Consistencyhas beenan issuewith Grizzlies coachingsince Mike Fratello was told to radically change his coaching philosphy and to start playing rookies and run a faster tempo despite the team being filled with players ill-suited for that brand of basketball.
The Memphis Grizzlies fired Mike Fratello forbeinga leopard unable to change his spots. Mike Fratello can’t change who he is and be successful. Not many people can. Since that time the Grizzlies have employed three men in 25 months hoping one would show some spark of coaching ability. Ron Tillery wrote a while back that the lack of coachingstabilitymay havebeen a detriment to Rudy Gay’s development. To an extent thatcould betrue. It has hurt the entire team to be honest.
The problem is that having a consistent head coach is not in and of itself apanacea for the problems confronting the Grizzlies right now. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t helping but coaching stability is an asset only if the coach isn’t incompetent. Tony Barone, while a very smart basketball mind, wasn’t widely respected as a coach in the NBA. Marc Iavaroni lost the team very early in his time in Memphis despite the good pedigree he brought to the job. Keeping him around for the 2nd season didn’t seem to cure any of the ills that the team suffered through with Iavaroni in his first season. The main problem with Iavaroni in my opinion was that he was given three different teams to coach in a year and a half. No one can be a consistent coach with that type of direction from above.
Now Memphis is in the late stages of the honeymoon period with Lionel Hollins (is it actually over already?) and judging from the fans reaction to the recent string of losses Hollins has his work cut out to last even one day longer than his contract (which happens to end at the same time as Iavaroni’s contract). If he fails to motivate the team to end their losing ways will it be better to keep him around for a new contract or to cut losses and go in search of someone knew? Will Rudy Gay, O J Mayo, Mike Conley and whoever else is left on the team re-sign simply because they kept Hollins despite the losing or would they stand a better chance of remaining with the team if a new coach with a proven track record of success could be found?
Consistency can’t begin and endwiththe Head Coach. Consistency has been missing in all phases of the Grizzlies franchise. The front office has seen dramatic turnover the last few years. There were 8 new faces on the team to start this season (Marc Gasol, O J Mayo, Quinton Ross, Greg Buckner, Hamed Haddadi, Darrell Arthur, Marco Jaric and Antoine Walker). Bythe New Yearthe team had bought out Walker, signed Darius Miles, traded for Steve Francis (who they bought out) andShawn Livingston (who they bought out).At the February trade deadline the team had brought in Chris Mihm, Adonal Foyle and Mike Wilks and given up Kyle Lowry. So from the end oflast season to the middle of February the Grizzlies had a total of 14 NEW players on the roster.
That doesn’t even count the players who were stillaround from last season such as Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Darko Milicic, Hakim Warrick and …
WAIT A MINUTE! Thereareonly four players who were on the team at the end of last season that are still on the team today? Four players. No wonder this team appears to be a mess. When teams have the type of player turnover witnessed by this franchise recently? It isn’t rocket science to determine where the consistency needs to begin.
Now I am not saying the Grizzlies players in general and Rudy Gay in particular don’t need a consistent steadying influence on the bench. I am just saying that the revolving coaching situation is more a symptom of the problem not cause. Memphis needs to start building a team culture and a permanent head coach that the players respect would help but so would a consistent roster and a consistent front office. It all works together.
Right now the only thing consistent in Memphis is the owner who has consistently been expressing a willingness to sell the franchise.