Joerger has long been considered a potential successor to Hollins, but the storm really started brewing about two weeks ago when USA Today's Sam Amick reported a Joerger promotion could be on the table. Now that Hollins is out, Amick and ESPN's Marc Stein both continued to indicate Joerger was near the top of the Grizzlies' list of replacements:
Top two names in Memphis, to review, are Grizzlies assistant Dave Joerger and former Denver coach George Karl.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 11, 2013
NBA coaching sources have said for weeks (months, even) that Grizz assistant Dave Joerger is overwhelming favorite to replace Lionel Hollins— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 11, 2013
Joerger's name isn't known amongst most casual league fans, but there's a lot to like about him. Only 39, he made his name in basketball's minor leagues, winning titles in the IBA, the CBA and the D-League. He was twice named the CBA's coach of the year, and after winning the 2007 D-League title with Dakota, he was called up to be an assistant with the Grizzlies.
Hollins made Joerger in charge of the team's defense, promoting him to lead assistant in 2011, and the turnaround was remarkable, with Memphis posting the second-best defensive efficiency in the league this past season and riding grit and grind to the Conference Finals. The team's season died there, and Hollins and the organization parted ways. But Joerger's philosophy fits the Grizzlies in all the ways Hollins' might not have, and although George Karl might still be in the mix, the amount of talk centered around Joerger's promotion makes it seem like he might have worked his way from the boondocks to the big show.