Chris Wallace (basketball)
Wallace began working in the NBA in 1986, and was the general manager of the Boston Celtics for ten seasons. Unlike many of his general manager peers, he has never been a player or coach in the NBA. In 2007, he joined the Grizzlies as their general manager and vice president of basketball operations.
Beginnings in the NBA
Jon Spoelstra gave Wallace his first NBA job with the Portland Trail Blazers. Wallace was Director of Player Personnel for the Miami Heat before coming to Boston. The Heat won a franchise-record 61 games in 1996–97, and Wallace is credited[by whom?] with discovering many of the Heat's players. His responsibilities included college and international scouting and searching for potential talent in the Continental Basketball Association as well as the NBA. Wallace was promoted to that position after four years as a scout for the Heat.
Before joining the Heat, Wallace worked in various scouting capacities for the Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, and New York Knicks. He also worked as a draft consultant for the United States Basketball League.
In 1981, while a student at the University of Kansas, Wallace founded Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, an in-depth preseason guide, which he edited and published until 1996. His work on the publication helped him build a reputation as an expert in the field.
Wallace was hired by the Boston Celtics in 1997, with Miami receiving a second-round draft pick to end his contract and allow him to take the new job, and became general manager for the 2000–01 season. The next season, Wallace made a trade-deadline trade with the Phoenix Suns of Joe Johnson for Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers (among others), which would help get the Celtics to their first Eastern Conference finals in over a decade, but the trade became problematic over the long term when Johnson became a major star with Phoenix and Atlanta, while Rogers left the Celtics after Wallace failed to sign him to a contract extension. Wallace drafted Paul Pierce, who fell to the Celtics with the No. 10 pick in the 1998 NBA draft. He also traded for Vin Baker, who had been signed to a large contract and tied up Boston's salary cap for three years while battling alcoholism. He has been criticized for his draft history and his free-agent signings while the Celtics' GM.
Chris Wallace was hired to replace outgoing president Jerry West for the 2007–08 season. Wallace stated in an initial press conference that his goal was to one day win a championship with the team and head coach Marc Iavaroni. He was brought to work in Memphis just days before the 2007 draft, where the Grizzlies chose point guard Mike Conley, Jr. with the fourth pick. Iavaroni lasted for just over a year as coach before being fired.
Wallace was heavily criticized[by whom?] for trading away the Grizzlies' 27-year-old franchise player, Pau Gasol, to the Los Angeles Lakers on February 1, 2008. In exchange, the Grizzlies received a rookie second-round pick who had not yet played in the NBA (Marc Gasol) and a pair of very low future first-round picks (Lakers' 2008 and 2010). Many fans and sports commentators believed that the Grizzlies did not receive enough talent in return for Gasol and that the deal was a salary dump. The move also puzzled some rivals. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was quoted by Sports Illustrated as saying "What they did in Memphis is beyond comprehension. There should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense. I just wish I had been on a trade committee that oversees NBA trades. I would have voted no to the LA trade."
Despite the initial negative consensus regarding the Gasol trade, Wallace eventually won praise for his work rebuilding the Grizzlies' roster and making the Grizzlies contenders in the West. In 2013, Marc Gasol was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Wallace's role with Memphis diminished after team ownership transferred from Michael Heisley to Robert Pera. In 2012, John Hollinger became Memphis' vice president of basketball operations, with Wallace remaining as GM.
- GRIZZLIES: Grizzlies name Chris Wallace General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations
- Benjamin, Amalie (June 3, 2012). "On the Hot Seat, Erik Spoelstra Has Stayed Cool for Miami Heat". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- GRIZZLIES: Chris Wallace joins Grizzlies as VP, GM
- Chris Wallace leader for Kings GM, by Marc Stein, ESPN.com, June 1, 2013
- Stein, Marc (December 14, 2012). "Grizzlies hire John Hollinger". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on November 13, 2014.