New Grizzles head coach David Fizdale will be taking over a playoff roster this year in Memphis, and the amount of veteran talent on the team’s roster, including notable free agent signee Chandler Parsons, is rare for a first-time head coach. As Fizdale explains to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, he may not have left his assistant job in Miami for a team that was still in the rebuilding stage.
“That was the only way I wanted it, to be honest with you,” Fizdale said of the Grizzlies. “I didn’t want to take over a restart. I’m not afraid to coach guys. But I am going to coach them to win and I am going to hold them to a high standard. I was OK with that. If I don’t have any other strength, I’m pretty good at building relationships.
“I don’t know if people were looking at that Memphis job the way it should have been looked at. A lot of guys in my situation very rarely get a situation with this many proven players. … I saw an opportunity to take a team from being good to great. If I could have any situation, that was the one I wanted.”
The Grizzlies finished with a modest 42-40 record, and were quickly dispatched from the postseason after finishing as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. However, the club’s roster was decimated by injuries down the stretch, and the team that fell to the Spurs in the first round wasn’t the same team that started the season.
In his first year in Memphis, Fizdale will be taking over a roster that includes longtime Grizzlies like Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Marc Gasol, in addition to newcomers such as Parsons and incoming rookies Wade Baldwin and Deyonta Davis. With the new head coach looking to take the team from “good to great,” a top-four seed in the West figures to be the goal.