Memphis delays the inevitable
Earlier this week, news broke that the Memphis Grizzlies fired their now former head coach David Fizdale. Following a 6-13 start, the organization decided to part ways with their coach in the season's first coach-firing. This should be concerning for Grizzlies fans who now are faced with a tough road ahead in the grueling 82-game season and beyond.
Memphis is one of the smallest markets in the NBA and had stumbled upon luck and success by drafting well and acquiring players like Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen. This core group of players form the "Grit n' Grind" mentality that got the Memphis fan base to fall in love with one of the newer NBA franchises. With Zach Randolph signing in Sacramento and Tony Allen in New Orleans this offseason, the Memphis Grizzlies could start to see their run of success coming to an end.
With the 2017-2018 season starting off so poorly and rumors swirling around that Marc Gasol was unhappy, the front office attempted to save what's left of their "Grit n' Grind" team. By firing Fizdale, the Memphis Grizzlies are clinging tightly on the identity and players that gave Memphis a streak of playoff appearances.
The small market of Memphis makes it hard to attract big name free agents, so landing players like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley is something that won't happen very often. Last season, we saw the Memphis Grizzlies posted a 43-39 record and landed the 7th seed in the Western Conference. They still had their core four intact, a future hall of famer in Vince Carter, and a mix of vets and youngsters off the bench. Even with all of this, the Memphis Grizzlies still lost over 20 million dollars in the course of the season.
The anxiety of the front office and ownership to turn around their bottom line and stay out of the red has forced them to let go of one of the best young coaches in the league. Without Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Vince Carter on the roster the Memphis Grizzlies have lost a lot of merchandise and name recognition opportunities and could very well see another unprofitable season. The firing of Fizdale is a Hail Mary attempted to keep Marc Gasol and Mike Conley in Memphis long term and be able to exploit their talents for merchandise sales in a city that can't attract stars via free agency.
The Grizzlies can hold onto them as long as they can, but sooner or later the front office will have to swallow their pride and enter a rebuilding process. It could be two or three years until the Grizzlies get the nerve to "Grit n' Tank", but in may lead to new stars that the loyal Grizzlies fan base to admire and worship.