The Grizzlies granted Iverson a leave of absence to allow him to return to his offseason home in Atlanta. The source said Iverson wants to clear his head and is extremely unhappy about the lack of communication with Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins over his playing time and role with the team.
Grizzlies officials said Iverson was allowed to leave the team so he could attend to a personal matter. The decision came after he met with Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley Saturday morning in Los Angeles.
“I’m not going to get into the personal reason but it has nothing to do with the other stuff,” Heisley told the Memphis Commerical Appeal, which first reported Iverson's departure on Saturday. “I’m the guy who said he could go. It’s a real family issue that I don’t think should be reported.”
While it is true Iverson is attending to a personal issue, his problems with the Grizzlies also factored greatly into his decision to leave. Team sources told Yahoo! Sports that Iverson did not ask the Grizzlies to waive him, but there was no timetable for his return.
The Grizzlies are debating whether it's better to simply waive Iverson to salvage the team's chemistry or attempt to bring him back.
"He has to hit rock bottom," one NBA executive familiar with Iverson said. "He doesn't have the capacity to change."
Iverson has done nothing to hide his frustration after he returned from a hamstring injury this week and was relegated to coming off the bench. A source with knowledge of Iverson's thinking said he "probably wasn't coming back."
The Grizzlies signed Iverson to a one-year, $3 million contract and would owe him the full amount if they were to waive him without reaching a buyout agreement. Given that Iverson also had problems accepting a reserve role with the Detroit Pistons last season – and that Memphis was the only franchise to show serious interest in him over the summer – it's unlikely any team would claim him off waivers if the Grizzlies let him go.
Iverson debuted for the Grizzlies on Monday in Sacramento after missing all the preseason and the season's first three games with a hamstring injury. The Grizzlies lost to the Kings in overtime, and Iverson immediately questioned his limited role after the game. He also criticized his teammates for not noticing he was open on the final possession of regulation.
“I’m not a reserve basketball player,” Iverson said. “I’ve never been a reserve all my life and I’m not going to start looking at myself as a reserve."
Iverson made similar comments two nights later after the Grizzlies lost to the Golden State Warriors. After Friday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, he told reporters that he was concerned that his relationship with Hollins was already off to a bad start.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports early last week Iverson said he could envision the end of his career.
"I definitely can see myself walking away from basketball, walking away from [the media]," Iverson said.
During the interview, Iverson described his free-agent experience over the summer as "horrible." He also complained that many people had begun to doubt he could still play at a high level.
"There’s more [people] that would rather see me fail than succeed," Iverson said. "You think I don’t know that people left me for dead?"