Memphis is negotiating with assistant Dave Joerger (yay-gehr) to become the Grizzlies’ head coach, said a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the final deal hasn’t been reached yet.
ESPN.com first reported the negotiations.
This would be Joerger’s first NBA head coaching job. He had been an assistant the past six seasons with the Grizzlies under coach Marc Iavaroni and later Lionel Hollins, who whose contract was not renewed earlier this month despite leading Memphis to a 56-26 record and a Western Conference Finals appearance.
The Grizzlies also interviewed George Karl, the NBA coach of the year before being fired by Denver, Chicago Bulls assistant Ed Pinckney and former Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry.
Keeping Joerger would help the Grizzlies maintain some continuity in the locker room with Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. He was the lead assistant coach and helped coordinate a defense that helped Memphis allow a league-low 89.3 points per game this season.
Joerger also won five minor league championships. He led the Dakota Wizards to the 2007 NBA D-League title, an International Basketball Association title and three in the Continental Basketball Association. His record of 232-117 as a head coach also includes two CBA coach of the year awards.
He played at Moorhead State and started as general manager of the Dakota Wizards in the IBA. He started coaching as an assistant in the 1997-98 season and became head coach for the 2000-01 season when he led the Wizards to their first title. He had 18 of his players called up to the NBA between 2003 and 2007.
But Joerger steps into a challenging situation. Hollins was this franchise’s winningest coach overall with a record of 214-201 and also in the postseason at 18-17. This franchise had never won a playoff series before 2011 with Hollins, and the Grizzlies knocked off not one, but two No. 1 seeds in the postseason with him as coach taking down the Spurs in 2011 and Oklahoma City during the Western semifinals this year.
This easily is the latest and biggest move yet by Robert Pera, the California tech billionaire and lead owner in the new group that took over the team in November. Pera put in Jason Levien in charge as the chief executive officer, and his changes included bringing in former ESPN.com writer John Hollinger as vice president of basketball operations and Stu Lash as director of player personnel and basketball development in December.
They also traded away their leading scorer Rudy Gay on Jan. 30.