UPDATE 10:16 pm: The Grizzlies have made this official with a statement from the team.
“After a thorough internal process, which included conversations with Lionel and his representatives, we decided as an organization to move in a different direction,” Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien said in a statement. “On behalf of the Grizzlies organization I would like to thank Lionel for his service and hard work in helping this organization throughout his years in Vancouver and Memphis.”
7:18 pm: Lionel Hollins said he remained hopeful he could remain the Grizzlies’ coach, but that has long seemed like a longshot. Now, it seems this sticky situation has finally reached its conclusion.
Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal:
Hollins had the most wins (twice as many as second-place Mike Fratello), the second-best winning percentage (behind Fratello) and every playoff victory in franchise history. Even if the Grizzlies think they’re better off without a coach who openly criticizes the use of analytics and questions management’s mid-season trade of Rudy Gay for Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis, replacing Hollins won’t be easy.
But with apologies to the Clippers, who I’ll dock slightly because Chris Paul will be a free agent this offseason and isn’t 100 percent to re-sign, the Grizzlies might have the most desirable opening on the market.
Memphis reached the conference finals this year, and Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Prince are under contract for next season and only Randolph, with a player option following next season, can become a free agent before 2015. This is a stable team with a strong identity – though Hollins certainly played a role in establishing and maintaining it.
For Hollins, he won’t remain out of work long if he wants another job. The Nuggets, Clippers and
Hawks Nets have all reportedly shown interest.
Both sides might end up better off in the long run, but it will take some careful maneuvering and a little luck. I do know the Grizzlies and Hollins found unprecedented success for both when they worked together.