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Meet the Coaching Candidates: Jarron Collins and Sarunas Jasikevicius

The Grizzlies are in midst of a crucial coaching search for their franchise. Let’s meet two of the most recently interviewed candidates.

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As a franchise, the Memphis Grizzlies have had a very difficult time finding a stable head coach of their team. They are currently in the midst of their fifth coaching search this decade. Even through all the playoff runs, the franchise could never find their guy for the future of the team. As we fully shift into the 2019 off-season, it is crucial for this team to find a coach who can last longer than a few years and will help with this current rebuild of the Grizzlies.

Last season, the front office had trouble with the concept of a coaching search. J.B. Bickerstaff was given the job without completely doing their due diligence. The new front office is already making the smart moves this off-season as they actually have a real coaching search for this vacancy. It really does make you feel better when the simplest things are performed competently.

For this search, three names have been reported on as candidates who have interviewed for the Grizzlies’ head coaching job. They are Utah Jazz assistant, Alex Jensen, Golden State Warriors assistant, Jarron Collins, and Lithuania’s Zalgiris head coach, Sarunas Jasikevicius.

Let’s dive in and learn more about two of these three candidates. If you missed the Alex Jensen introduction site manager Joe Mullinax wrote a piece about him here.

Jarron Collins

The first candidate to learn more about is Jarron Collins. He is currently an assistant for the Golden State Warriors since 2014. Before his coaching career began, he played in the league for 10 years. His best playing days were with the Utah Jazz who drafted him back in 2001.

Collins started his coaching career with the Warriors, joining Steve Kerr’s staff as a player development coach. He eventually was promoted to assistant in 2015. Collins has been with the team through all three championships and is working on his fourth this season.

Jarron Collins has the championship pedigree and understanding of what it takes to get to a championship. That knowledge would be important for the Grizzlies as they try and get back into the playoffs and beyond. Also, being a former player creates a bond with his team that does not come from someone who has not played the game at such a high level before. Some think that this is an overrated attribute, but being a player’s coach can pay dividends down the road.

The arguments against Collins is that he does not have the experience necessary to lead a team on his own. He has only been an assistant, and it was all with a team that, in all reality, does not need much help in the first place. No one knows what Collins would do as a coach whenever he faces adversity for the first time.

All in all, Collins is the right direction the team should be taking. He is an assistant coming from a successful, championship winning team. The staff is successful under Steve Kerr, and if he took anything away from Kerr, he just may be ready for his own gig.

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Sarunas Jasikevicius

Jasikevicius is currently a Lithuanian head basketball coach with Zalgiris. Zalgiris is the powerhouse Lithuanian team who is leading the LKL this season. Before his coaching days, Jasikevicius had a very long and impressive career playing all over the world. He has a litany of awards including the FIBA EuroBasket MVP in 2003. Also, he had a short stint in the NBA from 2005-2007 playing for the Indiana Pacers and the Golden State Warriors.

As for his coaching resume, Jasikevicius transitioned into an assistant role with Zalgiris after his playing days ended with the same club in 2014. He was then promoted to head coach in 2016. After dominating the LKL, in 2017, he led the team to the EuroLeague and finished in 3rd place. A great accomplishment for a team based out of Lithuania.

Now, the question is, would he be a good hire in the NBA? Jasikevicius is a mostly unknown coaching candidate. He gained interest from the Cleveland Cavaliers this off-season and last summer had talks with the Toronto Raptors. He is at least established over in Europe enough to have his name keep popping up in NBA circles. The biggest push for him that has been speculated about is with regard to Jonas Valancunias, who is also Lithuanian. Last year’s interview with the Raptors, to now talks with the Grizzlies, leads people to believe Valancunias may have some say in the matter. Either way, whether baseless rumor or a real possibility, Valancunias has not even committed to the Grizzlies for next season, so the team should not be making decisions based on him.

The pros on Jasikevicius are that he is an established coach in Europe. The league competition of course is not as competitive as the NBA, but he would bring the confidence and winning culture the Grizzlies could use. Also, the European-style X’s and O’s could be a fun wrinkle to the league. His teams have been said to have “elite ball-movement and offensive execution.”

The cons are what most people would assume. He is a virtual unknown, the Lithuanian league is nothing like the NBA, and he may not be the player’s coach that seems to be an important attribute to the Memphis Grizzlies franchise. That may be different with this new front office, but the player-coach relationship does matter to some extent no matter who is making the decision.

Again, I like this outside-the-box move for the Grizzlies. It is a different thought than falling back into the retread of old NBA head coaches. Both of these two candidates would have a fresh look to the NBA sideline that may be needed with a rebuild. No matter who it is, they must have the complete confidence and full support of the new front office. Without that, there is no way anyone will succeed.

This is a huge hire for the Memphis Grizzlies, but it seems so far to be a search they do not want to miss on again.

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