It’s odd when a franchise has its best season in history, and then doesn’t seem to be interested in retaining its head coach.
But that’s exactly what’s going on in Memphis with the Grizzlies and Lionel Hollins, where it appears to be increasingly likely that the team will let Hollins walk and have a replacement in place before next season. Assistant coach Dave Joerger would be the frontrunner to fill the position.
There are reasons for the discord between the two sides, which we’ll revisit in a moment. First, the news.
From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
Wojnarowski goes on to report that talks have been ongoing between the sides on a new contract, but they stalled on Saturday.
Hollins did an exceptional job in guiding the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals, but was critical of the team’s management after they made the midseason deal to send Rudy Gay to the Raptors. Hollins was hired by the previous owner and general manager in Memphis, and despite the success the club achieved this season, the new regime wants to bring in someone more in line with their line of thinking in terms of how to best build a franchise for long-term success.
This is the core issue.
The new personnel at the top of the organization bases its decisions heavily on the new wave of statistics and analytics. This should be viewed as a positive by most, because why wouldn’t you want to use all of the available data to make the most informed decisions possible, both in terms of building a team’s roster, as well as how those players are used by a head coach in game situations.
Hollins, for better or for worse, does not appear to be completely on board with the new management style. His contract is up at the end of June, but will begin the process of meeting with other teams immediately now that he’s received permission from Memphis.
The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers are believed to be the teams who will most actively pursue Hollins as a potential head coaching candidate.
The Spurs are counting on Danny Green to regain his top-flight “3&D” form this season and give them another defender and weapon when they go up against that potential juggernaut out West. And the Clippers, too.
But that comeback is getting off to a slow start, the team announced Friday.
This likely means a little more run for Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin to start the season, plus some funky lineups from Gregg Popovich.
Green played great defense last season but struggled from three (where 60 percent of his attempts are taken). Green shot 33.2 percent from deep on the season, which is well below his career average of 40.3 percent (and last year’s down numbers were buoyed by a red-hot January, he was much worse the rest of the season).
It’s something for Spurs fans to monitor, they need to get his legs right before his shot can return.
The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.
Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.
In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.
During the ProBasketballTalk podcast with Sixers coach Brett Brown, you could hear the frustration in his voice. He has all these talented young front line players — Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor — but he can’t begin to figure out how they all fit together if he can’t get them on the court at the same time.
That problem just got worse.
The Sixers announced that Nerlens Noel will miss time following surgery to deal with soreness in his left knee. Here is the word from the press release itself:
During the normal course of evaluation and treatment for his left adductor strain, which was identified on October 6, Noel reported localized soreness in his left knee. After consulting with multiple specialists, the source of the soreness was identified as inflamed plica. Noel has elected to address the injury via a minor surgical procedure in the coming days.
The team gives no timeline for Noel’s return. Soreness from the plica — a band of tissue around the knee that is not important following birth — happens in some players and can be fixed by an arthroscopic surgery that removes the area being irritated. While the surgery is minor, it usually takes around six weeks to bounce back from this.
That likely means a little more run for Jahlil Okafor (just coming back from an injury of his own) and Richaun Holmes. But it’s just another injury setback for a Sixers team plagued by them.
The Sixers also announced that Jerryd Bayless will not have surgery on his wrist, but will remain out and be evaluated in two weeks.
This was flat out incredible.
After a back-and-forth, even series between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, it came down to the final seconds (although maybe it shouldn’t have, the WNBA admitted Friday the referees missed a call with 1:14 left, giving the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike a bucket on a shot after the shot clock expired).
The biggest stars took over at the end, as you can see in the video above: L.A.’s Candace Parker drives and scores with 19 seconds left putting the Sparks up 75-74; Minnesota responded with a Maya Moore jumper to take the lead back, then it came down to Ogwumike (the WNBA’s 2016 MVP) getting the ball after a block by Sylvia Fowles and following it up with a fadeaway bucket that gave Los Angeles the title.
Congrats to Candace Parker on the win, after how she’s been overlooked on the awards circuit in the WNBA this season, this is some sweet revenge.