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Hollins set for Sunday press conference

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies will introduce Lionel Hollins as their new coach at a news conference Sunday.

The Grizzlies fired coach Marc Iavaroni on Thursday and Johnny Davis acted as interim coach on Friday, when Memphis lost 108-88 at New York. Davis directed the team again Saturday night in a 99-88 home loss to the New Jersey Nets.

Memphis general manager Chris Wallace told reporters in New York the team club hoped to sign Hollins, a Milwaukee assistant. Wallace said he wanted Hollins to be able to run practices before Tuesday's game with Denver.

Before the Nets game, Memphis officials talked openly about Hollins' arrival on Sunday, making the press conference more of an introduction than an announcement about the identity of the new head coach.

"I was asked to fill in until Lionel came," Davis said. "I was told it would be a two-game situation, and so I'm just trying do the best I can with it."

Iavaroni, who served as Memphis' coach for 1½ seasons, was dismissed after the Grizzlies lost 101-86 at Charlotte on Wednesday. At that point, Memphis had dropped 15 of 17 games. The Grizzlies were 33-90 during Iavaroni's tenure.

Memphis general manager Chris Wallace told reporters in New York he wanted Hollins to be able to run practices before Tuesday's game with Denver.

Hollins has already served as an interim coach for the Grizzlies twice, going 18-46.

Memphis is in a rebuilding situation and relying on a host of young players. The Grizzlies have started three rookies in 25 games this season and eight of the team's 14 players are 23 years old or younger.

The team wasn't expecting great strides this year, the first of the Grizzlies' proclaimed three-year growth plan, but they did want some improvement. Team leaders were not seeing it under Iavaroni. For that reason, Wallace said, the change was necessary.

"Obviously, we've been closely monitoring our team's performance for quite some time and hoping for a turnaround similar to the one we had early in the season, after we had the first valley the team went through," Wallace said. "It became apparent things weren't heading in the right direction, and we couldn't bank on that turnaround. We felt a change was in order."

The general manager said he thought the timing also was appropriate because it provides Hollins about half a season to try to move the team forward and get into more of a running game, with more transition and stronger defense.

Wallace wouldn't confirm reports that among the new coaching staff would be former Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks or whether current assistants such as Kevin O'Neill would be part of the new regime. He said the team would wait until all of those pieces are in place to make that announcement.

Davis said before the game that under his contract, he's part of the team until the end of the 2009-10 season.

"You just try to keep the team focused," Davis said before the Nets game. "Obviously, we're in transition, and there's uncertainty surrounding the team right now. The former coach is gone. The new head coach has not arrived. There's trepidation there, angst, there's uncertainty. All I'm trying to do is hold things together."