Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has made it clear that Allen Iverson is still coming off the bench, despite the player's complaints about being utilized as a reserve -- and his owner is backing him.
Iverson was unhappy with his nonstarting role earlier this week, saying Monday after the Grizzlies lost in Sacramento that he's "not a sixth man," according to The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal.
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley made it clear Wednesday, however, that Hollins will make that decision, the newspaper reported.
"Lionel will handle it," Heisley said, according to the report. "This is a situation that'll be handled between Lionel and Allen. What Allen said was inappropriate, but I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. Allen expressed his frustration about not playing and I understand that."
"It's up to the coach to handle these issues," Heisley added, according to the report.
On Monday, Iverson, who missed the preseason and the start of the regular season because of a hamstring injury, played 18 minutes in a loss to the Kings and made headlines after the game when he complained about his diminished role.
"I had no problems [with the hamstring]. I had a problem with my butt sitting on that bench for so long," Iverson said, according to The Commercial Appeal.
"I'm not a bench player. I'm not a sixth man," he continued. "Look at my résumé and that'll show I'm not a sixth man. I don't think it has anything to do with me being selfish. It's just who I am. I don't want to change what gave me all the success that I've had since I've been in this league. I'm not a sixth man. And that's that."
In Wednesday's 113-105 loss at Golden State, Iverson was again in a reserve role but saw more time, playing 28 minutes. He scored 18 points and passed the 24,000-point mark for his career, becoming the 16th player in NBA history to do so. He scored six of his points in the first half during a 17-0 run that gave Memphis an early lead.
Hollins said Wednesday that Iverson's minutes will increase from game to game, but cautioned that he's still fitting him into the backcourt rotation with Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo. Hollins did not say whether Iverson would start in the future, according to The Commercial Appeal.
"There's no way we're making a change right now," Hollins said, according to the report.