Photo credit: Brandon Dill/AP

The Memphis Grizzlies made the genuinely surprising decision to fire head coach David Fizdale on Monday, just a day after Fizdale sat star center Marc Gasol for the entire fourth quarter against the Nets. Given that Fizdale led the team to 43 wins last season, and given that this year’s team, while quite bad, has been stung by injuries, it seemed easy to draw a direct line between Gasol’s benching and Fizdale’s dismissal. Today, Grizzles GM Chris Wallace didn’t exactly go about erasing that line.

For the record, Gasol was royally pissed about being benched:

At a press conference today, Wallace was asked if Gasol’s displeasure directly contributed to Fizdale’s firing. Wallace admitted that there was tension between the two, and that their relationship was “a factor” in the firing, though not the overriding factor:

Wallace was then asked if Fizdale would have been fired had it not been for the benching. He answered with a crafty non-answer:

Well, I mean look at the trends I laid out here. Eight straight losses, seven straight at home, 14-26 over the last 40. I think last year we were 7-14 over the last 21. With a different roster, obviously, and we were healthy at the time. We just weren’t heading in a positive direction, we needed to have a change to try and save the season and continue the development of our players. So this is the decision we made at this time.

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Gasol, of course, denies he had anything to do with the decision. Whatever you say, pal!