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GBB Roundtable: Was firing David Fizdale the right decision?

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This question requires all hands on deck.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

By now, you’ve heard the news - David Fizdale is no longer the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. This has sparked all sorts of debate on social media, radio, podcasts, and everything in-between. It was certainly a move that sent shock waves through the fan base and those who follow the team, as well as NBA players and the basketball community at large. Some see this as a necessary move considering the circumstances, while others see it as a knee-jerk reaction built around a broken relationship.

So who is right? I brought in the whole GBB crew on this two-part roundtable. First, here are our responses to that fundamental question-

Was it the right decision to fire David Fizdale?

Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax), GBB Site Manager- If only I could have been a fly on the wall in the locker and meeting rooms between the end of the Nets game and the decision being made to fire David Fizdale. Fizdale had lost Marc, and it happened probably a long time ago, and he wasn’t able to reconcile that relationship. At the end of the day, it was easier to get rid of the coach than the player. Trading Marc Gasol for 75 cents on the dollar to “tank” and allow for the team to be molded in Fizdale’s image may have been a good long-term play, but it didn’t make sense given what the Grizzlies have in the cupboard of assets...

Which is next to nothing. The investment of resources in extending Grit and Grind is coming home to roost. Dillon Brooks is your most exciting prospect. You don’t own your 2019 1st round pick. There are all arguments against an outright tank - it would get BAD, you don’t get the direct benefits of that “process” for years to come, and this young fan base may not be able to handle that. Couple all that with ownership questions and a general manager who may be out next for the previously mentioned missteps?

You roll with the guys you’ve invested in and try to maximize the Gasol/Conley era. Fizdale ran against that, and seems to be a victim of circumstance because of it. He wasn’t perfect with rotations, and scheme was not clicking early, but the team wasn’t healthy. Fizdale will be a good head coach in the NBA down the road.

After the relationship with Gasol went that south, that publicly, that fast? It could no longer be in Memphis.

Brandon Conner (@BallFromGrace), GBB Associate Editor- I don't think I can give a definitive answer given that I'm not privy to so much that goes on behind closed doors. Maybe Fizdale's relationship with Gasol was beyond repair. Maybe there were players other than Gasol who didn't like Fizdale's leadership style and thought he was the wrong person to lead the team. I'm not sure we'll ever get any definitive answers on those sort of things, but I suspect that one game isn't the sole basis for this decision.

But based on the information I've seen, I can't come to any other conclusion than that this was a short-sighted move. Gasol was clearly frustrated, but there has to be a better effort to resolve these sorts of conflicts. Now the Grizzlies are hiring yet another coach, and the dysfunction that appears to reign in the organization is in full view of the public. Look at LeBron James' reaction. There are people out there comparing the Grizzlies to the Kings! That ain't great, folks. We've complained about Memphis struggling to lure free agents before. It won't get any easier in the near future. This move is a PR disaster, even if it's what Gasol (and perhaps others) wanted.

Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901), GBB Senior Writer- I don't believe it was the right decision to fire David Fizdale. Mike Conley has been hurt, which has only blown up preexisting issues and created new ones. And a lot of the problems the Grizzlies have had couldn't be fixed by Fizdale. It was partially health, and there seemed to be an effort issue. You could argue that the Grizzlies players weren't buying into Fizdale, but clearly his coaching can lead to Grizzlies success, as shown last season and the beginning of this one when Conley was healthy.

It was weird that Marc Gasol was benched Sunday night, but one isolated public incident shouldn't have equaled Fizdale being ousted. I do believe there were some problems behind the scenes, but it seems to be a negative trend with the Grizzlies' front office and their coaches. I don't believe the problem was Fizdale. The problem is the relationship of the front office with their coaches. And that was in turn affecting the players buying into Fizdale. I'm a total "Marc Gasol supporter," but him making a few comments shouldn't have meant the immediate firing of the head coach.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Preston (@grizzlam), GBB Social Media Editor- Yes. It was Marc or Fiz, so of course Fiz lost. He should've learned from his failures managing Marc's personality last year. Does that mean that Fiz isn't a great coach on many levels, sure to be employed on possibly amazing NBA teams in the future? Not at all. But on a team where Marc and Mike are in leadership positions dishing out their style of leadership, you need a head coach that can better manage personalities. Hopefully Bickerstaff can manage that while retaining Fiz's esteem for player development.

Jack Noonan (@jnoonan1307), GBB Associate Editor- Yes, it was time to cut ties with Coach Fizdale. I may be in the minority here, but the decision had to be made after seeing no improvement from this team in this 8 game losing streak (and losing 11 of 13). The Grizzlies were 16-27 since the All-Star break last year and that just does not cut it if you are playing to win and compete for the playoffs. Plus, the rotations and starting lineups have been suspect, to say the least. Fizdale always had an interesting philosophy with minute distribution. He always seemed to go way down the bench during games.

Bottom line is your 10th and 11th guys are not going to win you games. This did not seem like it was going to change. Now, these were all negative things against Fiz before Sunday's game against the Nets. That is where it gets weird. There seemed to be a little rift between Fizdale and Marc Gasol. During his whole tenure in Memphis, there always seemed to be a little disconnect between the two but was always professional. This may have come to a head Sunday night. That is a losing battle for Coach Fiz. His livelihood is not more important than Memphis's All-Star center’s attitude towards this team.

It will be interesting to see what comes out, if anything, about this whole situation. However it went down, I still think Fizdale should have been shown the door sooner rather than later.

Greg Ratliff (@GregRatliff), GBB Staff Writer- I don't believe the decision is right. I feel like it sends the message that the players have all of the power. Why should the players listen to the head coach? Marc didn't agree with him and he was fired. It sends a terrible message not only to the players but to whomever they find to be the long term coach. Who is going to want to deal with that pressure? Make Marc/Mike happy or be fired. This isn't Cleveland. The Grizzlies aren't a step away from a championship. Not even a few steps.

It's clear now that Fizdale wasn't getting through to the players, but a lot of that starts with Marc and Mike. If they don't buy in, the rest of the team will follow.

At some point you have to realize that maybe the coach isn't the problem here.

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

McCarty Maxwell (@McCartyMaxwell), GBB Staff Writer- It was the right decision. The job of a head coach is to adapt to your team’s production, he wasn’t doing that. The Grizzlies were losing, but nothing was being changed to try and solve the problem, that’s on Fizdale. I think he is a great coach, capable of coaching a good team, but he isn’t fit to rebuild a program with high expectations like Memphis. I wish he could’ve figured it out, he was so much fun to have around, but shelf life in the NBA is so futile. Good luck to him in the future, but Memphis is needs someone who can diagnose the problems and fix them.

Mac Trammell (@Mac_Trammell), GBB Staff Writer- From my perspective—which has no merit outside of my own body in this case—this could not have been worse. What was Fizdale supposed to do without Conley? He literally said, “I’m desperate” two nights ago about trying to find a winning lineup. How is that his fault?

I am intentionally skipping over the fractured Fizdale-Gasol relationship because I’m certain my great GBB colleagues will have covered that. But more importantly because I’m focused on what Fizdale’s firing means for this franchise. His firing signals that the front office has lost all control of this organization. With his firing the team’s brass has torpedoed the likelihood that any halfway decent head coach would choose Memphis under the current regime. In a similar statement, were I a player, I would certainly not want to sign with such a dysfunctional franchise either.

The front office's inability to get along with now a third head coach—the second of its own choosing—reflects much more poorly on it than it does on any of the men it has relieved of their positions.

Brandon Abraham (@bcabraham), GBB Staff Writer- It's tough to answer without all the necessary information to evaluate. From what I do know, I think Fizdale got the short end of the stick here. He hasn't really had a healthy lineup since he got here last season, and despite his shortcomings, seems like a really good up and coming coach. If it came down to choosing between Fizdale and Marc, then I understand why he got fired. I don't necessarily like the idea that Gasol can just call out things in the media or even potentially call Pera and pout about the coach and get him fired, but considering where this franchise is at, I get why they have to side with Marc.

Considering we don't really know what's going to happen to the franchise in the next few years, it's at least smart to keep Gasol happy since he's one of the two players fans will pay lots of money to see. Grizz better hope Bickerstaff can revive this team, because I don't think any decent coach is going to want to come coach in Memphis under this management.

Colin Griffith, GBB Staff Writer- Looking at it right now, I don't think this was the right time to cut Fizdale loose. Yes we've lost 8 in a row, yes we've looked discombobulated and yes some of Fizdale's lineups haven't made much sense, but look what we were dealing with. Mike is hurt and even when he was playing it was clear he wasn't 100%. This roster has dealt with a lot of early-season injuries so far which doesn't allow for a team to truly find it's rhythm. There were a lot of positives from the early portion of this season and I think Fiz was a big part of that. To me this move seems like an attempt to appease Marc Gasol and salvage the season.

Marc clearly wasn't happy with sitting out of the fourth quarter in the loss to Brooklyn and this move coming off the heels of that just looks like a move to keep him happy, similar to the Cavaliers firing David Blatt a few years ago when it looked like LeBron wasn't happy with the job he was doing. There is still a lot of games left to play, which means ample time for the Grizz to right the ship. Time will tell if firing Fizdale is a step in the right direction, but for the moment I'm skeptical at best.

What do you think? Vote in the poll, and stay tuned for Part II later today- what now for the Grizzlies?

Poll

Were the Memphis Grizzlies right to fire David Fizdale

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Yes, he lost Gasol/the team
    (118 votes)
  • 65%
    No, he wasn’t the main issue
    (223 votes)
341 votes total Vote Now

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