Memphis Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace on the trade that wasn’t
MEMPHIS—During the waning moments of last night’s Memphis Grizzlies home game against the Miami Heat, rumors emerged via social media that the Grizzlies had agreed to a three-way trade with the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns. According to multiple reports, the Grizzlies would be receiving Kelly Oubre from the Wizards, and in return the Grizzlies would be sending out Wayne Selden and a swingman. Exactly which swingman? Well, that’s where things got a bit… weird.
Some reports had Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks in the deal, while other reports pointed to Grizzlies forward MarShon Brooks.
Which Brooks was it? The Suns appeared to think they were receiving Dillon. The Grizzlies offered MarShon.
Just as fast as news of the trade had spread across social media, word started spreading that the deal was off, setting the stage for a night that social media was made for, featuring plenty of anonymous quotes, jokes and memes. This morning, word broke that the Wizards and Suns had agreed to a different version of the deal, while the Grizzlies will keep both of their Brooks brothers.
I spoke to Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace earlier today to download the lowdown on the trade that didn’t go down.
Grind City Media: So what exactly what happened last night?
Chris Wallace: We had been dealing with Washington in the trade (involving MarShon Brooks & Wayne Selden) and as soon as Dillon Brooks was mentioned in the trade, it stopped. I’m not sure where the other parties got Dillon from, but they didn’t get it from us. Once he was requested, then that was the end of that.
Grind City Media: But it sounded as though their request for Dillon came as something of a surprise?
Chris Wallace: I didn’t expect that request to come at all. We had a deal on our end with everything that was involved and we were moving accordingly, and then it didn’t happen.
Grind City Media: There were reports on social media that the player’s medical information had already been exchanged?
Chris Wallace: We did not exchange any medicals on our players. To give you a little background on the process, that probably would be just a touch early to begin with plus any requests or sharing of medicals would create a paper trail and there is no trail. Regardless, we did not send out any medicals on our players.
Grind City Media: There were also reports that Memphis pulled out of the trade, that Memphis got cold feet.
Chris Wallace: No, we didn’t pull out of the deal. I’ve been doing this for over thirty years with seven different teams, and have never pulled out of a trade once we felt the trade was agreed to. Now, as you well know, the trade is not officially consummated until it gets to the NBA League Office and all parties involved sign off on it, but that is generally just a formality because everything is done, plus we have salary cap people on every team who know what works and what doesn’t under the cap. That’s where your biggest issues come from sometimes, maybe there’s something cap-related teams don’t know until they get to the actual trade call. But we felt there was a deal there, and we certainly did not pull out. We were very clear about who we were including in that trade and had a number of people on the call to corroborate.
Grind City Media: Had the team owners talked about this trade?
Chris Wallace: No, they had not. I can’t speak for Washington’s end of it, and I can’t speak for what Phoenix did. But on our side, Robert Pera was not involved in the talks with the other teams.
Grind City Media: The timing of the whole thing was strange, because the news was breaking as the fourth quarter of the Grizzlies/Heat game was happening.
Chris Wallace: The deal was leaked by another organization to the media and it broke in-game, and that exacerbated the situation. I do my best to make certain when there’s a trade, that we’re the ones telling our players, that they’re not getting it from some other source. Now, that is extremely difficult in this day and age, when so many things leak to the media, and we’re obviously in the era of social media. So that necessitated me grabbing MarShon and Wayne postgame very quickly, to tell them what was going on, and then after all this hell broke loose and the deal fell apart, then I had to grab them individually before they left the arena to tell them, “No, you’re not being traded.” Obviously that’s awkward, and I’d prefer that not occur, but we had to deal with those guys at that point in time or they’d get on their phones after the game and certainly someone would have told them.
Grind City Media: So what happens next? How do you move forward?
Chris Wallace: We’re still happy to have our guys. The other two teams appear to be consummating the bigger piece of the trade in their mind, so they certainly weren’t harmed by this situation. I’ve been through all sort of stuff in trades before—things like flunked physicals—and life does move on. I used to work with the late, great Red Auerbach, and he had a great line: “Some of the best deals you make are the ones you don’t make.” We like our team, like our players. You’re always looking to improve. Although this did not come to pass, we will move forward with both Wayne and MarShon. Both have played well recently and we expect them to keep up that level of performance.