Grizzlies coach has daunting job

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

Lionel Hollins is set to begin his second go-round as coach of the sad-sack Memphis Grizzlies, an organization that has featured 10 head coaches in its 14-year NBA existence.

As interim coach in 1999 when the team was based in Vancouver, Hollins extracted 18 wins during his 62-game run.

When he's unveiled tonight in Memphis, where the woeful Grizzlies play host to Denver, Hollins takes over a team that has lost nine games in a row and 17 of its past 19.

The Grizzlies are young and not deep, selfish and very undisciplined.

Hollins, who was crafty during his playing days, referred to the Grizzlies' NBA-worst assist total (16.5 per game) as an "atrocity.''

Head coach-turned TV analyst Jeff Van Gundy pulled no punch when he described the Grizzlies as the worst organization in professional sports.

He's not far from the truth.

Whether it was signing Big Country Bryant Reeves to a lucrative contract, the drafting of Steve Francis, the trading away of Mike Bibby, James Posey and Pau Gasol, the franchise's history is dotted with miscalculations and mismanagement.

Owner Michael Heisley duped fans in Vancouver and showed no regret when he relocated to Memphis in 2001.

Hollins is viewed as a Heisley guy, even though the Grizzlies turned first to Avery Johnson last week when they pulled the plug on the Marc Iavaroni era, a tenure that lasted roughly 11/2 seasons.

Hollins isn't given much of a chance in turning around a team that simply isn't good.

There are building blocks in O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, but chemistry questions remain.

The Grizzlies haven't been any good since the days of Jerry West and Hubie Brown, legends who led the team to a 50-win season in 2003.

"I will be demanding and I'll have high expectations," Hollins said during his introductory news conference.

It's what all coaches say when they inherit an incomplete roster that's going nowhere.

History hasn't been kind to the Grizzlies and their outlook isn't good, either.

Van Gundy said what a lot of people in the NBA have been reluctant to say.

The day has finally arrived when an NBA team actually makes the L.A. Clippers seem competent.

A HURT MATRIX

Shawn Marion (strain left groin) was listed as questionable for last night's home tip against Atlanta.

The Heat are playing well in Marion's absence as rumours continue to swirl in South Beach.

Depending on which way the wind blows, Marion is either heading to Toronto, New York, Dallas, Sacramento, nowhere or parts unknown.

What is known is that Marion is growing annoyed at the daily questions regarding his future.

Heat president Pat Riley wants a centre and cap flexibility for the summer of 2010. Marion has an expiring contract this summer.

Miami won 15 games last season, two years removed from their championship, but entered last night as the sixth seed in the East.

TOUGH BLOW FOR BUCKS

Needless to say, Michael Redd's season-ending knee injury represents a devastating blow for the Milwaukee Bucks.

"We're about to find out what we're made of," head coach Scott Skiles said.

No one is giving the Bucks much of a chance in the absence of their leading scorer.

The Bucks were home to Minnesota last night and will visit Toronto on Friday.

THAT'S NOT AMARE

All-star forward Amare Stoudemire might be the first big-name player moved prior to the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

He hasn't exactly bought into Terry Porter's defensive approach and Stoudemire's penchant for disappearing in games is growing tiresome in Phoenix.


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