Speaking to reporters today at a press conference, Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace acknowledged that there was tension between star center Marc Gasol and head coach David Fizdale, and confirmed that was a factor in the team’s decision to fire Fizdale. However, according to Wallace, it wasn’t the overriding factor, as Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays.
“We needed to have a change to try to save the season,” Wallace said. “Looking at where we were headed, there just weren’t a great deal of positive trends. We hope to get a positive reboot.”
Despite ongoing trade speculation, Gasol will be a major part of that “positive reboot,” according to the Grizzlies. New interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff indicated today that he plans to lean heavily on the club’s three-time All-Star center going forward.
“Marc is one of the leaders of this team,” Bickerstaff said. “We need Marc to play his best basketball. In order for us to be the team we want to be a ton of the that responsibility falls on Marc’s shoulders. We need him to be Marc Gasol.”
Here’s more on Fizdale and the Grizzlies, as the NBA world continues to react to Monday’s news:
- In the wake of his dismissal, Fizdale issued a magnanimous statement to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN thanking the Grizzlies and the city of Memphis for the opportunity to represent them.
- The Grizzlies need to come to grips with the fact that the Gasol Era in Memphis is over, argues Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Mannix also passes along a couple more tidbits about the Gasol/Fizdale relationship, along with quotes from Stan Van Gundy, who was “shocked” by the Grizzlies’ decision.
- Firing Fizdale won’t solve the Grizzlies’ problems, says Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Meanwhile, Sam Amick of USA Today writes that Fizdale’s firing reinforces the idea that the NBA is a star-driven league.
- Fizdale’s ouster doesn’t come as a major surprise to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, who tweets that Grizzlies owner Robert Pera tried to fire Dave Joerger three games into his head coaching career. Memphis opened the 2013/14 season – Joerger’s first year – with a 1-2 record.
- Is a return to Miami the next move for Fizdale? Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said today that he’d embrace bringing back Fizdale as a consultant. However, having the former Heat assistant return in his previous role isn’t being discussed at the moment, since Fizdale plans to take the rest of the year off from coaching, per Spoelstra (Twitter links via Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel and Andre Fernandez of The Miami Herald).