Rumor: Grizzlies could fire Dave Joerger as soon as tomorrow
The Grizzlies’ 3-3 start reportedly put Dave Joerger on the hot seat.
Memphis general manager Chris Wallace denied it, but the Grizzlies have continued to struggle.
Could Joerger’s job again – or still – be in jeopardy?
Brian Geltzeiler of HoopsCritic:
League source tells me that Dave Joerger is extremely close to being fired. Depending upon tonight's game, could happen as soon as tomorrow— Brian Geltzeiler (@BGeltzNBA) December 14, 2015
League source also tells me that John Hollinger is also on extremely thin ice as well with the Grizzlies.— Brian Geltzeiler (@BGeltzNBA) December 14, 2015
Memphis is 13-12, but its point difference – usually a more-telling number – matches a typical 8-17 team. Big losses – by 50 to the Warriors, 37 to the Thunder, 30 to the Cavaliers – might be treated too harshly, but the Grizzlies’ struggles are real. They rank 24th in points scored and 25th in points allowed per possession.
Joerger has clearly gotten desperate, removing Zach Randolph from the starting lineup – and that still didn’t get a win.
Now, Memphis faces a reasonably difficult upcoming schedule – vs. the Wizards tonight, at the Bulls on Wednesday, at the Mavericks on Friday and vs. the Pacers on Saturday. A two-day break follows, and that might be the window to make a move.
Joerger has seemingly done a solid job in his two-plus seasons in charge in Memphis, but he inherited a team Lionel Hollins had just taken to the conference finals. Though I think Joerger is a good coach, I’m not absolutely convinced. Plenty of coaches have looked their first couple years on a job before fading.
But I’m also unconvinced firing Joerger – while maybe best way to create a spark – will do the Grizzlies much good. That won’t make their aging roster any younger.
It could transfer blame, though.
Remember, this isn’t the first time Joerger appeared done in Memphis. Grizzlies owner Robert Pera reportedly wanted to fire him in 2013 over a cancelled one-on-one game between Pera and Tony Allen. In 2014, the Grizzlies nearly let Joerger leave for the Timberwolves before suddenly reversing course and extending his contract.
A complicating factor: Who would actually fire Joerger? Pera obviously could do it, but who below him holds that authority? Does Wallace? John Hollinger probably doesn’t it, if he’s also on the outs. What about Joe Abadi, Pera’s lawyer?
He carries significant power, according to Marc Stein of ESPN:
Keep your eye, meantime, on Grizz. Latest run of blowout Ls can only heat up simmering tension between bench & lead decision-maker Joe Abadi— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) December 12, 2015
Abadi is main shot-caller & driving force behind Jeff Green/Vince Carter moves. More thinly veiled shots at roster last nite from D. Joerger— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) December 12, 2015
For what it’s worth, the credible Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal:
I'll just say for now that I'm somewhat skeptical about that Joerger report and very skeptical about the Hollinger one.— Chris Herrington (@ChrisHerrington) December 14, 2015
I tend to trust Herrington, but the muddled nature of the Grizzlies’ power structure makes this more difficult to read.
Is there someone in Memphis’ front office that wants to fire Joerger? Probably. That’s how these leaks happen.
But that could be a long way from someone with the authority actually doing it.