HoopsHype Chris Wallace rumors

January 31, 2013 Updates

The Grizzlies issued a statement on the trade late Wednesday, and embarrassingly had "general manager Chris Wallace" throw out the obligatory organizational quotes on the deal. Only, Wallace had nothing to do with the trade. Nothing. He isn't making calls to teams. He isn't consulted by the new regime. He's waiting until they agree on the terms of his inevitable parting. So, Pera and new CEO Jason Levien take an unpopular trade and assign it to Wallace in the news release. Yahoo! Sports

Levien is making these deals based largely on the recommendations of John Hollinger, a statistician who worked for a cable sports company. The San Antonio Spurs once used him as a consultant and regretfully took his advice to sign a free agent named Jackie Butler. It was such a disaster, the Spurs had to attach Luis Scola to a trade to get Butler out of town. Yahoo! Sports

That’s because even before Hollinger’s hiring, the Grizzlies constantly used advanced statistical analysis as part of the process of assessing players and scouting opponents. It’s just that the Grizzlies didn’t receive the attention because there wasn’t a person whose full-time job dealt in the subject. From April of 2009, until he was hired full-time as director of analytics for the Philadelphia 76ers in November, Aaron Barzilai served as a consultant to Chris Wallace and the Grizzlies. Wallace said that analytics are a part of putting together a scouting report on a prospect or a team, but just a piece of the overall big puzzle. Still, he said the importance can’t be understated. “There was no transaction we made whether it was a draft choice or free agency that we didn’t consult Aaron,” Wallace said. “We didn’t go lockstep with all the numbers but at least we let him present his case.” HoopsHype

January 29, 2013 Updates

With more than three months on the job, Levien has begun to transform the Grizzlies with some unexpected additions to his front office staff, tapping long-time business associate Stu Lash to oversee player personnel and long-time sports reporter and advanced analytics guru John Hollinger, formerly from ESPN, as his vice president of basketball operations. "Both guys needed to be recruited a little bit," Levien told USA Today Sports. "I put my agent hat on, but I think both guys were excited." USA Today Sports

Hiring Lash seemed almost inevitable, as he and Levien have a long history together. However, hiring Hollinger away from ESPN was something of a surprise. "I always read his stuff so I sort of knew him from reading his stuff and saying, 'This guy is smart and he writes really well,'" Levien said. "We spent time at the Sloan Conference together (an annual sports analytics conference held by MIT in Boston), and I liked him even more. "I leaned on John when I was an agent a few times to give me advice on how I can use analytics in promoting my clients through negotiation and even in the draft. I understood what he was looking at and what he saw and how that equated to what I was looking at and what I saw. And I said, 'This guy really gets it, he's really sharp.'" USA Today Sports

"If you look at the dynamic of our group, with Jason making the final decision," Lash says, "Chris brings a tremendous amount of experience and he's been here, he's done a great job with the foundation and the core of what this team is. John and myself, having different backgrounds and the transition early on was not very difficult. Chris was very open on how he got to this point with this team and it's been good." It's this kind of synergy of information that Levien envisioned when he brought together his front office. "We definitely have a plan and vision for what the future here looks like," Hollinger said. "I'm sure you want me to share all of it, but unfortunately I can't really disclose USA Today Sports

January 25, 2013 Updates
January 24, 2013 Updates

Yesterday, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Jon Leuer. The deal was essentially a salary dump that gets the Grizzlies out of the luxury tax, putting them approximately $2.2 million under the threshold. Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace admitted that there were financial motivations behind the trade, and also explained why Memphis pulled the trigger on this trade now. “There are financial ramifications for the deal – the luxury tax territory isn’t something that any team takes lightly or wants to get into,” Wallace said. “Every year you’re a taxpayer and then eventually there’s a repeater tax down the road so you want to get out whenever you can. The deal also gives us more flexibility in the future in terms of the trade [exceptions] that we picked up. We picked up an [exception] for every player – Speights, Ellington and Selby – which allows us to do more in a trade. There are some potential basketball benefits.” HoopsWorld

January 23, 2013 Updates
December 18, 2012 Updates
December 14, 2012 Updates

Sources with knowledge of the Grizzlies' thinking insist that this week's hires of ESPN's John Hollinger and veteran agent Stu Lash don't change the status of Grizz general manager Chris Wallace. All three will report to Grizz CEO/managing partner Jason Levien, who has the final say on basketball matters in Memphis under new controlling owner Robert Pera. Yet sources likewise insist that Hollinger will indeed have a prominent voice in personnel matters beyond merely supplying statistical analysis to support decisions. ESPN.com

December 13, 2012 Updates
November 19, 2012 Updates
November 15, 2012 Updates

Ric Bucher: Third time's a charm for Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien. The former agent crossed over to a team front office with the Kings but eventually got squeezed out. Same happened with 76ers where, a source says, coach Doug Collins gave a him-or-me ultimatum. No word on what Levien did or if being bounced was justified, but HC Lionel Hollins and GM Chris Wallace are now officially Test Case #3. Sulia

November 5, 2012 Updates

Levien reiterated during the public press conference that there are no current plans to replace any of the organization's top decision makers, instead suggesting that he and Pera's team would be evaluating what's already in place. “I know Chris [Wallace] and I have a lot of respect for Chris. I'm looking forward to sitting down with them in this process,” Levien said in regard to current vice president of basketball operations Chris Wallace, coach Lionel Hollins, and the rest of the basketball staff. Memphis Flyer

One name not mentioned was Daniel Straus, a New York-based founder and CEO of the health-care company CareOne. I had heard over the weekend that Straus would be part of the group and I spotted a jersey with his name displayed on a table when I entered the press conference, but he was not named and Levien declined afterward to confirm his participation. Memphis Flyer

Pera said he wants to make FedExForum the most technologically advanced arena in the country. He said he wants to use advanced analytics to evaluate players, like the sort used in "Moneyball." He said he wants to build a player-centric culture in Memphis, so players will think of Memphis as a destination. And, yes, at this last one, I rolled my eyes, too. But that's the thing about youth. It tends to dream big. That's supposed to be a good thing, isn't it? Besides, Pera doesn't come across as rash and impulsive, but thoughtful and deliberate. He picked Levien to essentially run the franchise, on the business and basketball sides. The two of them won't make any decisions about Chris Wallace, Greg Campbell or Lionel Hollins until they have a chance to see how the team operates. "We were focused on closing the deal," he said. "We want to learn more." Memphis Commercial Appeal

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