In their search to replace former head coach Dave Joerger, the Memphis Grizzlies reportedly interviewed Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Nate Tibbetts today. This is not at all surprising, as Tibbetts had been previously touted as head coach material by Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN, and was given permission to speak with the Grizzlies earlier this week. Marc Stein has the Grizzlies’ interview roundup thus far:
The Grizzlies, to date, are known to have interviewed Frank Vogel, Ettore Messina, David Fizdale, Patrick Ewing, Nate Tibbetts and Borrego.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 18, 2016
That’s stiff competition. Having bafflingly been let go by the Indiana Pacers, Frank Vogel would be a big get for most any team with a vacancy, while San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina is widely regarded as one of the best Euroleague coaches in recent history. Even so, Spurs assistant James Borrego is rumored to have the edge right now.
NBA coaching sources, meanwhile, say Spurs assistant James Borrego has gained steam of his own in Memphis' search after a strong interview.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 18, 2016
Tibbetts, however, is no slouch. His coaching experience runs deep. He was hired as an assistant in Portland, filling the void left by Kaleb Canales in 2013, after a two-year stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, prior to which he coached the Tulsa 66ers and Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Developmental League for a combined six years. Before that, he served as an assistant coach at Sioux Falls University for four years, bringing his total coaching experience to an impressive 16 years.
On top of that, Tibbetts is well-liked by players, who he works tirelessly with behind the scenes. His reputation as a developer of young talent could be ideal for the Grizzlies in the near future, as their current roster iteration is nearing the end of its shelf life.