Sports /BasketballThe clock runs out on Jerry West with the Grizzlies(AP) Updated: 2007-04-18 09:37Jerry West left retirement andthe comforts of California to see if he could transform the woeful MemphisGrizzlies. Five years later, the Lakers great decided to stop trying.He said Tuesday he will leave as the Grizzlies director of basketballoperations July 1 at the end of his contract. Injuries, losses, weariness anduncertainty became too much.”Im not a youngster anymore,” said West, who turns 69 next month.West oversaw the Grizzlies only three playoff berths, although he never gotto enjoy a postseason victory. This season, there were problems on severalfronts: The Grizzlies not only had the worst record in the NBA but were up forsale.West said “the wear and tear of the season, particularly like this,” took atoll.”Theres been a lot of turmoil here,” he said. “The ownership thing have madeit very difficult to concentrate on what we need to do here to improve ourbasketball team.”Billionaire owner Michael Heisley said Monday night the team will be off themarket if a viable offer doesnt come by May 1.West, whose silhouette from his playing days forms the NBA logo, disclosedhis plans during a 20-minute session with reporters. But his departure had beenthe worst kept secret in Memphis, with his contract up after this season. He puthis 18-room home up for sale in February, calling that a “downsizing” move afterhis son left for college.West is staying through June 30 and will advise Heisley on his replacementand a new coach and in a draft that could deliver 7-foot center Greg Oden orcollege player of the year Kevin Durant. Then he said he would be open toworking as a consultant.”We need a big tough rebounder, and theres a kid whos a big tough rebounderin this draft who played on great teams,” West said. “Thats one of the thingswe need. We need to upgrade our backcourt. … You need a leader back there.”Heisley brought in West in April 2002. But West never had the advantages heenjoyed in the large market of Los Angeles, where he signed Shaquille ONeal andtraded Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant.He was hamstrung at the start by bad moves from the teams early days. TheGrizzlies landed the No. 2 pick overall in the 2003 draft. West never got todecide between Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade because that pick went to Detroitto complete a 1997 trade.His biggest deal? Ridding the Grizzlies of Jason Williams in a five-teamtrade in August 2005. His trade of Shane Battier to Houston for rookie Rudy Gayshows promise.”Weve got some very good players,” he said. “Pau Gasol is an All-Star, butwe need a superstar. And if that doesnt turn the people on, then I wouldntknow what would do that.”West lured Hubie Brown out of TV and to the bench. Brown won NBA coach of theyear honors with 50 wins in 2004, the year West was honored as the leaguesexecutive of the year.When Brown retired unexpectedly, West replaced him with Mike Fratello. Butthe Grizzlies were swept out of the playoffs in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Theystarted a youth movement to rebuild and save money.West fired Fratello in December and replaced him with Tony Barone Sr. afterthe worst start in the NBA. It didnt help. The Grizzlies, 21-60 enteringWednesday nights finale at Minnesota, clinched the worst record in the leaguelast week and their poorest victory total under West.Not easy for someone who never handled losing well, whether as a two-timeAll-American at West Virginia or player, executive or general manager for theLakers, where he won a combined eight titles.”Were probably better off where we are, even though it was painful foreveryone and our fans, walking out of here some nights when we were justhorrendous,” West said. “It was painful for everyone to watch that.”West said he thinks Heisley needs two people to replace him: a generalmanager and a vice president of basketball operations. As for the next coach,West wouldnt name names, but a possibility could be Phoenix assistant MarcIavaroni.In any case, West said the next coach needs to know the franchise must workto build a team for years, not make the playoffs one season, then have theleagues worst record the next.”We were going nowhere with the team we had,” West said. “We could notcontinue to do what we did.”In the end, neither could he.Top Sports News · Bulls push Heat to brink of elimination· China punishes player for “unsportsmanlike” message· Reviving the Olympic spirit 75 years later· Owen set for Newcastle comeback· Gerrard rested as Liverpool eye Champions LeagueTodays Top News · China to act on pollution, warming gases· Yang a popular choice as FM· Hu, Lien stress cross-Straits peace· US captures senior Al-Qaida operative· Yang Jiechi named new FM, replacing Li ZhaoxingMost Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hoursfor(i=1;i