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Coach Hollins is Grizzlies’ biggest free agent, can they keep a coach in demand?

May 28, 2013, 10:55 AM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three Getty Images

Lionel Hollins is the Grizzlies’ biggest free agent and he is in demand.

Well, the Grizzlies’ coach is not technically a free agent yet, his contract runs through June 30, but he is about to be and there are other teams already lined up — the Clippers, the Nets and at least one other team would like to step in and poach the coach that just led Memphis to its first conference finals in franchise history. Obviously. Memphis is going to try and keep him.

Marc Spears with Yahoo Sports lays out the details.

Hollins’ contract with the Grizzlies ends on June 30, and the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee are expected to ask for permission to speak to him about their coaching openings, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Hollins’ wish is to stay put in Memphis.

“I hope things get worked out quickly. I love our team and the possibilities,” Hollins texted Yahoo! Sports after the Grizzlies’ 93-86 Game 4 loss to the Spurs.

The Grizzlies’ players like Hollins and want him back and Memphis needs to pony up and pay the man — like the Spurs they have a system in part built on continuity and a new coach disrupts that.

How did Memphis let this happen? Remember that Robert Pera bought the team before this season and was making changes, particularly in the front office (hiring ESPN’s NBA stats guy John Hollinger was probably the most noted of these moves to a more analytics-driven process). Hollins was in the last year of his contract but there was an understandable desire to be patient and see how things fit. When they decided the fit was pretty good it was mid-season the Grizzlies wanted to wait until the season was over rather than have a distraction.

But with the deep playoff run other teams took notice and started to eye Hollins and the idea of building that kind of team play with their squads.

Now it’s going to cost the Grizzlies to keep him. This is basic economics — the supply is limited to one and now there is demand (and the guy that runs Brooklyn has shown a willingness to overpay for talent). Memphis can deny other teams permission to (officially, anyway) talk to Hollins until June 30, which gives them a window to pound out a deal.

Hollins made $2.3 million last season, Spears reports. Memphis may get a hometown discount, but Hollins is about to get a raise one way or another. And deservedly. Hollins sounded appreciative of that.

“It’s nice to be in that boat. But I don’t gloat and think that nobody is this or nobody is that. It’s not even about any of those [teams]. It’s about my life and my goals and what I’m trying to accomplish. It has nothing to do with anybody else. There are a lot of coaches who have been in a situation where it took a while for an opportunity to get [a job]. And then they ran out and proved they were great coaches.”

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