Lionel Hollins rips Grizzlies again, does himself no favors

USA TODAY Sports

The former Grizzlies coach is idle, and might idly be damaging his own future while exacting damage on his old Memphis bosses.

Three notes on Lionel Hollins' televised rant against the Grizzlies management team:

1. Lionel Hollins is a darned fine coach and, based on his performance over the long-term, deserves another shot. The way he developed Mike Conley and Marc Gasol? Man. Now, those players deserve the lion's share of credit to getting where they are. But we know coaching -- putting players in the right spots, pushing the right buttons in practice, demanding work before, during and after the season -- plays a big part. Hollins' record of developing players is pretty strong at this point. Beyond Conley and Gasol you have Rudy Gay, Jerryd Bayless ... he even had the best years of O.J. Mayo under his watch. He wasn't able to do the same with Greivis Vasquez (who thrived in New Orleans) or Xavier Henry (who thrived in L.A.), but his record on this account is pretty good. And he proved to have schemes that worked, especially in the playoffs where his Grizz beat more talented squads with some regularity.

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2. Lionel Hollins is doing himself no favors. Put aside his record of success. Who the hell wants to work with someone who snivels so openly about losing his job in a competitive environment? You know how many coaches get let go? Basically all of them. Phil Jackson got let go after a playoff season. If Jesus were an NBA coach, he'd probably have been fired multiple times. This is the nature of the business. Perhaps Hollins suffered a real indignity -- that was Memphis' best season ever -- but it's not a rare indignity in this business. Coaches get fired constantly. Most do not act as if their puppy has been kicked. Most manage to remain stoic in the face of dismissal. And guess what? Most manage to get hired by another team.

Imagine everything Hollins says is true. That he screamed at de facto GM John Hollinger for faux-contesting a player's shot during practice. This seems pretty basic, all told, but if you want to keep your job, you do not scream at your boss. You especially do not scream at your boss in front of your players. It's just a horrible idea. And then when you admit to doing it in an attempt to clear your name, you are not making potential future bosses more comfortable with your candidacy. Who the hell wants to hire someone who has admitted he screamed at his last boss in front of players for a rather shrug-worthy perceived offense?

Hollins has outed himself as a frustrating employee. To what benefit? Absolutely none. He's only confirmed the rumors he claims the Grizzlies' management team planted about him. He's not disspelling anything they whispered. He's confirming it!

More on Hollins' interview

3. The Grizzlies are in the no-win situation we all knew they'd be in. Memphis overachieved in the playoffs last season. Conley, Gasol and Zach Randolph missed a combined 10 games during the regular season. That was peak Memphis, barring a major trade to bring in another great piece. (Memphis had little flexibility to add such a piece because of Tayshaun Prince's contract, which expires in 2015.) And it was clear all along that Hollins would be gone because he so constantly questioned his bosses in public fora -- on the Rudy Gay trade and on the grooming of Dave Joerger, most notably. Hollinger, Jason Levien and the front office were going to take heat no matter what. They were obviously going to be worse in 2013-14, and they are. Hollins being the major offseason loss means that the decision to let Hollins go would be front and center for criticism.

That's exactly what has happened, despite the fact that Conley, Gasol and Z-Bo have missed a combined 34 games already this season. And while Hollins openly rips Hollinger and the rest, there's really nothing Memphis can do to fight back, at least openly. In some ways, that's good: they can let Hollins dig his own hole. But it must be frustrating to be forced to let one version of a story stand.

That's really what seems to animate Hollins: he felt the Grizzlies were leaking unflattering details about his style and tenure. So he fought back. The problem is that he only confirmed the criticisms. Hollins' gripe with the Grizzlies is that they were unfair and unprofessional to him. There's really nothing the front office can do to dispute that.

Of course, there's no real risk for the management folks going forward. Owner Robert Pera isn't likely to can anyone over totally foreseeable struggles to get back to 56 wins and the West finals. The only ones who really suffer are Hollinger, who will now be seen in Memphis as the primary adversary to the otherwise popular Hollins, and Joerger, who will take some measure of unnecessary blame. This whole mess in Memphis was as  unavoidable as it was unfortunate.

Maybe that's why Hollins is talking again. He's so furious at what went down that he's going to inflict the most damage possible while he can. But if he were looking at the big picture, the best payback would be to quiet down, take another job and show Memphis what it's missing. If he can convince another GM to put up with him, perhaps he can do both.

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