Lionel Hollins should have little trouble getting another head coaching gig….
I guess a season with a 56-26 record (196-155 record overall in 4 1/2 seasons), best in franchise history, and a trip to the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, the first in franchise history, just wasn’t enough for the Memphis Grizzlies to bring head coach Lionel Hollins back for another season. Add to that, the team’s improvement each season under Hollins, and you have yourself a real head scratcher of a move. The move was expected, however, as Hollins, and Jason Levien, Grizzlies CEO and managing partner, were at odds. Levien, was hired by new Grizzlies owner, Robert Pera after he took over ownership last November. The most prominent issue between Hollins, and Grizzlies management was the Rudy Gay trade.
Hollins, wanted to keep Gay, and continue the season with the core group of players, that at one time had the NBA’s best record. Grizzlies ownership, did not respect Hollins’ wishes and traded Gay to the Toronto Raptors. The move was particularly head scratching, because Gay was the Grizzlies leading scorer, closer, and seemingly best option to get his own shot at will. Hollins, made it work though, as Tayshaun Prince took over the small forward position, that Gay occupied. The move, I think, was ultimately the right one, for a couple of reasons.
In my opinion, Gay looks like Tracy McGrady, which in some ways is not a bad thing. There’s no denying T-Mac’s skill set, when he was in his prime, but there was also no denying the chemistry issues teams had with him on the floor. The same seemed to be true for Rudy Gay. The move, also opened up opportunities for other players abilities to blossom. Point guard Mike Conley, instantly became more of a scoring threat. Conley, had the ball in his hands a lot more, and took advantage. The trade, also allowed the Grizzlies to showcase their inside game more, with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. But let’s be real, the Rudy Gay trade was financially motivated.
Small market teams, like Memphis have to watch their pennies even more than before, which necessitated the Gay deal. You can’t blame Hollins for wanting to keep his best players, though. Hollins, coaching future looks just fine, however. A number of coaching positions have opened up, and it’s very hard to believe Hollins won’t snag one of those jobs. However, the future may not have such a simple conclusion for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Who will be the next coach? The good news is, there a lot of worthy candidates. Coaches like Jeff Van Gundy, George Karl, Larry Drew, Nate McMillan, and others are available. So, the prospects for Memphis finding a worthy replacement are good, but will it be a good fit? Will the new coach have to deal with more money saving moves, from Grizzlies management? We’ll have to wait and see. The Grizzlies, situation in Memphis has always been unsettled, but seemed to be coming around with the playoff run and improved attendance. Robert Pera, and the rest of the Grizzlies management better hope, this move turns out to be a fruitful one. If not, things will get ugly in a hurry on Beale Street.