Ex-Heat assistant Fizdale introduced as new Grizzlies coach
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) David Fizdale left no doubt about his intentions in the longtime assistant's new job as the Memphis Grizzlies' head coach.
''I'm here to win,'' Fizdale said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. ''That's the best way to put it. I didn't leave Miami and that beautiful beach and all that water and good stuff to come here to lose. I came here to win.''
During the 30-minute session, Fizdale discussed his style of coaching, offered good-natured banter about some of the city's and team's characteristics and noted how the team's veteran core fits into his plans.
''It doesn't hurt that they have Mike Conley and Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and Tony Allen,'' Fizdale said of the draw to Memphis. ''You have winning ingredients already in place. The thing I was most trying to avoid was a total rebuild. I want to win, and I want to win now.''
Fizdale, officially named the team's coach Sunday, assumes his first head coaching job after eight seasons with the Miami Heat in which the team won a pair of NBA titles and reached the finals two other years. He replaces Dave Joerger, fired May 7 after three seasons and three playoff appearances with the Grizzlies.
Joerger has since been hired as the Sacramento Kings' coach.
In Memphis, Fizdale takes over a team with the NBA's third-longest postseason streak at six straight seasons, behind only San Antonio (19) and Atlanta (nine). But the new coach faces the potential of a different Grizzlies team.
Conley, the team's point guard, is a free agent who dealt with an Achilles issue late in the season. Gasol is recovering from a broken foot. Both missed significant portions of the second half of last season.
The biggest change in the roster could be if everyone is healthy. Memphis put 28 different players in uniform last season due to injuries.
Fizdale mentioned Conley's name numerous times in his plans for the team, despite the point guard's impending free agency. Asked if he was taking Conley's return as a given, Fizdale dodged the question, but did say he already has spoken with Conley.
''We had a fantastic conversation, a very energized, open conversation,'' Fizdale said.
Fizdale added that Conley's ''going to get sick of me because I'm going to follow him. I'm going to just follow him everywhere he goes, and I'm going to hound him.''
Fizdale discussed maintaining the Grizzlies defensive and grind-it-out mentality, built around Conley, Gasol, Randolph and Allen. He noted some potential tweaks, all in trying to improve players - even veterans.
''I think they already have some ingredients in place to have a running team - a team that can at least play with a higher pace,'' Fizdale said. ''I don't envision this team as Golden State by any means from the standpoint of just getting up and down the court and launching a ton of threes.''
Fizdale committed to being a part of the community, along with his wife Natasha Sen-Fizdale, who attended the press conference. He sported a St. Jude Children's Research Hospital tie as a nod to the facility that is a part of the Grizzlies' charitable endeavors.
''I feel very confident that I'm ready for this,'' Fizdale said, ''I'm going to attack this job.''