Fizdale out in Memphis after benching Gasol.
Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale has been fired, just one day after he decided to bench the team's All-Star center Marc Gasol during the fourth quarter of the their loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Last night's loss was the Grizzlies' eighth straight, putting them at 7-12 on the season.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the team has announced that associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been promoted to interim head coach moving forward. Fizdale compiled a 50-51 record (.495) during his two seasons in Memphis,
The Grizzlies have lost 11 of their last 13, including the last seven without point guard Mike Conley who has been sidelined with an injury. During yesterday's 98-88 loss at home, Gasol, the Grizzlies' leader in scoring, rebounds and assists, remained on the bench even after Memphis got back into the game.
After the game, Gasol vented to reporters. Per ESPN,
"You take it personally"
"Obviously, you get frustrated, and I did, and mad and start wondering," said Gasol.
"I do not know the why," Gasol said of not playing down the stretch, later adding: "It's a first for me, trust me, and I don't like it one bit. I'm more [ticked] than I can show and frustrated."
"If I'm not on the floor, then I'm not valued," Gasol said. "I'm sure [the coaching staff] knew that would hurt me the most."
Fizdale said that benching Gasol was nothing personal against his All-Star center, but he felt the players who were in the game gave the Grizz the best chance of winning.
"Sometimes when you take a risk, you may [upset] a player or two," Fizdale said. "That's part of this position. I can own the decision and I have my reasons why. Winning is my only priority."
Gasol, who will be a free agent in the Summer of 2019, is currently averaging 19.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in his 10th NBA season. Despite being benched in the fourth quarter of last night's game, he still finished with a team-high 18 points.
Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace issued the following statement regarding today's announcement,
“After a thorough evaluation, I decided a change in course was necessary to move forward and provide the team and organization its best chance at success this season and beyond,” Wallace said. “Coach Fizdale represented the Grizzlies and City of Memphis proudly, and we wish him well as he continues his career.”
The Grizzlies, 7-12, will return to action on Wednesday night in San Antonio, followed by a home matchup against the Spurs on Friday.