It’s the dead time of the summer. Time when the heat starts to rise, the news starts to be retread and sweat soaks you clothes as you walk to your car for lunch.
No hard facts to comment on. Nothing but rumors about coaches, rumors about draft picks, free agents can’t be signed and the summer league is about a month away. It’s not an easy time for blogs who seem to be consumed with writing player evaluations of the entire roster (and if we read one more incomplete grade on Dante Green we’ll puke), critiquing Dave Joerger (who hasn’t been named coach yet by the way for those assuming he was the anointed one) or making wild predictions on who the Grizzlies will take with the last pick in the 2nd round.
We at 3 Shades of Blue don’t have any absolute answers but we do have opinions, sometimes on random subjects, and as they say about idle minds…well let’s just say we felt it best to keep everyone thinking at least.
As such he is a brief review of some of the questions batting around our heads from an assortment of writers.
Question 1: Now that Hollins is gone. Do you believe the team will win more or fewer games next season? Go further or not in the playoffs?
Jonathan May - I think it is impossible to know at this point. Not because we don’t know who will be the new coach, but because we don’t know if Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless return. We also don’t what free-agent shooter(s) may join the team. If we assume the same roster, I think we win more games but don’t make the WCF.
Lee Eric Smith Want a number? I’ll go with another 50+ win season. But there are WAAAY too many variables other than a head coach that determines a successful season. And that goes double for the playoffs, though I don’t expect another run to the WCF next season. Just look at OKC.
Chip Crain – I think the Grizzlies will win fewer games because the competition is improving in the West. Outside of the Lakers and possibly the Spurs every team is improving and only the Lakers are getting worse. A return to the WCF would be an incredible accomplishment but getting out of the 1st round is likely a better goal.
Steve Danziger - Hate to play the pessimist, but I think a slight step back is on the way next season. It’s very difficult to predict results without knowing the opening day roster, but if pressed I say bounced in the conference semis. I do not believe that this move wasn’t made with next season in mind, though.
Matt Noe - Fewer, but only by a couple of games. The team could perhaps even do better if more/better shooters are acquired/more frequently given the green light.
Question 2: Is Joerger the best choice for the job or just the most convenient?
JM - I don’t buy the idea that Joerger is the front-runner because he is cheaper than hiring an established coach, or because he is already here. I think that from the time they took over, management has viewed Joerger as a guy who is ready to lead an NBA team and someone they can work with. I don’t know if he is the “best choice” but he is a good choice and I can get behind that decision.
LES - I think Dave Joerger is a probably a fine coach, and if chosen will represent continuity, which is the quiet hero behind this recent run of success. Continuity and convenience are not mutually exclusive.
CC – I don’ t believe the Front Office knows yet. The rumors floating I don’t believe come from Levien, Hollinger, Lash or Pera. The team is going to be deliberate about this the same way they were deliberate about not resigning Hollins. This group would rather look dumb and make the right decision than look decisive and make the wrong one.
SD - I’d say the two are related. My theory is blown out of the water if management goes in a different direction, but the convenience of already having Joerger around might be the reason for all this. My guess is the front office likes him long-term and doesn’t want to lose him by making him wait for a promotion.
MN - Most convenient AND not the worst. “Best” is a big word. Familiarity with the core group and a bond of trust and authority with them will help probable-head-coach Joerger, but there is a risk of some players harboring discontent over Hollins’ dismissal and potentially thinking that Joerger didn’t exactly go to the wall for Lionel, i.e. he knew he was in line for the job and let it fall in his lap.
Question 3: Where will Hollins coach next year if anywhere)?
JM - While I cannot imagine Hollins not coaching next season, I also do not think he will take a job just to take a job. I think the only three jobs for him at this point are Denver, Brooklyn and the Clippers. Of the three, I think Denver would be the best spot but if I had to put money on one I would say he is coaching the Clippers next season.
LES - Hiring a coach like Lionel Hollins would help make the Clippers even more attractive to free agents like, say, Cliff Paul’s twin brother. But I have a hunch that none of the current markets are where he will land. There will be another wave of firings sometime in December, and he’ll get the call up then. Utah? Charlotte? Uh, Lakers? Question 4: If Hollins is hired by the Clippers will he keep Marc Iavaroni on as an assistant coach?
Chip Crain – Crazy as it sounds, teams don’t seem to appreciate coaches any more. New Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd being chosen over George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Alvin Gentry and even Brian Shaw is just the most recent and obvious example. Nearly half of the NBA teams have changed coaches this summer and rookies lead vets by a wide margin in hires. It’s not just happening in Memphis so no I don’t see Hollins coaching at the beginning of next season.
SD - With Jason Kidd reportedly emerging from the pack to steal the Brooklyn Nets gig, the only openings left would be the Clippers, Nuggets, and 76ers. Denver gave up on Karl for similar reasons to those of the Grizzlies with Hollins, and Philadelphia seems to be seeking some young blood, so it’s looking like LA or bust for Lionel.
MN - Please God not the Clippers. I’d love to be able to wish him well.
Question 4: If Hollins is hired by the Clippers will he keep Marc Iavaroni on as an assistant coach?
JM - Absolutely. Hollins would love to laud that over Iavaroni. Just kidding (about keeping him). Hollins will assemble an entirely new staff. It is ironic, because he would bristle at the idea that a head coach has to retain an assistant he didn’t pick while harboring anger and resentment towards the Grizzlies new ownership/management for making the same choice.
Chip Crain - Wow that would be funny. I don’t believe Hollins gets the job but if he did I imagine he could because Hollins, unlike NBA Front Offices, like veterans and contrary to popular belief isn’t vindictive. It would be interesting to see how that plays out of course.
SD - This one has me in stitches. I wish I spoke more languages so that I could say “no” as many ways as humanly possible. Marc Gasol said of the Iavaroni era that “we run around like chickens with our heads cut off,” and I would be sure that he shared that belief with Hollins over the past few years.
MN - Not likely, but not out of the question. Not much is known about the relationship between the two of them, but if Iavaroni can “accept his role” underneath Hollins, perhaps LH might keep him. Or will Hollins do the housecleaning thing?
Question 5: Will Chris Wallace get the Sacramento job or be passed over in favor of Kenny Smith?
JM - Everything I have heard points to Wallace getting the Kings job. It is a huge loss for Memphis (the franchise and the city). It will not get as much public outcry, but the loss of Wallace probably hurts the team more than the loss of Hollins. Chris has been a great ambassador for the city and it is not clear who will fill that gap. Perhaps Jason Wexler?
LES - I think Chris gets the Sacramento job if he wants it. Like Hollins he’s proven he knows how to build a winner TWICE now (Ainge gets the credit in Boston, but Wallace set the table). I think that gives him the edge over Kenny, who I like, but think that TV analyst doesn’t prep one for being an NBA GM.
CC - I wish Wallace the best and hope he doesn’t get the job. First off, I like Wallace in Memphis. He’s a great ambassador for the team, while not in a great position of power anymore, he still is a sharp basketball mind that can help the team as well. I believe he is on Sacramento’s very short list but the new ownership group there is difficult to read. In the end he likely won’t get the job since he hasn’t been offered it yet.
SD - Man, that is a tough call. If asked this question a few days ago I would have felt real good about the prospects of Wallace ending up running things for the Kings. However, as this post over at the Kings’ TrueHoop site Cowbell Kingdom recaps, it’s off to the races out there.
MN - Wallace is more deserving and more experienced despite Smith’s prominent spot on national TV at least once a week. He’s proven his ability to play a major role in rebuilding a team from basically ashes during his time in Memphis. Other side of the coin? Perhaps SAC, with new ownership, decides to opt for the freshest of fresh front-office faces with Smith, and still maintains the large-volume splash they need to make with this hire.