“Taylor has an excellent coaching pedigree, and we are confident he will lay the groundwork of developing the young players on our roster while having the elite basketball acumen and forward-thinking positive vision to be a high-level NBA head coach,” Zachary Z. Kleiman, the Grizzlies’ executive vice president of basketball operations, said in a statement Tuesday.
Memphis became the sixth and final NBA team to hire a new coach after firing J.B. Bickerstaff following the end of the season in April.
Jenkins, 34, was Mike Budenholzer’s assistant in Milwaukee this season and in Atlanta for five seasons. Jenkins becomes Memphis’ fourth head coach since the Grizzlies chose not to renew Lionel Hollins’ contract in 2013 after he led them to their lone Western Conference final appearance.
The new Grizzlies coach started in the NBA as an intern with the San Antonio Spurs’ basketball operations department during the 2007-08 season after graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics.
Jenkins then was an assistant coach with the Spurs’ G League team, the Toros, and worked under both Quin Snyder, now head coach of the Utah Jazz, and Brad Jones, now coach of Memphis’ G League team. Jenkins was named head coach of the Toros for 2012-13 and led thm to a first-round playoff victory.
He went to Atlanta as an assistant to Budenholzer, then followed the head coach to Milwaukee, where the Bucks went an NBA-best 60-22 this season before losing to Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Memphis controlling owner Robert Pera fired Bickerstaff the day after he wrapped up his first full season on the job and with the 33-49 Grizzlies missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Bickerstaff had been named interim coach in November 2017 when David Fizdale was fired, but this time Pera chose to restructure the front office by adding basketball operations to president Jason Wexler’s duties.
He also promoted Kleiman, 30, to executive vice president of basketball operations. Former NBA player Tayshaun Prince was later promoted to vice president of basketball affairs in late April, and former general manager Chris Wallace was moved to scouting.
Memphis goes into the draft with the No. 2 pick overall for the first time since 2009 looking for someone to pair with Jaren Jackson Jr., who was named to the NBA All-Rookie team in May. The Grizzlies are rebuilding after tying their own NBA record for most players used in a season at 28 for a second year in a row and setting the NBA mark with 20 different leading scorers.
The Grizzlies also have to decide what to do with 31-year-old guard Mike Conley, who remains under contract for two more seasons and is due $67 million on the max contract he signed in July 2016. Chandler Parsons still has a year left on his deal after playing only 95 games combined over the first three seasons.
Memphis also has Dillon Brooks, who was limited to 18 games by injuries, and Kyle Anderson, signed to a four-year deal last summer, is recovering from surgery on his right shoulder.
The Grizzlies hope hiring Jenkins will be enough to persuade Jonas Valanciunas, acquired in the February trade for Marc Gasol, to exercise his $17.6 million player option for this season. Thursday is the deadline for that option.