MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies fired coach Dave Joerger on Saturday in a surprising move after three seasons and three straight playoff appearances.
The team was battered by injuries and finished the regular season at 42-40 before being swept in the first round by San Antonio.
“After careful consideration, I concluded that a change was needed to foster the strong culture required to achieve sustainable, long-term success for this organization, the city and our fans,” general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement.
The Grizzlies used an NBA-record 28 players this season. Center Marc Gasol’s season ended in February with a broken right foot, and point guard Mike Conley’ was done in early March with left Achilles tendinitis. Memphis signed eight players to 11 10-day contracts before its playoff ouster.
“This season has been hard, it’s been really hard,” Joerger said after the final loss to the Spurs. “They could’ve quit, could’ve not made the playoffs and every day they came out and fought like crazy.”
Memphis becomes the fourth NBA team currently without a coach, joining the New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers, who fired coach Frank Vogel on Thursday. Memphis is starting its search immediately.
Joerger had been with Memphis since before the 2007-08 season. He was promoted to replace Lionel Hollins after the Grizzlies were swept in the Western Conference finals in 2013. Joerger is 147-99 overall, 9-13 in the postseason.
He interviewed twice with Minnesota in 2014 for the Timberwolves’ coaching job before signing an extension with the Grizzlies. The Commercial Appeal reported Joerger had only one guaranteed season left on that deal, with the Grizzlies having an option for the 2017-18 season.
The Grizzlies have the third-longest playoff streak in the NBA with six straight seasons, behind only the Spurs (19) and the Atlanta Hawks (9). But Conley is a free agent this summer, and five Grizzlies are not under contract for next season. The Grizzlies also must decide whether to exercise the option on Lance Stephenson and if they should keep Vince Carter, JaMychal Green and Xavier Munford.