MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) David Fizdale left no doubt about his intentions in the longtime assistant’s new job as the Memphis Grizzlies’ head coach.
“I’m here to win,” Fizdale said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “That’s the best way to put it. I didn’t leave Miami and that beautiful beach and all that water and good stuff to come here to lose. I came here to win. And I came here to be a big part of this community, a big part of the people here. I’m going to be out and about, and I’m going to be involved in everything.”
Fizdale replaces Dave Joerger, who was fired May 7 after three seasons and three playoff appearances. Joerger has since been hired as the Sacramento Kings’ coach.
In Memphis, Fizdale takes over a team with the NBA’s third-longest postseason streak at six straight seasons, behind only San Antonio (19) and Atlanta (nine). But center Marc Gasol is recovering from a broken foot, while point guard Mike Conley hits free agency in July.
“The goal is to win a title, no doubt about it,” Fizdale said. “With the pieces that we have and the pieces that we’re going to put together, with us working together in collaboration, I see no reason why we won’t have an opportunity to take that run.”
Although this marks Fizdale’s first NBA head coaching job, Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace cited the longtime assistant’s background as evidence that Fizdale is “uniquely prepared to lead the Grizzlies into the future.”
Fizdale was an assistant coach with Golden State in 2003-04 and the Atlanta Hawks between 2004 and 2008. He started coaching as an assistant at his alma mater, the University of San Diego.
He also spent a season as Miami’s video intern in 1997-98.
The Grizzlies gave Fizdale his first head coaching opportunity during an offseason when many other teams went with NBA head coaching veterans such as Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, Nate McMillan in Indiana and Frank Vogel in Orlando.
“I feel very confident that I’m ready for this. … I’m going to attack this job,” Fizdale said.
Memphis wrapped up its selection process less than three weeks after dismissing Joerger.
He Grizzlies also considered former Grizzlies and Nets coach Lionel Hollins, Charlotte assistant Patrick Ewing, Portland assistant Nate Tibbets, Spurs assistants James Borrego and Ettore Messina as well as Vogel.
Now that they’ve found their coach, the Grizzlies can concentrate on personnel matters.
The Grizzlies are waiting for Gasol’s foot to heal after his season ended in February. Conley is due to become a free agent after left Achilles tendinitis ended his season in early March. Memphis also has to decide whether to exercise the option on Lance Stephenson and if they should keep Vince Carter, JaMychal Green and Xavier Munford.