Kings notes: Former Kings executive settles in with Grizzlies

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 - 8:16 am

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The new basketball decision maker in Memphis is familiar to Kings fans.

Jason Levien, the Kings' former assistant general manager, is settling in as CEO and managing partner of Memphis Basketball LLC, which operates the Memphis Grizzlies and FedExForum. He assumed the post in November after selling his ownership stake in the Philadelphia 76ers.

Levien resigned as assistant general manager and team counsel for the Kings in July 2010 after two years.

Lately, he has been under scrutiny for the moves the Grizzlies have made, including trading small forward Rudy Gay to Toronto to help shed salary in the long run.

"I think I learned a lot from the two seasons I was in Sacramento," Levien said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

Neither Levien nor the Kings have spoken publicly about his diminished role with the team that led to his departure.

During his time in Sacramento, Levien didn't always see things the same way basketball president Geoff Petrie did . Levien supported the Kings drafting Ricky Rubio in 2009. Instead, they chose Tyreke Evans, who won the Rookie of the Year honor. Rubio has shown flashes of being a star for Minnesota.

But things have worked out well for Levien, who has gone from agent – he represented Kevin Martin, Udonis Haslem and Luol Deng, among others – to a top executive.

"My perspective has sort of evolved because I had the chance to be a player agent for about a decade, representing the players and getting an insight into different organizations through that window," Levien said.

"Then being in Sacramento in management, looking at the basketball operations and the business operations side and seeing things that worked and were very successful and seeing things that maybe can be improved."

Levien said he's learning how to operate in his new role. He has always been cooperative with the media but has learned the Memphis fan base wants to hear from him more.

That's especially true when a popular player like Gay is dealt in a move that could be perceived to be more about saving money than winning games.

Levien said he'd like to be as transparent as possible while not giving away too much to the other 29 NBA teams.

"I'm trying to draw upon all those lessons to try and be successful here," Levien said. "And there are some things that are very unique to the Memphis market and Memphis community that I have to bear in mind and learn about.

"And there are certainly some common threads among all the different stops that can help me moving forward."

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