After the Grizzlies rough start to begin the season, Coach Lionel Hollins was assumed to be in the hot seat since he is in the final year of his contract with Memphis.
Around 70 games later, owner Michael Heisley should be the one who is worried, because Hollins has not publicly commented on the status of his contract extension. As Chris Tomasson of Fanhouse reports, owner Michael Heisley has tendered an offer to Hollins, but Hollins has neither accepted or declined the new contract.
Hollins wouldn't say whether it is years, money or some other reason why the extension hasn't been signed. Heisley also wouldn't reveal specifics, but expressed his desire for a return by Hollins, who has steered the team to a surprising 40-40 mark in his first full season on the job.
One thing is certain, however; Coach Hollins has the support of his players. Tomasson restated the same story we've heard all season: Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol all enjoy playing in Hollins's system and believe he's the best man for the job.
At this point, especially since Hollins is essentially refusing to comment on the subject, all we can do is wait and provide hypotheses as to why Coach is delaying his decision. Here's my theory:
Lionel Hollins isn't going to win Coach of the Year, though he might have if the Grizzlies made the playoffs. That being said, he certainly has built a strong resume in guiding the previously hapless Grizz to a 53-66 record.
But I don't think any general managers would confuse Lionel Hollins with the elite candidates this offseason. I think a playoff team or championship contender looking to switch coaches would much rather have Avery Johnson or Byron Scott then Hollins. And if you're not getting signed by a playoff team, or a team that fancies itself a contender, then you're probably not going to get a big coaching contract.
So if the money isn't the issue, then what is the problem? I think Coach Hollins might be looking for a little personnel control -- or at least meaningful input on the process. Michael Heisley subverted both Coach and GM Chris Wallace by signing Allen Iverson and drafting Hasheem Thabeet. Both those players have been Hollins's only headaches this season.
If Michael Heisley is serious about keeping Coach Hollins around -- which I think is the right move -- then he needs to lay more than cash on the table, he needs to promise the man he calls "a friend of mine" that he'll respect him like a friend too.