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The problem and solution is Robert Pera

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Both on and off the court, the Grizzlies are again struggling with no end at sight. To achieve direction, the focus should start at the top.

NBA All-Star Celebrity Game NBA All -Star Weekend 2015 Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images

Too Many men

Too Many People

Making Too Many Problems

And not much love to go round

Cant you see

This is the Land of Confusion

This is the world we live in

And these are the hands we’re given

Use them and let’s start trying

To make it a place worth fighting for.


If the words look familiar and your head is starting to move to the beat, its natural. This is the main chorus from the song “Land of Confusion”, from the band Disturbed. However, it could easily be seen as a cryptic tweet from anyone connected with the Memphis Grizzlies franchise over the past few weeks. For an organization with “Wrestling Night” as its featured promotion this season, if the Grizzlies’ were an actual wrestling faction, this song would fit perfectly as their entrance music.

There certainly has been a disturbing trend of distractions for the Grizzlies off the court recently (no pun intended). The botched Kelly Oubre trade, locker room altercations, and the Chandler Parsons separation all indicate a franchise full of chaos and concerns. Along with a 6-17 record over the past 23 games, this holiday season has been a myriad of misfortune in Memphis.

While these types of occurrences may seem to have just popped up over the past few years, the symptoms of ineptitude have been present for a while. Yes, Chris Wallace and the front office should be commended for playing a significant role in constructing the Grit and Grind era. However, while that era made many identify the Grizzlies as a structure of success and stability, it also casts a shadow over a flawed foundation that was set to crumble in time.

This is where the confusion lies. How could the Grizzlies go from a consistent playoff contender to a lottery lock so quickly?

The answer to this is simple. The Grizzlies’ unwavering loyalty to the philosophy and players that made it successful in the past has transitioned from an asset to a liability. The GNG philosophy maximized the skill sets of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen in their primes. Naturally, the overall abilities of these players reduced with age. Therefore, as the players became less effective, so did the philosophy.

Unfortunately, Chris Wallace has proven his steadfast commitment to what worked in the past takes priority over building for the future. Over the years, Wallace has shown the inability to draft and develop young players or to embrace faster-paced, offensive focused coaching philosophies.

This has left Memphis jogging in place as the rest of the league runs circles around them. Wallace had a successful summer bringing in youth and talent: Unfortunately, his stubborn mentality to stick with J.B. Bickerstaff and the slow-paced, dominate with defense ideal remains.

Collectively, the play of the Grizzlies Core Four hid the ineffectiveness of Wallace for years. Now that the team is no longer a shroud of success that hides his miscues, Wallace’s true impact can be seen. While there is hope for a future with the youth on the roster, the franchise continues to falter in the present.

Wallace’s faults have certainly been a significant source of the Grizzlies’ struggles in recent years. However, the sole person to blame for the Grizzlies current status is owner Robert Pera.

I want to preface this by saying I feel Pera is a decent owner overall. He seems to love basketball, and has made a commitment the to the Grizzlies and the city of Memphis. He proved that when he bought out two minority owners in April to take on more overall ownership of the franchise. While I certainly do not question Pera’s reasons for being an owner, I emphatically object to his methods.

Since Pera became the Grizzlies owner in 2012, the most notable aspect of his tenure has been his absence. By attending a few games a year and the lack of accessibility to local media, he certainly has made it understood he prefers his distance. This was confirmed in June, when Don Wade of the Memphis Daily News reported that Pera stated, “I do not like the spotlight, attention. But I do like building things.”

Perhaps that quote is why Pera has been a man of few words over the years. They do not correlate with his actions. For someone who dislikes the spotlight, participating in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and challenging Michael Jordan and Tony Allen to one-on-one games for charity are odd avenues to take.

Overall, Pera’s preferred level of social interaction is of little consequence. However, his past interactions with the Grizzlies directly have been far from productive. From suggesting a player-coach opportunity for Mike Miller to encouraging Dave Joerger to coach with a headset, Pera will voice his intentions when he feels the need. While neither of those ideas came to fruition, the fact that they became public knowledge was embarrassing.

Furthermore, Pera has established a recent trend of supporting Wallace. Dave Joerger and David Fizdale led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, respectively. Joerger led a squad that played an NBA record 28 players overall due to injuries, while Fizdale helped Gasol and Conley achieve the best offensive seasons of their individual careers.

Despite the clear value both coaches added to make the team better, past tensions, philosophical differences, and strained relationships with players led to their departures. Because Bickerstaff backed Wallace’s vision and got along with the players, he earned the permanent head coaching job in May. This decision was made despite questions of his coaching ability then that have obviously gotten legitimately louder since.

Memphis Grizzlies v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Through his efforts and his support of Wallace, Pera has not been a benefit to help build things up. He has helped create a barrier that blocks progress. His involvement should help the franchise evolve into something better; instead, he only empowers that which makes it continue to struggle.

In Wade’s article, Pera also stated, in regards to his company Ubitquiti Networks, “With my company, I can make all the decisions on the long-term (plan). I can be kind of a dictator. “

If Pera prefers to make his decisions from a distance, that is perfectly fine. Make them from Beale Street, Silicon Valley, or the Moon, it doesn’t matter. Pera can remain the antithesis of the stereotypical owner if he chooses, but he must personify this simple thesis if he wants the Grizzlies to be successful:

The franchise does not need Pera to be a dictator, and certainly not a distraction: Pera needs to be a source of direction.

If Chris Wallace wants to stand as a soldier to protect and preserve his past success, let him. On his own, without influence over the asset Pera just invested more of his earnings in. As a small market franchise, the Grizzlies must be proactive and direct with their decisions and transactions. This means prioritizing the future while continuing to develop the roster talent in the present without holding onto the past.

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Four Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The irony of this situation for Pera is this idea is the simplest of successful business principles: the application of common sense. For a man with a business acumen that allowed him to reach Forbes’ 10 Youngest Billionaires list at the age of 34, his support of Wallace’s consistent blunders is astonishing.

Just as he stated above in regards to Ubitquiti, Pera needs to make decisions with the Grizzlies long-term plan in mind. If the franchise is struggling on and off the court more now that it has in a decade, those decisions should begin with new day to day leadership for the organization.

Another incentive for immediate change is this Grizzlies’ roster possesses significant potential and future value . Gasol and Conley should remain primary focal points for production to succeed in the present on the court .However, they should not be the sole focal point for roster decisions off the court.

The focal point should be the young core led by Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson, and Dillon Brooks. This is especially true in the case of Jackson Jr. Simply put, Jackson Jr. has the natural talent to be the best player in franchise history. The type of talent that is not consistently underrated like Gasol and Conley, but one whose play can make Memphis an attractive destination for other talent.

Pera and the franchise must recognize that potential, develop it, and build around it. Doing that now gives you the best chance to truly maximize Jackson Jr.’s potential with the Grizzlies. It also allows Memphis to avoid the result of waiting too long to build their roster like other NBA teams are currently experiencing.

The only person Pera has to answer is himself. That is the privilege that comes with being the owner. However, he is far from the only person that deserves this change. The organization, the players, the fans and the city deserve more. They deserve an NBA team that strives to remain relevant and successful.

For Pera, implementing a decision maker who can turn potential into production means profitability for an asset he is heavily invested in. For the fans, it is the move that should be made to show the franchise puts the same passion toward winning as the fans show in support of the team.

Some may not know that the Disturbed version of “Land of Confusion” is actually a cover, as the song was originally performed by the band Genesis. Ironically, that is exactly what this franchise needs, a new beginning. If Wallace is willing to go through the trouble of washing his hands of the clearest indication of his incompetence in Chandler Parsons, Robert Pera should gladly do the same in washing his hands of Chris Wallace.

The old saying goes that no time is better than the present.

The removal of Chris Wallace, and a committed focus on the future from Robert Pera, would be the best present Grizzlies’ fans could ask for.

Follow @sbngrizzlies