Fizdale had guided the Grizzlies to a 50-51 record since stepping into the role -- his first as a head coach -- on May 29, 2016. Several prominent NBA players expressed confusion about Memphis' decision to let go of the widely popular coach.
I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 27, 2017
I need answers!!! WTF https://t.co/z39oNRQok0— DWade (@DwyaneWade) November 27, 2017
That's a JOKE!!! Smh https://t.co/FtvxDw6234— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) November 27, 2017
Wow smh🤦🏽♂️ just wow!!!— Vince Carter (@mrvincecarter15) November 27, 2017
Although James and Wade have a positive history with Fizdale from their Miami days, the former Heat assistant's tepid relationship with Gasol in Memphis might have reached a low point in Sunday night's game against the Brooklyn Nets.
"It's a first for me, trust me, and I don't like it one bit,'' Gasol said of his benching. "I'm more [ticked] than I can show, and frustrated.''
Other problems that have contributed to the Grizzlies' 7-12 record entering Tuesday include Mike Conley's Achilles injury that has kept the point guard out of the lineup for the past six games, the team's overall roster construction and its physical location in the national market.
Weighted for minutes played this season, Memphis is the league's eighth-oldest team, with an average age of 28.2 (at season's end). Rather than try to rebuild and get younger by trading away franchise players such as Gasol and Conley, the Grizzlies might fear revenue declining in a small-market city such as Memphis without a competitive team or its signature stars.
As the dust continues to settle, here's your chance to weigh in on the Grizzlies' situation.
Fizdale is still owed $3 million for the 2018-19 season, and the Grizzlies have a team option for 2019-20, league sources told ESPN.
Associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff will take over as interim head coach for Memphis.
-- Nick Ostiller