Memphis Grizzlies CEO Resigns After Friction With Owner, More May Follow

On Monday, Memphis Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and assistant general manager Stu Lash resigned from their positions. There are reports of conflict within the organization between the owner and the front office, and the futures of VP of basketball operations John Hollinger and head coach Dave Joerger are up in the air as well.

According to Marc Stein at ESPN and Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (by way of Joe Mullinax at SB Nation), there’s been a lot of squabbling behind the scenes between Levien and owner Robert Pera, who has taken a more hands-on approach with the team, conducting end-of-season interviews with players without the involvement of coaches or anyone from the front office.



As a result of these changes, general manager Chris Wallace has assumed interim responsibility of the team’s basketball operations.

On the Grizzlies official website, Pera released the following statement:

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. 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.

Levien had a close working relationship with Lash and John Hollinger, who ran the front office together. So the departure of two of Hollinger’s allies could mean he follows them out the door. If it happens, there may be a trickle down effect for head coach Joerger going forward. The Grizzlies survived a long-term injury to Marc Gasol during the season and a 13-17 start to finish with 50 wins and their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. It was, considering the circumstances, a successful first season for Joerger.

We’ve learned in the past on court success is not the only prerequisite for keeping your job in Memphis. Lionel Hollins led the team to 56 wins and a Western Conference Finals appearance last year, but was let go because of his conflicting views with management. We’ve seen similar scenarios play out elsewhere, most recently between Mark Jackson and the Golden State Warriors.

The Grizzlies head into the offseason with a few roster questions that need to be addressed. Zach Randolph has a $16.5 million player option for next season, which is still up in the air. If he opts out, management will have to decide whether they want to negotiate a long-term deal with a player who is turning 33 in July. In addition, Marc Gasol is entering the last year of his contract, and Mike Miller — who was a key contributor during the regular season and in the playoffs — is a free agent.

These are crucial decisions for the team going forward, but first, they’ll need to get their house in order, and it appears there may be more changes before things settle down in Memphis.

What do you think?

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