Lionel Hollins getting fired by the Memphis Grizzlies certainly surprised many and even angered fans in Tennessee. However, there is a good chance the organization will not see the last of Hollins as the Denver Nuggets will be interviewing him for their head coaching job on Saturday.
Memphis elected to let Lionel Hollins go after the Grizzlies were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Many believed Memphis would be foolish to allow Hollins to walk, especially since he led the team to 56 wins and their first trip to the Western Conference Finals in franchise history. However, reported tension between Hollins and the new management was clearly enough for the organization to move on.
It is certainly unfortunate for the 59-year-old as he brought a lot of success to the Grizzlies the past few years. He led Memphis to three straight seasons with an above .500 record as well as three consecutive postseason appearances. As a coach for the Grizzlies franchise over the span of several years, Hollins has a 214-201 record during the regular season and an 18-17 record in the playoffs.
“Lionel’s personality is that he’s tough — as a player, he was tough, he was disciplined,” Magic Johnson said, according to the Denver Post. “He was a hard-nosed guy, and he coaches the same way. And then he understands how to get the best out of each individual player that he coaches, but he’s a no nonsense guy, and he coaches like that.”
There is no question a coach that can discipline to the fullest extent is something that could push the Nuggets to the next level. Former head coach George Karl was able to lead Denver to eight playoff appearances in nine years, but he was never able to get them to the NBA Finals. It is certainly a possibility that Hollins has what it takes to lead the Nuggets to the next level.