The Brooklyn Nets were successful in filling their coaching vacancy after the Jason Kidd saga. Earlier Wednesday, the team announced they hired Lionel Hollins as their new head coach. The contract is a three year deal, but could stretch to four years and as much as $20 million if his option gets activated.
If you’re a more casual fan of the NBA and Nets, you may not be too familiar with Hollins, although he’s well-respected throughout the league. This is actually the third time the Nets have pursued Hollins: once last year before they hired Kidd, during the season after assistant Lawrence Frank left and this week to replace Kidd.
So, who exactly is the man now in charge of a team with players like Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson?
All of Hollins’ previous head coaching experience came with the Grizzles. His sat at the head of the bench on three different occasions — twice as an interim coach in 1999-00 and 2004-05, then again in a more permanent role from 2008-13. While his first two stints weren’t successful in short sample sizes, Hollins had the Grizzles on the rise once he was there for good starting in the ’08-’09 season.
Memphis increased its victory rate each season he was in charge, rising from a .333 winning percentage to an impressive .683 mark. The team ranked toward the top of the league in various statistics during 2012-13, including turnovers (fifth-fewest with 14/game), steals (fourth-most with 8.6) and blocked shots (12th most with 5.3).
A 56-26 record gave them the fifth seed in the Western Conference, taking care of the Clippers and Thunder pretty easily before running into a roadblock in the conference finals. The Spurs swept them out of the arena, but it didn’t seem like the end of an era just yet.
That wasn’t the case, as Hollins and the Memphis front office decided to part ways and not renew his contract because they each held philosophical differences they weren’t willing to set aside.
He sat out this season, determined to find another head coaching job if he were to re-enter the league. The Nets weren’t the only team with an interest in him, as the Houston Rockets pursued him to be the top aide for head coach Kevin McHale if Hollins didn’t get the job he desired elsewhere.
With how quickly this all happened, it seemed as though Brooklyn was looking for a way to bring Hollins aboard. Kidd’s attempt to get more front office power with played to the organization’s advantage.
Hollins first task as Brooklyn’s new head coach is to meet with his players and start creating rapport, while also helping the front office during the current free agency period.