(Iverson, shown in happier days, before learning Guitar Center has a strict, “you brandish it, you bought it” policy)

While I’m very pleased to welcome Clint and Jimmy Conley to Austin later today, I am hopeful the topic of their younger brother, Grizzlies G Mike, doesn’t come up.  I hate to give this wonderful family a hard time, but I have great difficulty understanding how Mike can start for Memphis in place of Allen Iverson, even if the latter isn’t all the way back from a preseason hamstring injury.  No prizes, by the way, who had an even tougher time coming to grips with 6th man status, but suffice to say, those Iverson jerseys the Grizzlies were eager to sell shall now be heavily discounted. From the Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Roland Tillery :

The disgruntled Iverson left the Grizzlies on Saturday after he asked for and was granted an indefinite leave of absence to deal with a personal matter, the team confirmed before its game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Instead of traveling to Staples Center, Iverson boarded a flight to Atlanta in the afternoon. Atlanta is where Iverson lives during the offseason.

Griz owner Michael Heisley vehemently insisted that Iverson needed time off to handle an important family issue. A timetable for Iverson™s return is unknown.

The veteran guard did not ask for a trade or request to be waived. Heisley said the team knew about Iverson™s issue before signing him to a one-year, $3.1 million contract in September.

œI™m not going to get into the personal reason but it has nothing to do with the other stuff, Heisley said, referring to Iverson™s public displeasure over his reserve role. œI™m the guy who said he could go. It™s a real family issue that I don™t think should be reported.

Let’s say for instance, that Iverson isn’t going on strike and there’s a legit family/emergency tragedy here.  Doesn’t it benefit both the player and the team to come up with something slightly more detailed given the additional dent to Iverson’s reputation, let alone his plummeting trade value?  ESPN’s Chad Ford claims there’s zero interest around the Association in taking on Iverson.

“I can’t imagine anyone wanting him at this point,” one GM said. “Struggling teams now know he’s going to be a distraction. Contending teams have to live with the fact that Iverson puts himself above the team. Even the Clippers backed away from him this summer and Donald Sterling will do anything to sell tickets. I’m still not sure what the Grizzlies were thinking.”

No one is, especially in light of recent revelations that neither GM Chris Wallace nor Hollins addressed Iverson’s role as a starter or bench player before signing him.

“That is, in a word, amazing,” one NBA executive who explored signing Iverson this summer said. “The guy has a documented history of resisting coming off the bench. The Grizzlies had a young starting backcourt of Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo. No one thought to explore it?”