Grizzlies Rumors

Grizzlies Notes: Valanciunas, Front Office, Conley

  • Despite rumors that Jonas Valanciunas had to make a decision on player option yesterday, his decision isn’t actually due until June 13, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian confirms (via Twitter). The Grizzlies‘ center is unlikely to match his $17.62MM salary for 2019/20 if he opts out, but he could easily exceed that total number on a longer-term deal, so it’s not clear yet which direction he’ll go.
  • A team source tells Herrington that the Grizzlies are expected to make more front offices hires even after adding Rich Cho and Glen Grunwald on Wednesday.
  • Veteran point guard Mike Conley wants to play for a championship contender, and it’s not clear whether that can happen in Memphis anytime soon. Still, the Grizzlies have to do what’s best for the franchise, not necessarily what’s best for Conley, as they weigh major roster decisions this offseason, writes Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Grizzlies Hire Rich Cho, Glen Grunwald

The Grizzlies are adding two former NBA general managers to their front office, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPNRich Cho, a former GM with both the Hornets and Trail Blazers, will now serve as the Grizzlies’ Vice President of Basketball Strategy, while former Knicks and Raptors’ executive Glen Grunwald has been hired as a Senior Advisor. The team officially announced the news earlier this evening.

Woj previously noted that the Grizzlies were still looking for some more experienced basketball executives to work alongside (or perhaps below) Jason Wexler and Zach Kleiman, who were promoted last week to head of basketball operations and VP of basketball operations, respectively.

Accordingly, It’s likely that today’s moves will end the Grizzlies’ front office rebuild that began with the demotion of former head of basketball operations Chris Wallace, given both Cho’s and Grunwald’s basketball acumen.

As noted by Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian, Cho’s time in Charlotte coincided with Kleiman’s internship with the franchise while he was a law student at Duke University. Interestingly, Kleiman also did a summer internship with the Knicks in 2008 while Grunwald was in New York.

Those two connections, together with Kleiman being quoted in the official release from the team, make it seem likely that he, and not Wexler, may be the executive with whom Cho and Grunweld will primarily work, leaving Wexler to continue dealing with his responsibilities as president of business operations.

Herrington also adds that Grunwald will work remotely from Canada, where he currently (and still will) serves as the President and CEO of Canada Basketball.

NBA Teams That Can’t Trade/Acquire Cash Until July

During each NBA league year, teams face limits on the amount of cash they can send out and receive in trades. Once they reach those limits, they’re no longer permitted to include cash in a deal until the following league year.

For the 2018/19 NBA season, the limit is $5,243,000. The limits on sending and receiving cash are separate and aren’t dependent on one another, so if a team has sent out $5,243,000 in trades and also received $5,243,000 in separate deals, they don’t have a clean slate — they’ve reached both limits for the season.

Thanks to reporting by cap experts like Bobby Marks, Eric Pincus, and Albert Nahmad, we’ve been able to keep tabs on the cash sent and received in trades by teams during the 2018/19 NBA league year, so we have a pretty clear idea of each club’s flexibility heading into the draft.

Being able to send or receive cash on draft day is particularly useful, since it can provide a simple means of acquiring – or moving – a second-round pick. A year ago, five of the trades agreed upon in June that featured 2018 draft picks included cash.

Of course, three of those five trades weren’t actually completed until July, which highlights a simple way to work around these restrictions. A team that can’t send or receive cash at this year’s draft could still technically agree to a deal involving cash, then officially finalize it sometime after July 1, when the cash limits reset for the 2019/20 league year.

Still, the 2018/19 restrictions are worth noting, since in some cases a player’s changing cap figure or contract status can make it impossible to wait until July to make a trade official.

With that in mind, here are some of the limitations facing teams until July 1:

Ineligible to receive cash:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Toronto Raptors

The Hornets reached their limit less than a week until the 2018/19 league year, having received $5MM from the Nets in their Dwight Howard trade and $243K from the Thunder in a deal involving Hamidou Diallo.

As for the Bulls, they reached their yearly limit in three separate transactions, acquiring approximately $2.63MM in a pair of swaps with the Rockets involving Michael Carter-Williams and Carmelo Anthony. Chicago then received another $2.61MM from the Thunder in a Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot salary dump.

Based on the reported figures for the Raptors ($5MM from the Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard blockbuster, plus $110K apiece from the Sixers and Nets in deadline deals), they could technically acquire another $23K. However, $110K is the minimum amount of cash a team can include in a trade this season, so Toronto can’t actually acquire any more.

Outside of these three teams, every NBA club is eligible to acquire at least $2MM before July. The Magic ($2,226,778), Sixers ($2,743,000), Mavericks ($3,148,049), and Hawks ($3,187,090) are most limited.

Ineligible to send cash:

  • None

No NBA teams have reached their limits for sending out cash this season, though some are close.

The Nets ($243,000) and Spurs ($243,000) can barely trade any cash after sending out $5MM in deals last July. The Thunder ($411,294) and Rockets ($565,513) are also nearly tapped out, having made a handful of moves aimed at reducing – or in Houston’s case, eliminating – their luxury tax bills.

The Wizards ($2,365,456), Grizzlies ($2,660,069), and Celtics ($2,737,090) are also somewhat limited in their ability to trade cash, but no other teams have less than $3MM available.

Poll: Most Appealing NBA Front Office Opening

On Tuesday, we asked which NBA head coaching vacancy looks like the most appealing, and so far, the Lakers are the pick. Despite all the drama in Los Angeles, the Lakers’ basketball situation still appears to be more favorable than that of the Grizzlies or Cavaliers.

The Lakers are also one of four teams with an opening at the top of their front office. In the wake of Magic Johnson‘s resignation, general manager Rob Pelinka is running the show in L.A., but there’s an expectation that the team will eventually hire someone to join him at the top of that hierarchy. It remains to be seen whether that means hiring a new president of basketball operations or perhaps promoting Pelinka and hiring someone underneath him.

Either way, a high-ranking job in the Lakers’ front office would be an intriguing one. Despite the team’s struggles in 2018/19, L.A. still has one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players (LeBron James) under contract for at least two more seasons and has the cap flexibility to pursue another star this summer. Some of the Lakers’ young players, such as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, saw their value dip a little in recent months for health-related reasons, but there’s still a solid core of young players on the roster who could be dangled in trade talks or who could be contributors on the Lakers’ next playoff team.

The Grizzlies are another team in the market for a high-ranking basketball executive, though as in the case of the Lakers, it’s not clear exactly what that exec’s role would be. After demoting Chris Wallace, the Grizzlies announced that president of business operations Jason Wexler would oversee basketball operations too, with Zach Kleiman elevated to executive VP of basketball operations.

Neither Wexler nor Kleiman – who has a law background – is a true basketball executive, however. Presumably, the club will target a candidate with more of a background in player evaluation, scouting, and personnel decisions to join them in a key front office role. And that role could be an interesting one — Jaren Jackson looks like a keeper, and Mike Conley is a borderline All-Star who could be retained or traded. Owing a first-round pick to the Celtics is a nuisance, but once that pick is conveyed, Memphis would be in position to launch a full-fledged rebuild, allowing a new exec to help put his stamp on the team.

The Wizards‘ and Timberwolves‘ searches for new additions to their respective front offices appear more straightforward. Washington is seeking a replacement for Ernie Grunfeld, the team’s top decision-maker for years, and Minnesota publicly announced that it’s on the lookout for a new president of basketball operations.

In some ways, the Wizards’ and Timberwolves’ situations are similar. Each team has one overpriced long-term contract that may be a cap burden going forward – John Wall in Washington and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota – but the presence of an All-Star (Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal) at least gives each franchise some hope.

Having players like Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Josh Okogie locked up in Minnesota may appeal to front office candidates. Of course, in D.C., only Wall, Beal, and Troy Brown are under contract beyond the 2019/20 season, which might be intriguing to a candidate looking for a bit more of a clean slate. Plus, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis probably has a better league-wide reputation than Glen Taylor, who has been known to get involved in the Wolves’ basketball decisions.

What do you think? Assuming the roles are relatively similar, and taking into account rosters, assets, and ownership situations, which of these four front office positions looks the most appealing to you?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Most Appealing NBA Head Coaching Opening

As our head coaching search tracker shows, there are currently three NBA head coaching jobs up for grabs. That number looked like it might get as high as five early in the offseason, but the Kings quickly replaced Dave Joerger with Luke Walton, while the Timberwolves appear likely – for now – to retain interim coach Ryan Saunders.

That leaves three teams in the market for a head coach. The most noteworthy club in that group is the Lakers, who are undergoing some upheaval in the front office as well after Magic Johnson‘s abrupt resignation.

Walton was originally hired in Los Angeles to help develop the team’s group of young prospects, and he was doing a decent job of that before the 2018/19 season rolled around. Once LeBron James joined the Lakers, expectations changed for Walton and the team, and like David Blatt in Cleveland, he was no longer viewed as the right man for the job.

Coaching James isn’t an easy job, and the Lakers are in disarray at the moment, but they’re still the Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in any sport. And of the three teams seeking head coaches, they’re the closest to contention, particularly if they’re able to land a second star to pair with LeBron on the trade market or in free agency this summer. That should make the job appealing to veteran coaches, particularly those with previous head coaching experiences.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, will likely be in the market for a younger, up-and-coming coach who has a strong player-development background and perhaps extensive experience as an assistant as well.

With LeBron no longer around in Cleveland, the Cavaliers are still in the relatively early stages of a full-fledged rebuild, with building blocks like Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance, and a top-six pick in 2019 making up the future core. Since contention isn’t an immediate priority, the Cavs will want to find their own version of Kenny Atkinson or Lloyd Pierce, who can grow along with the team’s young players.

As for the Grizzlies, they might be somewhere in the middle. As long as Mike Conley is still on the roster, the team won’t be entering a full-fledged rebuild. But there’s no guarantee that the new decision-makers in the front office won’t trade Conley this season, kick-starting a rebuild centered around Jaren Jackson.

None of these jobs necessarily represents a perfect situation for a new head coach. The Lakers haven’t been to the postseason since 2013, their president of basketball operations just quit on the team, and no NBA player has more power than LeBron. The Cavs’ roster isn’t exactly loaded with talent, and Dan Gilbert doesn’t have a reputation as one of the league’s best owners. The Grizzlies just fired head coach J.B. Bickerstaff hours after since-demoted general manager Chris Wallace assured reporters that Bickerstaff would be back for 2019/20.

What do you think? Which of these head coaching openings looks most appealing? And would the Kings have been your pick if they hadn’t filled their vacancy so quickly?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Coaching Search Could Take Awhile

  • The Grizzlies may be more focused on front office hires than filling their head coaching vacancy, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. J.B. Bickerstaff was fired and head of basketball operations Chris Wallace was re-assigned to a scouting position last week. Jason Wexler was promoted to team president and Zach Kleiman was named executive VP of basketball operations. “Trending that way,” Wexler told Cobb about the need to fill out the front office before hiring a coach. “But at the same time, I’m not definitely saying that we’ll have a full front office as we move through the coaching search. There will be a little bit of dual-tracking, but focusing a little bit more heavily on the front office out of the gate.” There’s been no talk yet about potential candidates, as we detail in our Head Coaching Search Tracker.

2019 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker

So far this spring, we have yet to see the sort of NBA head coaching turnover we got a year ago, when eight teams made changes. However, a handful of clubs have parted ways – mutually or otherwise – with their head coaches since the end of the 2018/19 regular season.

In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.

Updated 4-16-19 (11:57am CT)

Active Searches:

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Out: Larry Drew (story)
  • Expected to interview: Juwan Howard (story), Jamahl Mosley (story), Alex Jensen (story), David Vanterpool (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Jordi Fernandez (story), Nate Tibbetts (story), Wes Unseld Jr. (story), Darvin Ham (story)
  • Although Drew did an admirable job in difficult circumstances with the Cavaliers in 2018/19 after taking over for Tyronn Lue six games into the season, he never seemed to want the job on a permanent basis. He and the Cavs agreed to part ways at season’s end, and the team is now exploring the NBA assistant and college ranks in the hopes of hiring a coach with a strong background in player development.

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Out: Luke Walton (story)
  • Expected to interview: Tyronn Lue (story), Monty Williams (story), Juwan Howard (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Mark Jackson (story)
  • Even after Magic Johnson‘s resignation as president of basketball operations, the Lakers decided to make a head coaching change. General manager Rob Pelinka is running the search for Walton’s replacement in the absence of a president of basketball ops.

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Out: J.B. Bickerstaff (story)
  • Rumored candidates or targets: None
  • The Grizzlies‘ front office is in a state of upheaval as well, as veteran general manager Chris Wallace was re-assigned to the scouting department as the same time as Bickerstaff was dismissed. No names have really emerged yet as candidates to replace Bickerstaff, so perhaps Memphis will focus first on finalizing its new-look front office before hiring a new head coach.

Completed Searches:

Sacramento Kings

  • Out: Dave Joerger (story)
  • In: Luke Walton (story)
  • Also considered: Ettore Messina (story), Monty Williams (story)
  • Just two days after they fired Joerger and one day after Walton officially left the Lakers, the Kings reached an agreement to hire Walton as their head coach on a contract that will run through the 2022/23 season. The expedited process reflected the fact that Walton was the No. 1 choice on Vlade Divac‘s wish list, as the recently-extended Kings GM wasted no time in going after his top target. Originally hired by the Lakers to focus on developing their young prospects, Walton should be tasked with a similar role in Sacramento.

2019 NBA Draft Order Tiebreaker Results

The NBA’s draft order is determined by the league’s reverse standings for that year, with the first four spots in the draft up for grabs via the lottery. However, when two teams finish the season with identical records, an additional step is necessary.

In order to determine which of those tied teams will move ahead of the other(s) in the draft order, the NBA conducts tiebreakers via random drawings. The league completed the random drawings for 2019’s tiebreakers today, and we have the results below. Let’s dive in…

Tiebreaker No. 1:

  • Teams: Phoenix Suns vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63)
  • Draft positions: 2-3
  • Winner: Cavaliers

Tiebreaker No. 2:

  • Teams: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks vs. Memphis Grizzlies (33-49)
  • Draft positions: 7-9
  • Winner: Pelicans
  • Second place: Grizzlies
  • Note: Grizzlies’ pick will go to Celtics if it falls outside top eight; Mavericks’ pick will go to the Hawks if it falls outside top five.

Tiebreaker No. 3:

  • Teams: Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets (39-43)
  • Draft positions: 12-14
  • Winner: Hornets
  • Second place: Heat
  • Note: Kings’ pick belongs to Celtics (or Sixers if it’s No. 1).

Tiebreaker No. 4:

  • Teams: Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic (42-40)
  • Draft positions: 16-17
  • Winner: Magic

Tiebreaker No. 5:

  • Teams: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs vs. Indiana Pacers (48-34)
  • Draft positions: 18-20
  • Winner: Pacers
  • Second place: Spurs
  • Note: Clippers’ pick belongs to Celtics.

Tiebreaker No. 6:

  • Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Boston Celtics (49-33)
  • Draft positions: 21-22
  • Winner: Thunder

Tiebreaker No. 7:

  • Teams: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets (53-29)
  • Draft positions: 25-26
  • Winner: Trail Blazers
  • Note: Rockets’ pick belongs to Cavaliers.

Teams’ lottery odds didn’t really change as a result of today’s tiebreakers. In instances where two or more lottery teams finish with identical records, the lottery combinations are split evenly among them, with the tiebreaker winner getting one extra combination if there’s an odd number.

However, today’s results were still important. As a result of ending up at No. 8, for instance, the Grizzlies now have a 57.4% chance of retaining their own top-eight protected pick, something they don’t really want to do unless it jumps into the top four.

The Celtics, who already have three first-round selections for 2019 and would prefer to roll that Memphis pick over to 2020, will get it if it falls outside of the top eight. There’s only a 42.6% chance that will happen. The Grizzlies’ result was the only good news today for the Celtics, who lost their other three tiebreakers.

The pre-lottery 2019 draft order for the first round is listed below. For more information on the lottery odds for the top 14 teams, be sure to check out our recap from Thursday, as well as our glossary entry on the draft lottery. This year’s lottery will take place on Tuesday, May 14.


  1. New York Knicks
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Phoenix Suns
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Atlanta Hawks
  6. Washington Wizards
  7. New Orleans Pelicans
  8. Memphis Grizzlies
    • Note: The Celtics will receive this pick if it falls out of the top eight (42.6% chance).
  9. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks)
    • Note: The Mavericks will keep this pick if it moves up into the top four (26.2% chance).
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves
  11. Los Angeles Lakers
  12. Charlotte Hornets
  13. Miami Heat
  14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings)
    • Note: The Sixers will receive this pick if it moves up to No. 1 (1.0% chance).
  15. Detroit Pistons
  16. Orlando Magic
  17. Brooklyn Nets
  18. Indiana Pacers
  19. San Antonio Spurs
  20. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers)
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder
  22. Boston Celtics
  23. Utah Jazz
  24. Philadelphia 76ers
  25. Portland Trail Blazers
  26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets)
  27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets)
  28. Golden State Warriors
  29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors)
  30. Milwaukee Bucks

Information from Tankathon.com was used in the creation of this post.

Grizzlies’ C.J. Miles Opts In For 2019/20

Grizzlies sharpshooter C.J. Miles has exercised the player option on his contract for the 2019/20 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Miles had informed Peter Edmiston of The Athletic (Twitter link) on Thursday that he intended to opt in.

The decision locks in Miles’ $8,730,158 salary for next season, putting him on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2020.

Miles’ decision doesn’t come as a surprise, since the 32-year-old struggled mightily in 2018/19, turning in his worst season in a decade. He’s also not healthy at the moment, having been ruled out for the season last month due to a stress reaction in his left foot.

The 14-year veteran, who started the season with the Raptors, was sent to the Grizzlies as part of the package for Marc Gasol in February. In total, Miles appeared in 53 games (16.2 MPG) for Memphis and Toronto, averaging just 6.4 PPG on .360/.330/.828 shooting. In his previous six seasons entering this year, he had averaged 11.2 PPG and shot 37.5% on three-pointers.

Depending on which direction the Grizzlies go this summer, it’s possible the club will look to move on from Miles via trade or buyout. If he returns to Memphis, the veteran swingman will look to compete for minutes on the wing.

With Miles’ $8.7MM+ salary locked in, the Grizzlies now have approximately $86.6MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season, per Basketball Insiders. Given that Jonas Valanciunas looks like a decent bet to pick up his $17.62MM player option as well, Memphis projects to be an over-the-cap team this offseason, barring cost-cutting moves.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Grizzlies Fire J.B. Bickerstaff, Re-Assign Chris Wallace

3:44pm: The Grizzlies have sent out a press release officially confirming Bickerstaff’s firing and the front office changes detailed below.

“In order to put our team on the path to sustainable success, it was necessary to change our approach to basketball operations,” Pera said in a statement. “I look forward to a re-energized front office and fresh approach to Memphis Grizzlies basketball under new leadership, while retaining the identity and values that have distinguished our team.

“I want to thank Chris and John for their long-term service and dedication to the Memphis Grizzlies and for their considerable contributions to our past successes, and look forward to their contributions to our future ones. I also want to thank J.B. for his leadership and commitment to our organization in his time as our coach.”

3:01pm: The Grizzlies are shaking up their front office and coaching staff, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has dismissed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and re-assigned head of basketball operations Chris Wallace to the scouting department. VP John Hollinger will also move to a senior advisory role, Wojnarowski adds.

The Grizzlies will promote Jason Wexler to team president and will have him oversee both the basketball operations and business operations for the franchise, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Wexler had previously been the club’s president of business operations.

According to Wojnarowski, Zach Kleiman – previously an assistant GM – will be elevated to executive VP of basketball operations and will take the lead on day-to-day basketball matters. Memphis will launch a search for a new head coach and will also pursue some more experienced basketball executives to join the front office, sources tell Woj (Twitter link).

The news comes just hours after Wallace addressed local media in his end-of-season press conference, telling reporters that he wasn’t particularly concerned about his job security and that Bickerstaff was expected to return for next season.

It’s not a particularly good look for the Grizzlies, who probably shouldn’t have let Wallace move forward with his end-of-season presser and discuss his plans for Memphis’ future if they intended to do this later in the day. David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal calls it “blatantly disrespectful” (Twitter link), while longtime Grizzlies beat writer Ronald Tillery asserts that team owner Robert Pera “doesn’t care about” Memphis’ fans or players (Twitter link).

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter), Bickerstaff conducted exit meetings with Grizzlies players today, discussing expectations for the summer and ways to improve. Bickerstaff’s own exit meeting with ownership happened afterward.

Bickerstaff, who took over as the Grizzlies’ interim head coach during the 2017/18 season when David Fizdale was fired, led the team to an underwhelming 15-48 record to finish the season. However, Memphis opted to make Bickerstaff the permanent head coach last spring, citing his connection with – and his ability to develop – the team’s players. After posting a 33-49 record in 2018/19, the Grizzlies will now once again be on the lookout for a new head coach.

As for Wallace, this isn’t the first time he has been demoted by Grizzlies ownership. Initially hired as the team’s general manager in 2007, he was displaced in 2012 when Jason Levien assumed control of basketball operations. Wallace regained his front office power in 2014, with mixed results since then.

Prior to selecting Jaren Jackson with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft, Wallace’s first-round selection since ’14 were Jordan Adams, Jarell Martin, and Wade Baldwin. His most notable free agent signing over the last few years was Chandler Parsons, who received a four-year, maximum-salary contract from the Grizzlies and has limited to just 95 games since then due to injuries.

While Wallace’s front office has made a few savvy moves, including netting a first-round pick for Jeff Green, his missteps – such as flipping that first-rounder to Boston for Deyonta Davis and Rade Zagorac – likely outnumbered his successes. Since winning 55 games in 2014/15, Memphis has gone 140-188 in four seasons and hasn’t won a playoff series.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.