The seemingly inevitable has happened. Allen Iverson, Memphis's "impact" signing this offseason, has officially left the team. ESPN reports that Iverson will be paid only a small fraction of his contract, and that, assuming he clears waivers, he will be eligible for free agency on Wednesday night. No other teams are expected to have immediate interest, as it's expected that Memphis has been shopping Iverson for whatever they could get since he left the team.
A.I. was injured to begin the season and was immediately discontented by his role on the team backing up young, under-performing point guard Mike Conley. He made several inflammatory statements in only a few games, and quickly left the team "for personal reasons." Team owner Michael Heisley insisted these reasons were family matters, but everyone knew Iverson's real personal reason was playing time.
GM Chris Wallace is sticking to that message even after today's buyout, with this to say:
"The Grizzlies and Allen Iverson have come to a mutual agreement that because of personal matters that forced him to leave the team on Nov. 7, Allen will step away from the game at this time, allowing him to focus on those matters. As a result, we will be ending our contractual agreement with Allen, which will allow both parties to move forward. We wish Allen the best."
Iverson is going to need lots of time to focus on his new personal issue -- finding a team willing to risk taking on his increasingly jaded, pugnacious personality. While, as I've previously written, Iverson has earned the right to be in a once-bitten-twice-shy mindset after the debacle in Detroit, justice won't get him a contract.
Allen Iverson brought this league through the post-Jordan era; he and his cornrows seemed to single-handedly create, destroy, and address the many questions of race; and he did it all while being a hell of a little-man in a big-man's league.
So even though everyone in the game knows A.I. deserves better, it's not immediately clear where his happy ending will begin.