Iverson's future with Grizzlies in limbo

Updated: July 24, 2009, 8:58 PM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

Suddenly, another power forward has become available on the unrestricted free-agent landscape -- and it could impact Allen Iverson's chances of possibly playing for the Memphis Grizzlies next season.

That power forward is Hakim Warrick, who was taken by surprise Thursday night when the Grizzlies rescinded their $3 million qualifying offer to him to give themselves more flexibility on the free-agent market.

The 27-year-old former Syracuse standout averaged 11.6 points and five rebounds last season when he shared time with Darrell Arthur at power forward, but Memphis acquired Zach Randolph earlier this summer to play that position, making Warrick both expendable and expensive.

Warrick will remain on Memphis' cap for the time being at $6.2 million -- 300 percent of his salary last season -- but the Grizzlies could move about $9 million below the cap if they formally renounce their rights to him or move him in a sign-and-trade deal.

It remained to be seen whether the move meant the Grizzlies were ready to resume discussions with Iverson, who was offered a one-year contract by Memphis earlier this summer and whose box-office appeal is said to be a selling point with owner Michael Heisley.

"I'm not a guy who says things automatically cannot happen, because funny things can start to happen in free agency. We haven't closed the door on anybody. It would be premature to do that," Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace told ESPN.com. "We like Hakim and felt he contributed, but we wanted a little more flexibility going forward in free agency."

Another of Warrick's Grizzlies teammates, Rudy Gay, said he spoke with Warrick on the telephone Friday morning before Team USA's minicamp practice.

"I'm not quite sure what's going on. Not only was Hakim by teammate, he was one of my good friends on the team, so it's going to be tough to play without him, but this is a business," Gay said. "I spoke to him this morning, and he basically said he's moving on. He explained it to me, and I basically gave him my blessing.

"I'm not really quite sure where we're going right now, but I'm pretty sure by the time the season starts we'll have a better idea," Gay said.

Warrick's agent, Bill Duffy, said he had already been contacted by five teams with interest in Warrick by Friday afternoon, though he would not disclose them.

"This was a directive from the owner. It came down from the top, and it is consistent with the cost-cutting measures going on across the NBA," Duffy told ESPN.com. "Eighty percent of the NBA teams, their focus now is economic."

Several NBA executives were caught unaware of the move, learning about it as they attended Team USA's mini-camp in Las Vegas.

The same was true for one of Warrick's now-former teammates, O.J. Mayo.

"If it's to make room for Allen Iverson, I definitely think we're making a step forward," Mayo said, "and as a young player in my second year in the league I definitely gets me excited that we're going the right way and making some good choices for the organization."

Iverson's agent, Leon Rose, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Chris Sheridan is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.