Are Grizzlies in Limbo After Firing Dave Joerger?
The Memphis Grizzlies just endured a pretty rough 2015-16 NBA season. Despite still somehow making the playoffs, they lost two huge stars in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley to injury and by the time they took on the San Antonio Spurs in round one, they were running on fumes.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) May 7, 2016
As it turns out, that’s not a situation head coach Dave Joerger wanted to stick around and see be repeated. Per reports, Joerger asked the Grizz if he could seek out other coaching opportunities and Memphis responded by firing him.
With Joerger cut loose, questions are rising as far as what the future may hold for the Grizzlies. Star point guard Mike Conley is scheduled to hit free agency and with big man Zach Randolph another year older, it’s fair to wonder if Memphis is still going to be a viable playoff threat moving forward.
Throw in the axing of a successful head coach, and fans could be ready to see their heads spin.
Unless, of course, Memphis has a plan. So far, it appears they do.
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) May 7, 2016
With the team letting Joerger go to likely interview for the vacant position in Sacramento, the Grizz are expected to hotly pursue recently fired Indiana Pacers head man, Frank Vogel.
It’s a no-brainer move at first glance, as Vogel is similar to Joerger in his ability to keep a team together, as well as get everyone to defend.
The bigger picture here could have the Grizzlies making the necessary adjustments to round back into a title contender. The first objective is to get a head coach in that can either at least do as good of a job as Joerger did, or obviously better.
Joerger was a terrific analytics guy and was a player’s coach, but perhaps Memphis needs the edge of Vogel, who brings serious experience to the table. In his six-year run with the Pacers, Vogel got Indiana to the playoffs five times, including two consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. With LeBron James no longer crushing his playoff hopes early, it’s worth wondering how far Vogel can get a new squad out West.
We may soon find out. Of course, landing Vogel isn’t where Memphis can stop. They’ve settled with the same roster for years, and while it’s gotten them to post-season play in six straight seasons, they haven’t gotten back to the Western Conference Finals since reaching that plateau back in the 2012-13 season.
The road back includes several key moves. Bringing in Vogel is a great first step, with keeping Conley in town a very crucial step number two. Of course, this could all backfire, too. Conley may have already been highly considering jetting this summer, and the loss of a familiar face could easily prompt him to search for greener pastures.
Could definitely see Memphis rebooting now and letting go of Mike Conley Jr.
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) May 7, 2016
To keep Conley, Memphis may have to do something they haven’t done in years – land a big free agent.
Kevin Durant and LeBron James are out of the question, but someone like DeMar DeRozan could be interesting for a Memphis team that has never lacked grit, chemistry or a defensive edge, but has continuously struggled to locate a killer instinct on offense.
It remains to be seen what Memphis will do next, but if Joerger wanted out, they were right to part ways. And if they can land someone of Vogel’s caliber, it’s highly arguable they just upgraded – almost by accident.
Blow it Up?
Then again, maybe Conley leaves and the Grizz can’t lock down Vogel. And even if they do, perhaps the best move is to lean on star center Marc Gasol as the franchise undergoes a quick rebuild.
One thing is for sure, the Grizzlies are on watch, and depending on what they do in the next couple of months, they could swing from a playoff team to a non-playoff team or a serious title contender.
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