Grizzlies want Jeff Van Gundy to coach and lead front office, per report

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As dominoes continue to fall in Memphis, the team may target Jeff Van Gundy.

The Memphis Grizzlies are interested in hiring Jeff Van Gundy as the team's head coach and president, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

The rumored interest comes in the wake of organization-wide upheaval, culminating in Dave Joerger reportedly being close to leaving the Grizzlies to become head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Van Gundy would take control of the team's operations similar to the deal Stan Van Gundy, his brother, just signed to lead the Detroit Pistons. Van Gundy's interest in Memphis is unclear, according to Stein.

Why this makes sense

Van Gundy's name has been all over coaching rumors over the past several seasons, but none has lured the former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach away from his cozy job as an analyst for ESPN. Despite all the turmoil in Memphis that has led Joerger to the precipice of accepting the job in Minnesota, Van Gundy would inherit a team loaded with talent that took the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games in the first round of this year's playoffs.

Even then, the Grizzlies were without Zach Randolph in Game 7 due to a suspension. The team also fought to a 50-32 record in the regular season even though center Marc Gasol only played 59 games after suffering a knee injury. Point guard Mike Conley is still under contract for two more seasons.

Why this doesn't make sense

The Grizzlies' window to win with their current core -- Conley, Gasol and Randolph -- is quickly closing. Randolph is 32 and will either pick up his player option and make $16.5 million next season or become an unrestricted free agent. Gasol will be a free agent after next season at age 30.

It would be quite an undertaking for Van Gundy to hop on board and immediately assume executive responsibilities in what will be a crucial offseason for Memphis. He has no front office experience and it's unclear, as Stein reported, if he has any desire to work in that capacity.

That said, it could be difficult to leave ESPN -- where his profile will only continue to heighten -- for the instability in Memphis. Lionel Hollins' trip to the Western Conference finals wasn't enough to get his contract picked up after 2013, and the current upheaval has already resulted in the firing of CEO Jason Levien and assistant general manager Stu Lash. Joerger seems to be next after finishing 50-32 in his first season as an NBA head coach, thus creating the vacancy. No NBA head coaching job is perfectly stable, but none seems more unstable than Memphis right now. It's clear Van Gundy wants to get back on the sideline at some point -- he's said so many times -- but he's in no rush, and leaving his current gig for the uncertainty in Memphis, despite the job's upside, may not be Van Gundy's best option.

Likelihood: 5

Stein's report is that Memphis is interested in Van Gundy, and it said nothing about Van Gundy's interest. Van Gundy would walk into an instantly competitive team, but the job gets less attractive considering the current roster's future outlook and the peripheral noise that drove out Hollins and will likely do the same to Joerger in a matter of days. Van Gundy could hold out and likely land a better job -- probably not this year, but at some point soon-ish -- but after years of waiting, the lure of immediately competing could be too great despite the job's downsides.

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