Most coaches take over a team that struggled the season (or seasons) before, often because said team didn’t have much talent on the roster. These are rebuilding projects that are going to take years, and likely involve more losing (although ideally with a few more wins each year).
Not David Fizdale. He has been a hot assistant coach expected to step into the big chair somewhere for years and he finally is getting his chance in Memphis. That would be the Grizzlies with Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Chandler Parsons. A team that made the playoffs last season (despite Gasol being injured the second half of the season) and won 50 or more games the three seasons before that.
Fizdale wanted it this way, he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“That was the only way I wanted it, to be honest with you,” Fizdale said. “I didn’t want to take over a restart. I’m not afraid to coach guys. But I am going to coach them to win and I am going to hold them to a high standard. I was OK with that. If I don’t have any other strength, I’m pretty good at building relationships. I don’t know if people were looking at that Memphis job the way it should have been looked at. A lot of guys in my situation very rarely get a situation with this many proven players.
“I saw an opportunity to take a team from being good to great. If I could have any situation, that was the one I wanted.”
Fizdale takes over for Dave Joerger, who was ready to move on (and is taking over a rebuilding project in Sacramento). But Joerger also can coach. Fizdale has his work cut out for him to lift this team up from good to great (Gasol and Parsons staying healthy would help).
But for a guy that came out of Miami, where that was the job up until a couple of years ago, maybe this is the best fit. It’s just good to see Fizdale — a guy who didn’t play in the league, a guy who earned his way up from the video room — get a chance. Him doing well might clear the way for other guys in those shoes.