Memphis Grizzlies' Chief Jerry West Leaving July 1

Tuesday, April 17th 2007, 1:27 pm
By: News On 6

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Jerry West will leave as the Memphis Grizzlies' director of basketball operations July 1, saying he's ``not a youngster'' and weary of the turmoil surrounding the team.

West, one of the NBA's great players and executives with the Los Angeles Lakers, will end a five-year stint with the former expansion franchise.

West, who turns 69 in May, had been under contract only through this season and said Tuesday many factors played into his decision.

``I'm not a youngster anymore,'' said West, who disclosed his plans during an end-of-season meeting with reporters.

``I think the wear and tear of the season, particularly like this (has been tough). There's been a lot of turmoil here. The ownership thing have made it very difficult to concentrate on what we need to do here to improve our basketball team.''

He did not indicate any immediate jobs he was considering in the NBA.

The Grizzlies (21-60) have the worst record in the league and their troubles on the court have been compounded by the possible sale of the club. West fired Mike Fratello in December and hired Tony Barone as an interim coach.

The long-speculated announcement of West's departure came a day after majority owner Michael Heisley said he would abandon his yearlong pursuit of selling the franchise if he does not have a viable offer by May 1.

``I think (Heisley) pretty much said it (Monday) night when he said he wanted me to put in place a future management team,'' West said.

West added he had told the owner: ``I thought it was very important that we have a new voice here.''

He will advise the team through the draft and the hiring of a new coach. Barone was given the job on an interim basis after the firing of Fratello. He said he believes two people should be hired to take over his duties _ a general manager and a vice president of basketball operations.

West, whose silhouette from his playing days is featured on the NBA logo, won eight NBA titles as either a player, executive or consultant with the Lakers.

He startled the NBA in April 2002 by agreeing to come out of retirement and to take over in Memphis. He helped Memphis turn in record seasons and reach three straight playoffs but set a league record for 12 straight posteason losses.