The response to the Grizzlies decision to add Allen Iverson has been negative. The most significant arguments are:
1. Iverson won't generate on-court success next season.
2. Acquiring Iverson comes at the expense of acquiring better players.
3. Iverson may impede the development of young Grizzlies.
While I think these arguments have merit, I don't think the conclusion that signing Iverson is a mistake is as clear as the media's reaction implies.
1. IVERSON WON'T GENERATE ON-COURT SUCCESS NEXT SEASON
For simplicity's sake, let's say there are three reasonable possibilities:
1. Win 20-30 games.
2. Win 30-40 games.
3. Win 40-50 games.
Using a John Hollinger algorithm, we could assign a probability for each outcome, and then assess how the addition of Iverson impacts that outcome.
The "pre-Iverson" consensus was that #1 is the most likely outcome. So how does Iverson impact that probability? Probably not by much. I'm guessing that #1 is still the most likely scenario.
Is #1 more likely with Iverson than without? Does adding Iverson make #2 or #3 more likely?
You can reasonably argue that #1 is slightly more likely now, but you can't argue that the Grizzlies will be significantly worse or that Iverson increases the likelihood of #1 by a large percentage. The Grizzlies are too bad already.
You could also argue that adding Iverson to the mix raises the ceiling if by some miracle this strange mix of talent clicks.
2. ACQUIRING IVERSON COMES AT THE EXPENSE OF HIRING BETTER PLAYERS.
There's no question that acquiring Iverson means the Grizzlies won't (or didn't) acquire other available players like Ramon Sessions or David Lee. However, there's no guarantee that the Grizzlies could acquire such players. Those players may have no interest in playing for Memphis.
Additionally, most players discussed wouldn't have a significantly greater impact than Iverson. Ramon Sessions' incremental value over Iverson doesn't justify the ridicule of the Grizzlies for pursuing Iverson over Sessions.
Sessions and other players of this year's free agent class aren't sure bets and have additional costs that Iverson doesn't have.
That said, I'm on-board with the argument that pursuing Iverson (and Randolph) in favor of pursuing a star like Amare Stoudemire is a mistake. The Grizzlies biggest failure has been the inability to acquire a first tier star during his prime.
3. IVERSON MAY IMPEDE THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE YOUNG GRIZZLIES.
If OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay are fragile enough that Iverson could derail their development or drive them away, then you have to wonder if Mayo or Gay would ever lead the Grizzlies to success.
On the other hand, if Mike Conley can't play with Kyle Lowry backing him up, is Iverson really the problem? If Conley can develop into an significant player, he can do so playing with Allen Iverson. If he's not an impact player, then what have we lost?
I think its fair to criticize the Grizzlies. They are a terrible team until they prove otherwise. But I don't think the acquisition of Iverson is as obviously bad as most people seem to think it is.