Michael Lee, the Washington Wizards insider for The Washington Post, laments that the superstar probably didn't have any better options in his first run in free agency:
I'll admit, I'm happy that Iverson, the former Georgetown star, was able to find employment. But I'm incredibly disappointed that he will likely have to rot in Graceland. Mike Wilbon spelled out the potential problems with Iverson joining a ball-hogging trio in Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay (who will be a restricted free agent next summer and is playing for a contract). Mike Conley has to be the most worried man in Memphis right now. Try pleasing all four of those dudes. If "God Chose Memphis" for Iverson, as he wrote on his Twitter page, Conley is probably asking, "God, why?"Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated thinks the Iverson acquisition will set back the Grizzlies' youth movement (or "three-year plan," if you've been following along):
Now he has to revive his reputation and his career with one of the worst franchises in the history of professional sports. Even before Iverson's season ended with him sulking his way off of a playoff team, I spoke with an Eastern Conference general manager about Iverson's prospects in free agency. The GM told me that it didn't look good for Iverson. When I asked if Iverson would have to settle for the mid-level exception, the GM said, "You think he'll get that much?"
By adding Iverson (as well as Zach Randolph, who was acquired from the Clippers last month) to the mix, the Grizzlies are risking the long-term health of the franchise for a few short-term rewards. Memphis undoubtedly will win a few more games. It might even crack the 30-win barrier. But all that really means is the Grizzlies will be out of the playoff race by January instead of December and they may jump from the team with the 29th-worst attendance (12,745 per game last season) to one with the 25th-worst.
And at what cost? Iverson is little more than a well-paid mercenary using Memphis to try to revive his stalled career. He will certainly cut into Mayo's and Conley's minutes and likely will take time away from the slimmed-down Marcus Williams, who showed in the Las Vegas summer league that he could be a capable backup point guard.
I'll update this post throughout the afternoon as more pundits get a chance to weigh in.
UPDATE: Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports considers how Lionel Hollins' "keep-it-real" coaching style might help Iverson mesh with the team. Iverson has had stormy relationships with coaches throughout his career.
Hollins respects Iverson. But he also had no problem telling Iverson what he expects from him.
"I'm not a dictator," Hollins said. "But I have to get respect. I'm not out to disrespect Allen or anyone. I want to put the team in a position to win and I don't believe in names or numbers on the back of a jersey. I've always been that way."
Said Iverson: "He doesn't cut any corners. He came to me straight with the concerns that he had and he wanted me to come with any concerns that I had."
A straight-up approach might have worked better with Iverson during his failed experiment with the Detroit Pistons last season.
UPDATE: Vincent Thomas of NBA.com thinks Memphis might be the perfect spot for Iverson, who has something to prove after last season with Detroit:
(J)udging by his demeanor and tone at Thursday's press conference, homeboy is on a mission. After a couple of years during which A.I.'s rep and, perhaps more importantly, his legacy have taken some hits, this 2009 campaign with the Memphis Grizzlies is his chance for vindication. He said so himself.
Memphis is the perfect location for A.I. to bookend his career in the Sagacious Vet/Paternal Mentor role.