Memphis Grizzlies Move on From Lionel Hollins
The Memphis Grizzlies won a franchise-record 56 games and advanced to their first Western Conference Finals in 2013. Nevertheless, head coach Lionel Hollins coached the entire season as a lame duck without a contract in place beyond this season. It appeared a virtual formality that the Grizzlies would just wait it out and discuss negotiations following the season. Despite the team’s historical season, they finished the season getting swept out of the conference finals in embarrassing fashion. In addition to moving on from Hollins, the team also traded F Rudy Gay during the middle of the season, and, in the process, shed themselves of an albatross contract. Where the team goes from here is anyone’s guess, but despite the team being on the precipice last season, they appear to be missing a key piece with perimeter offense that strangely, Gay could have provided.
In addition to the trade of Gay, G Tony Allen could walk in free agency. Nearly every team in the NBA covets Allen because of his ability to play defense and provide overall toughness on both ends. Losing Allen would be a huge blow to the Grizzlies’ backcourt, after having given away OJ Mayo, traded Gay and could allow Allen to walk, as well. The Grizzlies are pressed right against the salary cap. If they let Donte Greene walk, they may be able to retain Allen without major penalty. Half of the Grizzlies’ cap space is eaten up by F Zach Randolph and C Marc Gasol, as it should be. G Mike Conley is coming into his own, and despite getting up in age, F Tayshaun Prince should be able to give the Grizzlies a couple more years of perimeter defense, occasional offense and rebounding.
Other key questions surround what the Grizzlies will decide to do with players such as Austin Daye, who has a $4.4 million qualifying offer that he will have until July 23 to sign. The Grizzlies like Jon Leuer, but he is a project. Jerryd Bayless was a find for the Grizzlies, but entering the final year of his contract, it will be interesting to see how much he asserts himself in lieu of a new contract. F Darrell Arthur and F Ed Davis figure to get more minutes and expanded roles next season, and the Grizzlies love the dual threat that is F Quincy Pondexter. However, it always feels as though the Grizzlies are missing a perimeter scoring punch late in games. If they are going to achieve filling that hole, it won’t come via a 1st Round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, as that pick now belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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