According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Donald Sterling was spotted at Sunday afternoon's tipoff of the Western Conference Finals between the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs, supposedly scouting Lionel Hollins for a possible interview to take over as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Hottest theory circulating here in San Antonio is that Donald Sterling was at Game 1 sitting across from Grizz bench to scout Lionel Hollins— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 19, 2013
Sterling was in San Antonio with no real explanation of what was going on, but it seems the only theory that makes sense would be him poking around to replace current Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro.
Del Negro's contract runs out following the season, and this could mean the end for the much-maligned coach.
Could Sterling have been in San Antonio on other business, on a Sunday, two rounds after Clips eliminated? If so, that's a first for him— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 19, 2013
Memphis ended up losing Game 1 105-83, so there's no telling whether Sterling was impressed.
Maybe that was even Hollins' plan. There's no way he wants the stink of Sterling hanging around for this entire conference finals, so he decided that throwing Game 1 would be better than having him hang around for the rest of the series.
That being said, I've got no idea how a guy can scout a coach in person without actually talking with him. If that's what happened, then I'm sure there will be a lot more clarity over what's going on with Sterling and Hollins in the coming days.
Hollins has been getting some interest from other teams during Memphis' playoff runs, as he is a soon-to-be free-agent coach who happens to be taking a superstar-free Grizzlies squad to the conference finals.
According to ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard (via Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com), the Brooklyn Nets have been rumored to be interested, and I'm sure other teams will throw their hats into the ring once Memphis' season ends.
It's all speculation, of course, as Hollins has expressed his desire to stay in Memphis, and it would seem to be an enormous mistake for the Grizzlies to let Hollins walk after all the success he has had in Memphis.
Hollins has been with the Grizzlies in three different instances. Twice he was the team's interim head coach (in 2000 when the team was in Vancouver and 2005 for all of four games), finally becoming the full-time head coach in 2009 after a stint as an assistant.
It's as if the two were destined for each other, and now that they are experiencing some success, it's to the point where parting with him would be a step backward.
Sterling supposedly met with Del Negro over the weekend with a decision on his future with the team to come shortly thereafter, according to CSNNW.com.
Regardless of who he's courting, it's still interesting that Sterling is out and about looking at coaches. This should mean more about Del Negro's job security rather than Hollins potentially leaving Memphis.