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I wrote earlier this season that Lionel Hollins deserved consideration for Coach of the Year.
Now, I am happy that Hollins has signed a three-year extension to remain with the Memphis Grizzlies.
He was coming to an end of an 18-month tryout as coach. There were some hiccups here and there. But Hollins has done a good job. Memphis was the second-most improved team in the league behind Oklahoma City this season as they finished with a 40-42 record this season.
Look at what he had to deal with this season; the Allen Iverson debacle, the demotion of the second-overall pick (Hasheem Thabeet) to the D-League, and an injury to your Comeback Player of the Year candidate (Marc Gasol).
Everyone has nice things to say about him. So why did it take almost three months of negotiation to get the contract signed?
It looks like he had the contract in hand for a couple of days and did not sign it until Thursday.
"Well, I haven't signed it, so you just have to take that for what it is,'' Hollins said to FanHouse.com about his contract before Monday's game at Denver.
The team hovered around .500 most of the year, beating expectations. So on-court performance was not the issue.
From his comments at the press conference in Memphis Thursday, you get the feeling that he was not thrilled with the money in the deal.
“After talking to Mr. Heisley I feel comfortable about accepting this contract,” Hollins said in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal . “It wasn’t all about money. This may not be the best contract I could have secured. But it’s still the most money I’ve ever made. We just go forward with the assurances that Mr. Heisley does want to win. That was a concern going forward. I’m comfortable going forward.”
The paper reported that he would be starting at around $2 million a year. I believe that would be a fair deal.
Because the team did not make the playoffs, Hollins will not win Coach of the Year this season. But he deserved to keep his job.
Note: Watch for the season wrap-up on the Memphis Grizzlies Report podcast later this week.