It looks like the Grizzlies will have to scratch one name off their list of potential head coaches. Lithuanian basketball journalist Donatas Urbonas is reporting that Zalgiris Kaunas is confident Sarunas Jasikevicius will return to coach the team next season (Twitter link). Memphis, the only NBA team currently without a head coach, reportedly has interest in Jasikevicius if he decides to leave Europe.
“Today it seems like everything is OK and Saras is staying in Zalgiris,” team executive Robertas Javtokas said in a TV interview. “I think last year we had even bigger headache due to Saras’ future status. Of course, if [an] NBA offer comes, we will be very glad for him. It would be an issue for us, but we know Saras won’t be here forever and we must be ready for this.” (Twitter link)
Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin was the latest candidate to interview for the Grizzlies’ vacancy. He joins former Suns coach Igor Kokoskov, Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts, Jazz assistant Alex Jensen and Warriors assistant Jarron Collins.
There’s more out of Memphis:
- By conducting a thorough coaching search, the Grizzlies are making up for their mistake last summer when they didn’t talk to anyone outside the organization before giving the job to interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, writes Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. Herrington recommends that the team look for someone relatively young who has head coaching experience at some level and a track record of player development.
- Center Jonas Valanciunas recently indicated that the coaching hire will affect whether he decides to opt in to a $17.6MM salary next season, Herrington notes. Valanciunas, who averaged 19.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game after being acquired from the Raptors midway through the season, has a June 13 deadline to make his decision.
- A Mike Conley trade is more likely to happen after July 1 because more teams will have cap room to absorb part of his salary, Herrington writes in a separate story. The Grizzlies will be well stocked at point guard if they draft Ja Morant and keep free agent Delon Wright, so Herrington expects the club to focus on players who get drafted next month, along with future draft picks and young players with affordable contracts for the next few years. The Timberwolves, Heat, Pistons, Jazz and Pacers are considered the most likely landing spots for Conley, according to Herrington, but the Knicks, Lakers, Clippers and Celtics are candidates to enter the mix depending how free agency turns out.