VOL. 129 | NO. 150 | Monday, August 4, 2014
Pera: Development, Re-Signing Gasol Keys to Success
By Don Wade
Grizzlies controlling owner Robert Pera introduced new additions to the team’s front office during a press conference Friday, Aug. 1, at FedExForum, and took questions from reporters. But mainly he delivered the message that the franchise’s path to contending for a championship will come through player development and not free agency.
Well, that, and by re-signing center Marc Gasol to a long-term contract after this season when he can become a free agent. Pera called getting this done “the top priority of the team.”
Said Pera: “We have a great relationship with Marc. I think he really likes the city and we’re going to do everything possible to make sure we have him here long-term. And hopefully he plays out his career, just like Dirk Nowitzki’s playing out his career in Dallas.”
For that to happen, Pera said, Gasol will have to believe in the Grizzlies’ ability to contend for a title.
“I’m confident we’ll be able to re-sign Marc Gasol,” said general manager Chris Wallace, whom Pera recently signed to a long-term contract.
As for player development, Pera said: “The goal is to be the best, or one of the best teams that focuses on player development.”
Pera also indicted Wallace would be the team’s final decision-maker on player moves, but would have to “run by me” anything he wanted to do.
Ed Stefanski, whom Pera hired to be executive vice president of player personnel, has been a general manager with Philadelphia and the Nets and most recently worked in the Toronto Raptors’ front office. He is familiar with rebuilding projects, which the Grizzlies are not.
“This is an exciting franchise to come to,” said Stefanski, who will be based out of Philadelphia.
Other hires include Jeff Bzdelik, a 17-year NBA coaching veteran who joins Dave Joerger’s staff as an assistant. He was a head coach in Denver and from 2010-2014 was head coach at Wake Forest.
John Townsend is the Grizzlies’ new director of player development. He has been a shooting coach for the Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers.
Trevor Moawad has been added to the staff as mental conditioning instructor. Moawad has worked with college football’s last two national championship teams – Florida State and Alabama.
Jason March, who had been an advance scout, was promoted to assistant coach/advance scout. Drew Graham, who had been head athletic trainer, will retain that title while adding another one: vice president of player care.