Marc Gasol said he was “shocked” after knowing that the Memphis Grizzlies fired David Fizdale on Monday. There were reports saying that the Grizzlies dismissed the second-year head coach because of a mixture of the team’s current losing streak and his inability to work well with the three-time NBA All-Star.
In an ESPN interview, Gasol, who has so far played for the Grizzlies in all of his nine-year NBA career, said that “nobody likes to see a coach changed” in the middle of the season because the team will “not have enough time to work on stuff.” He then said that he was “a little bit shocked” by the front office’s decision to fire Fizdale.
When asked if he asked the management to fire Fizdale, Gasol answered with a straightforward “No, not at all.”
Fizdale was hired by the Grizzlies as the team’s chief bench tactician in May of last year. He went on to lead Memphis to a playoff appearance in his first year as head coach, finishing the regular season with a 43-39 slate to snatch the seventh seed in the West. The Grizzlies were eliminated by No. 2 Western team San Antonio Spurs in six games during the last postseason.
However, after steering Memphis to a 7-4 start to the season, the team has lost eight games in a row, culminating in a fourth-quarter benching of Gasol during a 98-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at home on Sunday. It was said to be the management’s final straw before deciding to fire Fizdale.
Gasol said that his problem is not the direction Fizdale is trying to guide the squad, but the actual situation that the team is in at the moment.
“He (Fizdale) is responsible for that (Grizzlies’ current situation), too. That was my main problem. Obviously, nobody likes to be in the situation we’re in. And we were not finding a way to win collectively and we’re breaking apart.”
Yahoo Sports‘ Chris Mannix reported that the “rift between Fizdale and Marc Gasol was real” and that the “toxic relationship” began as early as last season.
Gasol admitted his worsening relationship with Fizdale, saying he and the head coach “didn’t see everything eye-to-eye all the time.” However, he acknowledged that both of them wanted to make the team a “collective team” and “strong unit.”
Former assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff is acting as the team’s interim head coach as the Grizzlies face the Spurs on Wednesday night in San Antonio.