Report: Grizzlies to keep Chris Wallace while seeking his replacement as general manager

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When the Grizzlies shook up their front office last month, they moved Chris Wallace back in charge of basketball operations.

The first question: Wallace still worked for Memphis?

Yes. Even after the Grizzlies hired Jason Levien as CEO and John Hollinger as Vice President of Basketball Operations, they kept Wallace as general manager – just with severely diminished responsibilities.

Now, they plan to keep him charge for a bit longer.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The Memphis Grizzlies are poised to remove the “interim” tag from general manager Chris Wallace while conducting a search to hire a “GM-in-waiting” who will train under Wallace, multiple sources told ESPN.com.

The team hasn’t formalized his role with a new contract as yet but has begun the process of interviewing candidates to become his right-hand assistant.

The Grizzlies have cast a wide net in looking for a new hire, targeting some young executives on other teams. Memphis asked for permission to speak with Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM Michael Winger, sources said, but Winger declined the interview because he is happy with the Thunder.

To be clear, Wallace doesn’t have an “interim” label as general manager. He’s been general manager all along. Only his status atop the basketball-operations department was regarded as “interim. But that’s mostly semantics.

On relevant issues, Wallace isn’t at the forefront of the analytics movement. Based on owner Robert Pera’s previous moves, that doesn’t make Wallace a perfect fit.

But Wallace knows how to run a front office and work with people. If the Grizzlies find a good stats-savvy executive who doesn’t over-emphasize numbers, they could get the best of both worlds. Let him learn the trade under Wallace while providing valuable input. Then, ideally, the new hire will have learned skills and be ready to shine on his own in due time.

Wallace will do well enough for now. They key is using his experience to better position the Grizzlies under their next general manager.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.