When news broke Monday evening that the Memphis Grizzlies were reliving head coach David Fizdale of his duties after losing 11 of their last 13, I was shocked. Memphis has been devastated by injuries to the likes of Mike Conley, JaMychal Green, and Marc Gasol yet Fizdale was the fall man.
And was Fizdale the guy who signed Chandler Parsons to a four-year max contract two summers ago? Of course not.
Now, Fizdale is the odd man out and without a job, joining former Suns coach Earl Watson on the current unemployment line.
However, with the track record he has alongside a roster tailor made to Fizdale's strengths, is it time to pull the trigger on it soon? Honestly, yes, general manager Ryan McDonough and Co. should be blowing his phone up trying to see if he's interested.
There won't be another Brad Stevens out of the college ranks for a long time, sorry everyone.
I watched Stevens progress 15 minutes down the road from me at Butler from unknown assistant to head coach using analytics to drive the underdog Bulldogs to back-to-back final four appearances. John Calipari is content at Kentucky, while Shaka Smart or any other younger candidate is nowhere near ready to be a pro coach I believe.
This brings me back to Fizdale.
His pedigree can't be denied, and neither can his longstanding relationship with Phoenix Suns Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones. The now second in command for Phoenix played under Fizdale in Miami from 2012-2014, making three consecutive finals appearances while in the process building a rock-solid bond.
As you saw, players with the previous history with Fizdale such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade voiced their displeasure on Twitter saying he was exactly what we thought: the Grizzlies' man to take the undeserved hit.
He's well-respected around the league, and alongside Jones, who knows the possibilities of who they could lure to The Valley in the coming seasons. I think that idea has better odds than trying to find a young up-and-comer or a grizzled vet to set these youngsters straight. No, this team just needs a motivated coach who has a history of success.
Fizdale comes straight from the Erik Spoelstra / Pat Riley coaching tree and he showed in this year or so on the job that he took advantage of the roster’s capabilities.
He turned Gasol from a purely post big man to one who has a perimeter stroke that stretches out to the 3-point line. Role players such as Green, Wayne Selden, and Tyreke Evans are having resurgences under Fizdale from unknown. Fizdale even turned their second-round pick Dillon Brooks into a lockdown perimeter defender averaging 30 minutes per game.
No offense to Memphis, but Phoenix displays way more potential for long-term success.
I have confidence that Fizdale would be able to get the most out of Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, and even Devin Booker, too. He connects very well with his players while also being one of the better up-and-coming coaches as far as X’s-and-O’s goes.
Thanks to the incompetence of Memphis, siding with 33-year-old Gasol instead, Fizdale will be one of the hotter names to hit the mid-season market in quite some time.
Usually, I'm not one to make drastic changes twice in a season, but it's apparent that Triano's magic dust wore off following their 4-1 start under him. Since the Suns are 3-10 with numbers slowly dipping towards Watson territory on both sides.
If Triano isn't the long-term answer, pull the plug. Let Fizdale have a season of establishing his system and letting the players get used to it. Honestly, I think it's a better option to do it now compared to next summer where the youngest roster in the league will have to learn an entirely new playbook once again.
Even when Triano accepted the interim role, he was asked if he would like to keep the job full-time if the season goes well. His answer? Not exactly the answer you want to here if you want to commit more than a year for him.
"We'll see how it goes, but I'm going to embrace this 100-percent,” Triano said.
If Triano is more comfortable being the strategic guy on the bench as the associate head coach, let him be.
Let Fizdale start to implement his system, just like Triano has tried to do these past few weeks.
The amount of practice time is worrisome, but, again, I would really prefer McDonough to make this move now compared to waiting for other options.
His best long-term play for the Suns to reach their greatest potential could be staring at them on the market, why not pounce on the opportunity? Looking around the coaching landscape, it’s hard to see a better candidate than Fizdale unless something drastic occurs.
Now, the question is, will Phoenix do the smart thing and do something out of the ordinary, though? It wouldn’t hurt to be leaving a few voicemails on Fizdale’s phone over the next few days, that’s for sure.