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Lionel Hollins: 'I hope things can work out' in Memphis

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports
Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said Monday he's surprised contract talks with the franchise have broken down, but would still like to work out an extension to return.

"I hope things can work out and I think things can work out," Hollins told Yahoo! Sports on Monday. "I'm happy in Memphis. I've been there for a long time. My kids went to school in Memphis. My son graduated as a doctor in Memphis. My daughter is a grad student at the University of Memphis.

"I love the city of Memphis and really want to be there. I have no reason to want to leave." 

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Lionel Hollins says he doesn't want this season to be his last in Memphis. (AP)

Hollins' contract with the Grizzlies ends on June 30. Yahoo! Sports reported that extension talks between Hollins and Memphis stalled over the weekend, and it's widely viewed Hollins' time with the Grizzlies is likely nearing an end.

Grizzlies management is still upset over its belief that Hollins didn't publicly welcome the Rudy Gay trade, a league source said. Hollins said his thoughts on the deal were misinterpreted and declined to go into detail about his expected departure from Memphis. Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien couldn't be reached for comment.

Hollins met with Levien last week, and thought the sides would eventually strike a deal. Instead, the Grizzlies gave Hollins permission on Sunday to speak to other teams about their coaching openings.

"The meeting [with Levien] went great," Hollins said. "Then all this stuff that came out. I'm shocked. When I left his office I went and told a couple of friends, 'This is great. It looks like things are going to work out in a positive manner.' I went downstairs and told the coaching staff that it looks like we're going to be here. I said that, 'Everything was positive in our meeting.' That's what makes me believe it will get done."

As of Monday afternoon, Hollins said he had yet to speak directly to any other teams. Hollins is expected to be among the top candidates for the Los Angeles Clippers, who have also shown interest in former Phoenix Suns and Clippers coach Alvin Gentry, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott and Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw. Clippers owner Donald Sterling sat courtside across from the Grizzlies' bench during Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between the Grizzlies and host San Antonio Spurs.

The Grizzlies have increased their winning percentage every season since Hollins was hired Jan. 25, 2009. He led the Grizzlies to their best record in franchise history (56-26) this past season and first trip to the conference finals. Hollins is 214-201 with the Grizzlies, including interim stints with the franchise based in Vancouver during the 1999-2000 season and Memphis during the 2004-05 season.

"I'm proud of what my coaching staff and I have built here with the Grizzlies," Hollins said.

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