Yours truly had the opportunity to go on with Phil Naessens on Tuesday's "Phil Naessens Show." While we talked about some of the great work being done here at Grizzly Bear Blues and several of the NBA games going on tonight, the main topic of conversation was "coaches on the hot seat." Mike Woodson of the Knicks and Jason Kidd of the Nets were mentioned (spoiler alert: Phil really dislikes both teams), but the main focus of discussion that Grizzlies fans would be most interested in would be Dave Joerger.
Using Chris Faulkner's Dave Joerger Approval Poll as a starting point, we both agreed that we were surprised that Joerger's approval rating was so low. The Marc Gasol injury, which came in the Spurs game after a 4 game California winning streak, changes everything for this Grizzlies team. On message boards, blogs and radio shows people, including by Adrian Wojnarowski on the Gary Parrish Show here in Memphis recently, comments have been made that injuries shouldn't matter, results should. The Rudy Gay injury of three years ago and the Zach Randolph injury of two years ago are mentioned as evidence of the "injuries don't matter, win" argument. Others use those two situations to back up the "Lionel Hollins should still be the head coach" rationale.
Neither is fair, in my judgment. It isn't just missing Gasol; at one point or another, Jerryd Bayless, Zach Randolph, Ed Davis, Tony Allen and Quincy Pondexter have all missed time due to injury. The Grizzlies have only played 20 games. That is a large amount of bumps and bruises for any coach to overcome, much less a rookie.
Also, the fact is that Gasol is your key cog. Losing Rudy and Zach doesn't compare to losing Gasol. Zach Randolph is a very good basketball player, but at this point in his career he only has the capacity to be great when he is alongside Big Spain. In regards to Rudy, many Grizzlies fans have said for years that this team was better without Rudy, and pointed to two playoff runs without him as examples of why. However, when it comes time to critique Joerger, it is OK to use the Rudy Gay trade as part of a pro-Lionel argument? I'm not buying it.
It is fully possible that Joerger will not be as successful long term as some people, including the front office, think and fans hope he will be. It is far too early, and too much has transpired, to make that judgment in regards to his job security and overall job being done at this point. As I say on the show, I am not sure Pat Summitt and Phil Jackson's illegitimate love child could win a title with this Grizzlies team as it is currently with all of its injuries.
When the team came back from California, their record was 7-5. Up to that point, they were in the bottom half of the playoff conversation, having struggled with new sets and rotations. It appeared things were improving. Then Gasol got hurt, and everything changed. If any team lost its best player early in the season, they would struggle comparatively speaking. Regardless of coach.
Give the show a listen at the link below: