From SB Nation’s Straight Outta Vancouver, Grizzlies fans are preaching patience:
I understand this is what he went through in Detroit, but he needs to see the big picture. No, he most definitely is not a 6th man, even in the latter stages of his star studded career, but after a month of inactivity and no basketball, should he really expect to be plugged directly into the starting lineup? There’s a few guys who can do that, the LeBrons, Wades and Bryants of the world, but he needs to understand that he should probably work his way back into it.
In numerous posts I have agreed with many that eventually he needs to be the starting guy in Memphis because of his experience, but for a team thats not looking for the playoffs this season, he should just sit back and let things get worked out before freaking out.
All good points. Iverson should be the starter, and he will be. But until he’s in basketball shape, playing him 35 minutes-a-game makes no sense. For one, he’d probably be an injury risk playing that much, but also, a reduced role in the interim gives the younger players a little bit more opportunity to get used to playing with him in small increments. In every conceivable way, this eases Iverson’s transition into the lineup; that Iverson is so vehemently (and publicly) opposed is… well, that’s not a good sign.
And when Iverson does start, it's not as if the complications disappear. Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer explains:
Iverson as sixth man, often closing out games, is the best role for the team, but it's probably better to accede to his demands to start than let this issue combust and tank a promising season. So, at this point, when he's physically ready for a big boost in minutes (and I'm not convinced that's as soon as tonight against Golden State), the team might as well let Iverson have his way. But letting him start opens up a couple of new questions:
1. Can he bend his game even a little bit into a team context? Iverson has always taken tons of shots, but he's older now, less physically explosive, and playing with the most talented cast of scorers he's ever been surrounded by. For this to work, his game needs to change a little. Is he willing to do that even if he starts? Against Sacramento, he had nine field-goal attempts and one assist. That ratio won't cut it if he's going to be on the floor with Mayo, Gay, Randolph, and Gasol for most of his minutes.
2. And where is the line drawn in terms of what Iverson is willing to accept? Is it okay to bring him out at the 5:00 mark in the first quarter or is that too soon? Playing him in shorter bursts, particularly early, will keep him fresh and help the team spread out the scoring options throughout the game. But would that kind of substitution pattern also draw Iverson's post-game ire?