03 June 2013

Are the Grizzlies really going to let Lionel Hollins go? UPDATED

As many have been saying, the Lionel Hollins sweepstakes is on. The great Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported earlier that according to sources, Hollins is "likely done" as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies due to "major philosophical differences." We are talking about a guy that has taken the Grizzlies, who were hapless when he took over after the Marc Iavaroni, to the playoffs three straight years, twice getting out of the first round and taking the club to the Conference Finals after upsetting the top seeded Thunder. But hey, anytime you have a chance to let the most successful coach in team history go, you have to do it, right?

Update: Indeed, they have let Hollins go.

Those major philosophical differences are a direct result of the new organizational structure put into place by new owner Robert Pera, one that has shown a heavy focus on analytics. We saw this when the organization hired ESPN writer John Hollinger, one of the foremost proponents of next level basketball analysis and the pioneer of PER (Player Efficiency Rating), as the Vice President of Basketball Operations. Management wants a coach that will utilized advanced analytics in decisions regarding playing time, roster decisions or other moves.

According to the report, Hollins, a relatively old-school guy, clearly differs from said ideology and he feels that the front office is interfering too much with his job, considering the amount of success Hollins has had in recent years in Memphis. That interference is best personified in a recent incident in which Hollinger made a highly unusual move in engaging with forward Austin Daye during a practice. It is rather bizarre for any front office guy to dive into practice and interact with players, considering that the practice floor is traditionally a place for a coach and his team. As one would expect, Hollins blew up at Hollinger and asked him in what world did a personnel guy have the authority to walk into practice and do what he did.

It appears to a simple man like myself that the Grizzlies' organization is indeed interfering too much in Hollins' job and urging him to adapt to the analytics method of the ownership, perhaps as a way to push out a coach that they cannot fully control. If Hollins had not been a successful coach, trying to get him to utilize another method of coaching, or finding somebody else that would, would be considered acceptable. But Hollins' style has taken this franchise to newer and greater heights than ever before, why mess with something that is not broken.

Of course, the Grizzlies have not fully parted yet with Hollins, nor has Hollins indicated publicly that he wants to leave town. But it does not make sense for an organization to meddle so greatly with a coach that has been successful, not does it make sense for said organization to let their best coach leave.

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