Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph has known his new coach since he was 19 and brand new in the NBA. Veteran guard and defensive whiz Tony Allen is excited at the prospect of being included in some offensive sets. JaMychal Green is happy the new boss asked him to play for him in the summer league.
Point guard Mike Conley sums it up nicely: David Fizdale is not a typical first-year head coach.
“If you sit down and talk to him, it seems like he’s been there, done that,” Conley said.
The only thing Fizdale hadn’t done in his NBA career until now has been a head coach. The man who started as a video intern with the Miami Heat in 1997 has been an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks before spending the past eight seasons back in Miami, the last two as assistant head coach to Erik Spoelstra. During that recent stretch, Miami won more playoff games (70) and playoff series (15) than any other NBA team.
That experience is why the Grizzlies wanted Fizdale as their new coach at a time when they are trying to extend their playoff streak to seven consecutive seasons.
“Fizdale just brings a new energy, a new way of looking at things, just a different vibe than we’ve had, which I think is very refreshing and is going to be very beneficial for us,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said. “We’ve had a good culture around here, you can always improve.”
In Memphis, Fizdale has a roster featuring three key players in their 30s not counting Vince Carter, who turns 40 in January. Center Marc Gasol is coming back from foot surgery that ended his season, while Conley, 29, just signed a five-year, $153 million contract in July. The Grizzlies also have eight players with three years of experience or less needing to be developed.
Fizdale, who turned 42 in June soon after being hired, has been busy trying to put his stamp on the franchise.
Pinckney to Minnesota
Ed Pinckney has arrived in Minnesota and is serving as a guest coach at Timberwolves training camp, with the expectation that he will soon join coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff.
Pinckney was at the team’s two-a-day practices Wednesday. He was most recently an assistant with the Denver Nuggets. Thibodeau coached with Pinckney in Chicago and immediately targeted him for his staff when he took the Timberwolves job this summer.
It has taken some time to complete the process of Pinckney leaving the Nuggets, but Wolves officials were hoping to finalize Pinckney’s addition to the staff by the end of this week.
Pinckney is a well-regarded assistant with a long history of coaching and playing in the league. He will join Andy Greer, Ryan Saunders, Rick Brunson and Vince Legarza as assistants in Minnesota.