As he continues to recover from a hamstring injury, Iverson is expected to remain a reserve as the Grizzlies face the winless Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
The 10-time All-Star guard signed a one-year contract with the Grizzlies on Sept. 10, 2008, and wrote on his Twitter page, “God chose Memphis as the place I will continue my career. … I feel that they are committed to developing a winner and I know that I can help them to accomplish that. I feel that I can trust them.”
At his introductory press conference, he expressed his desire to be a starter after saying in April that he would “rather retire” than come off the bench with Detroit.
However, he also stated to reporters afterward, “Whatever coach (Lionel) Hollins wants me to do, give me the assignment and I’ll go out and do it.”
With Iverson playing his first game since suffering a partially torn right hamstring, Hollins’ assignment for him was to come off the bench as part of a three-guard rotation with O.J. Mayo(notes) and Mike Conley(notes).
Iverson had 11 points in 18 minutes in a 127-116 overtime loss at Sacramento on Tuesday, going 5 of 9 from the field, and proclaimed unhappiness with his role afterward.
“Go look at my resume and that will show you that I’m not a sixth man,” he said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with me being selfish. It’s just who I am. I don’t want to change what gave me all the success that I’ve had since I’ve been in this league.”
Hollins said he plans to ease Iverson, six points shy of 24,000 for his career, back into playing after he missed the team’s first three games.
“In this situation we are trying to win the game but we also want to get him back and fit him in,” Hollins said.
Hollins’ greater concern is fixing a defense that has allowed opponents to score 115.8 points per game and shoot nearly 50 percent. The Grizzlies (1-3) couldn’t stop the Kings’ Beno Udrih(notes) from hitting a tying layup with 1.6 seconds left in regulation and were outscored 17-6 in overtime.
“Defensively we just broke down tonight,” Mayo said. “That happens sometimes. That’s why this is the NBA.”
Memphis faces a Warriors team that also struggled to stop opponents in back-to-back losses to open the season. After a 108-107 defeat to Houston last Wednesday, Golden State allowed Phoenix to shoot 53.6 percent and make 12 3-pointers in a 123-101 defeat Friday night.
After publicly requesting a trade in August, Jackson was booed regularly during the team’s home opener against the Rockets. He averaged 15.0 points in his first two games, a mark bested only by Monta Ellis’(notes) 22.5.
With 22.3 points per game, Mayo leads four Grizzlies averaging 18.0 points or more.
After losing seven straight to the Warriors, Memphis swept the three-game series in 2008-09, winning twice in Oakland.