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NBA rumors, Valley golf and MU's Billy Crystal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ye olde notebook:

  • A caller to our Readers' Voice line asked (in a snarky way) why I hadn't written about Buckhannon native and NBA general manager Chris Wallace since his Memphis Grizzlies were swept in the Western Conference finals.
  • Despite the tone, it really was a good question because Wallace's name has been quite newsworthy of late within NBA circles.

    As you might know, Wallace helped build the Griz into a Western Conference force. But you might also know the team has a new owner in Robert Pera, who hired Jason Levien as the CEO. Pera and Levien decided to can coach Lionel Hollins. Wallace's role also appears to be marginalized.

    In recent days there have been reports that Wallace met with the Sacramento Kings. The team had an opening for a new general manager. After the Kings hired Denver Nuggets executive Pete D'Alessandro, there were more reports that Wallace could also be hired as Sacramento's team president.

    On Tuesday, though, Wallace was reached in the Bluff City.

    "I'm with the Memphis Grizzlies," he said. "As we talk, I'm watching film getting ready for the NBA draft."

    The writing on the wall seems to say Wallace and the Grizzlies might part ways. There are reports his contract is expiring. But the GM was mum.

    "I can't discuss contractual matters," Wallace said. "Legally, I can't. And it's not like the WVU football or basketball coaches, where those things are officially released."

    One hint of where things stand, though, bubbled when I asked about the Grizzlies' coaching search.

    "They're in the midst of one," he said. "I can't put a timetable on it."

    Notice he used the word "they're" instead of "we're."

  • The Kanawha Valley won't be well represented in this week's State Open in Vienna, but it will be very well represented in the PGA Professional National Championship, aka the national club pro event.
  • As you might have read here, Barry Evans of Berry Hills, a past PNC champion, and Jonathan Clark of Sleepy Hollow both made the cut.

    Now there's a third from the Valley skipping the Open for the PNC: Craig Berner of the Edgewood Country Club. There was an opening for an alternate and Berner is hitting it.

    "It's been an eventful couple of days," Berner said. "I've been trying to get flights and everything together."

    Evans and Clark are flying out this morning and Berner later today toward the Sunriver Resort in Oregon.

    "It's me and Jonathan and Barry," Berner said. "The [Kanawha] Valley will be in Oregon instead of Parkersburg."

    The three will share a three-bedroom condo near Bend, Ore., and try to qualify for the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. The PGA Championship accepts the top 20 finishers from the PNC. A field of 312 will play for those spots.

    For Berner, 37, this will be trip No. 4. But it's the first for the trio of friends.

    "It's something we've talked about for years," Berner said.

  • And finally . . .
  • I was watching the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Monday night when Billy Crystal appeared to chat. When asked about his college life, he spoke about his time at Marshall.

    That's correct: When Billy met Marshall.

    Crystal went to high school in New York state. His father had been a pitcher at St. John's. Crystal accepted a scholarship to MU. During his freshman season, though, the school suspended the program and Crystal didn't return for his sophomore year.

    "He was at Marshall for a short time to play baseball," said MU athletic director Mike Hamrick, who is in Portland, Ore., for his son Brett's wedding. "I was told he was a really good baseball player before getting into comedy."

    The question, though, is whether Hamrick ever hit up Crystal for donations. Think of the possibilities: a fundraising dance called the Crystal ball; a new hoops facility called the Crystal Palace . . .

    "Believe me, we've tried," Hamrick said. "And we'll continue to try."

    Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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