A lot of people keep coming up to me and asking what’s going on with the Grizzlies. I don’t know how to respond.
Clearly there is a shake up going on. Was it needed? Possibly but that doesn’t mean it was timed well. Levien was a difficult person to work for apparently and clearly Pera was displeased with certain decisions being made in the Front Office.
Did it have to be done when it did? I’d say probably not, but there is never a “good time” to revamp your front office. By doing it in mid-May, Pera had an experienced GM (Chris Wallace) to help him through the rough patch of transition. If he waits until after the draft then Wallace is all but gone (his contract expires on June 30) and you still have to make a move prior to the free agency period.
By acting before the draft he also insured that the player drafted would represent the player Pera wants and not someone Levien wants who may not match the team Pera wants to put on the court next year or build with in the future.
The same goes for free agency, which really doesn’t settle down until September. If Pera waited until September his hands could have been tied even tighter by decisions made by Levien and Lash.
Ideally the decision to replace Levien would have been made during the season, giving Pera time to find a replacement and immediately after the team was ousted from the playoffs Pera would act swiftly to change the leadership. That didn’t happen and there is no use crying over spilt milk. What’s done is done.
Joerger is a different matter. I truly believe Joerger didn’t look to leave Memphis. I believe he simply wanted to coach back home in Minnesota. He hasn’t asked to interview with other, and better, teams that have coaching vacancies. He asked to be allowed to interview for a job back home. If it hadn’t been the TWolves I don’t believe Joerger would be looking to leave.
The timing couldn’t have been worse following on the heels of the Front Office clean house but I don’t believe the change in the front office was the reason Joerger asked to interview. He’d already asked earlier after all only to be told no by Levien. This didn’t come up because of Levien’s departure.
So I don’t know everything that is going on behind the scenes at the Grizzlies headquarters. I don’t believe anyone does despite what you hear on talk radio. These guys are trying to make a living entertaining people on the air after all and being outspoken and demonstrative gets people to listen. The more people listen the higher you can charge for advertisements on the show and the more people want to advertise on their shows. That is all that they care about. Unlike this blogger, they make their living with their shows.
That isn’t to say that think I know what should be going on.
Robert Pera should be talking. He should be calling the radio shows and explaining what is going on behind the scenes. He should be doing an interview a night with local TV sports shows. The man is bringing the internet to the world, surely he can figure out how to do an interview using Skype after all.
He needs to do this because fans are scared. He should be addressing the issues terrifying Grizzlies fans not sending out someone without a contract after July 1 to take the heat, especially one who hasn’t been in the Grizzlies offices for over a year. That doesn’t install confidence no matter how much people may love and respect Chris Wallace.
Are the Grizzlies looking for a new GM or will the job remain with Wallace? That needs to be answered. Wallace has been a good soldier and is beloved in Memphis. Either give him a new deal or announce that a search for a new GM is going on. The silence on this subject is most unsettling for fans.
Was there conflict with Joerger over rotations and if so why? Did Pera really feel like firing Joerger early in the season? Did Joerger’s decision to win games over playing owner’s favorites really become an issue of contention between the two sides?
Personally, I believe that this is at worst an untrue rumor or at best a dramatic overstatement of Pera’s feelings. Most likely it has been leaked by Levien’s camp to discredit Pera’s actions and therefore regain some of his stature around the league. It’s happened before were a terminated employee starts dropping hints that it wasn’t him but his lunatic boss that was the real problem.
That doesn’t matter however. Pera needs to prove he isn’t one of those owners who make herky-jerky decisions at the expense of the long-term success of the team. These rumors need to be addressed and either put to rest of admitted and learned from. This isn’t about a friendship gone bad after all. This is about building loyalty and trust among the local fan base.
Who would have imagined that since November, 2012 the Memphis Grizzlies would win 106 regular season games, two playoff appearance and advance to the conference finals once while having two coaches discarded (and giving Joerger the right to interview elsewhere is basically discarding him), a President of Basketball Operations fired (with no replacement on the horizon), a GM put on basically a paid leave and an Assistant GM fired as well?
It doesn’t seem right and the only way it can be adequately explained and the fan base soothed is for the man ultimately responsible for the running of the franchise to make himself available and set the record straight.
Everyone knows Pera is shy and a recluse of sorts but big deal. If you didn’t want the spotlight you shouldn’t have bought a team, fired your President of Basketball Operations and your Assistant GM. Those all are very public moves.
Now you have to make yourself available to the public to answer for your actions.