Speaking to local media around midday Thursday, Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said he hadn’t talked with team owner Robert Pera yet but he could make one declaration: head coach J.B. Bickerstaff would return for a second season.
Two hours later, that decision had changed, and several other moves were made.
The Grizzlies fired Bickerstaff and demoted Wallace to a scouting role.
Memphis also named Jason Wexler as team president with “oversight of both business and basketball operations,” the team said in a statement. The Grizzlies promoted Zach Kleiman to executive vice president of basketball operations, with former VP John Hollinger reassigned to a senior advisory position.
“In order to put our team on the path to sustainable success, it was necessary to change our approach to basketball operations,” 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.”
After David Fizdale was fired, Bickerstaff was promoted to interim head coach in November 2017, then given the job permanently last May 1. The team went 15-48 under Bickerstaff in 2017-18 and 33-49 this season.
The Grizzlies traded franchise stalwart Marc Gasol at the February deadline, and their shake-ups might not be over.
Veteran point guard Mike Conley said this week he doesn’t want to stick around Memphis to endure a rebuild and is ready to turn the franchise over to youngster Jaren Jackson Jr.
Selected by the Grizzlies with the No. 4 overall pick of the 2007 draft, Conley has participated in the playoffs in seven seasons, with four of them resulting in a first-round ouster.
“I want to win a championship, No. 1,” he told reporters. “I love Jaren Jackson Jr. I’ve done a lot of that, been a part of it. At some point you have to pass that torch.”
Conley is due to make $32.5 million next season.
—Field Level Media