MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Memphis owner Robert Pera says he made changes in the Grizzlies’ front office this offseason to make sure the organization is headed in the direction he wants it going.
Pera discussed his decision to keep Chris Wallace as his general manager along with other moves in the shake-up Friday during a press conference. It was just his fourth press conference with local reporters since taking over the Grizzlies as controlling owner in November 2012. He covered a variety of topics in a 30-minute session.
The front-office changes started in mid-May when he fired CEO Jason Levien, who help broker Pera’s purchase of the franchise, and assistant general manager Stu Lash. Pera said the franchise had to “put in place a strategy to get us closer to the goal of winning the championship” and said the front office moves should aid in that pursuit.
“I’m perfectly fine on being judged on the results good or bad, and I’m confident the moves we are making now are going to put us in position to achieve some things we haven’t achieved before,” Pera said. “So let’s just see how things play out, and let’s draw conclusions from those results.”
Pera said the decision to retain Wallace, whose role had been reduced under Levien, was an easy one because the general manager is straight forward with lots of integrity. Multiple candidates were considered and interviewed, but Pera said Wallace remained the best man for the job.
“When you are looking at this team in Memphis, I think you’ve got to look at the general manager in two respects. One is the basketball performance. The other I’ve learned with Memphis the past couple of years is this idea of community involvement. And everybody loves Chris in Memphis. He is a special person for the Memphis community.”
Pera said Wallace also was the right choice based on being the architect of a franchise whose cornerstones are Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Gasol will be a free agent after the upcoming season, and signing the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year to an extension now is their top goal.
“It’s his team,” Pera said.
The Grizzlies also added executive vice president of player personnel Ed Stefanski, assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik, director of player development John Townsend and mental endurance coach Trevor Moawad.
Wallace said the Grizzlies are putting a priority on player development and believe mental conditioning is a place to get an edge. Moawad is regarded as an expert in mental conditioning and came to the franchise after leading mental endurance programs for the University of Alabama and Florida State football teams. Alabama and Florida State have won the past three national titles.
“There is a whole mental side, emotional side, that hasn’t been tapped into,” Wallace said. “Trevor Moawad has done a great job under coach Nick Saban at Alabama for a number of years and there’s no coach in team sports in this country that’s better at finding edges and tapping into them than coach Saban, so you have to pay attention to what he’s doing.”
Stefanski has worked with the New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and most recently the Toronto Raptors.
“This is the first time I’ve come to a franchise that has players,” Stefanski said. “Every place I’ve been it’s been a rebuild.”
Coach Dave Joerger, who got his own contract extension from Pera earlier this year after interviewing with Minnesota, said he’s looking forward to working with front office veterans Wallace and Stefanski.
“I can’t tell you how many texts and calls I’ve gotten from around the NBA about Chris and Ed as two of the most well-liked and well-respected people in the business,” Joerger said. “To get these two guys together is a great step for our organization.”