Hollins Next To Walk Out Of Memphis?


HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Lionel Hollins starred at Arizona State. I wonder how he’d enjoy coaching down the road in Phoenix (not that I’m trying to push out interim coach Lindsey Hunter).

Or maybe Hollins would enjoy taking his coaching chops to Brooklyn — he’s certainly tough enough for the borough (not that I’m wishing interim coach P.J. Carlesimo be shoved out either). Carlesimo has saved the most critical season in Nets franchise history as far as I’m concerned.

But, look, there are going to be multiple coaching openings this summer. Given the current (disappointing) direction in Memphis, the lame-duck Hollins seems to be greasing the path for his own departure. Hey, it ain’t easy having champagne taste on a beer budget — and, really, who would want to?

It isn’t easy watching your team’s championship dreams be dismantled mid-season. Debate all you want about the Grizzlies’ title odds as previously constructed, but minus leading scorer Rudy Gay and key reserves Wayne Ellington and Marresse Speights, those odds have plummeted while frustration within the locker room is on the rise.

With Tayshaun PrinceEd Davis and others now in the fold, the remaining Grizzlies are begrudgingly hitting the reset button on their season. That much showed in Tuesday’s 96-90 home loss to Hunter’s Suns, Memphis’ second loss in three games since the Gay trade. It’s a small sample size and there’s plenty of games to get it right, but there has to be concern.

“It’s a real frustrating loss,” Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph said. “I feel like we should have won the game. We had the chance to win and we didn’t get the win. It takes time to get acclimated and get all of the plays. It’s a variety of things. It’s a tough loss, a disappointing loss.”

Memphis wasn’t an offensive juggernaut before the trade, but in the three games after it, scoring has dropped by nearly six points to 88.0 ppg (the first of the three games was played without Prince). They’ve also committed 36 turnovers in the last two games and were fortunate to get a home win against Washington a couple nights earlier. Four turnovers in the final three minutes Tuesday doomed them against the lottery-bound Suns, who entered the game with a West-worst four road wins.

“We had every chance to win the game, but we had too many turnovers in the fourth and didn’t get any opportunities,” guard Mike Conley said. “It’s a work in progress. We have to find plays everyone is familiar and comfortable with. We just have some times where we have miscommunication with new guys and older guys who have been here. We just have to do a better job finding  plays that work for everyone.”

Defense has also taken hit with Memphis allowing 92.7 ppg after the trade, up more than three points a game. The Grizz (30-17) are hanging onto the No. 4 seed by their fingernails.

And so we get back to Hollins, the franchise’s most successful coach, who has lobbed some subtle firebombs — depending on your interpretation — at the front office since it started shaking up the roster for financial reasons.

With Marc Gasol in foul trouble Tuesday and the 6-foot-10 Speights now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Hollins lamented his inability to match up when the Suns went big.

“We didn’t have any big guys to put in the game,” said Hollins, 170-146 in now his fifth season in Memphis. “That was a big thing down the stretch. They went at Jermaine O’Neal and we didn’t have a big guy to play him because we didn’t have a big guy to put in the game.”

Hollins never wanted to break up the team — and neither did a team that wanted one more postseason shot together. A few weeks ago, Tony Allen said about this season: “This is the year.”

He didn’t mean it would be the year of cost-cutting trades and Hollins ultimately leaving Memphis.


  1. alflex519 says:

    that’s 3 out of four!

  2. AJ Mills says:

    I don’t claim to be an expert on the CBA, the luxury tax, or how NBA teams are run generally.

    But can someone explain to me why the Grizzlies first traded Speights & Ellington (putting them just under the cap for this year) and then days later traded Gay? In other words, why not keep the other two if Gay was going to go this season anyway?

    It’s disappointing because the team had such great chemistry. Maybe they can get that again, but it’s going to take time. And I can’t understand why anyone would buy an NBA team just to make it lose. Surely that can’t be good for business.

  3. Frank says:

    Since when has NBA.com turned into ESPN???

    I’m so sick of seeing “professional” writers pull topics out of their rear with this whole Memphis ordeal. We are TWO GAMES IN with our new guys and every writer (except Marc Stein) seems to think the sky is falling.

    If you had watched the game, Mr. Caplan, you would have seen a veteran Prince blending very well into the lineup, both on offense and defense. You would have seen Marc Gasol and Darrel Arthur each play the worst games of their respective seasons.

    We CANNOT win with Marc being a non-factor and DA shooting 1-9 from the floor, I don’t care what team we are playing.

    Give the damn team time to jive, then we can make the judgements. Isn’t that what you writers have been doing all year with the Lakers?

    As for Hollins’ prospective departure, I have to say it would be sad to see our coach walk away from a team he has certainly made immensely more successful. He helped give us our identity, so to watch him walk would be unfortunate. I, for one, think everyone is looking a little too far into his words recently. He is frustrated, yes, but Lionel has NEVER been one to mince words, and the media should know that better than anyone. I see what he has been saying as Lionel being Lionel, nothing more.

    Anyways, from a Grizzlies fan, PLEASE write more well thought out articles based on tangibles, like the Lakers’ record for example (I would ask for no more articles about this either, but I know that will never happen}, rather than conjecture.

    • Shadowspinner says:

      A coach has to work with the pieces he has, but when management showed that they care less about a potential title shot – and the Grizz had that possibility – than they do about making trades that they could have made in the offseason to get cap issues under control, that shows the coach that maybe he needs to change which board he’s playing on. Management sacrificed a key piece of a contender earlier than they had to. As a coach that says they care more about the cap then they do about winning. Would you want to be in that environment?

      We’ll see how the trade plays out, but the simple fact is that management effectively torpedoed the Grizz post season hopes with this move. Tayshaun is near the end of his career and has never been a dynamic scorer. Ed Davis has shown marked improvement this year, but is still an unfinished product. You always should build for the future, but you can’t ignore the present either, and that’s what this trade did.

      And the difference is between the Memphis trade and the Lakers this season is that the Lakers this season looked amazing on paper and have thoroughly failed to live up to their potential. The Grizz trade on the other hand lowered the Grizzly’s potential rather than expanding it like the Lakers theoretically did. We don’t need more articles to know that the Lakers are a dismal joke this season and failed to live up to expectations, the same way that one article saying the Grizz screwed themselves for this year with this trade is also self evident.

      The Harden deal for OKC is the closest comparison to what Memphis did, and OKC did that in the offseason, which is what Memphis should have done. Either they should have traded Gay before this season, or after it. Trading him mid season is a bigger mistake than trading him. They wrecked team chemistry. They gave a message that winning is not the prime value of the organization. In combination those things are demoralizing to anyone who plays for the franchise or cheers for it.

  4. Rondo says:

    Is their luxury tax that much over the limit that they need to fire a good coach?

  5. Patty says:


  6. Ma'lik says:

    All the organization had to do is raise ticket prices and boom we could have kept rudy and the gang in Memphis oh wait then that means no will go to the games. This is why it is crucial that memphians fill the seats at fedex forum. This city is not ready for nba team on the rise. David stern doesnt even want to host a all star game here so what next PERA go ahead and say it, you are going to leave Memphis with another empty arena for the tax payers of shelby county to pay. The truth hurts but it is reality Coach Hollins i wish you luck in where ever your journey takes you. Hollins is an immaculate coach with all the right plays. i think he would do a great job in Minneapolis maybe Orlando.

    • dattebayo says:

      The Wolves already have a great coach in Rick Adelman, are you claiming Hollins could do better there?

  7. Lakersfan says:

    Or better say they were a good Team, Lets bring Marc Gasol back to The Lakers To have 2 twin towers. And Jarrod Bayless.to Back up Nash.

  8. Lakersfan says:

    I can’t believe this is happening in Menphies, they are a good team,

  9. Kamote says:

    Losing 2 out of 3 (and one game w/o the new players) and Hollins is about to quit!?!? Awww c’mon. Memphis isn’t the only team suffering from “basketball business” deals. Next story please.

  10. W/E says:

    lol Memphis management commited suicide, cant believe they disbanded the whole team in the middle of season…now they are doomed and its all their fault.

    • Prez A.C. says:

      I agree, but its all Robert Pera fought, this man do not know nothing about basketball and come to our city and just killed our biggest dreams ever, its no way in hell the Grizzlies will make it out the 1st round, and the trade deadline isnt till Feb. 15th, so why even trade Rudy Gay before we play OKC, Robert Pera is the worst owner ever he have no basketball IQ, he need to go buy a hockey team, he killed the city of Memphis dreams, and how can a so call big millionaire be CHEAP, MUCH SUCCESS TO RUDY, MO, WAYNE, AND COACH HOLLINS

  11. QuestionMark says:

    So the Grizzlies traded away Rudy Gay and now is going to fire Lionel Hollins, the coach that took you to the Playoffs? Good job.