HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — This is where the coaching carousel business starts to get a little silly.
The Grizzlies are coming off the greatest overall season in franchise history which included their first trip to the Western Conference finals. They have a solid roster and an excellent coach in Lionel Hollins, who has publicly expressed his desire to stick around and try to take the Grizzlies to that next level.
“Hopefully, I will be here,” Hollins said. “I love the guys. I love this city and the fans and everybody associated with the team. But we’ve got to be very, very realistic in what the future holds.”
When a man speaks like that, you have to wonder what’s not being said. What’s the hold up for the Grizzlies?
The Grizzlies are not going to publicly negotiate with their soon-to-be free-agent coach. And Hollins would be wise to use whatever leverage he has to get the deal he wants (and deserves). There are, after all, only four coaches in the league who can say they took their team to the postseason’s final four.
While a handful of teams around the league, including the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers (L.A. owner Donald Sterling was reportedly at Game 1 of the Western Conference finals observing Hollins) are searching for the right coaching fit or the next Hollins or Frank Vogel, the Grizzlies have the guy that fits perfectly with their roster under contract until June 30.
If it’s just numbers they are dealing with in the negotiations, fine. Both sides want the best deal possible, and there’s still time to haggle over details. But if there is more going on here, if there are some philosophical differences between Hollins, Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and his front-office staff, there is no telling where things are headed.
If the Grizzlies think that a different coach can get the same things out of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and the rest of a team that, up until being swept by the San Antonio Spurs, looked like a team built to compete for a championship, they better be sure.
Proven commodities in the coaching ranks don’t always pan out in every situation (just ask the Los Angeles Lakers how that Mike D’Antoni thing is working out). Hollins has already shown what he’s made of. He didn’t take over an elite team, but the Grizzlies have become exactly that under his stewardship.
Why anyone would want to tinker with that chemistry, with that tangible success, is beyond me!
Hollins wants to stay in Memphis. He loves his team, the city and the direction the franchise is heading in with the new ownership and management.
Sounds like a slam dunk.
What’s the hold up?