Brooklyn Nets practicing patience in coaching search

Jeff Zelevansky

As of Saturday, says a Nets insider, Billy King "has not contacted anyone but Phil Jackson" for the team's coaching vacancy Research and backgrounding continues ... and even if they wanted move on some candidates, they can't. Two reported candidates, Doc Rivers and Lionel Hollins, are head coaches still under contract, three years in the case of Rivers. Another, Brian Shaw, won't be available for interviews until the Pacers finish with the playoffs.

You could speculate that those three may be the strongest candidates out there. Word that the Nets haven't approached anyone besides Jackson could indicate the Nets are waiting because those three can't take calls yet. Also there may be concern that Jerry Sloan hasn't coached in nearly three years and Larry Brown is under contract at SMU. Both are in their 70's as well. Then there's Scott Skiles, who's considered a good candidate, with a reputation for toughness, but he's had three chances.

Of all the candidates, Hollins could be the last coach available for interviews. His Grizzlies play Saturday night in Memphis, tied 1-1.Mitch Lawrence in New York and Chris Herrington in Memphis write Saturday about whether Hollins' future.

Lawrence suggests that the Nets might want to wait as long as need be to talk with Hollins, even if that means waiting till late June and the NBA Finals.

The amazing thing is that he might not be asked to return next season to coach the Grizzlies. He’s on the last season of his contract and with all the changes that have taken place with the team since last fall — with new ownership and a first-time group of basketball executives who love to base their decisions on all these fancy stats that they call "analytics," and have little to do with actual basketball — there is plenty of talk around the league that the Grizzlies will look to hire a younger coach whom they can get on the cheap.

Chris Herrington in the Memphis Flyer confirms Lawrence's point, and essentially excuses the Grizzlies ownership for not extending Hollins, noting his "[in]ability to implement a new organizational philosophy, as well as his development of young assets (Tony Wroten, Ed Davis) begin to loom larger" as a re-hiring decision nears. And he has internal competition.

A second issue with a new long-term contract for Hollins — and one I'd prefer not to get too far into right now because if feels unnecessarily trouble-making, but here we are — is the opportunity cost in likely losing lead assistant Dave Joerger to a head-coaching opportunity elsewhere. Joerger has been, in large part — let's not deny Hollins his due credit here as well — the architect of what may be the league's best defense and has a compelling head-coaching pedigree at the minor-league level. There are many who believe he could be the next Tom Thibodeau or Erik Spoelstra. While Hollins may be the best coach for the present, does a long-term deal close off the possibility of Joerger in the future?

For his part, Hollins isn't saying anything. On radio last week, he was non-committal.

  • Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins could be available to Brooklyn Nets if team is willing to wait - Mitch Lawrence - New York Daily News
  • The Coaching Question, Revisited - Chris Herrington - Memphis FlyerThe Coaching Question, Revisited
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