Coach Hollins Highly Sought After
All of a sudden, Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins is a hot commodity.
Having led Memphis to its best season in franchise history, Hollins finds his name being mentioned for a number of prominent head coaching jobs around the league, and with his current contract due to expire on June 30, Hollins’ future in Memphis is far from set in stone.
Cue much speculation and prognostication about where the former NBA player will begin next season.
Brooklyn parted ways with Avery Johnson midway through the season before letting go of his interim replacement, P.J. Carlesimo, following a first round playoff exit to the Chicago Bulls.
The Clippers confirmed they would not be renewing the contract of Vinny Del Negro last week, after Hollins’ side eliminated the Los Angeles outfit in the first round.
Milwaukee released Scott Skiles after 32 games of the season, promoting assistant coach Jim Boylan. Boylan led the Bucks to the playoffs, but the team’s poor play late in the season coupled with a sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat meant the writing was on the wall for Skiles’ wingman.
The Commercial Appeal in Memphis is reporting that Hollins is hoping to stay with the Grizzlies though.
Hollins’ head coaching career began with the Grizzlies back when the team was based in Vancouver. Having been an assistant with Arizona State and the Phoenix Suns, Hollins was brought in to replace Brian Hill after 22 games of the 1999-2000 season.
After inheriting a team with a 4-18 (.182) record, Hollins helped the team improve, ultimately compiling an 18-42 (.300) record north of the border. It wasn’t enough though to convince the front office to keep him on.
He returned in an interim role after the unexpected resignation of Hubie Brown in 2004, taking charge for four games – all losses – before Mike Fratello took over the reins.
Hollins third stint with the Grizzlies saw him replace Marc Iavaroni midway through the 2008-2009 campaign. Iavroni had led the Grizzlies to a 33-90 (.268) record in a little more than a year and a half before being ousted. Hollins recorded a 13-26 (.333) record to finish the season.
From there, the Grizzlies showed a marked improvement under Hollins, beginning with the 2009-10 season which saw the team compile a 40-42 (.488) record.
The Grizzlies ended the 2010-11 campaign with a 46-36 (.561) record and a No. 8 seed in the playoffs. Much to the surprise of everybody, Hollins’ side eliminated the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs before forcing the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games.
A second playoff berth followed at the culmination of the 2011-12 season. The Grizzlies came up on the wrong end of a seven-game series with the Clippers that season, but avenged it this year on the way to the Western Conference finals.
Hollins led the Grizzlies to a franchise-best 56-26 (.683) record this season in addition to the club’s first Western Conference finals appearance.
All told, Hollins has compiled a 214-201 (.516) record during the regular season, while going 18-17 (.514) in postseason play.
Although Hollins has been undeniably good for the franchise, there are a few wrinkles that will need ironing out if he’s to shepherd the team to another shot at an NBA title.
Firstly, Hollins was not a supporter of the trade that sent Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors. With suggestions already floating around that the team should look to trade Zach Randolph, Hollins may be interested in seeing what roster he’ll have to work with next season before putting pen to paper.
Secondly, there could be some serious money to be made elsewhere. The Clippers are generally considered stingy when it comes to forking out the cash, but the Nets certainly have some deep pockets. For a coach that has proven he can turn a franchise around, there are few that would argue Hollins doesn’t deserve a payday.
Bovada currently favors Hollins coaching in Memphis next year with odds at 6/5, followed by Brooklyn (3/2), the Clippers (4/1) and Milwaukee (11/2).
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Phoenix unveiled Jeff Hornacek as its new head coach on Tuesday. Although best known for his days flanking John Stockton and Karl Malone with the Utah Jazz, Hornacek was drafted by the Suns in 1986 and went on to play 468 regular season and 40 playoff games for the team, before being traded to Philadelphia for Charles Barkley in 1992.
Meanwhile, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer has been named the new head coach for the Atlanta Hawks. Budenholzer will remain with the Spurs as they look to win a fifth NBA title before heading to Georgia to reunite with Danny Ferry, former San Antonio and current Atlanta GM.
Michael Jordan was quick to fill the Charlotte Bobcats’ vacancy, hiring long-time assistant Steve Clifford. Clifford spent this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers after spending five years beside Stan Van Gundy on the Orlando Magic bench.