"I present head coach Juwan Ho-- David Fizdale."
Chris Wallace injected a bit of #MemphisNewsPhotosBeLike levity into David Fizdale's introductory press conference after an overview of the new Grizzlies' coach's personal and basketball past. Then it was Fizz's (two Zs, as he later made a point to note) turn to introduce himself to Memphis.
He was impressive. Really impressive.
He said pretty much everything a Grizzlies fan would want to hear. Mike Conley is coming back. We're going to play faster and embrace grit n' grind. We're going to win -- now.
So you can chalk this up as Coach Fizz's first W. Where he goes from here no one can really say, but he made a very good impression.
A quick look at some of the highlights from the day:
Looking amongst the different candidates for the head coaching job, Fizdale was billed as the "player's coach" and there was little to suggest otherwise in the press conference. He talked about close personal relationships with captains like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Udonis Haslem. He mentioned rapport with former Heat and current Grizz players Mario Chalmers and Birdman. He said that he had already reached out to almost every player currently on the roster.
Personal relationships with his guys are clearly something he values dearly. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of those relationships change as he shifts one chair over to the head job, but this is pretty apparently a big strength of his.
"I came here to win."
Fizdale has been rumored for different jobs before, and he mentioned that this is the opportunity he jumped at because here he can win immediately. Talks of a championship were noticeably absent from both his and Chris Wallace's remarks, but Fizdale clearly did not come to Memphis for a rebuilding job.
He also clearly seems invested in the "core four," who he referred to as our "legacy guys, backbone guys." Barring Mike Conley jumping ship in free agency, Fizdale's hire suggests that a fire sale is not in the organization's immediate plans. Speaking of Mike...
Mike Conley's free agency
The hundred million dollar question nowadays: can the Grizzlies, with Fizdale now at the helm, convince Mike Conley to re-sign in Memphis?
Fizz spoke about it almost as an inevitability. He talked about how he plans to build around Conley and have him play a role similar to the one that D-Wade plays in Miami's organization. He was incredibly confident, saying he's going to "hound him." That decision will ultimately come down to Conley, but from an outsider's perspective this looks like a good hire as it pertains to retaining our star point guard.
Style of play
Fizdale addressed concerns about the demise of grit n' grind as a playing style, saying he wants to continue to embrace that identity while picking up the pace of play. "Some of the ingredients are in place to be a running team," he said. He noted that he'll find different ways of spacing the floor, as they've done in Miami.
Also of interest to many Grizzlies fans -- Fizdale noted that he wants to continue to push player development, even with veterans. Might this possibly foreshadow the long-awaited Marc Gasol three point shot? Be still my heart.
All in all, this was about as positive of an introduction as one could hope for.
Time will tell if that translates into wins, but for now? Good feelings abound in Memphis.