Where will Lionel Hollins be coaching next season?
Lionel Hollins just led the Memphis Grizzlies to the most successful season in franchise history, one that saw a march all the way to the Western Conference finals.
But his contract expires at the end of this month, and multiple sources are reporting that the Grizzlies have given him permission to speak with other teams after initial contract talks apparently went nowhere.
Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss where Hollins will end up coaching next season. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment of your own.
Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel
The Memphis Grizzlies encouraged their coach, Lionel Hollins, to go job hunting even after the team won 56 games this season before being swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs. That’s as polite a way to begin a divorce proceeding as there is.
Reports of their pending breakup are not a surprise, considering the Griz didn’t rush to re-sign Hollins. An old-school coach, Hollins has not been thrilled with the philosophical change to judging players partly through analytics, which factored into the Rudy Gay trade.
Hollins’ next stop? Looks like the Clippers. Looks like a good fit -- a playoff coach and a playoff team.
But Hollins ought to first have lunch with Chris Paul. Just sayin’.
[Updated at 11:29 a.m.:
Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times
It has to be Memphis unless Grizzlies management intends to overhaul its roster as part of a complete organizational makeover.
Lionel Hollins is the perfect coach for this team and this city, nobody embodying the grit-and-grind mind-set as much as the coach who backs down to no one, including his own star players.
Hollins has already won in a no-win situation, taking the Grizzlies to the Western Conference finals despite having his best player, Rudy Gay, painfully extracted from the roster in the middle of the season.
Hollins realized his team’s remaining strength -- interior play -- and rode it to playoff series victories over the Clippers and Oklahoma City.
Even Memphis’ four-game sweep by San Antonio wasn’t as lopsided as it seemed. Two of the games went into overtime, and a third was a winnable game for the Grizzlies.
The franchise largely has its coach to thank and should do so by giving him a lucrative contract extension.]
[Updated at 12:57 p.m.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
It will be a mistake for Memphis to let Lionel Hollins walk, but the veteran coach will be prowling the sidelines for the Brooklyn Nets next season. Despite leading the Grizzlies to 56 victories and a berth in the Western Conference finals, Hollins has never seemed to fit with what new ownership and management wants, which is its right, even if it’s wrong.
Hollins fits Memphis and the personnel the Grizzlies have. He has already been granted permission to talk to other teams, which never would happen if Memphis was serious about keeping him. And even though he may not perfectly fit the big-name hire and splash that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov typically likes to make, he will impress the Nets with his no-nonsense, defensive-oriented philosophies.
He will make a talented but occasionally undisciplined Nets’ roster better. And he will make Memphis management rue the day it let him walk.
Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Well, we knew it won’t be Memphis, which is allowing him to look elsewhere, clearly too many differences with new management for that relationship to continue with the Grizzlies.
To a degree, it could come down to the preference of Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, who appears to be the more in-demand candidate with both the Clippers and the Nets, the two most attractive vacancies at the moment.
Don’t be surprised if Hollins doesn’t wind up sidelined from the sidelines for a while, perhaps having overplayed his hand in the wake of the Grizzlies’ run to the Western Conference finals.
While Hollins’ success has been recent, his name still isn’t exactly high profile, not considered in the same respect realm as the Van Gundys, for example.
Memphis was the perfect fit, but the egos of Hollins and the new ownership somehow managed to mess that one up.
It could wind up leaving Hollins available for the next wave of hires, after the current vacancies are filled.]
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