Last week, I wrote that with the NBA Draft kicking off the summer offseason, it would make sense for the Grizzlies to have their new coach selected sooner than later.
Sooner it is, then. Multiple media outlets are reporting that the Grizzlies have tapped Milwaukee Assistant Coach Taylor Johnson as their new head coach.
The Memphis Grizzlies are hiring Milwaukee Bucks assistant Taylor Jenkins as the franchise’s next head coach, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 11, 2019
So who the heck is Taylor Jenkins? Like you, I’m Googling him. Here’s what I found on an NBA.com bio for him. Looks like it’s a couple years old:
In his first season with the Hawks is assistant coach Taylor Jenkins, who most recently served as the head coach of the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League, the San Antonio Spurs’ D-League affiliate.
Jenkins led the Toros to a 27-23 (.540) record during the 2012-13 season and a first round playoff victory over the Bakersfield Jam before falling to the Santa Cruz Warriors in the semifinals. Prior to serving as head coach, Jenkins had served as an assistant coach with the Toros the previous four seasons, including their championship season in 2012 and back-to-back playoff appearances in 2009 and 2010.
He was selected as an assistant coach with the NBA D-League Select Team during the 2010 Las Vegas Summer League and was part of the 2009 and 2012 NBA D-League Western Conference All-Star coaching staff. Last summer, he served as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs summer league team.
Prior to joining the Toros, Jenkins interned with the San Antonio Spurs basketball operations department during the 2007-08 season.
He attended The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics, while concentrating in Management and minoring in Psychology. Taylor and his wife, Chantall, live in Atlanta with their two sons, Alex and Jancarlos.
So . . . he’s young, he’s smart, he’s got that San Antonio pedigree via an internship with the Spurs and years under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and Milwaukee. All the credentials are there. And yet, I’m . . . meh.
Any NBA fan wants their team to make splashy moves — in this case, a name-brand coach we had at least heard of or could know what to expect. Names like Frank Vogel, Jason Kidd or even former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins come to mind. Of course, the Lakers made a weird splash hiring Vogel and two former head coaches in Hollins and Kidd. Seems like the Grizz could have gotten at least one of those three.
Then again, maybe they did try. Truth is the Grizzlies have been quiet for weeks now, interviewing candidates quietly. For all we know, they made offers to other coaches who may have balked at how quickly the Grizz will jettison a good coach. If you’re Taylor Jenkins, you have to wonder if your reward for a successful season will be a pink slip. Sad to say, that is a legit question with this franchise.
But I don’t think Jenkins got this far by being a scrub. By many accounts, he’s a good coach, maybe even a great one. And his immediate job will be convincing potential free agent Jonas Valanciunas to opt into the final year of his $17.6 million deal. Valanciunas has until Thursday to make that choice.
But at the end of the day, talent and teamwork will win, and if the Grizzlies have a up-and-coming superstar tandem in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant, it’ll be them who makes Jenkins look good, not the other way around. After all, Phil Jackson is a great coach . . . who had Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Scottie Pippen and Shaquille O’Neal on his championship squads. Before that, Jackson was a coach on the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association
And if you’ve never heard of the Albany Patroons or the Continental Basketball Association, that’s my point. Maybe we’ll be talking about all those great Taylor Jenkins’ Grizzlies teams in 20 years or so.
But for now, he’s an unknown. So let me get back to Googling . . .