MEMPHIS -- The man in the middle of Memphis firestorm was present for pre-draft workouts Wednesday.
Read into it what you will, because he didnt say anything to aid the conversation.
Five draft prospects worked out for 90 minutes in front of Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, director of player personnel and basketball development Stu Lash and vice president of basketball operations John Hollinger, with whom Hollins has had a private battle that is now very public.
Memphis is trying to put the drama aside for a minute because it has three second-round selections later this month and will hold the second of these workouts Friday.
Hollins wasn't talking Wednesday. Not only did he not speak with the collected media, but he kept his distance from reporters on one end of the practice facility and talked into an earpiece during the interview sessions. Unlike previous years workouts, Wednesdays was closed to the media.
At the end of the workouts, Hollins and Hollinger shared a laugh at center court before shaking hands as Hollinger made his exit and Hollins didnt leave until a handful of present media left.
Lash, meanwhile, pointed the focus on the players and the Grizzlies needs.
Outside shooting and more front line mobility are high on the list, as Memphis scoring weakness and lack of a back-up point guard were exposed during a sweep at the hands of the Spurs in the Western Conference finals. That weakness could becoming even more glaring if free-agent guard Jerryd Bayless leaves and defensive strongman Tony Allen could use some help as well -- if he stays.
But Lash says the draft isnt as simple as looking to fill positions either.
People always talk about shooting, but you want basketball players, guys that can make plays. Obviously if they make shots, thats great, Lash said. Its hard to just draft off of need at any point in the draft because you want to get the most talented guys and guys that fit into who you are.
Tennessee Tech guard Jud Dillard, Arizona State guardforward Carrick Felix, Arizona small forward Solomon Hill, Providence guard Ricky Ledo and Elizabeth City State guard Angelo Sharpless worked out Wednesday.
Whomever the Grizzlies take, shot-making is key, not by sacrificing the other end of the floor, where an elite defensive team could become that much better.
The talk between workout days will certainly go back off the court. The relationship of Hollins and Hollinger has been the subject of much interest, and it's put the spotlight on Dave Joerger, whom many see as one of the leagues up-and-coming coaching stars.
Joerger wasnt present Wednesday and a still-new front office has yet to extend Hollins contract, a deal that expires on June 30.
Hollins, the fourth-year head coach, has been with the Grizzlies -- minus a short stint -- since the teams formation in Vancouver and just led them to a 56-win season, a record winning mark, and a first trip to the conference finals.
Hollins future has been vaguely described by front office guys all season and despite positive talks after the season, has been given permission to chat with other teams. To keep the confusion going, reports Tuesday said the two sides are still holding out hope to keep Hollins.
But while both seemingly have the same idea, nothing seems to clear the murky water.
Hollinger has become a larger part of the controversy this week, his advanced statistics reportedly conflicting with the way old-school Hollins wants things to run. Brought over from ESPN he would like to see more hand-holding between the front office and sideline.
The saga heated up over a recently released report of an in-practice confrontation during the playoffs when Hollinger made his way onto the court and engaged reserve forward Austin Daye. Hollins admitted he opened a heated exchange but has played it off as not much of a big deal.
Its no secret though that Hollins has had his go-around with new management, that surfaced from his displeasure of the Rudy Gay trade, a move that made Memphis better than it was with the budding star.
On the court, the drama has to give way to taking the franchises next step. But no one seems to know for any certainty who the coach will be. Maybe the answer to where Memphis goes with its picks lies in Lashs draft philosophy.
I think you always want the most talented guy, but sometimes talent is not just what you see on the basketball court, Lash said. Theres different layers of talent, things we break down internally, part of our process when we make decisions.
I thought it was a great first workout for us, very competitive group, well-conditioned guys, a lot of effort, very positive. I think every guy here has a pretty bright future.
He called all five players, guys who know who they are as a player.
But does Memphis know who it is? They have until June 30 to know whether or not Hollins is still a part of that identity. There is an earlier deadline for the June 27 draft though and somebody will be coaching those decisions. Whether it will be Hollins or not is anybodys guess. The only sure thing is that these draft workouts will only be a brief distraction from an ever-long coaching controversy.