Grizzlies Unsure If Iverson Will Return

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

NEW YORK (AP) -- Memphis owner Michael Heisley says he is not sure of what Allen Iverson's future plans are, though he hopes Iverson returns to the Grizzlies soon.

Heisley granted the 10-time all-star permission Saturday for an indefinite leave to deal with a personal matter. The Commercial Appeal newspaper reported Monday that Iverson is contemplating retirement.

"I'm not in Allen's head. I don't know what he's thinking," Heisley told The Associated Press on Monday.

"I know he went back to take care of a personal problem. Whether he does something else, I don't know. I'm hoping he comes back. I think he could still play for us, somebody else, what have you. In my opinion, there's two, three years of outstanding play that could come out of Allen Iverson."

Leon Rose, Iverson's agent, did not immediately return a message left at his office Monday.

However, Heisley said the 34-year-old Iverson is struggling playing at what the guard feels is less than his previous best.

Iverson, who signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal in September, missed the preseason with a partially-torn left hamstring. He made his Grizzlies' debut on the road a week ago in California, playing in three games at Sacramento, Golden State and in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

Iverson averaged 22.3 minutes coming off the bench, and he hit 57.3 percent of his shots. He averaged 12.3 points per game for the Grizzlies (1-6).

Heisley said he spent two days in California talking with Iverson and hopes his biggest star can get his personal life in order. He would love to see Iverson playing for the first time in Memphis on Tuesday night when the Grizzlies host Portland, but Heisley said he did not put any timetable on his return.

If Iverson returns, Heisley said the challenge for the Grizzlies and the guard is figuring out how to use him to meet the team's needs and those of the veteran. The Grizzlies are young with a roster filled with players like Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Michael Conley who need to start and play to keep growing.

They also need the scoring Iverson can provide. Heisley noted he is the one who pushed for Iverson to sign with Memphis and thinks that can happen once they find the right spot for the guard.

"He is a lock-in to be a Hall of Famer, and that is always difficult for someone who has been at that level to basically maybe to play at less than that level. I'm hoping we can work it out," Heisley said.

From the moment Iverson signed with Memphis, the question has been whether the four-time NBA scoring champ and 2001 Most Valuable Player could be happy coming off his worst season yet. Rumors of what is next have swirled since he flew home from Los Angeles.

Heisley said he won't trade Iverson to get rid of the guard but would if a better deal and fit came up. Heisley thinks Iverson has some decisions to make.

"I'm sure he'll be making them. But I've not had any discussions with him concerning some of the reports or rumors that are going around, that just fly around the NBA with Allen. Somebody with his popularity, it's open season," Heisley said.


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