Earlier this season, the Memphis Grizzlies surprisingly decided to fire respected head coach David Fizdale abruptly due to what seems to have been some team chemistry issues. Fizdale compiled a 7-12 record with the team this season after going 43-39 last season. Additionally, he led the team to a first-round exit in the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs last April.
The Grizzlies went six games with the Spurs, winning two at home and entering Game 5 tied at 2-2 in the series. However, Memphis dropped the next two games and lost the series. The most memorable moment was the post-game press conference after Game 2 in which Fizdale lambasted the officials on foul calls for the Spurs. His argument was based on the Grizzlies totaling 15 free throw attempts while Kawhi Leonard totaled 19 attempts. His rant cost him some cash after getting fined but his few one-liners live on.
Top Coaching Opportunities for David Fizdale
The Bucks just recently fired head coach Jason Kidd after three and half seasons and two playoff appearances. Milwaukee’s potential is limitless with All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the team currently to a 26-22 record. The roster is young and needs a strong leader to keep the players in harmony with the direction of the team. Fizdale is a great fit here as he has championship experience as an assistant with the Miami Heat but is also young enough to keep the electric atmosphere running. His influence on point guard Mike Conley led to Conley averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, three-point percentage, and field goal percentage. The Bucks need an energetic coach to lead these young players into a system and compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Suns fired head coach Earl Watson after starting the season 0-3, as two of those losses were by more than 40 points. Additionally, Phoenix traded guard Eric Bledsoe soon after to the Bucks for center Greg Monroe. The Suns are a very young team and desperately need a leader to provide them with a clearer direction. Fizdale could land here with an extremely promising young talent in Devin Booker, who is currently averaging more than 24 points per game. With Booker and such a young core of players, Fizdale could establish a strong team in the coming years. Phoenix could also potentially add veteran players who could help Fizdale lead the team.
This option is contingent on several conditions, one being the Thunder parting ways with current head coach Billy Donovan. Right now, this is not necessarily part of the team’s plans. Yet, with Russell Westbrook as the centerpiece of the team, there may be a better coach available to draw up plays. Donovan is finding success but has failed to establish any offensive rules with Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George. The second and most important condition is the future of Anthony and George. Both were acquired this past off-season and were sought after by many teams before landing on the Thunder. These two players might not remain on the Thunder beyond this season, depending on the contracts they’re offered. Additionally, a new head coach may just be the kicker for retaining both of these players. Fizdale could step up and take charge with these three superstars to implement a better offensive strategy.
The Longshot: Cleveland Cavaliers
This season has been full of ups and downs for the Cavaliers, starting in the off-season with the blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics. In the Irving trade, the Cavs acquired then-injured Isaiah Thomas and other pieces, including the Brooklyn Nets‘ first-round pick. Cleveland’s head coach, Tyronn Lue, has found success in past seasons, but he lacks certain coaching abilities. Not to discredit Lue, but the Cavaliers are obviously LeBron James‘ team. James’ possible relocation in the coming off-season should make ownership start looking for a coach better suited to handle rebuilding. Fizdale dealt with a middling team in Memphis but also has experience dealing with James in Miami, which could lead “The King” to decide to stay in Cleveland.
Regardless of where David Fizdale lands, he will find success quickly.
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