Owned: The Chris Wallace story

Look I understand the Grizzlies are the joke of the league right now. We have made some absolutely nonsensical moves i the past couple years beginning with the Pau Gasol trade and ending with, most recently, giving away Hakim Warrick. But could someone please tell the media to stop criticizing Chris Wallace like he is some fool who couldn't tell a basketball from a grapefruit? Chris Wallace is no idiot. He is Michael Heisley's axe man, his fall man.

Remember that book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man that made a little buzz a few years ago? The author John Perkins claimed that the NSA hired him to do everything necessary to trick Third World nations into dependency on the industrialized world, namely the United States. According to his account, the author was allowed to use whatever means necessary to cripple these emerging nations: rigged elections, bribery, extortion, whatever it took to get the job done covertly.

It's easy for the national media to cast Chris Wallace in this light, either villifying him or marginalizing his intelligence because of what he's done to the Grizzlies roster. Wallace is the one who steps up to the podium to announce trades, and most GMs around the league do honestly run their teams. Yes, the owner always has to approve moves, but that typically entails a quick signature. Wallace puts himself out there just by wearing the GM's nametag for a club so devoid of coherent direction.

The problem with criticizing Wallace is that he isn't in control of the team. Note that essentially every Grizzlies rumor this season has noted that there was a split between the opinions of the basketball end of management and the ownership. Also note that the ownership has had their way in each of these rumors--Thabeet, Randolph, and Warrick--with the exception of signing Allen Iverson. For now.

I don't care if John Hollinger and the entire crew from www.82games.com were the co-GMs of Grizzlies, they would get the same results. Michael Heisley calls the shots in Memphis's front office now, and until the "young core" is ready to compete at a high level, which will be at least few years, Wallace is going to be Hanoi Hannah. It's not like Wallace has the ability to tell Heisley "No." And it's not like he's going to quit in protest; a lot of good that would do since half the league and fans considers him a dunce. He wouldn't find another job and wouldn't even garner significant sympathy from parties powerful enough to make Heisley change.

The main problem is that nobody has power in this situation besides, maybe, Stern and the NBA. Fans can't boycott because nobody goes to games already and Heisley makes his cash off trade considerations and league money anyhow. Note that he wanted to sell the team, couldn't find any takers, realized how much cash he could make laundering cap space, and now we don't hear a peep about a sale even though he's clearly not interested in improving the appeal of the team. Other owners won't do anything, having Heisley around to facilitate their team's development is a major perk. Cuban criticized the Pau Gasol trade, but happily paid the Grizzlies to 'third-team' their recent acquisition of Sean Marion. Finally Wallace, trapped just as much or more than any other party, has no option but to suffer through being handsomely paid to dismantle the team's chances for the next few years one press conference at a time.

And because of it all, Grizzlies fans have an excellent read to look forward to. I'm thinking: Confessions of An NBA Hit Man. What, not creative enough?

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