Last season, Mike Conley led the Memphis Grizzlies to a promising start where they won five of their first six games. Unfortunately, the 30-year-old point guard was only able to play 12 games and spent the rest of the 2017-18 NBA season recovering from a torn Achilles. In the absence of one of the superstars, the Grizzlies started to struggle and ended up firing David Fizdale as head coach.
Mike Conley felt he was responsible for David Fizdale’s dismissal. Conley said that his inability to play put Fizdale and the Grizzlies in a tough situation. In an interview with Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports, Conley revealed that he reached out to Fizdale to apologize for what happened last season.
“It was tough because I knew the reason we lost nine in a row is because I wasn’t out there and wasn’t able to play and really put him in a tough situation,” Conley said. “I said, ‘Man, I hate this happened. I feel like I’m a part of the reason this happened.’ He was like, ‘Aw, Mike, man, naw. It had nothing to do with you, you know that. Without you, we still should win games.’ … I still felt some guilt for it.”
It is easy to understand why Mike Conley felt some guilt in David Fizdale’s firing. In his last full season with the Grizzlies, Conley had a career year where he averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 1.3 steals on 45.9 percent shooting from the field and 40.7 percent from beyond the arc. Conley believes that the Grizzlies could have performed better and won’t decide to tank if they had him on their team last season.
However, the player who largely contributed to Fizdale’s departure in Memphis is not Mike Conley but his superstar teammate Marc Gasol. In the middle of an eight-game losing streak, the relationship between Fizdale and Gasol started to worsen. His decision to bench the All-Star center in the fourth quarter of their game against the Brooklyn Nets made the Grizzlies organization decide to fire him as head coach and gave the job to J.B. Bickerstaff.
After the 2017-18 NBA season, David Fizdale became one of the most coveted head coaches where he ended up signing with the New York Knicks. Most of the Knicks’ players expressed their excitement about having Fizdale on their team and the 44-year-old head coach is starting to build a good relationship with their franchise player Kristaps Porzingis, who is expected to miss the 2018-19 NBA season due to injury.