Lionel Hollins has been thought to be the top choice for the Nets ever since P.J Carlesimo was told he wasn’t returning as the Grizzlies coach. Chris Broussard only affirmed the theory, reporting that Brooklyn would be interested in Hollins via his twitter account.
What besides his availability makes Hollins an attractive candidate for the Nets, other than his availability. The Nets offered the job to Phil Jackson, who said he's "absolutely" done with coaching. They hoped to offer it to Doc Rivers, but Danny Ainge, who said "absolutely not" when the Nets asked if they could talk to him.
Hollins contract concludes in Memphis at the end of this season and his future is up in the air due to the Grizzlies change in ownership in the past year. Since new management took over, leaving him in limbo, and his team took off, Hollins has become a much more attractive coaching option. Bottom line: he coached a team without a superstar to 56 wins and the franchises first trip to the Western Conference Finals, beating the Clippers and Thunder to get there.
The components of that success are easily recognizable. Hollins has proven that he can get his players to play the best they can, and plug them in at the right times. Also on the list of positives: use of role players, a "grit and grind" mentality that is embraced by his team, and his defense-first coaching philosophy, one that allowed a league-low 89 points per game. It gives his team an identity. The Nets lacked that competitive appeal all season long and often had their talent negated by a lack of effort.
As but as Tom Lorenzo has already written, there are questions. He has never handled big personalities before and in New York, any issue will be magnified. Everyone will be watching Deron Williams' relationship with Hollins, considering the franchise player's last last encounter with a tough guy coach in Utah. Can Hollins mesh well with the teams franchise point guard? Compatibility between the two is key in Brooklyn’s decision making.
His player development has been spotty. He did well with Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol, and to a lesser degree, Tony Allen. On the other hand, Ed Davis and Tony Wroten have sat on the bench.
Still, after such a fine season with the club, it is safe to say that the Grizzlies will pursue resigning the 59-year-old coach, but can the Nets outbid them? And given Hollins disagreements with Robert Pera how much of a premium would he accept?
Everyone knows about Mikhail Prokhorov’s deep pockets along with his passion to have championship banner hanging in Brooklyn by 2015. So it is also safe to say, at least for now, that Brooklyn will be in hot pursuit of the Grizzlies in trying to obtain the services of Hollins.
Lionel Hollins may not be the best fit for the Brooklyn Nets, but it isn’t likely that the perfect coach will walk through the door any time soon. Therefore, Lionel Hollins may be the Nets best fit available. If the Grizzlies don’t lock him down as soon as possible --like this week-- the Nets could become the frontrunner for his services.
Tuesday will be an interesting day as Hollins and Grizzlies' team CEO Jason Levien will meet with the media to discuss this past season and, presumably, the future. It's likely we can read into the comments at the press conference to see just where both sides stand.