Hollins' contract wasn't renewed after reaching the Western Conference Finals and winning 56 games in the regular season. He was coming off of back-to-back seasons with winning percentages of .600 or better. First-time head coach Dave Joerger was hired before the start of 2013-14.
While Memphis management never cited a specific reason for not bringing Hollins back on a new contract, neither side could ignore the elephant in the room: the organization's progressive shift towards analytics and advanced scouting, and Hollins' devout stance against the new-age evaluation tools.
Hollins spoke with MyFoxMemphis on Monday, and the quotes paint a vivid picture of how Hollins perceived his exit. Quotes below via Ronald Tillery.
Ex Griz coach Lionel Hollins tells @myfoxmemphis he was hurt by dismissal. “I felt that I was wronged but it doesn’t matter Life isn't fair”— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) February 18, 2014
Hollins: I could take being fired. I could take them not wanting me. I couldn’t take them trying to destroy my reputation and credibility.— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) February 18, 2014
Hollins on his only regret: “I was very honest in answering questions and it was used against me.”— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) February 18, 2014
The final of the above quotes presumably had to do with Hollins' vocal stance against analytics, when he'd constantly been peppered with questions regarding the topic.
"We get hung up on statistics a little too much, and I think that's a bad trait all over the league that's taken place. And the media has done it because it's easy to go to the stats to make a point or to build up a player or tear down a player. Just the analyzing, I see it every time listening to talk show radio. You've got guys spouting off stat after stat after stat."
Memphis dealt Gay to the Toronto Raptors after a six-and-a-half-season stretch with the Grizz, in which the team was outscored by two points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, according to Basketball-Reference.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Hollins confronted Grizzlies exec John Hollinger—who was hired after a stint as a league analyst, where he specialized in advanced statistics—during last year's playoffs. As per the Yahoo! report:
During the Grizzlies' playoff run, tensions turned to a confrontation when Hollins exploded during a practice session upon finding Hollinger had walked onto the practice court and engaged forward Austin Daye during a shooting drill, multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports.
With the team watching—and with a motive to show his players that he was completely in charge on the floor, sources said—Hollins loudly questioned Hollinger about what he was doing, and why he believed it was appropriate for a management official to intrude on what's considered sacred territory for a coach and team, sources said.
It's clear that the Grizzlies have a vision for the team's future. It's also clear that Hollins couldn't disagree more strongly with that vision.
It all led to a messy breakup, and Hollins still isn't over the way he was canned.