MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace is a longtime friend of former LSU basketball coach Dale Brown. Their association played a role in the Grizzlies selecting LSU forward Jarell Martin with their first-round pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Wallace had attended several LSU games as a guest of Brown's in recent years and had personally scouted Martin. Nothing impressed Wallace more than watching Martin develop.
"Early on (in his career) he spent too much time out on the 3-point line," Wallace said. "In the second half of this year in (Southeastern Conference) play, (LSU coach) Johnny Jones put him at the power forward position and he was dominant at times."
The 6-foot-10 Martin was an honorable mention Associated Press All-America selection this past season. He averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds to rank third in the Southeastern Conference in both categories.
Martin at the 25th overall pick will give the Grizzlies another double-double candidate in points and rebounds to complement veteran power forward Zach Randolph. Martin had 15 double-doubles last season, including five in his final seven games.
Possessing strong hands and an explosive first step, the 235-pound Martin blossomed during the final two months of the season. He averaged 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in February and March.
"He is better at the power forward position, but that doesn't mean he might not spend a little time at small forward here and there," Wallace said. "His bread and butter will be playing the power forward position and taking defenders off the dribble inside and scoring off either hand, scoring off contact and getting to the free-throw line."
The Grizzlies have struggled from the perimeter the past few years, but made two trades Thursday to address the shortcoming. They acquired veteran Matt Barnes from Charlotte early Thursday and got the rights to Kentucky point guard Andrew Harrison after he was taken 44th overall by Phoenix in the second round of the draft.
"Andrew Harrison is someone we had our eyes on, someone we had ranked significantly ahead of the 44th pick," Wallace said. "He is a player with tremendous size in the backcourt. He can swing over from point guard to off guard and is a great defender."
The Grizzlies acquired Barnes in a trade that sent Luke Ridnour to Charlotte. The Grizzlies had acquired Ridnour on Wednesday from Orlando for the draft rights to 2013 second-round pick Janis Timma. Charlotte traded Ridnour to Oklahoma City later Thursday. Barnes, 35, averaged 10.2 points for the Clippers last season and shot 36.2 percent from 3-point range.
The Grizzlies acquired Harrison by sending the Suns third-year forward Jon Leuer. Leuer, 26, had been with the Grizzlies since 2013 when he was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Leuer, a 6-10 reserve, averaged a career-best 6.2 points with the Grizzlies during the 2013-14 season. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds last season. He became expendable when the Grizzlies chose Martin.