Memphis Grizzlies: Lionel Hollins' and the Franchise's Best Just Wasn't Enough

Vinny Hardy@ IJune 12, 2013

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 27:  Head coach Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts in the first half while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the FedExForum on May 27, 2013 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Lionel Hollins has been around the proverbial sports block a time or two as both a player and coach. He knows the deal.

It's a highly competitive results-based bottom line business.

The only question more popular than "What have you done for me lately?" is "What will you do for me next?"

What Hollins had most recently done is lead the Memphis Grizzlies to their first ever trip to the Western Conference Finals. He also increased the Grizzlies' win total for a fifth consecutive season.

The accomplishments this past season were achieved despite losing Rudy Gay (career 18 points and 5.8 rebounds) in a trade to the Toronto Raptors.

Coaching Record

  Regular Season Playoffs  
Season Age Lg Tm G W L W-L% W > .500 Finish G W L W-L% Notes
1999-00 46 NBA VAN 60 18 42 .300 -12.0 7          
2004-05 51 NBA MEM 4 0 4 .000 -2.0 4          
2008-09 55 NBA MEM 39 13 26 .333 -6.5 5          
2009-10 56 NBA MEM 82 40 42 .488 -1.0 4          
2010-11 57 NBA MEM 82 46 36 .561 5.0 4 13 7 6 .538  
2011-12 58 NBA MEM 66 41 25 .621 8.0 2 7 3 4 .429  
2012-13 59 NBA MEM 82 56 26 .683 15.0 2 15 8 7 .533  
Career   NBA   415 214 201 .516 6.5   35 18 17 .514

What's the root cause of all the tension in Memphis?

Hollins and VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger, formerly an ESPN writer, have different viewpoints.

No matter how you slice it this makes absolutely no sense.

This isn't the first instance of strained relations between a coach and the front office. It won't be the last.

Sometimes differences need to be set aside for the greater good of winning. The man just led Memphis to the conference finals. Obviously he's doing something right.

Take the Indiana Pacers for example. This isn't a complete parallel but there are enough similarities to make a good comparison.

Yes, they had made it to conference finals before. They even made it to the finals back in 2000.

However, all of this was prior to Frank Vogel taking over. In 2011-12, his first full season, he led the Pacers to a 42-24 record in a lockout-shortened season. Last season, he improved to 49-32 and may have won 50 had a game with Boston not been cancelled due to the horrific bombings that ruined the Boston Marathon.

Wouldn't it be absurd if the Pacers were talking about parting ways with Vogel? He has an up-and-coming team that will challenge in the Eastern Conference for the next few years. 

He just led his team to the final four of the NBA. So did Lionel Hollins. 

Ron Higgins of The Commercial Appeal sums it up pretty well.

The Grizzlies need to be careful. Even the most stable teams are an injury or two away from a disastrous season (see the 1996-97 Spurs).

Memphis may be one or two "philosophical differences" away from reverting back to their Vancouver days before they know it.

All stats accurate as of 6/12/13. Coaching chart courtesy of


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