As media began filing out of the press conference introducing Taylor Jenkins as the Memphis Grizzlies new head coach, I asked Michael Wallace of the Grizzlies’ in-house “Grind City Media” unit how long he’d been with the team. I admit, I knew the answer when I asked.
“Three years,” Wallace said.
“Wow,” I replied. “And you’re on your third one of these already.”
“So it’s me!” Wallace smiled as we both laughed.
Of course not. But facts are facts. The firing and hiring of head coaches has unfortunately become something of an annual tradition at FedExForum. In 2016, meet David Fizdale! Two years later: Meet JB Bickerstaff! And now, Jenkins. It’s kind of like birthdays after your 30th: it’s just hard to get excited about it anymore.
Add that to the fact that most Grizzlies fans had never heard of Jenkins before ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke news of his hiring, and, well… yawn.
That said, Jenkins immediately endeared himself to Memphis, with a warmth and affability that indicates he won’t have a problem communicating and connecting with players. Before taking questions, he got choked up on multiple occasions while thanking literally everyone and his momma who helped him get to this point.
And if you’re wondering what he, new President of Basketball Operations Zachary Kleiman and Vice President of Basketball Affairs Tayshaun Prince had to say, well, everybody said the right stuff.
Example: Coach, how do you expect your team to play?
“We want to be the most competitive, most unselfish and most together team that we can be,” Jenkins said. “(I see us) defensively playing an unselfish style as a defensively aggressive, disciplined unit. Offensively, (we’ll aim for) great pace and space, an exciting brand of basketball, team-oriented, where the balls poppin’ and hoppin’ – getting great quality shots at the rim, in the paint, from three.”
That quote is exactly what you want to hear . . . and completely predictable. Here’s more ‘right stuff’ from Kleiman, on why they chose Jenkins.
“Taylor brings many unique qualities to the table, including incredibly strong organizational skills, and a desire to instill a culture of competition,” Kleiman said. “We look forward to working hand in hand with Taylor to make the City of Memphis proud.”
Of course, and… yawn. And are they going to give Jenkins room to develop or will we be back here introducing a new coach next year?
“We talked about the vision and the progress and what we’re trying to go,” Prince said. “And this is not going to be a situation where it’s a short term thing.”
Jenkins is on deck for next week’s NBA Draft, in which the Grizzlies are expected to use their No. 2 pick on Murray State phenom Ja Morant. After that, Jenkins did indicate that he’s planning to coach the Grizzlies Summer League team.
“For me, it’s just building our habits, how we’re going to work day in day out, discovering who we are,” Jenkins said of Summer League.
Other than fans who are still mad about how the Grizzlies ejected Bickerstaff (Fizdale and Lionel Hollins too, for that matter), it’s safe to say that everyone wants Jenkins to succeed – it’ll mean the team is winning.
But the fact is, we just won’t begin to know what kind of coach Taylor Jenkins is until the new season tips off in October.
Let’s just hope we’re not doing this all over again next offseason.