Just over two months have passed since the Memphis Grizzlies organization and their fanbase were thrown into an uproar over the news that CEO Jason Levien and Assistant GM Stu Lash were being fired. Initially, this seemed like a nuclear device being detonated on Beale Street. As the weeks have gone by, however, the fallout everyone anticipated has been minimal.
At this point, allow me to say that it appears I was (once again) mistaken about what the team should do. [Side note: The joke amongst the 3SOB staff is that if I write about what should/should not happen, then it is almost guaranteed that the opposite will occur.] I said that the team should not give the reins back to GM Chris Wallace, but Robert Pera made that decision, and now it appears as though the team is not only back on track, but much better now than they were back in May.
Here’s what has happened over the past several weeks since Levien was shown the door and Chris Wallace was named the interim GM while the team searches for an eventual long-term successor:
- The team signed Dave Joerger to an extension after he interviewed with the Minnesota Timberwolves
- The Grizzlies drafted Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes
- They agreed to an extension that will pay Zach Randolph $36.5 million over the next 3 seasons
- The team re-signed Beno Udrih to a 2-year, $4.2 million contract
- They did not extend a qualifying offer to Ed Davis
- The Grizzlies signed Vince Carter to a 3-year, $12 million contract
- The team retained Nick Calathes
- They hired Jeff Bzdelik as an assistant coach
While the Grizzlies have not finalized the contract with Bzdelik yet, the news that an assistant with extensive experience has been brought aboard should please those who follow the team. Bzdelik hasn’t been successful as a head coach, but is well-regarded as a defensive-minded assistant.
As for the other moves, if you can find someone with more than half a brain who strongly disagrees with them, I’d love to chat with them. (No, I wouldn’t.)
With Wallace at the helm receiving input from Joerger and John Hollinger, the team has begun to take shape while improving in overall talent and skill levels. Carter, Adams, and Stokes replace Mike Miller (signed with the Cavs) and Davis (with the Lakers), providing both more diversity and a better fit for where the Grizzlies appear to be headed in Year Two of the Joerger era.
While many fans were disappointed that the team did not select Rodney Hood to shore up the SF position (or Kyle Anderson — sorry, Peter), Adams’ play in Summer League made many of them start buying in on his potential. If that wasn’t enough, on 3SOB Radio, we had Steve Kyler tell us that he thinks Adams might be starting as soon as January. Needless to say, optimism is once again running high in GrizzNation.
Chris Wallace has indicated that the front office is not finished making moves, and one would assume that the obvious next item on the docket is thinning out the crowded SG/SF spots by exchanging quantity for quality, given that there aren’t enough minutes to go around with Tony Allen, Carter, Courtney Lee, Quincy Pondexter, Jordan Adams, Tayshaun Prince, and Jamaal Franklin currently on the roster. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that whatever trade Wallace & Co. make is likely one that will once again improve the team.