Lost though it may have been in the relentless beatdown the Spurs delivered last week, the Memphis Grizzlies had a great season, another tremendous step forward. Under head coach Lionel Hollins, the Grizzlies' winning percentage has increased every year: from .293 in 2008-09 (he coached the last half of the season), to .488, to .561, to .621, to .683 in 2012-13. Marc has, improbably, turned into the superior Gasol brother, and Mike Conley has crept up on the league's top point guards. Hollins's teams have done well in the playoffs, too. His contract expires at the end of June.
So, both sides are working feverishly to get an extension done, right? Not quite. According to Adrian Wojnarowski's report on Sunday, the Grizzlies have granted Hollins permission to talk to other teams, and they are on the hunt for a new head coach. Hollins jumped on Memphis sports-talk radio today to confirm that Grizz management had granted him that permission, but with the caveat that he never asked for it and has no interest in coaching elsewhere. He said, "I thought everything was good. I was excited when I left. They indicated that they respected me and appreciated what I had done and that [they were] going to engage my agent in negotiations later on that evening. The next thing I know I've been given permission to talk to other teams." It seems he has been functionally canned.
According to Woj, negotiations never even got far enough to reach traditional stumbling blocks, like length and money. Hollins, his agent, and team management simply couldn't agree on whether Hollins could fit properly with the "franchise's belief systems." The Grizzlies like stats—that's why they hired ESPN's John Hollinger—and Hollins, evidently, doesn't? (Wojnarowski's euphemism, for what it's worth, may mark the most exaggerated dramatization of analytics since the original Moneyball script called for a cartoon Bill James.) The particulars, from the Yahoo story: