This afternoon the Associated Press reported that the Memphis Grizzlies have extended Lionel Hollins for three years. Terms of the contract were not released during the announcement, as is customary with NBA coaching jobs.
Coach Hollins has won the favor of his best players, coached Mike Conley to respectability, and almost led the Grizzlies to their first winning season after 3 years with under 25 wins.
In the middle of the season, when the Grizzlies were playing their best basketball, Hollins was a front-runner for the Coach of the Year award. Even though the Grizzlies eventually fell out of playoff contention, Hollins is still considered one of the better young coaches in the game.
There's only one way to analyze this: it's the right move. No discussion involved.
Coach Hollins is this team's coach, and there's no way that a new coach could have benefited Memphis. I don't care if Avery Johnson or Byron Scott was walking through the door. If the young Grizzlies need anything, it's continuity.
After changing coaches three times, not to mention practically turning over the roster twice, since drafting Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies core had no hope of building predictability or rapport. Now they'll have just that this offseason, with another year for Hollins to work his offensive and defensive schemes into their heads.
Teamwork was the Grizzlies problem all season -- although it wasn't the problem the media predicted it to be -- and towards the end of the season, with Hasheem Thabeet starting, that issue was exacerbated. But once the talent, enough talent to win 40 games, plays better team basketball, they'll continue to improve.
The best example here is the Atlanta Hawks, who are currently configured similar to the Grizzlies. Despite the fact that Mike Woodson is often considered a below-average or average coach, the Hawks have continued to improve year after year under his leadership. He's not a fantastic coach, but he's won his players trust (no small feat with Josh Smith on the roster) and they're now a threat in the East.
Coach Hollins's legacy should be comparable. As he gets O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay through their feud, continues to work ethics into Zach Randolph, and gets our young role players to, well, fill their roles, Hollins and the Grizz are going to continue to grow together. Expect to see the rewards for these next three years.