Watching the way the Memphis Grizzlies are playing these playoffs, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Lionel Hollins on the bench with them.
But his contract is up this year. And the team’s new owner has put in a young, numbers-friendly group in the front office (remember, they hired John Hollinger from ESPN), while Hollins this season went on a mini-rant about he doesn’t buy into the NBA’s statistical revolution.
So while you see the places of possible friction, it is all working right now. And with that, Hollins told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN he expects to be back next season.
“The only conversations we’ve had is they said they wanted me back,” Hollins told ESPN. “After we lost the first two games to the Clippers, we had a friendly conversation about the series and how they just wanted me personally to know that regardless of what’s being said out there, this is how they felt.
“That was great.”
Hollins has been part of building what is going on in Memphis and he doesn’t want to leave that.
“There’s no question,” Hollins told ESPN, when asked if he hoped to be back with the Grizzlies after the season. “When you build something, you want to see it through to the fruition of it all.”
Sometimes a little old school and a little new school can work very well together.
Memphis is in a good position these playoffs — they are 1-1 against a Thunder team without Russell Westbrook. If Memphis advances they are a tough matchup for either the Spurs (the Grizzlies size help beat them in the playoffs a couple years ago) or Golden State (Mike Conley and Tony Allen would be the best defense Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have seen these playoffs).
And a deep playoff run (plus teams like New Jersey waiting in the wings if he is available) gives Hollins some leverage when he does sit down with Memphis management after the season.