• Brendan Smart

The End Of An Era In Memphis Starts From the Top Down For the Grizzlies


ESPN.com

The Memphis Grizzlies started the 2018-19 season as one of the most surprising teams. Three months later, after trading their cornerstone center, and ignoring the obvious consistency issues with role players – Memphis’ problems run deeper than what is being produced on the court.

While many of us know what will happen this offseason with the clearing of the front office, Grizzlies fans must weather a storm that is this 2018-19 season. A season that seems to be taking place in a nightmare. A nightmare season that had such a promising start, which had the Grizzlies at 12-5, and fans riding high after a down season where Memphis picked in the lottery. The wins healed a lot of wounds, but after a strong start, Grizzlies fans were slapped in the face with reality.

In a November 23rd matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers in LA, the Grizzlies were exposed, and the lack of adjustments that have followed that day have had the Grizzlies on a downhill turn ever since. A game that would see overtime, also showed that Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff cannot manage close ball games. The effect a coach has on the outcome of a game sometimes gets buried in what a player could’ve done different in those games. Of course, Memphis had those two stars in Conley and Gasol.

For Bickerstaff, his usage of some of the Grizzlies’ best players during that rough patch in November trickled into the entire month of December and beyond. From that moment on, Memphis went on to win only 6 of its 19 games to end the calendar year. After such a promising start what led the Grizzlies down this dark path?

A Memphis front office with so many voices in it decided to hire a guy in Bickerstaff that was unproven. The hire was based on how Bickerstaff handled his team during his time as the ‘interim’ head coach to get through the 2017-18 season. It made sense for Memphis, but it wouldn’t have made sense for a team that was wanting to win. For years, Memphis’ front office has settled on head coaches without experience. When Bickerstaff left Houston as the Rockets interim head coach, did the Rockets consider Bickerstaff for the full-time roll? No, because Houston wanted to get back to its winning ways with a proven coach.

While the Grizzlies franchise has been in Memphis for 18 full seasons, success came early. Unfortunately, mediocrity has hurt Memphis in some of its brightest days. Bad trade deadline deals, busted draft picks, coaching turnover, you name it, and the Grizzlies made us love them for their underdog viewpoint – but those days are almost over.

Right now, Memphis’ front office has run out of luck and is getting exposed and will be punished for it. Expect an overhaul of management on down to coaching. Nothing is set in stone, but if Memphis keeps performing at this rate, the Grizzlies will look completely different following this season.

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