Grizzlies let Hollins talk to teams
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
The Memphis Grizzlies have told coach Lionel Hollins that he is free to talk to other teams before his contract expires at the end of this month, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the issue. While it remains possible that Hollins could return, this is a clear sign that negotiations on a new contract have stalled. According to the person, Hollins had a three-hour meeting with Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien on Thursday that went well and negotiations in subsequent days took place with his agent, Warren LeGarie.
The Grizzlies made franchise history this season, reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time after winning 56 regular season games. Yet while the respect level for Hollins is high, the most significant factor in the talks is the potential partnership that would be in place between Hollins and the front-office team that took over this season after the team was sold to Robert Pera.
Hollins has been critical of the two most memorable elements of the Grizzlies’ season: the Rudy Gay trade in late January that led to their deep playoff push and the trend toward analytics-based team-building that unfolded in Memphis this season when former ESPN stats guru John Hollinger was hired in the front office. It has, it seems, created a difficult dynamic in which the coach is held in high regard but the differences in style are so stark that an end between the two sides may be near.
Hollins is known to be in consideration for the head coaching vacancies of the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers. If Hollins doesn’t return, Grizzlies assistant Dave Joerger would be considered for the opening. The potential search could also open up, though, as there is no shortage of qualified candidates on the market.