San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three

Coach Hollins is Grizzlies’ biggest free agent, can they keep a coach in demand?

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Lionel Hollins is the Grizzlies’ biggest free agent and he is in demand.

Well, the Grizzlies’ coach is not technically a free agent yet, his contract runs through June 30, but he is about to be and there are other teams already lined up — the Clippers, the Nets and at least one other team would like to step in and poach the coach that just led Memphis to its first conference finals in franchise history. Obviously. Memphis is going to try and keep him.

Marc Spears with Yahoo Sports lays out the details.

Hollins’ contract with the Grizzlies ends on June 30, and the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee are expected to ask for permission to speak to him about their coaching openings, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Hollins’ wish is to stay put in Memphis.

“I hope things get worked out quickly. I love our team and the possibilities,” Hollins texted Yahoo! Sports after the Grizzlies’ 93-86 Game 4 loss to the Spurs.

The Grizzlies’ players like Hollins and want him back and Memphis needs to pony up and pay the man — like the Spurs they have a system in part built on continuity and a new coach disrupts that.

How did Memphis let this happen? Remember that Robert Pera bought the team before this season and was making changes, particularly in the front office (hiring ESPN’s NBA stats guy John Hollinger was probably the most noted of these moves to a more analytics-driven process). Hollins was in the last year of his contract but there was an understandable desire to be patient and see how things fit. When they decided the fit was pretty good it was mid-season the Grizzlies wanted to wait until the season was over rather than have a distraction.

But with the deep playoff run other teams took notice and started to eye Hollins and the idea of building that kind of team play with their squads.

Now it’s going to cost the Grizzlies to keep him. This is basic economics — the supply is limited to one and now there is demand (and the guy that runs Brooklyn has shown a willingness to overpay for talent). Memphis can deny other teams permission to (officially, anyway) talk to Hollins until June 30, which gives them a window to pound out a deal.

Hollins made $2.3 million last season, Spears reports. Memphis may get a hometown discount, but Hollins is about to get a raise one way or another. And deservedly. Hollins sounded appreciative of that.

“It’s nice to be in that boat. But I don’t gloat and think that nobody is this or nobody is that. It’s not even about any of those [teams]. It’s about my life and my goals and what I’m trying to accomplish. It has nothing to do with anybody else. There are a lot of coaches who have been in a situation where it took a while for an opportunity to get [a job]. And then they ran out and proved they were great coaches.”

Report: LeBron James might not play for Team USA in 2016 Olympics because Kobe Bryant won’t

Kobe Bryant (L) and team mate Lebron James of the U.S. sit on the bench during the game against France during their men's Group A basketball match at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Basketball arena July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar
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LeBron James admires Kobe Bryant.

How much?

Kobe pulling his name from 2016 Olympic consideration (perhaps an informed preemptive gesture just before the roster finalists were announced) might keep LeBron off Team USA.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Bryant not pursuing a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team this summer is a very real reason James might also not join the team, according to NBA sources.

James is that disappointed the Rio Olympics will not serve as the final, ultimate celebration of Bryant’s career—and more so that James won’t have the priceless honor of being Bryant’s co-star teammate when it ends.

I don’t buy this.

Kobe said during the 2012 Olympics those would be his final Olympics. Two weeks later, LeBron said he wanted to play in 2016.

Did playing with Kobe on Team USA become more important to LeBron over the last few years?

I suppose it’s possible. Many got behind sending Kobe to Rio as a sendoff into retirement. Perhaps, LeBron got attached to the idea and became bitter once it fell through.

I just have a hard time believing LeBron would tie his decision so strongly to another player. Remember, he left one of his best friends, Dwyane Wade, in Miami to sign with the Cavaliers. Would Kobe’s presence really dictate LeBron’s outlook?

LeBron has been mum on his plans for Team USA. I’m sure the length of Cleveland’s playoff run and the toll it takes on his body will factor. He might not yet know what he’ll do.

The ball is in his court, which can be challenging. There has been backlash from media and fans against players who turn down Team USA, and LeBron could be trying to avoid that.

I trust Ding was told LeBron felt this way, but nobody – including me, including Ding – can know what’s in LeBron’s head. But this report strikes me as LeBron setting up the ability to attribute his absence to Kobe’s rather than facing the full brunt of reaction that comes to turning down Team USA.

Did the Clippers reenact Paul Pierce being stabbed during pregame introductions? (video)

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The Clippers got hyped for Paul Pierce‘s potential last game in Boston by… reenacting the time Pierce got stabbed there? If not, it sure looks like it.

Mock fighting is the norm for the Clippers’ pregame, but I haven’t seen a single player targeted like this. Whatever gets you pumped, I guess.

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.