- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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The Memphis Grizzlies announced Tuesday that Chris Wallace has been reinstalled as the team's full-time general manager.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Wallace, who was named interim GM on May 19 when Grizzlies controlling owner Robert Pera unexpectedly removed CEO Jason Levien and assistant general manager Stu Lash, has received a new three-year deal that includes a team option heading into the third season.
"We are very pleased to announce Chris Wallace as our general manager," Pera said in a club statement. "Chris has been at the forefront and a stable presence throughout some of the Grizzlies' greatest successes. His strong bonds and experience, not only within the organization and NBA but also within the Memphis and Mid-South communities, make him the ideal fit to lead our basketball operations. We believe Chris' skills and expertise to be vital in our continued success of our franchise."
Wallace joined the Grizzlies in June 2007 and went on to acquire four Memphis stalwarts: Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen. As interim GM this summer, Wallace helped the Grizzlies sign former All-Star Vince Carter away from Dallas in free agency and selected rookies Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes in the 2014 NBA draft.
"I am honored to remain in Memphis," said Wallace, who was the GM of the Boston Celtics from 1997 to 2007. "I love the city and the community."
After a lengthy search for an understudy to Wallace who could potentially succeed him as the club's lead decision-maker, Memphis also announced Tuesday that it has struck an agreement to hire former Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets executive Ed Stefanski. The search stretched into a third month after multiple candidates withdrew from consideration.
The various changes to his management team that Pera began initiating in May went beyond Levien and Lash, sources say, stretching to include the removal of Grizzlies minority owners Stephen Kaplan and Daniel E. Straus as alternate members of the NBA board of governors.
Kaplan and Straus hold the two biggest ownership shares in the Grizzlies behind Pera, but sources say their removal from the board of governors was noted during recent meetings in Las Vegas. Kaplan and Straus continue to hold their respective stakes in the Grizzlies but no longer have a tangible say within the organization.
Sources say Joseph Abadi, Pera's New York-based personal corporate lawyer, has largely assumed oversight of team affairs and conducted Memphis' interviews for the job that ultimately went to Stefanski, who will work with Wallace on personnel matters but in a lesser role than some candidates interviewed for with the Grizzlies.
Sources say Brooklyn's Bobby Marks, Indiana's Peter Dinwiddie, New York's Mark Warkentien and Mark Hughes, Chicago's Brian Hagen and former Knicks GM Glen Grunwald are among the executives Memphis pursued before striking a deal with Stefanski.
Pera initiated the sweeping changes in May in the wake of the two most successful seasons in franchise history. ESPN.com reported at the time that one of the triggers for the changes, after Levien assembled the Pera-led group that purchased the team from the late Michael Heisley in June 2012, originated with Pera's dissatisfaction with Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger early last season.
Sources say Pera contemplated firing Joerger early in his first season as an NBA coach but was ultimately talked out of it, after which Memphis rallied from a slow start and Gasol's knee injury to win 50 games and finish seventh in the West.
Pera let Joerger interview for the Minnesota Timberwolves' coaching vacancy shortly after the management shakeup. But in a stunning U-turn, Pera announced that he was signing Joerger to a new contract with improved terms after he and the Minnesota native talked through their past issues.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported last month that Joerger has since been "empowered" to be more involved in the team's decision-making alongside Wallace and former ESPN.com analyst John Hollinger, who remains in the front office as vice president of basketball operations.
4dEthan Sherwood Strauss
5dMatt Walks, ESPN.com