Dave Joerger worked his way up from professional baskestball's minor leagues. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
The Grizzlies plan to promote assistant Dave Joerger to head coach, according to multiple reports.
ESPN.com reports that Joerger, who has been an assistant in Memphis since 2007, will fill the hole created when the Grizzlies parted ways with former coach Lionel Hollins earlier this month. NBA.com confirms that the Grizzlies and Joerger are nearing an agreement and that the deal "should be done" by Tuesday. The Commercial-Appeal reports that Joerger will receive a three-year contract worth less than $6 million total.
Joerger, 39, was immediately seen one of the favorites to replace Hollins, who took over as coach midway through the 2008-09 season and led the organization to a franchise-best 56 wins and a first-ever Western Conference finals appearance last season. Hollins, 59, left the organization with a 214-201 (.516) record over seven years in Vancouver and Memphis, having served as an interim coach on two prior occasions. Former Nuggets coach George Karl and former Suns coach Alvin Gentry were also linked to the Grizzlies job in various reports.
A Grizzlies assistant since 2007, Joerger spent the previous decade as a minor-league basketball coach in the International Basketball Association, the Continental Basketball Association and the D-League. He has been credited with playing a key role in running the Grizzlies' defense, which has been among the league's best in recent seasons.
The decision to cut ties with Hollins came after reports of strained negotiations, with the Grizzlies reportedly granting Hollins permission to speak with other teams about their coaching positions earlier this month. Philosophical differences between a new management team and Hollins surfaced publicly following the organization’s midseason trade of starting small forward Rudy Gay. Hollins was critical of the move, accusing management, under new owner Robert Pera, of putting finances over basketball.
“It’s a business of basketball,” he said on a TNT broadcast. “I understand that perfectly well. I think our players understand the business of basketball. When you have champagne taste, you can’t be on a beer budget. We’re in a small market.”
Yahoo! Sports also reported that Hollins and the Grizzlies' new VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger did not see eye-to-eye.
Joeger joins a long list of first-time head coaches hired this summer: former Pacers assistant Brian Shaw has agreed to coach the Nuggets, former Knicks guard Jason Kidd is now the coach of the Nets, Lakers assistant Steve Clifford is now the coach of the Bobcats, Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer is now the coach of the Hawks, Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek is now the coach of the Suns and Warriors assistant coach Michael Malone is now the coach of the Kings.