Lionel Hollins optimistic he'll return

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has no contractual obligation to the franchise beyond this season, but he is hopeful he'll get to keep coaching what he's helped build in Memphis.

"There's no question," Hollins told ESPN, when asked if he hoped to be back with the Grizzlies after the season. "When you build something, you want to see it through to the fruition of it all.

"Hopefully, we'll win a championship at the end of the year. But that would just be a starting point. Then you want to be a perennial championship contender."

Hollins said his contract situation hasn't bothered him all season, and won't be a distraction to him or his team going forward. He's focused on the playoffs and nothing else right now as the Grizzlies prepare for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series against Oklahoma City.

ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard reported Thursday that Hollins would be at the top of the Brooklyn Nets' list of candidates should he become available after the season.

The Nets' interest throws an intriguing wrinkle into the situation because of their ability to pay him far more than what he's made in Memphis.

"I can't be concerned about that. I have a job to do," Hollins said after the Grizzlies practiced Friday. "I'm excited with where we are and what we're doing. I'm excited about the job I have and the players I have. My focus is just on them and doing that.

"When all the dust is settled and we move forward, that's the time to deal with that other stuff."

Hollins said he's confident in his status because Grizzlies management recently told him they wanted him back.

"The only conversations we've had is they said they wanted me back," Hollins told ESPN. "After we lost the first two games to the Clippers, we had a friendly conversation about the series and how they just wanted me personally to know that regardless of what's being said out there, this is how they felt.

"That was great."

ESPN.com's Marc Stein, citing NBA coaching sources, reported last month that it was "very likely" Hollins would receive a new contract from the Grizzlies after the playoffs.

Hollins initially had expressed frustration in the wake of the Rudy Gay trade in late January, but quickly turned his attitude, and that of his team, around to lead the Grizzlies to 56 wins and a decisive first-round victory over the Clippers.