Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Grizzlies fire coach Fizdale

Published:Wednesday | November 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
David Fizdale

MEMPHIS, (AP):

The Memphis Grizzlies fired coach David Fizdale on Monday, with the team at 7-12 and a day after he benched centre Marc Gasol for the fourth quarter of an eighth straight loss.

General manager Chris Wallace announced the move. Associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been named interim coach.

"After a thorough evaluation, I decided a change in course was necessary to move forward and provide the team and organisation its best chance at success this season and beyond," Wallace said in a statement.

Gasol, given a maximum deal by the Grizzlies in July 2015, sat throughout the fourth quarter of a 98-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Gasol leads the Grizzlies in points, rebounds and assists, and he was an All-Star in Fizdale's inaugural season. But the centre spent plenty of time after the game making it clear to reporters how upset he was at sitting out a full quarter.

"It's a first for me, trust me, and I don't like it one bit," Gasol said. "I'm more (ticked) than I can show, and frustrated."

Fizdale explained his decision before Gasol spoke in the locker room and said he simply was trying to win a game while sticking with his reserves. Fizdale said taking a risk as head coach means sometimes upsetting a player or two.

"If I'm not on the floor, I'm not valued," Gasol said. "I'm sure (the coaching staff) knew that would hurt me the most."

The move caught the NBA by surprise. Dwyane Wade, who played with the Miami Heat when Fizdale was an assistant coach, wrote on Twitter that he needed answers. LeBron James retweeted a comment that called the move 'stunning'.

"I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy," James wrote.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he was "shocked" by the firing.

"I think David Fizdale is one of the best coaches in the league," Kerr said. "He's a brilliant guy, he's got an edge to him, he's tough, he's smart. Their whole team is injured, Mike Conley is out. Like, this is what happens, you lose when your best players are out and when your whole team is wiped out. It caught me off guard."