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.”
—Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger was fired after three seasons, the team announced.
“After evaluating the season, I determined that we need to move in a different direction in order to take us to the next level,” general manager Vlade Divac said.
Joerger led the Kings to a 39-43 record this season, good for ninth place in the NBA’s Western Conference. It was their best record since 2005-06 — the last time they qualified for the playoffs. The Kings started this season at 30-26 and were in the playoff hunt until a 9-17 finish left them nine games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the final postseason spot in the West.
—Larry Drew will not return for a second season as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after he and the team mutually agreed to part ways.
“Larry and I had a productive discussion about this past season, the future of the franchise and the search process that we will shortly launch regarding the head coaching role,” general manager Koby Altman said in a statement. “Larry respectfully declined to participate in the search process and will not be returning to coach the Cavaliers.”
The Cavs finished 19-63 in 2018-19 as Drew took over after the firing of Tyronn Lue on Oct. 28 following the team’s 0-6 start. Drew was named interim head coach at first before agreeing to a new deal on Nov. 5.
—Cardiologists have cleared Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen to resume full basketball activities, the team announced.
Markkanen, 21, experienced extreme fatigue and an accelerated heart rate during a game in Toronto on March 26. A battery of tests conducted at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore determined that dehydration and nutrient deficiency caused his symptoms.
The 7-footer missed the rest of the regular season, finishing his second campaign with averages of 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds in 52 games.
—The Phoenix Suns officially named James Jones as general manager, giving him control over all basketball operations for the team.
The Suns also added Jeff Bower as senior vice president of basketball operations and retained Trevor Bukstein as assistant general manager. Both will report to Jones, the team announced in a statement.
Jones, 38, who played 14 seasons in the league and won three NBA championships, had served as Phoenix’s VP of basketball operations the past two seasons. He shared GM duties this past season with Bukstein.
—Field Level Media