Lionel Hollins contract will the Grizzlies is set to expire at this season’s end, and there are a bevy of teams heedfully waiting an opportunity to toss their hat in the ring.
Fortunately, Hollins has made it very clear that he’s optimistic he’ll return to Memphis.
“There’s no question,” Hollins told ESPN, when asked if he hoped to be back with the Grizzlies after the season. “When you build something, you want to see it through to the fruition of it all.”
… “The only conversations we’ve had is they said they wanted me back,” Hollins told ESPN. “After we lost the first two games to the Clippers, we had a friendly conversation about the series and how they just wanted me personally to know that regardless of what’s being said out there, this is how they felt. That was great.”
“When you have champagne taste, you can’t be on a beer budget. It’s a small market and I understand the economics of being in a small market. I’ve been with the Grizzlies for 11 years in Memphis. Rudy Gay has been a big part of our success. I’ve known him as a kid as a rookie coming in. He’s a big part of my success as a coach here and I feel I was a big part of his success and I wish him the best as he moves forward into the second chapter of his career.”
There were immediate questions surrounding Hollins’ future with the organization following his candid remarks. Foolish remarks, mind you, as he understands what building a championship-caliber team requires after claiming a title as a player on the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers.
Should he choose to entertain his options this offseason, for whatever reason, the Nets, Bucks and Clippers are all reportedly biding for his services.
Per Gery Woelfel, Racine Journal Times on the Nets pursuit:
Some NBA officials claim the Nets are honing in on Lionel Hollins, Memphis’ coach whose contract will soon expire. The Nets’ interest in Hollins is hardly surprising, especially considering the terrific job Hollins has done this season.
He’s right too, it’s hardly a surprise. With a billion dollar owner in the fold and a team that’s built to compete in the East now, the Nets will be able to offer Hollins a pretty penny. Which could seem enticing, because ‘when you have champagne taste, you can’t be on a beer budget.’
Woelfel also includes the Bucks as a potential suitor in a more recent report:
“If you believe some insightful NBA officials, it’s simply because the Bucks are playing the waiting game. They are biding their time until the Memphis Grizzlies’ season ends and they can talk to Grizzlies free-agent in-waiting coach Lionel Hollins.”
Hollins, you may recall, had a cup of coffee in Milwaukee as one of Skiles’ assistant coaches before bolting to Memphis where, in the last three seasons as head coach, his teams have won 46, 41 and 56 games. Hollins led the Grizzlies into the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs — without a single superstar.
The Bucks don’t making me nearly as apprehensive as the Nets, but there’s always that chance.
Lastly, there’s the Grizz’ rival Clippers, who are reportedly biding for Hollins’ services as well.
Source says Lionel Hollins is No. 1 on #Clippers list w/Byron Scott, Alvin Gentry. Team officials just relieved Sterling gave in, axed VDN.
— Mark Heisler (@MarkHeisler) May 22, 2013
The Clips would pair with the Nets as another potential title contender Hollins’ could settle into. But I’m sure any significant pull will be entirely contingent on Chris Paul’s future in LA.
This rat race for Hollins’ services could have been avoided, of course, had the Grizzlies extended him earlier this season. So here’s to hoping their recent playoff success is enough to keep Hollins on Beale Street for years to come.
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