Grizzlies hire John Hollinger

John Hollinger, a fixture of ESPN.com's coverage of the NBA for the past eight seasons and one of the leaders in basketball's rising statistical analysis movement in the past decade, is leaving his role as a columnist to become the vice president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Best known for hatching the formula behind every player's Player Efficiency Rating (PER) -- which attempts to quantify player performance through the use of an all-in-one rating -- Hollinger will begin work as a senior executive in the Grizzlies' basketball department next week.

"It's incredibly difficult to leave ESPN, but the chance to work for an NBA team and the Grizzlies' new ownership was an irresistible opportunity," Hollinger said Thursday.

Hollinger was recruited to the Grizzlies by new controlling owner Robert Pera and CEO/managing partner Jason Levien, who have made upgrading Memphis' analytics department one of their front-office priorities. The Grizzlies also hired Stu Lash on Thursday as their director of player personnel and basketball development.

"We are thrilled to have John and Stu join the Grizzlies," Levien said in a release. "Both of these individuals will provide innovative and unique perspectives that bolster the organization's future."

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that the move won't change the status of Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace but added that Hollinger will be a "prominent voice in the team's front office beyond providing statistical analysis."

Hollinger, 41, founded the website "Alleyoop" in 1996 to launch his online career as a basketball sabermetrician and authored a series of books originally known as the "Pro Basketball Prospectus" and later titled "Pro Basketball Forecast."

He went on to work for The Oregonian newspaper's online site (OregonLive.com) and served as the NBA editor of Sports Illustrated's online site (SI.com) before joining ESPN.com in February 2005.