemistry, skepticism about Memphis’ signing of Iverson to a one-year, $3.5 million deal is rampant. But it shouldn’t be. Because, in the end, consider what the Grizzlies just did—they signed the 16th-leading scorer in NBA history to a contract that ends in seven months and costs them less than half what they’re due to pay Marko Jaric.

There are four ways this thing can play out for the Grizzlies, and even the worst-case scenario is not all that bad.

1. Everything could be perfect. Iverson could come in, average 20 points, be a leader and model teammate, and lift the Grizzlies into the Western Conference playoffs. He could become so popular in Memphis—which is in need of some sporting heroism in the wake of the University of Memphis’ hoops collapse—that he signs with the team next summer. This is, admittedly, a remote possibility.

2. Iverson could have a productive season in Memphis. Chances are, the lack of interest in Iverson this summer has been humbling. The attitude and work-ethic problems that have attached themselves to Iverson’s reputation, and which were amplified by the Detroit disaster, remain his biggest problem.

But you have to think that if Iverson is serious about wanting to compete for a championship, he understands that he needs to put out a good effort on the floor and an even better effort in practice and in the locker room. If that means he comes off the bench and plays teacher’s pet to coach Lionel Hollins, then he comes off the bench and plays teacher’s pet. It’s the only way a contender will be interested in him next summer, and he must realize that.

In the meantime, though, the Grizzlies will get one of the greatest scorers in league history for a year, and hopefully sell tickets to boot.

3. Iverson could have a productive half-season in Memphis. This is the really intriguing possibility for the Grizzlies. Memphis will be 53 games into its 2009-10 schedule when the trading deadline rolls around. Iverson is not really part of the team’s future, so if he goes through the first three-plus months playing well and not causing problems, the Grizzlies might have the chance to offer him up to a contending team in need for a draft pick or a young player. It’s a something-for-nothing proposal.

4. The whole thing could be a disaster. If it is a disaster, you know what? The Grizzlies can simply cut Iverson. They’ll be out $3.5 million, but weighing that potential loss against the potential benefits of the deal, it’s worth the risk.

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