MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – When you watch the NBA finals on Local 24, admit it, you can’t help but wonder “Will the Memphis Grizzlies ever make it that far?”
You have to have a coach first, and Local 24 News went right to the top. We talked with team President Jason Wexler about the coaching search, the night Memphis got the number two lottery pick, and if he thinks Memphis can support two winning basketball teams.
The night is still fresh in the minds of Memphis Grizzlies fans. With just a 6.3% chance of getting a top pick, the NBA lottery balls bounced our way.
“You try to stay even keel, because you’re not going to get emotionally tied into a low likelihood. You gotta do your job and be professional about it,” said Wexler.
Wexler was watching at home with his family. When the Lakers got bumped early, he says it got really interesting, really fast.
“As LA and New York peeled off and we got to that #2 spot, I was just ecstatic at that point. It was a fantastic outcome for our organization,” he said.
Wexler says every team needs some luck, but also has to be smart about how they use that luck.
Richard asked, “Now I know you’re not going to tell me who you’re going to pick when number two comes up, but can you tell me, what’s the likelihood it’ll be Ja Morant?”
“Really not going to get into any specifics along those lines. We’re obviously going to do all of our homework regardless of who the pick may be. So we’re treating it as thorough and detailed as we would if we had the 8th pick or no pick,” said Wexler.
So what about the other big decision hanging over the team, hiring a new coach?
Richard asked, “Can you give me a number on how many you’ve brought in so far?”
“(sigh) We’ve talked to a lot of folks,” laughed Wexler.
He says the Grizzlies want all the qualities – a coach with a good basketball IQ, both in-game and strategic, and a communicator and leader who can manage a locker room and understands how important the job is in a basketball town like Memphis.
They’re taking their time.
“It’s one of those things we’re making progress steadily and again there’s no specific date or timetable. A great coach is a great coach and can adapt to whatever the situation’s going to be,” said Wexler.
So what if a great coach and some great players combine to make a good run in the NBA’s smallest TV market?
“You know the narrative. There’s no way Memphis can support a successful Tigers team and a successful Grizzlies team the same year. What’s your response to that?” asked Richard.
“I’ve never understood that mindset or mentality. Winning and success breeds winning and success throughout the city and throughout the organization,” answered Wexler. “The most exciting thing in the world would be the Tigers are making an NCAA tournament run and the Grizzlies working on a strong push to the playoffs.”
Hard to disagree with that. So what is Wexler’s vision for the team? Should fans expect a team in building mode? Or will our luck in the lottery change that dynamic?
Find out Sunday night after game two of the NBA finals on Local 24 News as the Warriors and Raptors play game two in Toronto.