On Monday afternoon, news broke that the Memphis Grizzlies would not bring head coach Lionel Hollins back when his contract expires at the end of the month. The Grizzlies are going to “go in a different direction,” and part ways with the head coach responsible for the franchise’s most successful seasons, only playoff wins, and a trip to the Western Conference Finals this year.
On the surface, the move seems unpopular. Why would you cut loose a guy with the proven success of Hollins, and a roster that seems (for better or for worse) tailor-made for his philosophy and style.
Who knows what the pay off will be. Reports are that current assistant Dave Joerger will be a front-runner for the job. I know from my time in Memphis that Joerger is seen as a potential superstar coach in waiting. It seems like the Grizzlies are afraid of “losing” Joerger to another opportunity.
Which brings us to the question I ask myself over and over and over again. Why are teams consistently valuing unproven commodities more than proven commodities? Sure, there are financial consequences that can help the bottom line, but aren’t the performance ramifications greater? They should be.
How often do teams hold onto prospects or draft picks, even in cases of being able to use their prospects or draft picks to acquire proven players? I don’t want my team to operate in the context of being “afraid to lose” something they currently are holding in their hand.
How often are players (mostly in the NFL) traded for draft picks, and not even premium draft picks?
I don’t advocate for teams focusing ONLY on the personnel performing for them at the moment, but there has to be a balance. If you worry too much about losing something, you might actually cost yourself something else. In the case of the Grizzlies, that something else is Lionel Hollins.
It’s easy for a fan to demand that a team live and operate in the here and now. Sure, Grizzlies fans won’t be responsible for paying the next coach’s contract. And in the case of Dave Joerger, should he end up getting the gig, that check will be considerably less than what Lionel Hollins would have received.
But fans shouldn’t care about that. The concern for fans should be the here and now. Will the Grizzlies be better off without Lionel Hollins? Right now, it’s hard to imagine they will. And that is what I keep coming back to. That is all that should matter.
Lionel Hollins will get another job, and I have no doubt that he will continue to be a great coach. As for what’s next for the Grizzlies, I haven’t seen that poker hand. I guess they are the only ones that have, and they’re pushing their chips to the center.
We’ll see if the fanbase calls.