Memphis Grizzlies fire coach J.B. Bickerstaff, demote GM Chris Wallace
Earlier today, Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace held an end-of-season press conference and said he intended to keep J.B. Bickerstaff as coach.
A couple of hours later?
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the story, which has since been made official by the Grizzlies:
The Grizzlies dismissed coach J.B. Bickerstaff and reassigned GM Chris Wallace to a scouting capacity in the front office, league sources tell ESPN. VP John Hollinger will also move into a senior advisory role.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2019
Grizzlies will start a search for a new head coach and pursue some more experienced personnel to join the front office, sources said. For now, though: Zleiman completes an ascent in front office to top basketball role, essentially replacing Wallace. Major changes for Memphis.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2019
“In order to put our team on the path to sustainable success, it was necessary to change our approach to basketball operations,” Grizzlies owner Robert J. Pera said in a statement. ?I look forward to a reenergized front office and fresh approach to Memphis Grizzlies basketball under new leadership, while retaining the identity and values that have distinguished our team.”
More than any NBA team, the Grizzlies lack vision. Considering they just let Wallace publicly explain his plans for the team – including retaining Bickerstaff! – then made these moves, it seems that problem goes higher than those two.
Wallace has been Memphis’ general manager since getting hired in 2007. At least, that was the best I could tell when he was named general manager in 2014. Yes, the Grizzlies really sent out a press release naming their general manager as general manager. That was helpful, because it’s often murky who’s in charge in Memphis.
The buck stops with Grizzlies owner Robert Pera, who declared before the season, “I see no reason why we can’t return to a 50-win-plus team.” Memphis went 33-49.
The Grizzlies tried too long to win with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Those stars were too old, and the rest of the roster was too jammed up to make that a reality in the tough Western Conference. It was just an uninspiring plan under Wallace.
Memphis traded Gasol this season, and rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. is promising. Mike Conley remains, potentially as a valuable trade chip if the Grizzlies rebuild.
First, they’ll need a coach. Bickerstaff’s tenure was pretty forgettable. Maybe his replacement will give the team more of an identity, though that’d be easier with a better plan from the front office.