Bear necessity for Griz is GM deal
Posted: Monday, June 21, 2010 4:23 pm
By: By ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press Writer
MEMPHIS (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace has signed a multiyear contract extension that gives the team continuity among its leadership.
The team announced Sunday that Wallace had agreed to the deal, though neither the Grizzlies nor Wallace would discuss its length or financial terms. The team also signed coach Lionel Hollins to a three-year contract in April.
“It’s always good to get a contract,” Wallace said after a pre-draft workout Sunday. “My family and I are very happy here in Memphis. We love this city, love to be here a long time running. And the team made real strides last year.”
Wallace watched six players audition for the Grizzlies, including Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson, West Virginia forward Devin Ebanks and Mississippi guard Terrico White, who is from Memphis.
The GM said the team plans a few more workouts this week. The Grizzlies have the 12th, 25th and 28th picks in the first round of Thursday’s draft.
There’s a lot of work to be done before then, including investigating trade options, he said.
“Every draft is critical, even if you just have the 60th pick,” Wallace said. “It’s a great opportunity for us with these three picks to come up with players that can play now, and future assets as well.”
Wallace has worked as a scout, director of player personnel and general manager for seven teams over a 23-year career. He was the Boston Celtics’ general manager before he was hired by the Grizzlies in 2007.
Wallace has been involved in three of the team’s most pivotal transactions. He traded forward Pau Gasol to the Lakers — where he has become a two-time NBA champion — for a package that included the draft rights to Gasol’s brother, Marc.
He also engineered the draft-day deal that brought guard O.J. Mayo to Memphis in 2008. In July 2009, he traded journeyman Quentin Richardson to Portland for forward Zach Randolph, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last winter and made the All-Star team.
Last season, the once-woeful Grizzlies were part of the playoff picture before folding down the stretch. They were 40-42, falling just short of their first .500 season since 2006 and posting the second best improvement in wins behind Oklahoma City.
The Grizzlies are 86-160 with Wallace as GM.
Wallace said he was proud of the acquisitions of Mayo, Marc Gasol and forward Darrell Arthur, and the drafting of guard Mike Conley and center Hasheem Thabeet.
Thabeet started just 13 games as the second overall pick in 2009 and was assigned to the NBA Development League for six games, but Wallace thinks Thabeet “is going to bear fruit.”
“Zach Randolph made a big difference for us too,” Wallace said. “That was a highlight. He had a huge impact on us.”
“Every pitcher, there’s a few fastballs they throw that they’d like to have back; I’m not going to tell you which ones though,” Wallace said, laughing. “But in this business, that happens to everybody.”
Wallace had some company as he observed the draft hopefuls.
Mayo and Kentucky coach John Calipari watched Patterson, his former player, go through drills. Mayo showed up in street clothes, presumably to see Patterson, his high school teammate in Huntington, W.Va.