OAKLAND -- Count Steve Kerr among the legion of NBA coaches and players struggling to grasp the abrupt dismissal Monday of Grizzlies coach David Fizdale.
"I was shocked today, when I read the news," Kerr said prior to Warriors-Kings tipoff at Oracle Arena. "I think David Fizdale is one of the best coaches in the league. He's a brilliant guy. He's got an edge to him. He's tough. He's smart."
A Warriors assistant in 2003-04 under Eric Musselman, Fizdale spent time as an assistant with the Hawks and the Heat. He took over in Memphis last season and guided the team to the playoffs.
Since starting the season by winning seven of their first 11 games, the Grizzlies have lost eight in a row. Fizdale was dumped less than 24 hours after he benched star big man Marc Gasol in the fourth quarter of a 98-88 home loss to the Nets.
The Memphis roster has been beset by injuries, most notably to point guard Mike Conley, the team's linchpin. Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright also have missed significant time.
"This is what happens," Kerr said. "You lose when your best players are out. And when your whole team is wiped out. So it caught me off-guard."
Others around the league also expressed their surprise. In addition to future Hall of Famers LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, both of whom played under Fizdale in Miami, numerous coaches spoke up.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: "Fiz is a fine young coach, and nobody likes to see those guys have such a short tenure. He did a helluva job, and I don't think he's going to have any problem landing someplace. He's a good man, and he knows what he's doing. He's tough-minded. I think he will be fine."
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: "To pick up and move his family there, leave a good situation in Miami, where they were winning. He was a part of those championships. And then when you have an opportunity, I thought he did a great job. A lot of guys thought he did a great job. For this to happen to him, to a good person, to his family, it's not right. I feel for him, but he did a helluva job."
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle: "Fiz is a guy who has just a fantastic authenticity as a person and as a coach. It won't be long before he lands on his feet. There's no question about that."
Kerr concluded his comments with a word of appreciation for the brain trust of the Warriors.
"I'm just thankful to work here with a management and ownership that supports me, and a group of players who are supporting me all the time," he said. "I know that's not always the case around the league. So I'm really, really lucky here."