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Lionel Hollins: Latest Rumor Mill Fodder

With the Grizzlies blazing through the Playoffs into the Western Conference Finals, Coach Lionel Hollins has become as hot a commodity as ever, and the suitors have come knocking.

Ronald Martinez

Lionel Hollins wins 56 games, a franchise best, in the regular season: No contract extension.

Hollins leads the Grizzlies past the Clippers with relative ease, winning the series 4-2 to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals: No contract extension.

Hollins and the Grizzlies march through the Semis, beating the Thunder 4-1 to advance farther than any team in franchise history, all the way to the Western Conference Finals: No contract extension.

All of this information is used to precede the question: What is good enough for the new ownership group to extend Hollins' contract? And for that matter, what would be considered a "reasonable" price to this new group to re-sign a coach that has already bested franchise records in both the regular season and playoffs?

The most ironic thing about all the Hollins contract hoopla is that the new ownership group was likely thinking that they might not want to spend so much to pay him what he was worth back before the Grizzlies made this playoff run. Instead of renewing Hollins contract towards the end of a phenomenal regular season, the ownership group opted to wait out the rest of the season, including the playoffs. Now, Hollins value is higher than it ever has been. Conrgatulations Robert Pera & Company. The price tag on a slightly used, helluva good coach just went up, and it's your fault that you will have to dole out more money to keep him. Just imagine Lionel Hollins sitting in his office at the Grizzlies complex after a long day's work, kicking his feet up on the desk, bending his arms and placing his hands behind his head, grinning from ear to ear, and saying "how do you like me now?" And who can blame the man? He has earned this contract extension.

The ownership group and Coach Hollins WERE on a level playing field when it came to contract negotiations. The word were cannot be stressed enough, as in past tense. Now, Hollins clearly has the leverage at this point.

All this leverage was gained the way anybody else gains leverage: They have other options. Coach Hollins is not short of those himself, as he has been linked to several teams that are looking for the next head coach to lead their respective franchises in the right direction. While Hollins might not have been contacted yet by several of the teams with coaching vacancies, that does not mean they won't come calling the second the Grizzlies season is over.

Below are the teams that are rumored to have Lionel Hollins at the top of their coaching wish list:

Milwaukee Bucks- The Bucks are at the top of the list because this might be the most enticing option for Hollins if he chooses to part ways with the Grizzlies. While other teams on this list might be closer to competing for a championship, NBA insiders have told the Racine Journal-Times out of Milwaukee that the Bucks have several talented young players that intrigue Hollins, particularly budding superstar Larry Sanders. Hollins could be salivating to develop one of the best young defenders in the league. Also, keep in mind Hollins had a brief stint as an assistant in Milwaukee in 2008, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that he built a decent relationship with management there. I don't know how big of a selling point this would be to Hollins, but his son is about to play his senior season on the basketball team at the University of Minnesota. Milwaukee is undoubtedly closer to his son than Memphis.

Los Angeles Clippers- Donald Sterling finally canned Vinny Del Negro, and it looks as if Hollins is on the top of the replacement list. The Clippers could be an interesting team for Hollins because they have a strong core, and they might not be too far from making a run to the Western Conference Finals. However, most of the players on that roster would leave Hollins pulling out what little hair he has left. The style of play does not fit Hollins coaching philosophy, and I'm not sure how well he would embrace being a coach in glamorous Los Angeles. Throw in the fact that the Clippers have one of the worst owners in sports and an extremely dysfunctional franchise, and Hollins to the Clips looks like a pretty big stretch.

Brooklyn Nets- With the Nets throwing around just about everybody's name, it's not surprising that Hollins has been added to their list. He would have the opportunity to coach one of the best point guards in the league over the last several years in Deron Williams, one of the elite centers in the league in Brook Lopez, a sharp shooter in Joe Johnson, and several other players Hollins would likely gel well with given his philosophy. However, the Nets have almost no cap space for the next five or so years, and they don't look to be close to competing for a championship with the group General Manager Billy King has assembled. Don't expect Hollins to leave for a job that would only get him mediocre playoff showings every year.

Before everybody panics, it is highly likely that a deal will get done with Coach Hollins after the season ends. I, for one, cannot imagine the outrage in Memphis among players and fans alike if Hollins does not receive that elusive contract extension. The new ownership group would be in deep water in Memphis fairly quickly if Hollins is not brought back. Although Pera and his group are mostly new when it comes to owning a sports franchise, he probably knows that he should not alienate the fans, especially this early in his regime as owner.

It is easy to dwell on the fact that the new ownership group blew their opportunity to sign Hollins when he had a cheaper price tag around his neck, but, for now, we just have to trust that the Grizzlies will do the right thing.

Get. It. Done.