The question wasn’t whether Marc Iavaroni would get an NBA head coaching job this summer, it was where. And it turned out to be the job he wanted most.
An NBA source confirmed reports out of Memphis that Iavaroni, Mike D’Antoni’s lead assistant with the Suns the past 3 1/2 years and a Suns assistant since 2002, agreed to a three-year contract to coach the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
The official announcement will come at a news conference today.
Both Iavaroni and D’Antoni declined to comment on the report Wednesday, but D’Antoni has consistently said that Iavaroni was ready for a head coaching job and that he didn’t expect to have him back for next season.
While teams such as Orlando and Seattle also expressed interest and received permission from the Suns to pursue him, Iavaroni privately showed the most interest in the Grizzlies, who faced the Suns in the first round of the 2005 playoffs, the second of three straight playoff appearances. They’ve never won a postseason game.
He agreed to meet with Memphis ownership in Los Angeles during this year’s playoffs to make sure others didn’t get a jump on the job.
Memphis finished dead last in the NBA this year with a 22-60 record, then saw that bad luck continue in last week’s draft lottery, when they wound up with the lowest pick possible — fourth overall. But with center Pau Gasol, sharpshooter Mike Miller and young forward Rudy Gay, Memphis has some talent and switched to up-tempo play — much like the Suns’ style — after Mike Fratello was fired at midseason.
Iavaroni played 14 years in the NBA with Philadelphia, San Antonio and Utah and coached under Pat Riley in Miami and Fratello in Cleveland prior to joining the Suns in 2002. His colorful and detailed pregame greaseboards are famous all over the league and his work with Suns big men, especially Amaré Stoudemire, has been hailed.
Memphis is also looking for a general manager to replace the outgoing Jerry West. Suns vice president of operations David Griffin has been mentioned as a leading candidate, although the Suns declined to give the Grizzlies permission to speak with Griffin until after the June 28 NBA draft is completed.