Happy Anniversary to the new Grizzlies Front Office.
It has been a year since the deal closed in late October 2012. The ownership group led by Robert Pera was approved by the NBA vetting process. So, it is time to wish the new group a Happy Anniversary.
It has been a busy year. There have been 32 different players on the Grizzlies roster since the ownership change. There is a new head coach in Dave Joerger, as well as a mostly new coaching staff. There is a new front office, with the primary holdover being GM Chris Wallace.
On November 5th, Robert Pera, new Memphis Grizzlies Chairman and Jason Levien, new Chief Executive Officer, were introduced by NBA commissioner David Stern prior to a game against the Utah Jazz at FedEx Forum. Memphis defeated Utah that night 103-94, ushering in a new era for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The process started in June of 2012, when Robert Pera entered into a purchase agreement to buy the team. As Pera’s business team worked over the next four months to line up other investors and seek the NBA’s approval for the transaction, Jason Levien had an eye on the makeup of the front office, as well as the team, and how he and Pera wanted to see it evolve.
In assembling the front office, CEO Jason Levien was a given, announced long before the approval process was complete. In mid-December, Levien brought in two key components of the new front office — Stu Lash and John Hollinger.
Lash is the team’s Director of Player Personnel and Basketball Development. Hollinger is the Vice President of Basketball Operations, and was well-known as a pioneer in sports analytics from his time at ESPN, formulating their popular player rankings based on Player Efficiency Rating (PER), a stat of his own invention.
Stats guys. Geeks. MoneyBall.
The new guys put their imprint on the team pretty quickly. Out with Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington. In with Jon Leuer. In with questions from the fanbase about cheapness and competency. Out with Rudy Gay and Hammed Haddadi. In with Ed Davis and Tayshaun Prince. In with what turned out to be irreparable damage to the relationship between the front office and the head coach.
Somehow, all this got the team to the Western Conference Finals. But, somehow, all this also got them swept by the San Antonio Spurs. A series that exposed some serious weakness that would need to be addressed in the offseason.
In the offseason, the roster changes did address – at least to some extent – outside shooting, backup point guard, backup center, and roster depth. All that looks good. Feels good. Welcome back Mike Miller. And welcome Koufos and Calathes. Solid.
Also in the offseason, the coaching change that was necessitated by the aforementioned irreparable damage. This looked solid on paper, at least to some. During the preseason, which ended with a couple of very ugly losses to the Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets, questions have crept in. Questions about the coaching change. Questions about the new offensive philosophy and how well is fits the current roster. Big Questions.
Yes, it’s been a busy year. But, it has been a transition year. The 2013-14 season is the first time the new front office had an offseason to prepare. In theory, they have the team they have chosen to go into battle with.
Ch-, ch-, cha-, changes. Turn to face the change, Grizz fans.
There is a new offensive philosophy in place at the urging of the new front office, to be implemented by the new head coach, over the objections of the former head coach. Ch-, ch-, cha-, changes. Turn to face the change, Grizz fans.
With a new front office, there is a lot to learn. With a new head coach, there is a lot to learn.
With a new offensive philosophy and a faster pace, there is a lot to learn. With the same starting five, but an overhauled bench, there is a lot to learn.
Will all this work? Well, for Grizzlies fans, there is a lot to learn.