The firing of David Fizdale has led to all sorts of attention for a below average to bad Memphis Grizzlies team. As our staff outlined in part one of our Roundtable, which you can read here if you missed it, there are arguments on both sides of the aisle with regard to whether or not the now former head man for Memphis should have gotten the boot. But, the decision has been made. David Fizdale is gone, for better or worse.
The next step? What the heck comes next? Where should the Memphis Grizzlies, and current interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, go from here? Assuming Bickerstaff is retained through the remainder of the season, should the Grizzlies hope to right the current ship and try to get back in the playoff hunt in the muddled Western Conference? Or should this be the first step in a wholesale change, a fire sale of sorts, towards the inevitable doom of...gulp...tanking.
We tackled that idea as well as a staff at GBB. Here are our takes on what should happen in the days and weeks ahead for these Grizzlies.
Where do the Memphis Grizzlies go from here? Is it a fire sale, or an attempt to save the season?
Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax), GBB Site Manager- What they should do and what they will do are, surprisingly, intertwined nicely in the wake of this controversial decision. They should try to salvage the season, and they will try to salvage the season, because that is the only move to make realistically. I would love to think that Marc Gasol for Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and the 2018 Brooklyn 1st rounder would be a move Cleveland would make. You want to do a quick tank? That’d be a good way to do it - two likely good lottery selections, Brooklyn’s and your own.
But Cleveland won’t pay that freight for the aging Gasol to the probably desperate Grizzlies, and moving on from Marc and going full-tank makes little sense because of the lack of assets Memphis currently has. And be honest - do you really want Chris Wallace at the helm of that rebuild? Wallace is an NBA survivor. He has experience doing enough to save himself more often than not. His ability to get this roster to make the playoffs seven straight years reflects that, to an extent. As long as he is here, it may be best to survive.
Therefore, trying to get this ship righted makes the most sense. Bickerstaff has done this before. Conley and Gasol together, with Chandler Parsons, Tyreke Evans, and JaMychal Green to complement them, are still good enough for the 7 or 8 seed in the west. Should that be the goal? That’s a different, broader question. But even with all of the apparent chaos currently surrounding this team, Memphis is only two games out of the playoffs. This is a play to kickstart that run.
Now, if Conley is out long-term? Or if Memphis is still struggling a month or two from now? All bets are off...but a mini-tank, where you have a rough season with key pieces staying, get one lottery pick in 2018, and try again next season isn’t out of the question either.
Brandon Conner (@BallFromGrace), GBB Associate Editor- I don't even know what the direction is at this point. When Fizdale was brought in, it looked as if the team had a goal: rebuilding on the fly while still trying to remain competitive as Mike and Marc aged. Now? It looks like they're simply trying to avoid Pau Meltdown 2.0, which may still be on the table regardless.
I guess they're probably trying to save the season, but this seems like a knee-jerk reaction that may do more harm than good.
Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901), GBB Senior Writer- With the Grizzlies firing Fizdale, it almost feels like they're putting all their eggs in one basket. When I say this, I mean that the Grizzlies are clearly banking on Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to bring them current success, as they obviously put Gasol's complaints above Coach Fizdale. I don't think they should be putting all those eggs in that proverbial basket, because now it's going to be a desperate scramble (pun not intended) to save this season...
And then what? What is the direction of this team? We've seen promise in some of the younger players, but now they're left in a weird predicament as well with an interim coach. Conley and Gasol aren't getting any younger. And now they're left at a crossroads. I think they should try to rebuild, but I have a feeling the current front office is going to push for current mediocre success instead of preparing for the future.
Matt Preston (@grizzlam), GBB Social Media Editor- You'd hope that the Grizzlies have an amazing response under Bickerstaff's "stewardship" much like the Rockets after they fired McHale, but the truth of the team's strength under his coaching won't be known for some time.
Jack Noonan (@jnoonan1307), GBB Associate Editor- And here we are. Out of nowhere, the Bickerstaff Era starts in Memphis. J.B. Bickerstaff luckily has experience as a head coach in this league. Ironically enough, he took over and coached the Houston Rockets for 71 games in 2015-2016 after Kevin McHale was abruptly fired after only 10 games. A quick rundown on Bickerstaff: he plays fast offensive basketball. The Rockets were 4th in points per game (2nd in 3's) and 7th in pace the year he took over.
However, they were 25th in points allowed and 21st in defensive rating. Memphis could see what will happen to him as coach. But, the Grizzlies now have a major decision in front of them. It could be time to blow it up for this franchise. Fire Chris Wallace, get some sort of building block assets for Gasol and Evans, and build for the future. Firing Fizdale shows it is certainly in play, and I think now is the time.
Greg Ratliff (@GregRatliff), GBB Staff Writer- Clearly the team thinks that they're attempting to save the season. If players start getting traded, then it's a fire sale. But they're really appearing to go all in on Marc and Mike and the rest of this team. This to me is a huge mistake, because I really don't see what the Grizzlies vision of the future is. Where are they going?? The team is no better than they were yesterday.
McCarty Maxwell (@McCartyMaxwell), GBB Staff Writer- I don’t see this being a fire sale. Fizdale was the one making the decisions; now that he’s gone, the team can go in a different direction. Memphis fans have high expectations, especially after seven straight playoff appearances. Of course they’re going to be unhappy when losing becomes the norm, as they should be.
The front office was feeling the pressure, and firing Fizdale is a step towards righting that wrong. My only hesitation is that there are a plethora of eligible coaches to choose from floating around in the coaching-sphere. I’ll be interested to see who his replacement is, aside from J.B. Bickerstaff stepping in as the interim. But for now, this is a step to save the season.
Mac Trammell (@Mac_Trammell), GBB Staff Writer- There’s a chance that they stay on track for a mini-tank. Suck this year (well on their way), maybe trade Tyreke/Brandan Wright (they should do this), and cash in on a deep pool of NBA talent in the lottery before coming back next year all the way healthy with a chance to escape the Grit and Grind era without having to commit to a full rebuild. This doesn’t make you any better now, or maybe really even next year, but it could potentially save the team from being banished to the pit of misery for the next five to ten seasons.
Brandon Abraham (@bcabraham), GBB Staff Writer- I think firing Fizdale this early in the season is an attempt to resurrect or save the season. We've seen this Grizzlies team play well early in the year, so it's not like they’ve been terrible from the beginning. I expect them to try and fix things over the next couple of months, re-evaluate close to the trade deadline, and decide on a fire sale or not. For now, they're attempting to save their season, and for some of the front office maybe their jobs.
Colin Griffith, GBB Staff Writer- I'm sure that in the Grizzlies' minds the only place to go is up. I'm not sure that they have reached the point of a fire sale yet. I think they believe they can still compete with their roster and that the biggest thing holding them back was their coach. It seems more like an attempt to save the season at this point, but if the losses keep piling up they may start to think about moving some of their players and start a rebuild.
What say you, Grizzlies fans? What should be the next step for Memphis? Vote in the poll below.
What should the Memphis Grizzlies do now?
This poll is closed
Fire sale time- blow it up, trade Marc, start over
Try to save the season with the pieces in place