Hours after Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace told the media he expected J.B. Bickerstaff to return next season, the franchise reportedly has decided to fire its coach and demote the GM.
ESPN reported Friday afternoon that Bickerstaff has been fired and Wallace reassigned to a “scouting capacity” in the Memphis front office. The Athletic also reported Bickerstaff’s dismissal.
According to ESPN, the team will promote Zach Kleiman to executive vice president of basketball operations and give him control of decision-making while installing Jaxon Wexler as team president.
Earlier in the day, Wallace had met with reporters in Memphis and expressed optimism about the future of the franchise, including Bickerstaff.
“J.B. and his staff did a great job keeping everybody together and improving both individually and team-wise down the stretch,” he said, according to the Commercial Appeal.
Wallace added that when it came to his own job, he was “not really worried about my situation at all.”
Chris Wallace, about 5 hours ago, when asked about his status as Grizzlies GM and his relationship with Robert Pera:
“I’m very comfortable here and comfortable working with him and really not worried about my situation at all.”
— Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) April 11, 2019
Apparently he should have been.
Wallace, who spent 10 years as GM of the Celtics, joined the Grizzlies in 2007 and has had varying degrees of control over basketball operations since then.
Bickerstaff, 40, took over in Memphis after David Fizdale was fired in November 2017 and went 48-97 as Memphis’ coach. The Grizzlies posted an 11-win improvement this season, to 33-49, but that obviously wasn’t enough for owner Robert Pera.