Two sources with knowledge of the Grizzlies’ plans said Thursday that any negotiations between the team and Iverson were “dead.” Memphis offered Iverson a one-year, $5 million contract with the stipulation that he would likely need to come off the bench. The Grizzlies, however, have not spoken to Iverson or his management team since early July, and neither side appears to have any interest in restarting talks.
“Why would a future Hall of Famer come off the bench for a team that won't make the playoffs?” said one Western Conference executive.
Though Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said he’d be willing to add Iverson, some team officials worry about the impact Iverson’s dominant personality would have on young guards O.J. Mayo(notes) and Michael Conley.
Much like the Grizzlies, the Clippers were intrigued by Iverson’s ability to sell tickets, as well as his talent. One agent who had spoken to Clippers officials in recent days said the team was distancing itself from Iverson after acquiring point guard Sebastian Telfair(notes) from the Minnesota Timberwolves and is possibly weighing an offer to free-agent guard Ramon Sessions(notes) – though one NBA source cautioned there was still “some life” in talks between the two sides.
Clippers second-year guard Eric Gordon(notes) stands to be among the most impacted should the team sign Iverson, but he’s kept an open mind (at least publicly) about the possibility he and A.I. could become teammates.
“Iverson is a Hall of Famer,” Gordon said at the Team USA minicamp. “But everyone is talking about how he is a different guy in the locker room and on the court. A.I.’s a big personality. Dude is a warrior. You can always learn from that and take that as an advantage for any of his teammates.
“We almost play the same position, but I’m not too worried about it. Things happen all the time. You just got to adjust.”
With the Grizzlies moving on and the Clippers’ interest apparently waning, Iverson’s options on the free-agent market could be dwindling. League sources still counted the Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats as possible destinations.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are expected to begin interviewing finalists for their head-coaching position this weekend, league sources said. ABC-TV analyst and former NBA point guard Mark Jackson, Houston Rockets assistant Elston Turner and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis are widely considered to make up the finalists pool with Portland Trail Blazers assistant Monty Williams a long-shot possibility.
Timberwolves general manager David Kahn is expected to conduct the interviews by asking the candidates to show some of their on-court coaching techniques, as well as having them diagram plays and give examples of their motivational strategies.
Jackson has been long thought to be the leading candidate for the job.
Even though Lakers coach Phil Jackson could retire after this season, the franchise doesn’t seem inclined to keep Rambis from taking the Minnesota position should it be offered. One coaching source predicted the Lakers would seek a more established replacement for Jackson.
“You don’t know if a trade is going to happen or not,” Williams said. “He could be back there. He can play the whole season. He can play part of the season. There is no telling in this business.
“Just because someone wants to get traded doesn’t mean they’re going to let him go for nothing. (Jazz general manager) Kevin (O’Connor) is smart about this situation. Our organization is a smart organization. We’re not a bad organization that does bad moves. I have full confidence in them.”
Boozer has said the Jazz told him they would try to trade him, and he’s expressed interest in going to Miami or Chicago. Privately, however, Jazz officials have made it clear they aren’t holding a fire sale for Boozer.
One Jazz source said the franchise wasn’t satisfied with a proposal that would bring back forwards Udonis Haslem(notes) and Dorell Wright(notes). The Jazz did talk to the Detroit Pistons about a Boozer-for-Tayshaun Prince(notes) swap, but were turned down.
“A lot of ins and a lot of outs going on right now,” said Lee, who is not practicing during Team USA’s minicamp because he doesn’t have a contract. “We should know more here in the next couple of days.
“I don’t think we are worlds apart. But there is definitely an effort on their part to spend as little as possible just because of their situation wanting to save money for 2010. And we understand that. I don’t think we are asking for anything out of the ordinary. It will be interesting to see how everything pans out. We still have the opportunity for sign-and-trades and for offer sheets for the few teams that have cap room left.”
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said he hopes the Knicks re-sign Lee, but also made it clear that the team intends to preserve as much salary-cap space for next summer’s heralded free-agent class. The Knicks would prefer to sign Lee to a one-year contract while Lee had initially sought a multiyear offer that could approach $10 million annually. With only the Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder still possessing significant cap room, Lee’s best option could be a sign-and-trade deal.
“We are trying to have a certain game plan and a certain number set into the equation,” D’Antoni said. “His agent has another game plan and has a certain number. We’re just not matching up right now. We have to go through the process.”
The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers will likely decide by the end of the week whether guard Marquis Daniels(notes) will receive Boston’s $1.99 million biannual exception or come to the team via a sign-and-trade deal. A sign-and-trade would allow the Celtics to save their biannual exception and potentially give Daniels a higher salary. Based on salary, Boston guard Tony Allen(notes) could be the best option (he’ll make $2.5 million this season) to go to Indiana in a sign-and-trade.
Cleveland Cavaliers free-agent forward Joe Smith(notes) is visiting with Hawks officials over a two-day trip to Atlanta. … Sacramento Kings free-agent forward Shelden Williams(notes) worked out with the Lakers on Wednesday. … Point guard Carlos Arroyo(notes), who played for Israel Maccabi Tel Aviv last season, is determined to return to the NBA next season and is receiving interest from six teams, a league source said. … Deron Williams, a member of last summer’s gold-medal team, is visiting Team USA’s minicamp and said he hopes to play in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey. “As long as I’m healthy and feeling good, I don’t know why I wouldn’t do it,” Williams said. … Forwards Kevin Durant(notes) and Josh Smith(notes) and center Greg Oden(notes) worked with the first team at Team USA’s practice on Thursday while Devin Harris(notes), O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose(notes) shared time at the two guard positions.