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Bucks assistant Lionel Hollins heading to Memphis

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A member of the Milwaukee Bucks is packing his bags for Memphis, but it's not Ramon Sessions or Joe Alexander.  Having spent much of his coaching career on the Grizzlies' bench, Bucks assistant Lionel Hollins is heading back to Memphis to replace the freshly-canned Marc Iavaroni.  Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal first reported it last night, and today Charles Gardner quoted John Hammond that Hollins had been granted permission to speak with Memphis.

Bucks general manager John Hammond was reached this morning and could not confirm Hollins' departure but said: "Memphis contacted us and asked for permission to speak to Lionel, and we granted it.

"From an organizational standpoint, Sen. Kohl (Bucks owner Herb Kohl) would not stand in anyone's way with a chance for professional advancement."

It's tough to gauge the impact of assistants on a club unless you're spending time with them on a day-to-day basis, so I won't even try to speculate how this will impact the Bucks.  Hollins was a defensive point guard in his day, but whether his departure will have a tangible impact on someone like Ramon Sessions is again not really for me to say. 

The Bucks did however have a fairly large coaching staff, with Jim Boylan (Skiles' lead assistant in Chicago as well), Kelvin Sampson, Joe Wolf, Adrian Griffin, and Bill Peterson (player development) deputizing for Scott Skiles.  Griffin made the switch from player to coach right at the end of camp, so from a numbers perspective the Bucks are back to where they were in October.

Another interesting subplot is that Hollins will now coach Mike Conley in Memphis, a player he seemed on the verge of coaching in Milwaukee a couple weeks ago.   Tillery reported yesterday that the Sessions/Alexander for Conley deal is effectively dead.

The Griz wanted badly to send Mike Conley to the Bucks, and receive Ramon Sessions and Joe Alexander in return. But Milwaukee’s front office had to run this deal up the owner’s flag pole.

I was told Sen. Herb Kohl expressed serious doubts with whether he was getting value in only accepting Conley. This could be one reason Griz coach Marc Iavaroni abruptly put Conley back into the starting lineup.

There are a lot of different ways to spin this.  You can take the Herb Kohl-as-meddler angle, once again preventing his GM from making a deal.  That of course was a major talking point during the tail end of the Larry Harris era, and would be an uncomfortable sign even if you didn't want this deal to happen. Though it's also not clear whether Hammond was making this deal primarily because he wanted Conley, because it would clear some luxury tax space next summer, or some combination of the two.  If Hammond wouldn't have made the deal outside of the tax issue, then you could even argue it's encouraging that Kohl killed it--after all, it's his money.  But there's not much indication that was the case either.

You can also speculate that Hammond and company were playing the "let me talk to my manager" card--ie use Kohl's supposed trepidation as a means of trying to extract more value from Memphis.  It's not clear Kohl's supposed veto led to any more negotiations though.  Which seems odd, because we've seen a number of reports stating just how badly Memphis wanted to do this deal.  Considering neither team should be giving away young talent at this stage, that fact always bothered me a fair bit. Always be wary of a trade where the other side is far more excited about it than you are.