NORMAN — The Memphis Grizzlies put together one of the best finishing runs in the NBA to reach the postseason for a fourth straight year, and Dave Joerger had the best season of all the league’s first-year coaches.
Now they must wait and see if they will be together for another playoff run.
The Grizzlies overcame a slow start and key injuries by grabbing the Western Conference’s seventh seed. They finally ran out of comebacks in their first-round series against Oklahoma City, with Mike Conley hobbled and Zach Randolph suspended for a 120-109 road loss in Game 7 on Saturday night.
It wasn’t the finish the Grizzlies wanted after advancing to their first Western Conference finals last year.
Now Randolph has a player option for next season, and Joerger is among those hoping he returns.
“He knows he’s loved,” Joerger said Sunday. “He knows he’s wanted here. We have a good relationship. A really, really good relationship. He was not difficult for me to coach at all. I really enjoyed coaching him. We’re really on the same page, so I hope we can continue that.”
Randolph has the option to play the 2014-15 season for $16.5 million. He led Memphis in scoring at 17.4 points per game and rebounding at 10.1 this season, and he was the Grizzlies’ leading scorer against Oklahoma City with 18.2 points a game until being suspended from Game 7 for punching Steven Adams late in Game 6.
He said he would have preferred a 10-game suspension to start next season rather than punish a whole team. Randolph said that’s something the NBA should re-evaluate.
As for his own future, Randolph has never been a free agent in his career and plans to talk with his agent in a couple days. He also wants to talk to the Grizzlies.