While most of Memphis was busy enjoying the Memorial Day weekend, the Memphis Grizzlies found themselves embroiled in one of the weirder back-and-forths in recent memory.
A front office shake-up followed by reports of head coach Dave Joerger possibly leaving after just one season led Grizzlies owner Robert Pera to engage in a Q&A session with fans on Twitter Sunday.
It began with a report by the Associated Press indicating the Minnesota Timberwolves had “zeroed in” on Joerger to be their next head coach; this after a week of front office fallout in Memphis relating to the firing of CEO Josh Levien and general manager Stu Lash.
Joerger quickly found himself on Minnesota’s radar but officially turned down the offer soon after the AP's initial report.
NBA.com's David Aldridge then weighed in with some details on Joerger's decision:
Grizzlies owner Robert Pera reached out to Joerger Saturday night, & in conversations then & today convinced him he wanted to keep him.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) May 25, 2014
However, ESPN’s Marc Stein hinted Joerger’s move might be a clever ploy designed to get him fired from Memphis, thereby preventing what could’ve been a costly buyout for the Timberwolves.
Wolves feel as though they don't want to pay any compensation for a coach they know Grizz don't want to keep. Matter now of who yields— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 25, 2014
So, Pera felt he had some explaining to do.
He took to the Twitter-sphere early Sunday evening to answer fan questions about Joerger, the state of the Grizzlies and—of course—barbecue.
Here are some of the more poignant, pressing posts from the near-hour-long exchange.
GrizzNation…I know it’s long overdue…I would like to do a Q&A session with you guys. What do you want to know? #FactsOnly— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
One fan immediately seized on by far the most pressing question of all:
@stukeyx2 I think I'll go with Central BBQ...but still lots of more places to try!— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
But it wasn’t long before the conversation turned to basketball.
@JohnnyNBA I think Dave is a great coach. But, personnel has to want to be in Memphis. I know now Dave 100% wants to be here— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
@thesulton25 I never really talked 1:1 with Joerger before this weekend. I think he's a great coach.— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
@RaganSmash YES! And contrary to reports, I never had a conversation with Minnesota..it never got that far— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Pera then touched on the equally up-in-the-air general manager situation, where he recently re-hired ex-GM Chris Wallace on an interim basis:
@jwgerber6 We are conducting a search now. Whether we decide on Chris or not for GM, I want him in the organization in some capacity— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
@deepfriedcouch Not really...people who have closely followed my career know I have been through far worse— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Pera did, however, acknowledge that the team's recent turmoil will help him become more forthcoming:
@ChrisRTS I will aim to be as transparent as possible under condition it does not hurt our team's competitive advantage— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
As well as more engaged, something for which Pera has taken a bit of a hit:
@mattwaits Very involved. I was at the draft combine in Chicago. Who do you like at 22nd pick?— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
He also lent a bit of insight into how he intends to wield small-market money for a bigger, better future:
@doctorchris I will open up the checkbook and do whatever it takes to bring us closer to a championship organization— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
@juicemancometh I am open to it if it gets us closer to a championship— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
@tommy_ewing We are so close...I can feel it. I think we just need to be tighter as a team between Dave,myself,FO,players— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Assuming, of course, he can get a bit more offseason commitment from some of his guys:
@jsherm23 Nick, Quincy, Jon, Ed, JJ....all huge potential. Need your guys's help to get on their case about training right now— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Pera reserved some rather heady praise for point guard Mike Conley:
@shawnintheflesh Very few if any— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Pera certainly seems confident Joerger's going to stick around for the long haul. Perhaps, then, this can all be chalked up to a case of mistaken motives, with Joerger seeing in Levien's dismissal some kind of bellwether for his own fate with the franchise.
Or, this could all be as simple as a newly minted owner finding his way in an incredibly complicated business. Indeed, if we're to believe his many tweets on this front, Pera wants Joerger—who, let's not forget, won 50 games in a very tough Western Conference and took the Grizzlies to Game 7 against Oklahoma City in this year's playoffs—to be the team's coach of the future.