Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace and head coach Lionel Hollins met with the media this morning for the first time since the end of last season's playoff run. As is typical of these types of public press conferences, there as not much in the way of actual news.
Hollins confirmed that he will be hiring two new assistant coaches, replacing both departed assistants, Johnny Davis and Damon Stoudamire, but didn't specify a timetable for the hires. Hollins noted that incumbent assistant Dave Joerger will be moving into Davis' old slot as lead assistant. As for what type of coaches he's looking for, Hollins mentioned a couple of qualities.
In praising Stoudamire, Hollins noted that in addition to his work in practices and games, Stoudamire had been invaluable in helping manage the personalities on the team and in dealing with players and their families and associates as people. This is an element of running a team — remember Bill Simmons' Isaiah Thomas-credited mantra, “The secret of basketball is that it isn't about basketball” — that we probably don't put enough emphasis on. As Hollins joked, to be a good coach, “You need a counseling degree, a psychology degree, a dad degree.”
In addition to replacing those people skills, Hollins noted that he would like for one of the two new assistants to be someone who would be adept at working with the team's forwards and centers.
Hollins allowed that the team's continuity would be helpful in relation to the compressed run-up to the season, but only so much.
“That's an advantage,” Hollins said, “but we still have to rebuild chemistry, get everyone to accept their role, and continue to play as hard.”
Hollins also cautioned his team against complacency coming off last spring's post-season success.
“We have to come back and do it again without hanging onto last year — last year is over here,” Hollins said, motioning to his right.
I was able to confirm what most of us expected, that the Grizzlies “preseason” will consist of a pair of home-and-home games against the New Orleans Hornets, with dates expected to be announced in the next couple of days.
Two preseason games is plenty for Hollins, who said, “I wish there were only two preseason games every year. Anything after that is just tiring.”
While Hollins said that he learned about the lockout-ending [tenative] agreement the next morning, via texts sent to him at 3 a.m., Wallace said he watched it all play out live.
“Every time they would have these late-night sessions, I would stay up,” Wallace said. “I was helping NBATV's ratings out.”
Wallace reiterated what he's said publicly every time the subject has been brought up: That he fully expects restricted free agent Marc Gasol to be resigned and noted that he has already been in contact with Gasol's agent, Arn Tellem, whom Wallace once almost went to work for.
While Gasol is clearly priority #1 for the Grizzlies, Wallace left the door open for a possible return by unrestricted free agent, though noted that Battier will have many suitors.
Wallace listed three areas of potential need relative to the final touches the team might put on the roster: A combo 4/5 to play behind Gasol, more shooting, and more point guard depth. (I'm skeptical the team will be able to address all those areas given the cap situation and available roster spots, but we'll get into that in the roster breakdown post, coming next.)
After the press conference, Wallace indicated that O.J. Mayo was unlikely to be traded during the coming free agent/transaction period and that Hamed Haddadi, whom the team has extended a qualifying offer to, is likely to return.