After a 7-12 start to the season, the Memphis Grizzlies fired head coach David Fizdale. In his first with Memphis, Fizdale lead the team to a 43-39 record, and the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Thus far, the Grizzlies’ struggles can be tied primarily to injuries; Mike Conley, JaMychal Green, and Ben Mclemore have all missed significant time.
While Fizdale was unable to succeed as a head coach, his track record as an assistant is impressive. After coaching for the Warriors and Hawks, he was hired as a Miami Heat assistant in 2008, where he stayed until 2016. In Miami, Fizdale won two NBA championships, and developed relationships with current Cavaliers LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Fizdale’s firing came the day after he benched star center and Grizzlies’ mainstay Marc Gasol for the entire fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets, a move that drew plenty of backlash. James and Wade did not approve of the firing, and took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
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
Conley, another Memphis cornerstone, had kind parting words for Fizdale.
— Mike Conley (@mconley11) November 28, 2017
During his tenure in Miami, Fizdale was beloved by his players. The same can be said for the Grizzlies, with possibly the lone exception being Gasol, according to reports.
Despite riding an 11-game winning streak, the Cavs’ biggest weakness this season has been their defense. Fizdale is a defensive-minded coach. Even though Tyronn Lue’s seat had warmed a bit at the beginning of the year, firing him would not be a good idea. Adding Fizdale as a defensive assistant, however, would be. He would hopefully be able to instill a defensive intensity that is missing in players such as Derrick Rose(if he returns to the team), Jae Crowder, and Kevin Love.
In the 2016-2017 NBA Finals, Cleveland was able to match Golden State offensively, at least when the starters were playing. An improved defense would go a long way to increase the Cavs’ chances at knocking off the Warriors, and adding David Fizdale to the coaching staff would be a large step in the right direction.