The Memphis Grizzlies introduced David Joerger as their new coach, replacing… (Jim Weber / Associated Press )
Dave Joerger's road through professional basketball's minor leagues has finally landed him in an NBA head coaching seat.
His first job is at a familiar spot, with a team he has been a part of for six seasons.
Joerger was introduced as coach of the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday after a season in which they won a franchise-best 56 games but split with coach Lionel Hollins.
"I am ready for this opportunity," Joerger said. "I have won in the past. I know how to win. We're going to win."
Joerger, 39, was a successful head coach in the minor leagues and was the lead assistant under Hollins the last two seasons.
The Grizzlies are coming off a Western Conference finals appearance, but there was a disconnect between Hollins and the new ownership group led by Robert Pera. Hollins' contract wasn't renewed despite his 196-155 record since becoming coach of the Grizzlies in January 2009.
"Lionel Hollins did some great things for this organization. … Now we turn the page to the Dave Joerger era," said Jason Levien, the Grizzlies' chief executive and managing partner.
Terms of Joerger's contract weren't released, but the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis has reported Joerger signed a four-year deal with a starting salary of about $1.5 million.
"This is a blue-collar town, and I'm a blue-collar guy," Joerger said. "I came up the hard way. I came up through the minor leagues."
Joerger's name had been mentioned as the heir apparent to Hollins even as ownership and the former Grizzlies coach were trying to patch things up. On June 10, team leaders decided they had reached an impasse with Hollins and announced they wouldn't keep him.
"This is something I've been dreaming about for a long time," Joerger said. "This is something I've been preparing for for a long time. This is Lionel's job. When it wasn't Lionel's job, then I'm interested in coaching this team and leading this team. When that happened, then we started talking and going forward. The last couple of days, it went really fast."
Joerger won an International Basketball Assn. title and two Continental Basketball Assn. crowns with the Dakota Wizards. A third CBA championship came as coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2005. He won a fifth minor league championship in 2007 with the Wizards after they had moved to the NBA Development League.
Frank joins Kidd's staff in Brooklyn
Lawrence Frank will become Jason Kidd's lead assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets, several media outlets reported.
Frank coached Kidd during most of his tenure as the Nets' head coach from 2003 to 2010. Frank was coach of the Detroit Pistons the last two seasons.
Kidd was hired by the Nets two weeks ago after he retired following a 19-year NBA career.
Bird back with Pacers
Larry Bird is bringing a new perspective to the Indiana Pacers.
After watching from afar as the team he rebuilt reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in nine years and came within one victory of dethroning NBA champion Miami, Bird thinks he has a pretty good idea what it will take to lead Indiana to its first league title.
"My dreams, my goals are set pretty high," he said after being reintroduced as the team's president of basketball operations Thursday. "I know how hard it is to win a championship. It's tough. But when you have guys who stick together, who play together, who share the basketball and care about one another, it's a hell of a start."
It didn't take Bird long to provide a glimpse of what might be different this time around.
Although he concurred with his successor and predecessor Donnie Walsh and General Manager Kevin Pritchard that the team's top off-season priority is to re-sign free agent David West — the power forward Bird signed two years ago to toughen up the team — the blunt-talking Bird explained he's ready to improve the team's bench play.
That's something fans complained about long and often all season.
"One glaring need that I see is our bench," Bird said. "The bench didn't step up and play as well as we expected, so we have to upgrade that area and we don't have a lot of money, so we'll have to be creative."