Is Allen Iverson "The Answer" For Memphis?

Patrick MauroAnalyst ISeptember 8, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Allen Iverson #1 of the Detroit Pistons looks on against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game on November 13, 2008 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The story out of Memphis, is that the Grizzlies are offering Allen Iverson a one-year contract worth $3.5 million. This is a franchise that needs to sell tickets, but bringing in AI to do that is counterproductive to the development of their young back court.

This is purely a business play by the Grizzlies, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Interest in the squad has been at an all-time low the last couple seasons after they gave away Pau Gasol at the deadline in 2008.

The tremendous success of John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers—whether they were cheating or not—also led to a decline in attention paid to the NBA franchise. Coach Cal is gone to Kentucky, but the interest in the Grizzlies remains low. Could AI save the day?

Projected w/o AI

PG Mike Conley/Marko Jaric
SG OJ Mayo/Sam Young and Rudy Gay
SF Gay/Young
PF Zach Randolph/Darrell Arthur
C  Marc Gasol/ Hasheem Thabeet

Insert AI into the mix—as a starter or a reserve—and the minutes of Conley, Gay, and Young would certainly decrease, not to mention the potential power struggle with Mayo.

It's tough to say if Conley will ever amount to anything more than a competent NBA player, but Mayo and Gay could form a nice tandem in Music City.

AI, who needs the ball in his hands, doesn't appear to be the mentoring type. This Grizzlies team doesn't look like they'll be contending for much other than the hopes of drafting John Wall or Ed Davis next June.

How does AI react to losing? He didn't react too well to it in Detroit. Why would it be any different in Memphis? Maybe he gained some perspective during the off-season waiting for a phone that hasn't really been ringing. Anything is possible.

This is the same guy who said he'd rather retire than come off the bench when asked to do so last year in Detroit before quitting on his team. Can he accept a supporting role on a team that, best case scenario, wins 35 games?

As an NBA fan with no bias either way towards the Grizzlies, the team becomes infinitely more interesting with AI's presence, but if I'm a season ticket holder and rabid Grizzlies fan, I think I'd swap my NBA seats in the FedExForum for ones to see the Tigers.

Bringing a 34-year-old to town who likes to huck up shots at a frequent rate delays the on court progress of this young team and is definitely not the answer in Music City.

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