Lionel Hollins out as Memphis Grizzlies Coach

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His future with the team has been unsettled since the Spurs swept the Grizzlies in the West finals. He led Memphis to a better record each season, including a franchise-best 56-26 record this season. The Grizzlies beat first the Clippers, then top-seeded Oklahoma City in the playoffs.

Hollins said a day after the Grizzlies were swept that he wanted to stay in Memphis. But now Hollins is expected to interview with the Clippers and the Denver Nuggets later this week.

New ownership led by Robert Pera, a California tech billionaire, took over the Grizzlies in November, and Pera put in Levien in charge. Levien made some changes in the front office, bringing in former ESPN.com writer John Hollinger as vice president of basketball operations and Stu Lash as director of player personnel and basketball development in December.

But Hollins had lobbied against trading leading scorer Rudy Gay away, wanting to keep together the core of starters that turned in the NBA’s best start this season. Memphis traded Gay to Toronto on Jan. 30 as part of a three-team trade, and Hollins talked of not being able to have “champagne taste” on a beer budget before refocusing the Grizzlies on a stretch run that was the league’s best after the All-Star break at 23-8.

Under Hollins, the Grizzlies also featured one of the NBA’s best defenses. Memphis allowed the fewest points per game this season with the 89.3 points the first time since 2005-06 that a team had held opponents below 90 points for an entire season. The Grizzlies also ranked third holding opponents to 43.5 percent shooting and a league-best 33.5 percent made field goals a game.

The candidates to replace Hollins include Grizzlies assistant Dave Joerger and George Karl, fired last week by the Nuggets. Lash was hired away from Denver where he had spent five seasons working on draft analysis and scouting.

“We have begun to identify our next head coach, who we feel can best move us forward,” Levien said.

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