After a 8-game losing streak that has the Memphis Grizzlies at 7-12, the team felt it was time for a change. That change would be the firing of head coach David Fizdale, who is gone after becoming the coach last season. The firing took place on Monday, a day after the Grizzlies lost to the Brooklyn Nets and All-Star Marc Gasol was benched in the fourth quarter. Going forward, the Grizzlies will have decisions to make that will affect the immediate future of the franchise.
The Memphis Grizzlies Fallout With David Fizdale
Siding with the Star Player
When Gasol was benched in the 4th quarter against the Nets, he did not hold back on his comments and made his anger clear. With the firing coming a day after these comments from Gasol, it was felt he was the reason Fizdale was fired. While the Grizzlies front office said that was not reason, we will never know.
Marc Gasol: "If I start venting, that would be counterproductive. But at the end of the day, I'm as competitive as anybody. I hate not playing, that's what I value most. If I'm not out there, I'm not valued. I'm sure they knew that would hurt me the most."
— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) November 27, 2017
We have seen this story before. When the star player and head coach butt heads, the front office will sometimes have to pick a side. The majority of the time, it is the coach who gets the boot and the franchise sticks with their star player. The coach is also usually the one who gets the blame when the team gets in a funk, as seen with Fizdale.
Was Fizdale the Problem?
Many in the NBA world were not happy with the firing. Players such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade made their displeasure known via Twitter, as both played in Miami when Fizdale was an assistant coach.
While the Grizzlies have currently lost eight games in a row, it is important to note point guard Mike Conley has been out with an Achilles injury. Conley is a vital piece of the team, with the team running through him and Gasol on the offensive end. He takes a chunk of the scoring load and is one of the better defensive guards. Conley was averaging 17.1 points and 4.1 assists per game before his injury.
When a team loses one of their top players, there is going to be an adjustment period. To show Conley’s value, the Grizzlies are 0-7 in games he does not play this season. There is only so much Mario Chalmers can do the try and fill the void. Conley’s value has been known for years. From this perspective, it makes sense why there was confusion with the firing of Fizdale.
A Possible Rebuild Ahead in Memphis
With this recent skid for the Grizzlies, the topic of trading Gasol has come up. In 2015, he signed a 5-year, $110 extension with the team. He is owed over $24 million in the 2018-19 season and over $25 million in the 2019-2020 season. With the contract and his age being a factor, the market for Gasol would be interesting. He is going to be 35 at the end of his contract and teams may not want to take a risk with him right now.
The team could also trade Conley, who signed a larger contract of 5 years, $153 million last summer. While he is younger, he has dealt with chronic Achilles issues and is owed north of $30 million for the final three years of his contract. That is another risk teams may not want to deal with.
The Grizzlies are in a tough spot. They might be forced to ride with Gasol and Conley until the end of their contracts. The team is not one of the marquee free agent destinations and does not have the best draft selections. Regardless of what happens, the firing of Fizdale is something that will be confusing for a while.