Hollins, Allen headline Grizzlies' uncertain summer
MAY 28, 2013 7:54p ET
Not searching for Parker, who had already swept right past Memphis and into the NBA Finals, but searching for the missing piece(s) of the puzzle that will take the Grizzlies one more step.
As players and coaches filed into the practice facility for their final media availability of the season, there was plenty of reminiscing, remembering the unexpected run without Rudy Gay to their first conference finals and reflecting on a die-hard fan base that gave the club a standing ovation after Monday’s season-ending loss.
Reminiscing is good, but savoring the past won't lead to a successful future. All that success has only led to searching. Searching and trying to maintain key pieces already in place.
"A shooter would be nice," point guard Mike Conley said.
Conley wore a grin with the sentiment, but it's one thing Memphis needs for the offseason. The Spurs' inside defense exposed the Grizzlies’ lack of a scary scorer.
"We’ve got to get quicker, and bigger on the front line," said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. "We’ve got to add more basketball players on the wing. I think every series we’ve lost since I’ve been here, we couldn't make plays from the perimeter."
The Grizzlies think they know what it will take to reach the NBA Finals, but there is still much work to do, particularly hanging on to the two guys behind the grit-and-grind way.
The biggest question marks involve free agents Hollins and guard Tony Allen. Offensive centerpiece Zach Randolph has two years left on his $34 million deal, but it wasn’t that long ago his name popped up in trade talks — to the chagrin of Grizzlie fans.
Hollins doesn’t have a contract extension yet. And though he has no idea what grit-and-grind means, he personifies the hard-nosed term. With big-money Brooklyn among the handful of teams showing interest, Hollins says he wants to come back to Memphis. If it was up to him, a decision wouldn’t be made solely based on dollars — but between the lines.
"I'm very hopeful. I don’t know what’s going to happen," Hollins said. "This is a business. This is my first opportunity as a head coach. Having come the way it did, it wasn’t in a normal situation. I'm in a situation where I wanted to establish myself as an NBA coaching commodity and I believe I have with the players we’ve had. There’s other people interested, which makes it very, very nice.”
Hollins has raised his stock. Remember, this is the same guy who vehemently opposed trading Gay in late January, once even calling a media meeting to clear the air about a perceived rift between himself and new ownership.
The rift was almost certainly there, though never confirmed by either side, but both parties had the same goal: Win.
Hollins took what he had, continued to mold them into his style and won more than the once-lowly franchise had ever won. When young owner Robert Pera sat and told media members his goals upon trading Gay weren’t financial, he also thought this team was built for a playoff run. Some laughed, though he seemed convincing.
Maybe the youngster and a managing group he puts a lot of faith in aren't getting the credit they deserve.
And maybe they're not giving Hollins his due. At this point, it's hard to fathom that Hollins could be gone, but it was also hard to fathom the Grizzlies reaching the West finals three months after trading Gay.
Managing partner Jason Levien wouldn't even comment on Hollins’ future Tuesday. He’ll have some sort of comment by June 30, the end of Hollins' deal. It is still somewhat of a strange situation up top, often taking on the awkward responses of some of the coach's strange interviews.
Nothing strange about a Tony Allen interview, more entertaining and honest than anything else. And while Allen's scoring could improve, saying goodbye to his defense would be a blow. The biggest blow would be losing the original grinder.
Known by most as the NBA’s best lockdown, Allen is the face behind the grit-and-grind motto and the namesake of the Grindhouse, formerly FedExForum. Not re-signing him would be sacrilege.
"Most definitely, ain’t no question. I want to be here," Allen said. "The city, they show a lot of love. Got a lot of people running along with the grit-and-grind movement. You also notice it is the Grindhouse."
Like Hollins, Allen wants to be back. But like Hollins, Allen has a price, saying his agents will handle the financial part, but that he "bleeds blue." He also stopped short of saying he'd take a pay cut to aid payroll.
There are other questions, the biggest maybe surrounding whether or not reserve guard Jerryd Bayless returns. He'd like to return, as does Randolph, who wants to retire and live here.
The Grizzlies embrace the concept of winning without stars. But until Conley and Randolph went quiet against the Spurs, those two along with center Marc Gasol were starting to climb the ranks into stardom.
Memphis is one of the NBA’s best adjustment teams — take the San Antonio series out for a minute.
As the players head home for the summer, the question becomes whether or not the Grizzlies can adjust to whatever lies ahead, having stars, losing grinders or playing for a new coach after building a unique style after its unique coach.
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