MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies fired coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Thursday as part of a front-office shake-up in which general manager Chris Wallace was demoted to a scout.
The Grizzlies announced the moves after both Bickerstaff and Wallace spoke to reporters following a second straight season outside the playoffs. After a 12-5 start, Memphis plummeted and finished 33-49, tied with New Orleans and Dallas.
Wallace had said earlier that Bickerstaff would be returning after doing a "terrific job." But controlling owner Robert Pera didn't agree and restructured the front office a few hours later.
"In order to put our team on the path to sustainable success, it was necessary to change our approach to basketball operations," Pera said in a statement. "I look forward to a re-energized front office and fresh approach to Memphis Grizzlies basketball under new leadership, while retaining the identity and values that have distinguished our team."
Bickerstaff was named interim coach in November 2017 after the Grizzlies fired David Fizdale . He was given the job without the interim title last May. Now Memphis is looking for a fourth head coach since choosing not to renew Lionel Hollins' contract after he led the Grizzlies to their lone Western Conference final appearance in 2013.
Now Jason Wexler will be president of the Grizzlies overseeing both basketball and business operations, and Zachary Z. Kleiman replaces John Hollinger as executive vice president of basketball operations with Hollinger moving to an advisory role. The Grizzlies are keeping former player Tayshaun Prince as a special adviser.
The Grizzlies spent much of the season trying to finish outside the top eight spots in the draft to finally pay off a 2015 midseason trade for Jeff Green that still requires a first-round pick to be sent to Boston. The selection is protected if Memphis finished anywhere from No. 1 to 8 in the draft, and the Grizzlies want to fulfill that obligation this June.
Memphis wound up in a three-way tie with Dallas and New Orleans for the 7-9 position. Whether the Grizzlies land in the ninth position or with the selection protected won't be known until after the May 14 draft lottery.
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