Chris Wallace: “I Prefer We Work Out Things Individually Between Ourselves and the Team, but Allen is a Pretty Competitive and Feisty Guy”

November 5, 2009 – 10:50 am by Chris Fedor

It’s been a rocky start to the season for the Grizzlies.  Already through four games this season, they have been blasted by 22 points on opening night, they’ve had two players separated on the bench and their star player, Rudy Gay, did not agree to a contract extension and will become a restricted free agent this offseason.  On top of all that, Allen Iverson, after missing all of preseason and the first couple of regular season games made his debut the other night and promptly complained about his playing time.  Man, that didn’t take long.  I knew these smiles on the picture below wouldn’t last.

There is no question that he is super-talented and one of the best pure scoring guards of the past decade, but he’s also a big headache, has a big ego and has shown that he doesn’t have a problem speaking his mind or complaining about playing time.  It took him all of one game to do that in Memphis this season.  I truly think teams stayed away from Iverson because they felt he wouldn’t take on a lesser role as a bench player toward the end of his career.  However, the Grizzlies snatched him up and are already hearing the complaints from A.I.  There’s no question he’s talented and has shown that he can still be a prolific scorer, but he’s also a big headache that Memphis will have to deal with the rest of the season if things don’t go the way he wants them to. 

Chris Wallace joined WHBQ in Memphis to talk about Allen Iverson complaining after one game, the rocky start to the season, how Iverson has fit with the team, and Rudy Gay not signing an extension.

On his reaction to Iverson’s comments:

“Allen is obviously a very competitive individual and he’s been chasing at the bit so to speak on the sidelines through all preseason.  He came in and I thought had a good debut when you consider the fact that he had almost no training camp at all and played 17 minutes.  We’re now in a position where unfortunately we have to do this on the fly during the regular season what we would’ve loved to do in the preseason which is work him into this team, find out the right combinations, when to play whom, and whom to play together.  That will be an ongoing process.  He is someone that is used to starting, that’s where he’s been most of his career, and we’re just going to see where this thing takes us over the next few weeks as we get him back into the fold with the Grizzlies.”

On whether they talked to him about his potential role before the season started:

“We had some discussions with him, but basically it’s like it is with all players.  You come in, lets see what you can do, let’s see how it fits in, maybe its starting, maybe its coming off the bench, let the coach determine how he feels like he can best exploit your talents and we’ll go from there.  This is something that we would’ve loved to have ironed out in the month of October, but his injury prevented hat.  Now we’re getting to know Allen Iverson on the fly during the regular season.  We had no preseason games with this guy.  We had like maybe I think a quarter of a public scrimmage down in Birmingham Southern before he was injured.  We’re back at the beginning of October with him.  I thought yesterday, for a guy that hadn’t played in that long a period of time, that was rehabbing on the side, he came in a did some things offensively which helped us.”

On how long it will take him to understand his role:

“That’s a good question.  I can’t give you any definitive answer on.  Last night (Monday), I think it was three shifts that he had where he came in.  The first one he was tentative, understandable getting the feel for things.  His latter two shifts in the game, to use a hockey phrase, I think he came in and he definitely helped us with his firepower that he brought to the court.  That was a tough game last night because we had a chance to win that.  Zach Randolph’s shot was really a stunning shot that he made there with 6.1 seconds to go.  Then come back and they beat us on that back cut by Beno Udrih and Kevin Martin is just a phenomenal shooter who really has it in for the Grizzlies.  He’s one of the most difficult matchups game in and game out, year in and year out”

On whether he was taken aback by Iverson’ comments so early:

“Well, I’m a guy that likes to work from an in-house standpoint.  I understand he has been a spectacular player throughout his whole career and has tremendous status in the NBA, but we need to work out all phases of this throughout the next few weeks.  It’s not something that’s going to be done in the first game.  I prefer we work things out individually between ourselves and the team, but Allen is a pretty competitive and feisty guy.”

On Lionel Hollins standing by his decision:

“That’s what it is with all players whether we’re talking Allen, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol.  Roles and what you’re asked to do evolves over the course of the season, evolves over matchups on a given game.  We’re in a process of still putting this whole team together.  It’s only four games into the season.  There’s some very encouraging signs particularly with our rebounding, our interior offensive play has been terrific through this early juncture of the season and I’m very optimistic where this team can go as the year unfolds.”

On them not reaching a contract extension with Rudy Gay:

“He will be a restricted free agent this July.  (Host: Was that disappointing?) Not necessarily.  We had ongoing discussions with Jeff Austin, his agent, and we said all along both publically and internally with Rudy’s camp that something might get done.  If it doesn’t, fine, we’ll go into the summer and you’ll be a restricted free agent just like guys like Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng and Emeka Okafor have been in recent years.  It’s common place in the NBA for players to roll into the fourth year and be restricted free agents.  Both sides tried, a deal was not hammered out, now we move forward, play the rest of the year and prepare for the summer.”

Listen to Chris Wallace on WHBQ in Memphis with Brett “Stats” Norsworthy and Dave Woloshin

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