Chris Wallace

Grizzlies Rumors: Wallace, Bickerstaff, Evans, Gasol

The Grizzlies were viewed as a borderline playoff contender coming into the 2017/18 season, but dealt with injuries to key players like Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, and ultimately finished the year as the league’s second-worst team. Despite Memphis’ disappointing results – and some questionable draft decisions and roster moves in recent years – GM Chris Wallace says he’s not expecting ownership to make any major front office changes this offseason.

“I understand the frustration of this past year,” Wallace said, per Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “But, I’m not going to take sole credit for this, the front office teams I’ve presided over won the most ever games in the history of this franchise. We were seven straight years in the playoffs. We also brought in four of what I call the extended Mount Rushmore or six most important players in of the franchise. One year out of the playoffs doesn’t necessarily mean we’re out of touch and no longer capable of doing the job.”

As for Wallace’s expectations for the coming offseason and the 2018/19 campaign? He fully expects the Grizzlies to bounce back from a dismal 2017/18 showing.

“The plan on the short-term side of it is to get back in the swing of things,” Wallace said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t be a very viable competitive team next year. … I’m excited about next year. I think we’ll be a pretty good team next year.”

The Grizzlies’ end-of-season sessions with the media resulted in a few more interesting tidbits, so let’s round them up…

  • As Tillery details, star players Conley and Marc Gasol both endorsed J.B. Bickerstaff, the Grizzlies’ interim head coach, who is considered a strong candidate for the permanent job. “He’s done a tremendous job with the tools he was given and with what he was allowed to do,” Gasol said. “Through all the mess and the situation, he€’s done a great job.” Conley simply told reporters that Bickerstaff “deserves this job.”
  • Wallace didn’t commit to sticking with Bickerstaff for 2018/19, but he offered praise of his own for David Fizdale‘s replacement, per Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal. “I thought guys developed, they got better, and I give him credit,” Wallace said. “It’s not an easy assignment they were given in difficult circumstances. … The losses obviously piled up, you can’t point to any gaudy record, but you watch them day to day, step by step, practice by practice, there was improvement and everybody stayed on point and did not wallow in the fact that it was a difficult situation.”
  • According to Tillery, the Grizzlies remain hopeful that they’ll be able to re-sign Tyreke Evans using their mid-level exception this July. That was the plan reported back in February when Memphis opted to hang onto Evans through the trade deadline.
  • With Robert Pera poised to remain the controlling owner of the Grizzlies, Gasol plans on meeting with him this offseason to discuss the direction of the franchise, according to Calkins. “You want to hear what – now, knowing that Robert has full control again, and that he’s fully committed, not only to the team, but to the city — you want to know what direction we’re headed, what do you want out of this, what kind of team are you trying to put together?” Gasol said. “I want to know what he has to say and how he feels.”
  • While a trade is probably unlikely, Wallace acknowledged that the Grizzlies will keep all their options with their lottery pick, which will be a top-five selection (Twitter link via Michael Wallace of

Southwest Notes: Pelicans Future, Spurs, Tucker, Grizzlies

The recent death of owner Tom Benson could eventually result in the Pelicans franchise leaving New Orleans, Tom Ziller of SB Nation discusses in a detailed column. The Pelicans signed a lease six years ago to stay in New Orleans until 2024, but it’s still possible that the franchise could try to break that lease.

Even if Benson’s widow Gayle decides against that, the team’s current arena is 19 years old and will require major renovations if it’s not replaced altogether, Ziller notes. Should the team struggle to get funding for a building upgrade, it could grease the skids for a move, Ziller adds.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • The adversity that the Spurs have faced this season has brought the team closer together, coach Gregg Popovich told the media, including ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. The reserves have received more opportunities to play and team members are pulling for one another, according to Popovich. “It’s rewarding to see guys react to the minutes that they’re getting; some of these young guys that haven’t played much,” he said. “The way they reach out to each other and stay good teammates while the lineups have constantly changed, they’ve shown a lot of empathy and patience with each other in that regard. And I think that has allowed them to keep their heads up.”
  • Rockets forward P.J. Tucker has never been named to the All-Defensive team and coach Mike D’Antoni believes that should change this season. “It doesn’t get much better than him,” D’Antoni told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets’ defense ranks third in the league since Tucker became a starter, Feigen notes.
  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace will be looking for better shooters during the offseason, as he told Michael Wallace from the team’s website during a Q&A session. Asked about the upcoming draft, Wallace spoke in general terms about what type of players he’d target. “As far as our team need, you can always use outside shooting in the NBA of 2018,” he said. “It’s such a premium placed on the three-point shot, you can never have enough guys who can shoot the three. We also have to get more and more athletic.”
  • Mavs guard Dennis Smith Jr. will miss at least the next two games with an ankle sprain, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. The team will play it safe with its star rookie but have no plans to shut him down. “He’s going to be out for a while, but it’s not serious,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace On Fizdale, Gasol, Future

The Grizzlies have fallen on hard times with 17 losses in their last 19 games, but GM Chris Wallace insists there is still hope for this season and it’s not time to rebuild, he tells Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

At 9-21, Memphis is 14th in the Western Conference standings, but only 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. Wallace is confident things will turn around when Mike Conley and Brandan Wright return from injuries, saying, “The season isn’t lost.”

Wallace explains the decision to fire coach David Fizdale and touches on several other topics in the wide-ranging interview. Here are a few passages:

On parting with Fizdale the day after star center Marc Gasol complained about not playing in the fourth quarter of a loss:

“In our judgment, it was time to make that move. We’re here every day… We understood going in that we weren’t going to reel off 10 straight wins with that schedule. We want to win games but I want to see improvement. I want to see the team continue to move forward.”

On animosity between Gasol and Fizdale and whether their issues could have been resolved:

“I’m not going to go back into any past history about their relationship. We know there was tension. But I’m not going to delve into our approach. I’m not going to go into their relationship other than we’ve acknowledged there was some tension.

On the job done by interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who has a 2-9 record since taking over the team:

“Obviously, we’d like some more wins. Everybody is frustrated that the wins haven’t come this whole year. But we’re happy with J.B. and his staff’s performance. They’ve organized the team well. Our defense has gotten better. They’ve kept the spirit of the team up. We’ve fought. We’ve been in about every game. They’ve made some positive changes and impact on the situation.”

On potential roster moves that might help salvage the season:

“I’m not going to comment on anything if it was in the hopper. It’s impossible to predict, moving forward, what opportunities will be out there. Any deal we’ve ever done I couldn’t have told you in advance that we’re doing this particular deal. It just doesn’t work that way. All 30 teams have different views of themselves, different agendas. Some are trying to position themselves for the future, some are who I like to call here-and-now teams. The course of teams changes during the season. It would be inaccurate for me to say that we’re definitely doing something or we’re not doing something. We just don’t know what the future is going to hold for us.”

On fans and media members who are calling on him to step down as GM:

“I obviously have a different opinion. I understand why fans are frustrated now. Hell, I’m more frustrated than they are. But I don’t think my time has come and gone. I’ve presided over the best run in the history of this franchise. That window was still very much open at the beginning of the year. I don’t see what’s changed. We’ve got a roster that when we’re healthy and everything is clicking we’re athletic, more versatile and more talented on the perimeter than we’ve been in years. I don’t see how you say that our time has passed as a team or my time has passed as a lead basketball executive.”

And-Ones: Clark, Shved, Bogdanovic

Add Warriors guard Ian Clark to the list of wing players who interest the Timberwolves, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. C.J. Miles remains their prime target, but Minnesota doesn’t have enough cap room left to make a competitive offer. The Wolves have discussed a sign-and-trade that would send center Cole Aldrich and Oklahoma City’s 2018 first-rounder to Indiana in exchange for Miles, according to an ESPN report.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Alexey Shved may void the final year of his contract with Khimki Moscow in order to return to the NBA, a source tells international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Shved last played in the NBA for the Knicks during the 2014/15 campaign.
  • The Kings are covering all of Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s $850K NBA buyout with Fenerbahce, a source tells Pick (Twitter link). Sacramento signed the swingman to a three-year deal worth $27MM, which is the richest contract for a rookie in league history.
  • Phil Ricci will join the Kings’ coaching staff as an assistant player development coach, James Ham of NBC Sports tweets. Ricci played professionally abroad for several seasons before coaching at the high school level.
  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace has penned a thank you letter to Zach Randolph for his contributions over the past eight years. The note, which is posted on the team’s website, credits Randolph for helping to establish Memphis’ “grit and grind” identity. Randolph agreed to a two-year, $24MM deal with the Kings on Tuesday. The Grizzlies also announced today that Randolph’s number will be retired.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post

Chandler Parsons Diagnosed With Meniscus Tear

6:34pm: Parsons has been diagnosed with a “partial tear of the meniscus in his left knee,” the Grizzlies announced via team press release (link). Parsons will be out indefinitely, all but closing the book on his 2016/17 campaign. GM Chris Wallace expressed his sympathy for Parsons in a written statement.

“To suffer a setback like this after working so diligently to rebound from the injury to his right knee is obviously tough. That said, we know he will continue to work tirelessly to return to the court with his teammates and contribute,” Wallace said. “Chandler has the full support of myself, Coach Fizz and the entire team and we are all focused on getting him healthy.”

6:28pm: Chandler Parsons will sit out for the second time in three games tonight due to soreness in his left knee. While injuries have plagued Parsons throughout his first season in Memphis, the team is reportedly considering shutting him down in midst of a playoff run.

According to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal, the Grizzlies are “contemplating” shutting Parsons down for the season (Twitter link). If Tillery’s report comes to fruition, it remains to be seen whether Parsons would be shut down for merely the regular season or the postseason as well.

Parsons simply hasn’t been on the court enough to have the type of impact he had with the Rockets and Mavs. After missing 24 of the season’s first 30 games due to a knee injury, Parsons has struggled in his return to the lineup. In a nine-game stretch from February 13 to March 11, Parsons averaged five points per game on 30.8% shooting.

Having inked a four-year, $94,438,523 contract over the offseason, Parsons recognizes the long-term commitment GM Chris Wallace made with him.

“I suck right now. There’s no sugarcoating it. It is what it is,” Parsons told Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “Look, I signed a four-year deal. I didn’t sign a one-year deal. The team expectations for me are to go very slow. It’s going to be a long process…you see the contract I signed with the salary I make. People expect a lot better than I’m performing right now.”

Grizzlies Extend Three In Front Office

The Grizzlies have agreed to multi-year extensions with GM Chris Wallace, VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger and VP of Player Personnel Ed Stefanski, according to a team press release. The terms of the three deals were not disclosed, per the team’s policy.

“I am pleased to announce that our Basketball Operations executive team, led by General Manager, Chris Wallace, will continue to lead our franchise for years to come,” controlling ownder Robert Pera said. “Chris, John and Ed bring a wealth of NBA experience and success, and have done a tremendous job establishing the strong culture that I believe is necessary to ensure sustained success in this ultra-competitive environment. More importantly, I am confident that the toughness, resilience, discipline and unselfishness that are embedded in the fabric of our culture will continue to serve as a point of pride for Memphis, the surrounding region and all Grizzlies fans.”

Wallace joined the organization back in 2007 and the team believes the culture he helped established has been a major factor in attracting players in free agency as well as retaining its own free agents.

Hollinger joined the Grizzlies in 2012 and he is best known for his work in the field of basketball analytics. Stefanski, who is a graduate of University of Penn’s Wharton School of Business, has been with the team since 2014.

Southwest Notes: Conley, Parsons, Evans, Motiejunas

The Grizzlies never gave any thought to tanking, even as Mike Conley was added to their long injury list, according to Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Conley will miss at least six weeks after fractures were discovered in his lower back. He joins injured teammates Vince Carter, Chandler Parsons, James Ennis and Brandan Wright, while Zach Randolph is on the bereavement list. “It’s obvious that we have done everything to stay competitive,” said GM Chris Wallace. “Ownership has given us the financial commitment for our intent to be competitive at a high level over the past several years. That just doesn’t stop with the injury to Mike Conley.”

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Parsons admits coming to Memphis was a “culture shock,” but he liked the talent the Grizzlies had in place and wanted to be part of the organization, relays Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Injuries have limited Parsons to six games so far after signing a four-year max contract over the summer. “The real reason why I went there was the current players that they have on their team,” Parsons said, “guys like Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, Z-Bo [Randolph], Tony Allen. See, they’re all guys that have had so much success, and I felt like plugging me into that lineup, being able to play with those guys as kind of the piece they’ve been missing [would be great]. And with the new coaching staff with [David] Fizdale and J.B. Bickerstaff, those are two guys I’ve had previous relationships with and I just hit it off with them. Those are guys that I’ve trusted, and I think we’re going to have special seasons as soon as we get fully healthy. We’ve got a lot of guys banged up right now, but I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat come playoff time.”
  • The Pelicans will have to wait longer for Tyreke Evans‘ season debut, tweets Justin Verrier of Evans, who is recovering from two surgeries on his right knee last season, reported tightness in his calf. New Orleans was hoping to have him back by Thanksgiving, but GM Dell Demps said Evans will not take the court until he is fully healthy. Once he returns, coach Alvin Gentry envisions Evans taking on a role similar to what Lance Stephenson did before he was injured and waived (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets are very interested in keeping Donatas Motiejunas, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The Lithuanian power forward has been meeting with the Nets and is expected to receive an offer sheet, possibly by today. Even though Houston pulled its latest offer to Motiejunas last month, the organization will strongly consider matching whatever offer Brooklyn presents. “We’re big fans of Donatas,” said GM Daryl Morey. “We hope to have him at some point this year.”

And-Ones: Grizzlies, Dudley, ‘Melo, Blatt

Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace stressed the need for the team’s next coach to focus on player development and communicate with the front office and said the team is prepared to pay whatever’s necessary to make the right hire as he spoke Wednesday in an interview with Peter Edmiston on WHBQ-AM (See all six Twitter links here). The extension and pay raise that the Jazz gave Quin Snyder on Friday helped fuel former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger‘s frustration with the Memphis front office, which was in no rush to give him a similar deal, a source acknowledged to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Wallace, in the interview with Edmiston, also downplayed the significance of a dinner he had with former coach Lionel Hollins, which led to speculation that the Grizzlies are interested in rehiring him.

“Why can’t you have a bite to eat and catch up with an old friend?” Wallace said. “Why can’t you [do] that in today’s world?”

See more from Memphis and the rest of the NBA:

  • Wallace also pointed to the autonomy of the Grizzlies front office when it comes to shaping the roster. “We make the final decision on the personnel brought into the organization,” Wallace said to Edmiston. “The buck stops with me on that.”
  • Soon-to-be free agent Jared Dudley expressed interest in joining the Timberwolves, said he’d take a fan’s proposal of a three-year, $25MM deal from the Bucks and added that he’s enjoy playing for Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry again as the Wizards forward conducted a Q&A Wednesday on Twitter (All five Twitter links here). Dudley also addressed the Raptors, saying Toronto is a great city and that players love playing there but lamenting the high taxes, and he said he thinks Frank Vogel is the best available head coach.
  • It’s a “gross exaggeration” to say Carmelo Anthony likes the idea of the Knicks hiring David Blatt, league sources told Ian Begley of, refuting an earlier report. It’s unclear whether Anthony would support or oppose a Blatt hiring, as he hasn’t expressed any opinion thus far, Begley hears.

Kings Notes: Joerger, Catanella, Assistants

New Kings coach Dave Joerger pledged today that he’d work in concert with GM Vlade Divac, in contrast to the discord between coach and front office that marked George Karl‘s Sacramento tenure and Joerger’s time in Memphis, as notes. The Kings haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years, but Joerger, who took the Sacramento job despite openings in Houston and Indiana, is optimistic about the future for Sacramento, observes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee“The team’s on the rise,” Joerger said. “There’s still some heavy lifting to do but some of the heavy lifting has been done. This is not a blow it up, let’s start all over again situation. We’re on the road to recovery.”

See more from Sacramento:

  • Miscommunication disrupted the process that led to the hiring of Ken Catanella as Kings assistant GM, several league sources told Zach Lowe of A confused narrative exists on whether Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace was a candidate, and it seemed former Bucks and Pacers executive David Morway was headed for the job before talks broke off.
  • Some of the candidates for the head coaching job pulled out before the search was over, while others simply used the team’s interest to bolster their resumes, according to Lowe.
  • The Kings dismissed assistant coaches Chad Iske and John Welch but will keep fellow assistants Nancy Lieberman and Corliss Williamson, as Jones and The Bee’s Ailene Voisin relay (Twitter links).
  • One of the candidates who interviewed for the head coaching job gave Jake Fischer of an anonymous rundown of the visit, providing insight on the team’s approach and telling Fischer that before Joerger emerged, the Kings originally planned to narrow the field to two finalists who would meet with Ranadive. That essentially jibes with earlier reporting from Jones, who heard the team intended to name three finalists.

And-Ones: Butler, Wallace, Adams, Hunter

Jimmy Butler has been increasingly wary of Bulls GM Gar Forman since their failed negotiations on a would-be extension in 2014, and remarks Forman made last month indicating that he wouldn’t rule out trading him struck a sour note with Butler, sources told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Still, the Bulls aren’t eager to deal the swingman they signed to a five-year contract last summer and would require at least one marquee player and a minimum of two first-round picks in any such deal, Johnson hears.

See more from around the NBA:

  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace has acknowledged speaking with Kings GM Vlade Divac about a job in Sacramento’s front office, but he told Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal and others that the talk didn’t constitute an interview and that he didn’t pursue the gig. Conflicting reports have painted a confused picture of the Kings-Wallace connection, though Wallace appears to suggest it’s all a matter of semantics, as Herrington examines.
  • Steven Adams, who’s eligible for an extension this summer, is displaying high value to the Thunder in their series against San Antonio and affirming GM Sam Presti‘s preseason assertion that he’s one of the team’s core players, as Zach Lowe of details.
  • The Warriors would have drafted R.J. Hunter at No. 30 last June had the Celtics not snagged him at No. 28, sources told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. Golden State drafted Kevon Looney instead after the C’s took Hunter even though he canceled a workout in Boston because he wasn’t feeling 100%, as Bulpett details.