Tag: Lionel Hollins

Dave Joerger

Report: Grizzlies go the expected route, promote Dave Joerger to head coach


Memphis built a roster that went all the way to the Western Conference Finals based on consistency and growth — they kept their core together (save for Rudy Gay) and built with those guys improving and growing together.

Which is why letting Lionel Hollins walk as a coach is a risk — he and his systems were part of that continuity.

It was also why assistant coach and defensive coordinator Dave Joerger was always the likely guy to take over as head coach — he isn’t a dramatic change for the team in terms of style. The guys know him.

And now Joerger has the job — he has been promoted to head coach in Memphis, reports Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

What is the key difference for management between Hollins and Joerger? Willingness to listen to and work with the analytics-based front office that analytics-based teach billionaire owner Robert Pera put together. There was tension between Hollins old-school ways and the team heading into that.

That was most evident around the Rudy Gay trade — Hollins publicly ripped the move. But the Grizzlies were a clearly and measurably better offensive team after the trade (and the defense didn’t suffer) — instead of his inefficient 25 possessions a game the Grizzlies ran their offense through Marc Gasol at the elbow, more Mike Conley (who stepped up) and they used Zach Randolph more efficiently. It worked. They were better.

That tension never really went away despite the deep playoff run. The Grizzlies won 56 games and had their best season to date but it wasn’t enough for Hollins to keep his job (and he said on multiple occasions he wanted to stay).

Joerger was long the favorite for the job, but making this change is a risk. And in the West, with Russell Westbrook coming back to the Thunder and the Clippers improving their coaching, the Grizzlies have to get better, they have no margin for error. So there is a lot of pressure on Joerger and the front office now.

When the lockout ends, the Grizzlies need to…

Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur
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This is the next installment of PBT’s series of “What your team should do when the lockout ends.” Today it’s the Memphis Grizzlies. You can also read up on all the teams in the Western Conference here, and on Tuesday we start with the Eastern half of the league.

Last Season: Well, that worked out nicely.

The Grizzlies had their best season in franchise history. Technically it was the third best in franchise history, in terms of wins and losses in the regular season, but when you factor in playoff wins, it was the best. It was the first time Memphis has ever really been excited about the Grizzlies and they responded with gusto. Tony Allen became the emotional leader. Zach Randolph became one of the top power forwards in the league and not just for numbers. Mike Conley evolved into a top-15 point guard. Lionel Hollins dragged absolutely everything he could out of the team. Sam Young was a contributor. O.J. Mayo had such a bad season that he was nearly traded after a fight on a plane with Tony Allen and getting busted for PEDs, but the deal fell through which resulted in Mayo playing a huge part in the team advancing to the second round. What more could have gone right?

Well, Rudy Gay could have not been lost for the season in January after a shoulder injury. But other than that, it was a tremendous year for the Grizzlies that not only showed that professional basketball can be successful in Memphis, but that this team has a nucleus that is on the rise and is locked in together, for the most part.

Changes since we last saw the Grizzlies: Zach Randolph simultaneously has more money owed him when the lockout ends after signing a massive extension after the first-round win, and managed to have his first real burst of trouble when a man was beaten with pool sticks at Randolph’s house during a pot deal. Rudy Gay has gotten healthy and is back on the floor. Mike Conley is organizing team workouts. And Marc Gasol beat the crap out of Europe again with the Spanish national team. Other than that, nothing really changes, other than Marc Gasol enters free agency which is going to be the deciding factor in whether the team moves forward or backwards. No biggie.

When the lockout ends, the Grizzlies need to: Re-sign Marc Gasol. So much. Very much. They need to over-sign him. They should throw gobs of money and whatever he wants on his doorstep.

Is Gasol a bigger star than Zach Randolph or even Rudy Gay or, hey, even Tony Allen? No. But he is the most important Grizzly. It begins and ends on both ends of the floor with Gasol. In a league where the great big man center has gone and died, Gasol brings a huge frame with great athleticism and tremendous skill. He has a versatile set of post moves offensively, but more importantly, he does the little things. He works exceptionally well from the pinch post as a passer. He sets solid screens and can roll effectively, drawing defenders. He rebounds well at both ends of the floor. He’s an excellent perimeter defender of the pick and roll on hedges, bodies up Tim Duncan enough to essentially shut him down in the playoffs, and is an intimidating presence that can also run the floor. Signing Rudy Gay was a must, even if he was overpaid. Extending Mike Conley was key, even if people like me thought it was suicide at the time. (People like me were wrong.) Extending Zach Randolph was the only thing that could be done after what he gave the team in the playoffs. But Gasol is the key to the Grizzlies going forward. Without him, the team falls apart.

You’re going to read a lot whenever the season starts about how the Grizzlies are going to adapt to Gay getting back on the floor. But it’s not like A. RG vanished when injured. He was on the bench for every game of the playoffs run. And B. the team went 9-5 in January before Gay’s injury. It’s not like they suddenly got better without RG, though that’s the perception. Having Gay back simply means less time for Sam Young, who’s still learning his role on an NBA team offensively, and gives them more lineup options. Gay’s return should do nothing but improve the team.

The team will have to come in focused, however. Accomplishing what they did last season was huge… for the Grizzlies. Everything was put into the context of the team that accomplished it. Collectively as an organization, they have to commit to building on 2011 and not settling. Otherwise a Clippers 2006-like step-back could occur.

Grizzlies to rest Zach Randolph Wednesday night, too

Zach Randolph
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It’s not tanking for a playoff seed, it’s resting.

That’s the official line from Memphis coach Lionel Hollins on why he sat Zach Randolph Tuesday night (and Tony Allen). And he will do so again Wednesday night, Hollins told the Commercial Appeal.

“Tony’s hurt,” Hollins said. “I didn’t want to play Zach these last two games because I want to get him some rest and get him healthy. He banged his elbow the other night. Tony’s knee swelled up. He would have played if I would have let him but I don’t know how effective he would have been.”

This will mean more Darrell Arthur, which is not a bad thing (he’s no Randolph but he’s played well this season). Arthur only played 15 minutes Tuesday night in Portland due to foul trouble. There is speculation in the Memphis media that Marc Gasol and other Grizzlies could sit as well Wednesday night.

The likely result of that is Memphis will lose to the Clippers Wednesday night, which will lock them in at the eight seed and mean they face San Antonio in the first round. (A Memphis win and a New Orleans loss would have Memphis the seven seed, meaning likely the Lakers.)

Which clearly is the goal, to target facing the Spurs and not the Lakers. It just seems an odd strategy — San Antonio does not have the Lakers size along the front line, but their level of execution is not something Memphis will be able to match. But the Grizzlies have picked their poison.

Grizzlies Lionel Hollins drops F-bomb on 17-year-old fans

Lionel Hollins

NBA coaches get heckled all the time. Comes with the gig.

Like those rude people behind Lionel Hollins the other night in Memphis daring to question why the hometown coach was leaving Hasheem Thabeet in the game and not putting Zach Randolph back in.

According to a series of tweets from Chris Vernon of 730 AM Fox Sports Memphis (via CBS Facts and Rumors) Hollins turned and told those fans to “shut the f—- up.” When asked about it after the game he said it was just a bunch of “drunk unruly fans.”

Um, except that it was a bunch of sober 17-year-olds. Who are at a lot of games, some of them part of the family that has owned those six season seats since the team first came to Memphis.

And by the way, the kids were right — Randolph should have been back in.

Apparently the Grizzlies staff realized the mistake, went over to the youth, got cell phone numbers and offered all sorts of gear and goodies to make up for it.

My thought: Why is this getting to Hollins? NBA coaches hear crap from fans all the time, why did this particular stuff resonate and drive him to react? Because they were right and he knew it? Because the team is not playing up to expectations?

Need a thicker skin. Taking abuse just comes with leading an NBA team.

O.J. Mayo’s totally cool with Lionel Hollins

Memphis Grizzlies v Orlando Magic
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O.J. Mayo is in a slump. O.J. Mayo is no longer a starter. O.J. Mayo is on the trade block.

And O.J. Mayo says he’s totally cool with Lionel Hollins about all this. Mayo started off the year with a shooting slump, and Hollins decided to move him to the bench for when his scoring came back. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Mayo’s dip in scoring also coincides with a decrease in field-goal attempts in each of his three NBA seasons. He’s averaging 11.3 shots per game, which is down from 14 last season and 15 during Mayo’s rookie campaign.

But the Mayo bench situation has been underwhelming even though the Griz reserves averaged 27.8 points in the 10 games since Mayo became a reserve.

Hollins and Mayo agree that Mayo has made the most sacrifice of anyone on the roster. Hollins and Mayo agree that Mayo needs to play with more confidence as his move to the bench was based on the 6-3 guard’s scoring mindset.

Mayo also insists he still is on board with what Hollins is preaching.

“That’s our man,” Mayo said of Hollins. “We’ve let the owner, we let everyone know this is the guy we want to play for. We’ve been in a lot of winnable games. We’ve just got to start winning. Whatever our role is, whatever the dynamic of the team is, we’ve got to accept it and go hard. We feel like we’re a good team. We’ve just got to stick to the script.”

via Analysis: Grizzlies say they’ve put their issues behind them » The Commercial Appeal.

Just so we’re clear on this, Mayo’s not shooting as well because he’s not getting as many shots. He’s a rhythm shooter. He needs to be a functioning part of the offense. What could be taking that role away from him? I’ve got $40 million ideas.

You can actually notice some pretty bad body language on the floor with Mayo during the game. He seems tuned out, down, and generally disappointed with how this year is going. But it’s good to know he’s not blaming his coach for it. He’s maintained his status as a professional, even as his career has taken a downturn. Of course, when Mayo is inevitably traded, he’ll probably perk up a bit as he drops 30 on the Grizzlies each time they play.

Yup. Those are the Grizzlies.