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Grizzlies’ CEO out in major front office shakeup

May 19, 2014, 3:48 PM EDT

Robert Pera, Jason Levien Robert Pera, Jason Levien

UPDATE 3:48 pm: The shakeup is already confirmed by none other than Grizzlies majority owner Robert Pera — CEO Jason Levien and assistant general manager Stu Lash have been fired.

It is likely that the shakeup will continue down the chain of command.

“Our franchise has made tremendous strides over the last few seasons and we thank Jason for his hard work and dedication and wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors,” Pera said in a released statement. “Rest assured that we remain as committed as ever to bringing a championship to this great city and we are confident that when the new season begins our fans will be excited about both our roster and the direction of our organization.”

Chris Wallace, the GM who had been largely sidelined by management, is now back in charge of basketball operations. At least for now. He has told several outlets that coach Dave Joerger is safe in his position. However Joerger and the slow start of the Grizzlies (when Marc Gasol was injured) may have played a role in sowing the seeds of unrest, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Sources told on Monday that Pera expressed internal dismay with Joerger early in the season and contemplated firing him before the Grizzlies steadied themselves after the return from injury of Marc Gasollifted Memphis back to the level of success it was accustomed to under Hollins.

3:06 pm: What do the four teams in the NBA’s conference Finals have in common? Front office stability. They’ve had a plan, stuck with that plan.

Memphis aspires to be on that level, but they apparently are going to do it with a radically different front office, and maybe coaching staff.

Marc Stein of ESPN was first with the news that shocked the NBA world Monday:

Grizzlies’ guard Tony Allen summed up all of our reactions.

When tech billionaire Robert Pera purchased the Grizzlies he reshaped the front office in his own image – far more analytics driven. Jason Levien was at the forefront of that. It is why John Hollinger was hired away from ESPN. That is why the successful Lionel Hollins was let go as coach and Dave Joerger was brought in — he related better to the direction of the franchise.

Hollins took them to the conference finals, this year the Grizzlies were one-and-done (although they pushed the Thunder seven games, the deep West is unfair like that). The changes did not yield immediate results.

Now that direction seems to be in trouble.

Expect more drama in Memphis before this is over. That is not how you build a consistent winner.

  1. romestar82 - May 19, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Might as well let a PBT poster run the team ,I think we can all agree that one of us can make this work .

    • 00maltliquor - May 20, 2014 at 5:20 AM

      LOL I was thinking the same thing.

  2. antistratfordian - May 19, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Hollinger needs to get back to ESPN and work on refining his formulas. He wasn’t ready to contribute to a franchise just yet.

    • slowclyde86 - May 19, 2014 at 11:53 PM

      What makes you say that? Seriously. Pretty much every single roster move made by the grizzlies since hollinger was brought in was a really good one. Every one. This is an incredibly dumb move by pera. The guy is revealing himself to be a clown. I weep for the grizzlies.

      • antistratfordian - May 20, 2014 at 2:20 AM

        Not good enough, evidently.

      • slowclyde86 - May 20, 2014 at 6:30 AM

        Did hollinger steal your lunch money? Date your girlfriend? This shake up had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with a power play at the top that levien lost. Same thing happened to him in Sacramento and Philly. The owner has lost his mind.

  3. duhwighthoward - May 19, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Analytics in basketball. We didn’t have that when I played, and we still whooped on teams. It’s about talent, effort, chemistry and leadership.

  4. eagles512 - May 19, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Idiotic move

  5. spursareold - May 19, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    Poor people are ‘weird’. Rich people are ‘eccentric’. Definitely an eccentric move.

    I know that Pera is the owner and can do what he wants, but when you fundamentally change the philosophy of your organization like the Grizz did, it doesn’t always work in one year.

    • antistratfordian - May 19, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      Poor eccentrics are called artists.

  6. elcaminobilly - May 19, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    I suspect he may be regretting canning Lionel Hollins.

  7. 00maltliquor - May 20, 2014 at 5:26 AM

    3:06 pm: What do the four teams in the NBA’s conference Finals have in common? Front office stability. They’ve had a plan, stuck with that plan.

    Truest words ever spoken. Same goes for coaching staff AND core players. And that goes for ANY team. I mean the dang Bobcats can be contenders (although maybe 2nd tier) if they kept the same core for 5 years or so. Problem is is that everyone is impatient and people shake things up waaay too drastically every year or every other year.

    Let’s look no further then GSW. I bet Steve Kerr will make a fine NBA coach, I’m not doubting him, but they definitely took a step back in an NBA world that has such a small window of potential success.

  8. azarkhan - May 20, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    “this year the Grizzlies were one-and-done (although they pushed the Thunder seven games, the deep West is unfair like that).”

    The NBA is unfair like that, since Adam Silver suspended Zach Randolph for Game 7. Now we’ll never know if the Grizzlies could have beaten the Thunder.

  9. imakcds - May 20, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    I wonder if the Grizzlies have and use computerized statistics to grade CEO’s and GM’s…

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