The Memphis Grizzlies employed Chris Wallace in 2007 as the organization’s new general manager, and he helped the Grizzlies select the now-iconic Mike Conley in the draft that year. That’s when the Grizzlies’ upward trend began.
Now, more than ten years later, Memphis Grizzlies fans and local media like Geoff Calkins of the Commercial Appeal are demanding for the Grizzlies to fire Wallace.
Where did his career with the Grizzlies take a downward spiral to get to this point?
The first that comes to mind is the infamous Hasheem Thabeet pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, which was one of Wallace’s worst moments. In addition, it’s worth noting the other notorious 2008 trade executed by Wallace to trade Memphis’ Kevin Love for Minnesota’s O.J. Mayo.
However, it seems the breaking point came for Memphis fans this past week during the NBA trade deadline. Tyreke Evans, former Memphis Tiger and current star for the tanking Grizzlies, had been benched for several games in hopes of protecting his trade value.
Anyone who had been paying the least bit of attention to the Grizzlies expected for Tyreke Evans to be shipped out of Memphis for a first-round pick or at worst a couple second-round picks in a trade. After the deadline, it was leaked that the Grizzlies received offers for multiple second-round picks, but Wallace wanted more for Evans. The main problem is that Evans will be a free agent this summer, and the Grizzlies probably can’t afford to keep him from a financial perspective.
Also, the Grizzlies are fighting for a lottery pick right now instead of playoff positioning. Tyreke Evans will help Memphis win games, when they really need to be losing them for a better position in the draft.
As a result, everyone was outraged when Tyreke Evans was still a Memphis Grizzly as the trade deadline passed. Instead, the Grizzlies waived Brandan Wright this past weekend, and they traded James Ennis to the Detroit Pistons for Brice Johnson and 2022 second-round pick.
While picking Thabeet in the draft was Wallace’s biggest failure, sitting pat at this trade deadline while keeping Evans is a close second.
The Memphis Grizzlies can’t allow Wallace to keep trying to transform obscure players into the next Dirk Nowitzki or Draymond Green, as he has repeatedly failed at in the past. With the unstable future that the Memphis Grizzlies have in front of them, they need a general manager who can make smart trades and make promising picks in the upcoming drafts.
Unfortunately, Wallace’s past decisions have affected not only this team’s present but also their future in more ways than one. While he brought in players like Mike Conley and Tony Allen, he also has had more duds in the draft than I’d like to count. Now, Memphis is in a position to compete not for playoff position but instead for a draft pick, and they must have the right management at the helm to make the decisions this summer.
Chris Wallace symbolizes the good and bad of Memphis’ past, and in order for the Grizzlies move forward, they need to fire Wallace. Until then, they’re stuck in the shadow of the “Grit and Grind” era and looking back on lots of “what ifs.”