Recently3 Shades of Blue was interviewed by Pick Axe and Roll, a Denver Nuggets blog, about the possibility of Marc Gasol being traded to Denver since the Grizzlies are deep with talented, young centers. Our position was that Marc Gasol is pretty much untouchable at this point.
However the blog’s author took what I felt was a cheap shot at the end. His exact words were “If Memphis did trade Gasol they would have to basically throw Thabeetto the wolvesand no GM with a brain would do that. But that is where Memphis’ GM Chris Wallace comes into play.” As many people know I like Chris Wallace so I took offense to this.I posted a comment stating that Wallace was doing exactly what his owner was telling him to do and you can’t blame an employee for following the bosses orders. His response took me off guard.
“at what point do you stop letting your reputation get damaged if you truly do not want these trades because lets face it these deals happened on his watch and will be his legacy.”
Wow. That’s a hard question to answer. Why is Chris Wallace allowing his reputation to be dragged through the mud if he isn’tcompletely in favor of these moves? Don’t kid yourself either, most NBA fans around the league assume Chris Wallace is the root cause of every perceived bad move the Grizzlies have made since he arrived (and a few before he arrived for that matter). Has Wallace ever said anything that would make someone believe that he is not 100% in favor of every move the Grizzlies have made since he arrived? No. That would be a sure fire way to get fired honestly especially if the owner is calling the shots.
I asked Wallace about the relationship between owners and GMs a while back in an interview. Wallace said then that the relationship between owners and the Front Office isn’t like it used to be. He mentioned how Andy Rooney ran the Steelers and how he used to let the coaches and front office run the team. That doesn’t happen anymore. Only a naive person would think with the amount of money being spent on players and teams that the owners are not completely involved in all decisions about the team. They just have too much at stake. He went on to say:
“Everybody thinks they know something about sports particularly if they’ve gone to the point of owning it. That’s part of the fun of being involved. So in this new age,the owners are going to be there with you and involved with the team. If you can’t deal with that then you aren’t going to succeed in sports.”
That sentiment of owner being fans first and believing they know as much as the experts was supported by an interview with Michael Heisley where he said he didn’t believe the front office people know that much more than he does. To quote his response:
I’m not so sure the professionals have that much more going for them than the fans have going. A lot of it really turns out to be luck. How many trades do you make that turns out horrible because the guy gets injured and he hardly ever plays for you? How many trades do you get where the guy goes out or beats his wife or basically gets thrown into jail or gets suspended from the league? There’s so much that goes into this thing and so much mystery involved, that’s what makes it so exciting.
So we have an owner who sees this as his own personaly fantasy basketball team. A GM who is striving to give the best advice he can and a fan perception that every mistake is the GM’s and only the GM’s fault not to mention the owner making comments that easily can be misconstrued to be blaming the GM when the perception is bad. I guess you could say Wallace does walk a thin line here. He will ultimately be left holding the bag if certain decisions go wrong anyway.
And don’t even get me started about the embarrassing trades made to put money on the bottom line but do nothing to increase the team’s ability to compete. I mean we know it is a business but does it have to be only about profit all the time?
So why does Chris Wallace do this?
Because he loves it. This is his dream job. This is what he has wanted to do since he started Blue Ribbon Digest in the basement of his parent’s home, since that night he drafted Kevin Gamble in the 3rd round for his first official draft pick and since he took over the job replacing the legend of Jerry West.
Why doesn’t he quit hisjob and go find another one where he would be the GM in fact as well as title? Well after the situation in Boston where he was basically demoted and the situation in Memphis where he has been blamed for every move he has made despite following the bosses orders where else would he go? There are 30 NBA GM type jobs in the world. If this is what you love you better hold onto the job when the opportunity arises because it could easily happen that another opportunity won’t come around.
So Wallace is stuck in a sense. To do the job he loves he has to deal with a meddling owner who takes most of the credit for good decisions but very little of the blame for the bad ones. He might have his resume floating around Monsterjob.com or some place else but that doesn’t mean that anyone is hiring. Wallace seems to have come to grips with this.
Addendum: For a different but somehow similiar view of this ideasee Chris Vernon’s blog.