This comes as a surprise to some, but all the signs were there. The Grizzlies would not negotiate with Hollins during the season and would not commit to him at season's end, despite Hollins leading the team to unprecedented heights.
Monday morning at the team's pre-NBA Draft camp, Hollins did not talk with the media; instead he sat in the corner with Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace.
Hollins had said he wanted to remain in Memphis. Just last night an organization started a petition to keep the coach in Memphis, which was posted his charity's web site lionelhollinscharities.org.
It reads, in part:
We, the fans and supporters of the Memphis Grizzlies, urge Robert Pera and Jason Levien to RENEW the coaching contract of COACH LIONEL HOLLINS. We support Coach Hollins’ decision to remain the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. We believe that coach Hollins is the right person for the job not only because of his winning record, but also because of his engagement with the community. Hollins helped to build the Grizzlies franchise to its current acclaim, and we think it would be foolish to halt the current momentum of the organization.
Apparently the petition and a Saturday pep rally in support of the coach did not move the Grizzlies top brass, who informed Hollins on Monday he would not return to the team.
"After a thorough internal process, which included conversations with Lionel and his representatives, we decided as an organization to move in a different direction," said Jason Levien, CEO & Managing Partner of the Memphis Grizzlies and FedExForum, in a prepared statement released Monday evening.
"On behalf of the Grizzlies organization I would like to thank Lionel for his service and hard work in helping this organization throughout his years in Vancouver and Memphis," Levien continued. "Lionel, the coaching staff, the players and the organization achieved new heights this season with our run to the Western Conference Finals and for that, we are grateful. The entire Grizzlies family wishes Lionel all the best and great success as he moves forward in his career."
As for Hollins' charity events, his staff members are saying they will go on as planned whether he's coaching the Grizzlies or not.
His annual events include the Bike Buddies Extravaganza, Community Garden Project, Role Model Dinner and Bowling for Backpacks.
Bowling for Backpacks is scheduled for August 16 and 17 at Andy B's in Bartlett.
So who will coach the Grizzlies now? Hollins' top assistant Dave Joerger will be among the candidates, and the Grizzlies have already had talks with former Nuggets coach George Karl.
"We have begun to identify our next head coach, who we feel can best move us forward," Levien stated.
The 22-year NBA coaching veteran was an original member of the Vancouver franchise and was a staple on the coaching sidelines for 10 of its first 12 seasons (1995-00, 2002-07). Hollins also served as the club’s interim head coach on two separate occasions. Hollins guided Vancouver to an 18-42 finish (.300) in 1999-00, replacing Brian Hill after the team started the season 4-18 (.182), and again took over for four games in 2004-05 following the resignation of Hall of Famer Hubie Brown. Hollins owns an overall career head coaching record of 214-201 (.516), including two stints as Grizzlies interim head coach. In 35 career playoff games, he holds an overall record of 18-17 (.514).