Memphis Grizzlies star Marc Gasol insists he had nothing to do with the firing of coach David Fizdale, which occurred one day after Gasol was furious that he was benched for the fourth quarter of the team's eighth consecutive loss.
In fact, Gasol said he was surprised by the timing of the move and didn't know about the firing until after the decision was made.
"Nobody likes to see a coach change during the season because you don't have enough time to work on stuff," Gasol told reporters on Tuesday. "I was a little bit shocked by it."
Memphis general manager Chris Wallace said the firing of the second-year coach was due to the team being underachievers and not related to the rift between Fizdale and Gasol.
"There were bigger trends than just the relationship between the two of them," Wallace said of a move that surprised people all around the NBA. "It just hasn't been going well for us after a good start. And there was no indication that it was going to change magically any time soon."
Memphis started the season 7-4 before the string of losses began. The Grizzlies haven't won since losing point guard Mike Conley to an Achilles injury seven games ago.
Gasol, who is averaging 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds, admitted there were conflicts and he said the team was fractured.
"Nobody likes to be in the situation we are in," Gasol said. "We were not finding a way to win collectively, and we were breaking apart. Me and David didn't see everything eye to eye all the time, but we both had the same intentions of making the team a collective thing. ... We couldn't find the formula to do that."
J.B. Bickerstaff was named interim coach and Wallace said he will keep the position for the rest of the season.
Bickerstaff also is close friends with Fizdale and he found Monday to be a difficult day despite landing the interim job. Fizdale was part of Bickerstaff's wedding and he came to Memphis to help his friend win games.
"Through the emotions, you have to come up with a plan, and hopefully that plan rights the ship a little bit," Bickerstaff said.
Now the Grizzlies look to hit the reset button.
"You can put any coach out there and it doesn't really matter," Gasol said. "Players need to execute. We don't do that consistently. It is going to be hard. If you don't want to play 'D,' you aren't going to play defense. Players need to be held accountable and take responsibility and ownership of their part.
"Lately, we've had too many 'my bads,' excuses. Obviously, this doesn't work out, who knows what is next."
The Grizzlies went 43-39 and made the playoffs last season in Fizdale's lone full season.