By The Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lionel Hollins doesn’t want to talk to any other NBA teams and wants to continue coaching the Memphis Grizzlies.
Hollins said Monday on Sports 56 WHBQ-AM in Memphis he thought everything was good after a meeting with team owner Robert Pera and chief executive officer Jason Levien a few days ago, but then heard the Grizzlies had given him permission to talk to other teams.
“People need to know from my perspective that I don’t want to talk to any other teams,” Hollins said. “I want to be here. I told … the media after our exit interviews that if the team offered me a contract that I felt was fair, I’d sign it the next day.”
The Grizzlies declined to comment.
Hollins’ contract is up June 30. He addressed a variety of topics in a 28-minute interview but spent most of his time publicly defending his case to remain in Memphis. He has been with this franchise since the start as an expansion team in Vancouver in 1995 and made the move to Memphis with his only absence a stint in 2008 and part of 2009 as an assistant with Milwaukee.
“I just want everyone to know in Memphis that I want to be here. I want to coach the Memphis Grizzlies, the team that the city has embraced and that has potential to go further with a few tweaks and adjustments,” Hollins said.
The winningest coach in franchise history, Hollins just led the Grizzlies to their first Western final only to be swept in four games. That capped a franchise-record 56-26 season, and Hollins has led the Grizzlies to a better record each season since taking over as head coach in January 2009.
Hollins defended his ability to work with the team’s new management. Pera took over the team in November, and Levien traded away leading scorer Rudy Gay on Jan. 30 in a money-saving move. Hollins said he was consulted about every move.
He also discussed an incident during the Grizzlies’ first-round series with the Clippers when John Hollinger, vice president of basketball operations, engaged Austin Daye on the court during a practice. Hollins said he was very upset. He said Monday he would have reacted the same way if the person had been President Obama, but that he laughed about the incident with Hollinger after practice.
“It wasn’t my motive to show management that I run things,” Hollins said. “It had nothing to with anything other than that I reacted to somebody jumping on the court.”
Grizzlies assistant Dave Joerger is a possible replacement for Hollins if Memphis and the coach can’t reach an agreement on a new contract. Hollins said that puts Joerger in a tough position in the NBA where loyalty is highly valued.
“Why would you move a proven coach, who has shown what he can do to bring in an ‘upcoming superstar?'” Hollins said. “To me, that’s ludicrous.”