Lionel Hollins will more than likely not return as the Memphis Grizzlies head coach after negotiations for a contract extension soured over the weekend. On Sunday, the Grizzlies gave Hollins permission to speak with other teams about coaching vacancies. One source describes the conflict between the two parties as “philosophical differences.”
These differences have primarily been between Hollins and former ESPN writer and current Grizzlies VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger. Hollinger has brought in the “new school” advanced metrics culture to the Memphis front office that has clashed with Hollins’ “old school” coaching style.
The first signs of tension between the two came after the Rudy Gay trade, which Hollins publicly criticized.
Recently, there has been a report of Hollins blowing up at Hollinger during a playoff practice for walking in during a shooting drill and talking to forward Austin Daye. Sources said, Hollins proceeded to blow up at Hollinger as he considered a practice to be a sacred place for a coach and his players to interact.
There’s no question Hollins has been a good coach in Memphis. He has steadily helped raise the Grizzlies’ winning percentage from 48 percent to 68 percent in his four full seasons coaching the team. However he’s just a bad fit with the new front office.
Hollinger subscribes to the new wave thinking that coaches and players should consult advanced statistics to influence decisionmaking during games. This means a greater interaction between the nerds in the front office and the coaching staff/players downstairs. Judging by recent events, the Memphis front office is willing to let Hollins go to further Hollinger’s vision for the organization.