Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace did a Q&A with the team’s official website after the firing of coach Dave Joerger on Saturday. Wallace was light on details, but said that change was necessary and the organization needed its leaders to be committed.
Why did you make this decision to let Dave go?
The decision was made because I believe you need a deeply committed leadership team in order to establish the strong culture needed for sustainable long-term success.
I don’t want to get into specifics, but our goal now is to identify the best candidate for our organization.
Who made this decision? Was Robert Pera involved?
This was my decision. I explained my decision to Robert, just as any GM would to their owner, and he was supportive.
This was not an easy decision for me and as we all know often the right decision isn’t the easy one. But with that said, I am confident that change was necessary to grow the type of culture that is needed for sustained success.
Does this decision have anything to do with Dave’s coaching?
The decision was not about Dave’s in-game coaching. Dave did an admirable job managing games. However, being an NBA head coach is about more than just coaching a 48 minute game.
Questions regarding roster makeup and how that affected on-court performance arose early this season. If the roster makeup was different, i.e. more shooters, would Dave have achieved greater success and still be the head coach?
This decision has nothing to do with our roster.
Listen, it’s no secret that we need shooters. We have been and will keep working tirelessly to build a championship caliber roster. This decision is simply about long-term commitment and building for the future.
The medium here is more interesting than the message. Rather than holding a press conference to announce the news, the Grizzlies sent out a press release then published an interview. This is not standard procedure, and it is mildly concerning when you consider that Joerger has been in Memphis since 2007 and just finished the most difficult, but impressive season of his career. While Wallace was asked more pointed questions than the typical team-website Q&A, surely a group of reporters would have asked him directly about what happened.
CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reported that the front office had “grown tired of his wanderlust and contrarian role in personnel moves,” and Wallace sort of alluded to that. He did not speak directly about Joerger asking for permission to speak to the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings, however. After a significant change for the franchise, these comments from Wallace seem insufficient.