The Memphis Grizzlies beat out the Charlotte Bobcats in the Allen Iverson sweepstakes today. The New York Times reports that the two parties agreed on a one year deal worth about $3.5 million, a substantial decrease in pay for Iverson who made around $19 million last year with Denver and Detroit. But for Iverson, this wasn't about the money. While everyone is quoting Iverson's twitter about signing with the Grizzlies, let's look back to what he tweeted when he didn't have a clue where he was going:
July 2nd, 2009, 9:00 am pacific time - I'm a Free Agent, healthy again, and capable of signing with any team
July 2nd, 2009, 9:02 am pacific time - my only preference will be to play for a coach that knows what I bring to the table and that I am going to bring it every night!
July 2nd, 2009, 9:03 am pacific time - someone that knows how to best utilize my skills to make our team the very best that we can be.
(Photo from Memphis Flyer)
Peace out, Mike!
You can thank Twitter and their 140 character per tweet limit for the multiple tweets for one message. Take it for what it's worth, but with the signing of a "minimal" $3.5 million, Allen Iverson may be more interested in remaining a starter rather than championship piggybacking, coming off the bench for a contending team. As tweeted, he wants a coach who can utilize his skills to better the team.
Peace out, Mike!
Iverson will start. Ditching Mike Conley to the bench, the number 4 draft pick in 2007, at least for the year that Iverson's on the team. Mike Conley had a good year, for a terrible, 24-win (rebuilding, however) Grizzly team. Playing in all 82 games, while starting 61 of them, he averaged 10.9 pts, 3.4 reb, 4.3 ast, 1.1 stl, 1.1 3ptm (on 40.6 3pt%) and 44.3% FG. But is he THE ANSWER? The answer is no.
Allen Iverson, as previously posted, is a diamond in the rough when it comes to popularity and realness, which in turn, helps sell his shoes, jerseys, and his teams' ticket sales. The Grizzlies, who rank 27th in team worth and lost $3.2 million dollars in operating income last year (Forbes). The $3.5 million that the Grizzlies signed Iverson to is pretty much what they had left under the salary cap.
On the other hand, if you read between the baselines, Iverson putting up starter numbers on a bad team on a one year contract the year before the free agency of 2010 comes when many teams will have plenty of cap space to sign stars, Iverson could be pulling a Stephen Jackson (signed with the Atlanta Hawks after winning a championship, put up nice numbers, is now getting paid $7-10 million a year for the next four years) and expecting to cash in next summer, maybe even with a championship contender.
On the Grizzlies' end, this will boost ticket sales and spike popularity in the team, before giving the reigns to OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay. They can't expect a 34-year-old AI to stay long term and be there for when this team expects to start becoming competitive. After this year, they'll give the PG duties back to Mike Conley if he's still around.
Until then the one year probable lineup is probably gonna look like
PG: Allen Iverson/Mike Conley
SG: OJ Mayo
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol/Hasheem Thabeet (maybe vice versa)
That's a lot of scoring going on from two scoring guards, a scoring SF, a scoring PF, and a defensive center in Hasheem. Allen Iverson doesn't turn this bad team into a good team. Memphis still has no bench and is still rebuilding. AI will boost interest and sales, however. That's probably what the team wants, and that's probably what AI wants. There's little doubt that he will give it his all, whether it's because he wants to cash in next year, or because that's just the way he plays (when he starts, that is - Detroit Pistons...).
Now, will he make the all star team as a Grizzly? Fans vote, but he's more than likely not going to beat out Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant (although he beat out CP in 2008 when he was on a winning Denver team but we'll see how he plays this year...).
Those are the facts, and that's one way to read between the [base]lines.